Release Date: 1997
Type: Virtual Analog / Subtractive Synthesis
An early Virtual Analog subtractive synthesis synth from Yamaha, the AN1x synthesizer is both cherished for its sonic capabilities and criticized for it’s cumbersome user interface. Despite being only 10 voices, many consider the sounds it produces to rival later, more modern synths in similar categories. Often, it is said to be extremely “warm” and “analog” sounding, despite being a digital synth.
I acquired a Yamaha AN1x at a decent price and thus far have been impressed by the sounds this unit can produce, even with only 10 voices of polyphony. Besides the usual techno, trance and related sounds, ambient pads are well suited to this synth — especially with its built-in, decent-quality reverb and delay effects units, both of which can be utilized simultaneously (in addition to other effects).
The FM synthesis capabilities on the Yamaha AN1x are also worth a mention, as they produce distinct metallic and bell type sounds with ease, which other synths sometimes struggle to reproduce. The built in arpeggiator and sequencer also lend themselves to creative expression through improvisation, as does the ability to “morph” between two different sounds/scenes in real-time via the MOD wheel (a very neat feature which not many synths have).
Some downsides: as mentioned, being only 10 voices means some notes may get cut off if using long release times or playing big chords. The user interface is also a bit complex and cumbersome as you only have 8 knobs to work with (albeit there are buttons which allow you to change the function of those 8 knobs easily), and this can slow down live improvisation/tweaking on the fly vs. other “one knob per function” synths. Additionally, a grid-style mod matrix managed by a single rotary knob and dual-function “rocker” buttons makes it difficult to make changes on the fly with speed.
Nonetheless despite these user interface shortcomings (many of which can be alleviated via software editors), the AN1x delivers in a variety of areas, especially sonically. While the knobs are low-resolution (ie there can be audible stepping when tweaking the filter), the sonic character and capabilities of the AN1x’s synth engine is varied and flexible, and the results can sound lovely.
There is a huge user community for this synth, with many freely available patches, editors and other enhancements. Coupled with the relatively low market price, ability to use the synth as a controller, sonic capabilities, 61-keys with aftertouch, ribbon controller and other factors, it’s not hard to see why the AN1x is a much revered virtual analog synth from Yamaha.
If you can get past or work with the cumbersome user interface, you will find much to be explored… and be rewarded well.
|Interface||10 knobs, 34 buttons, 10 LEDs, Ribbon controller|
|Polyphony||10 voices / 2 scenes (5 voices + 5 voices) at once|
|Oscillators||2 Osc per voice (saw, variable width pulse, square, mix)
1 sub oscillator, Ring Modulation, FM, Noise, Sync, Portamento, Unison
|LFO||2 LFOs (Sine / Square /Triangle / Saw / S&H)
Delay Start, Frequency Depth, Free run or Retrigger mode
|Filter||1 Resonant multimode 12/18/24dB/octave filter
Low/band/hi pass modes +1 additional hi pass mode
|VCA||2 envelopes with 4-segments (ADSR) for VCF and VCA
Filter feedback possible
|ModMatrix||16 Sources, 96 Destinations|
|Arpeggiator||30 arpeggiator patterns (mono/poly, up, down, up/down, random)
16-step sequencer. 4 recordable knob movement tracks for real-time expression
|Effects||Reverb, delay, 3-band EQ, chorus, flanger, phaser, enhancer, compressor, distortion, overdrive, amp simulator.
3 simultaneous effects at a time
|Keyboard||61 Keys with aftertouch, pitch bend, modwheel, X-Z Ribbon controller|
|Memory||128 RAM patches|
|Control||MIDI IN/OUT/THRU (2 multitimbral parts)
Headphones, Stereo Output (L/ Mono, R), Stereo Input (stereo mini jack)
Foot Controller (assignable), Foot Volume (assignable), Footswitch (assignable)