I sampled the drum sounds from the rare Technics SX-AX7. The AX7 is a synthesizer/arranger from 1988. It’s fully digital, aside from the single BBD-based chorus. The AX3 and AX5 are similar but have fewer features. As far as I’m aware, both the hardware and the voice architecture are unique to the AX models. The SX-K700 and KN800 are completely different, despite being similar arranger models from the same time period. The AX7’s sounds are programmable, consisting of a sampled attack transient and single cycle “basic” and “harmonics” waveforms. There’s a global ADSR amplitude envelope, and a separate one for the harmonics waveform. This sort of crudely simulates filtering. It’s velocity sensitive, the harmonics waveform can be detuned and transposed, and there’s also a rather low quality digital reverb/delay. Hiding behind this relatively simple set of editable parameters are more complex semi-preset multi-stage envelopes (these change according to the selected waveforms) and a variety of interesting vibrato, tremolo and pitch envelope variations. The AX7 is good for bass and mallet sounds, but most other sounds are rather bad. Due to the low sample rate (31.25 kHz) and high quality interpolation, the sound is fairly clean and somewhat dull. The single cycle waveforms by themselves don’t sound particularly special, and many of the transient waveforms are useless, but in the right combination it can sound surprisingly good. The K700 and KN800 generally sound brighter and use conventionally sampled sounds.

The drum and accompaniment patterns are also programmable. These features are similar to the K700, but less sophisticated than the KN800. The drums aren’t amazing, but they’re fairly punchy with a few unique sounds. The sequencer timing is quite sloppy, but interestingly this results in a sort of syncopation rather than random jitter, so the effect generally isn’t unpleasant. One interesting feature is that the patterns can be switched immediately, in the middle of a pattern, rather than only at the start of the pattern. This means that it’s easy to obtain some interesting variety by programming a few variations and quickly switching between them. Another nice feature is that the patterns can be programmed in triplets or unusual time signatures like 5/4 and 7/4.