MGR/Tusker 05/01/2002

Yamaha AN1X : MGR/Tusker's user review

« Yamaha AN1X »
5

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I purchased this for $500 during the great Sam Ash blowout of 2000. Before the blowout it was retailing for three times as much.

Lovely sound. Relatively warm and full featured for a virtual analog synth.

Appearance and controls:
It has a five octave synth-style keyboard, a ribbon controller, 8 programmable knobs and a two dimensional ribbon controller.

Synthesis Architecture
It's a ten voice virtual analog synth with two oscillators, two LFO's and a single multimode filter per voice. An additional high pass filter is located at the end of the signal chain, but it's passive with no resonance. The AN1X sports a ring modulator and white noise generator as well as FM and Oscillator sync functions. The oscillators have an "edge" parameter which allows you make them more rounded or more jagged. So you can go smoothly from a bright saw to a sine wave. One feature that stands out is the amplifier's feedback parameter. This emnulates the minimoog trick of taking the output of the amplifer and feeding it back into the filter. This adds a smoky, tubey saturation sound, warming things up nicely.

There is a well featured modulation matrix in the synth which can control nearly all synthesis parameters. Sixteen concurrent routings can be mapped in a single patch, allowing for a lot of expressiveness.

Two unusual features in this synth are the free envelope generators and the scene morph function. The four free envelope generators can modulate virtually any of the synth's parameters and can be set to run free or be triggered by the keyboard. They can be synced to midi, and looped in different ways.

The scene morph function allows you to morph (i.r. interpolate) between two patches with the mod wheel. The morph yields lots of complex timbres and is much more expressive than a simple cross-fade.

Effects and arpeggiators:
The effext section is quite comprehensive which each voice passing through a multi-effect, a delay, a reverb and an eq. There's an arpeggiator on board as well as an analog style sequencer.

Sounds:

As you might expect it does analog polysynth sounds very nicely. In monophonic mode it does yield brassy Moogy sounds as well as some rather nice Roland type "wet" resonant sounds. It does lovely synth effects since it's filter self-oscillates. Of course it doesn't do natural instruments like pianos and violins at all.

It has a clunky wall wart power supply, The filter does stair-step on high resonance settings. I wish it had an octave/transpose button.

It's well made The casing is plastic but feels sturdy. It's extremely lightweight and convenient for gigging.

I have had no problems in the 2 years I have owned it. And I am thinking of geting a second one because I like it as a controller.

It's emerging as a cult synth. Although Yamaha has put much of the functionality into the AN200 board and the PLG-AN plug-in card, the AN1X appears to have an ardent following. With good reason.

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com