AN1x Virtual Analog Synthesizer
|Dates||1997 - 1998|
|Price||£899 (1997) $1495|
|Timbrality||2× voices (Scenes 1 & 2)|
|Oscillator||2× oscillators per voice: square/ sawtooth/ pulse width/ ring modulation/ noise/ FM/ variable wave-shapes (Edge - sine/triangle)/ Saw2/ Inner1-3/ slave(sub) osc on osc1|
|LFO||2× low frequency oscillators per voice: sine/ sawtooth/ square/ triangle/ s&h/ mix (21× waveforms)|
|Synthesis type||Virtual analog Subtractive|
|Filter||1× resonant multi-mode & 1× high-pass|
|Attenuator||2× ADSR envelopes|
|Aftertouch expression||Yes, channel|
|Storage memory||128 patches (256 Scenes)|
|Effects||Reverb, delay, EQ, chorus, flanger, symphonic, phaser, auto pan, rotary speaker, pitch change, aural exciter, compressor, wah, distortion, overdrive, amp simulator|
|Keyboard||61 keys, portamento, split|
|Left-hand control||Pitch bend, modulation wheel, ribbon controller, 8x realtime controls|
The Yamaha AN1x, produced by Yamaha Corporation from 1997 to 1998, is a DSP-based Analog Modelling Synthesizer (a.k.a. virtual analog synthesizer) and was marketed as an "analog physical modelling control synthesizer".
- 1 Development
- 2 Scenes and voice architecture
- 3 Waveform oscillators
- 4 Filters, envelopes, low frequency oscillators and control matrix
- 5 Sequencing capabilities
- 6 Multi effects
- 7 Control synthesizer
- 8 Controller resolution
- 9 Physical Characteristics
- 10 Reception and Usage
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
The AN1x can be considered a 1st generation virtual analogue physical modelling synthesizer. After Clavia released the original Nord Lead in 1995, Roland followed suit in 1996 with the ubiquitous JP-8000. Yamaha, having already been working on physical modelling synthesis for a number of years, released the AN1x in mid 1997. Whilst the AN1x sports a similar chassis to its stable mates, the CS1x and particularly the CS2x, this is where the similarity ends. The latter use pre-loaded sample-based synthesis to generate sound, thus categorising them as; 'Romplers'. The AN1x on the other hand is a fully fledged synthesizer. Yamaha's proprietary 'virtual analog' technology, models the components that traditionally occupy the signal path of an analog subtractive synthesizer. The VCOs, VCAs, VCFs, and LFOs etc, are all digitally modelled and rendered using DSP VLSI processor(s). It has been noted that the 'DNA' of the AN1x contains simulated characteristics of Sequential Circuits' Prophet 5 and particularly the Prophet 10 synthesizers, as well as Yamaha's own CS range of polyphonic analog synthesisers. Yamaha purchased the rights to Sequential Circuits in 1987 following the company winding up. Sequential's founder, Dave Smith subsequently became President of DSD Inc, a Research and Development Division of Yamaha. During his time at Yamaha, in addition to his work on Vector/ Wavetable Synthesis, which culminated in the SY22 & TG33, Dave also worked on physical modelling synthesis and software synthesizer concepts. Research that undoubtedly laid the foundations for the development of the AN1x.
Scenes and voice architecture
The AN1x is a dual timbral Synthesizer, having two individual sets of voice parameters, called Scenes, for each of the 128 voice patches. Within each voice, each scene can be programmed to be similar sounding variations of each other, two identical copies of the same sound, or even two completely different sounding timbres. The user can either quickly switch between the two Scenes, or "morph" between them, which 'Interpolates' individual parameters, rather than simply crossfading. The result being complex new timbres being heard whilst morphing. It is also possible to save a snapshot of the timbre at any point during a morph, to become a new baseline timbre for one of the Scenes. Additionally, Scene data can be copied from, or saved to a different voice patch entirely. When the AN1x's Layer Mode is set to either SPLIT/SPLIT UNISON or DUAL/DUAL UNISON, dual timbrality is possible, whereby Scenes can be set to receive MIDI data on 2 separate channels. Each Scene will have 5 notes of polyphony. The AN1x has a maximum polyphony of 10 notes, although the actual polyphony depends upon the playing mode the synthesizer is set to. These being: Single, 'mono timbral; a single Scene,' Dual, 'two Scenes layered or split', Mono or Poly, and whether the note-multiplying Unison mode is active. Dual mode halves polyphony to 5 notes per voice, dividing each of the two internal 5-note DSP processors between both Scenes separately, 'Dual Timbral'. In Mono or Dual modes, Unison uses five notes per key per Scene for a Single voice, '1 processor x 5 notes)' or two notes per key for a Dual voice, '2 processors x 1 timbre per processor'; thus, in Dual/Mono/Unison mode, the synthesizer is monophonic for each of the two Scenes. In Poly mode, Unison is only possible for Single voices, 'each key takes 2 notes, of the same timbre, one from each of the two processors'. The physical Keyboard is semi-weighted with a fast yet solid action. It responds to Velocity, Aftertouch and Portamento. The X-Z Ribbon Controller, responds to horizontal sweeps and pressure. The 8 realtime control knobs are also click-able to trigger the displaying of their current parameter value.
The voice architecture is based on a dual oscillator design with multi-mode filter. Available waveforms are: Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM), Saw, Square, Saw2, 'Saw/Pulse Wave 'mix', and Saw/Square 'mix'. Additional waves, 'Inner 1-3' are available for OSC1 in oscillator sync mode. Triangle and Sine waves are possible by altering the shape, 'edge' of Pulse Waves. The AN1x has a 'wave shaping' 'Edge' tool, which can facilitate extensive, '128' intermediate waves. OSC1 can be split to have a 'master' 'main' and a tuneable 'slave' 'Sub' oscillator, when activated via three 'sync algorithms'. Both the master and/or slave oscillator within OSC1 can be modulated by LFO1, either jointly or individually. The AN1x has twin operator Frequency Modulation 'FM', comprising four algorithms, where OSC1 is modulated by OSC2. Finally there is ring modulation and white noise. When set to Unison mode, the AN1x layers five oscillators for each Scene timbre. Whilst this reduces polyphony, 'as discussed above', Unison thickens up the sound considerably. Additionally, stereo separation can be set for panning, as well as the tuning of the 5 layered oscillators. The overall effect is not too dissimilar from Roland's JP-8000 Supersaw waveform, except that Unison can be applied to other waveforms besides Sawtooth.
Filters, envelopes, low frequency oscillators and control matrix
Each of the two scenes that make up a single voice is composed of an Amplitude Envelope, a Filter Envelope, a Pitch envelope, and a three Band Equaliser. These affect the combined two oscillators on a per-note basis. The AN1x has two LFOs, 'LFO1 comprising 21 waveforms: '5x Sine variations, 5x Triangle variations, 3x Square variations, 4x Saw variations, 4x Sample & Hold variations'. LFO2 consists of Triangle only). These affect all notes at once, 'i.e. monophonic LFOs'. The LFOs are fast, up to the audible note range. The AN1x has a non-resonant high-pass filter '-6db', which is situated in series with a multimode resonant filter, the latter offering: LPF 'Low Pass Filter' '-12db, -18db, -24db', HPF 'High Pass Filter-12db', BPF 'Band Pass Filter' & BEF 'Band Elimination Filter'. The multimode filter is capable of resonant self oscillation. Additionally Feedback from the VCA is routed back to the oscillator mixer before the main filter, and Frequency Modulation can be used alongside oscillator sync. The AN1x has a comprehensive 'Control' Modulation Matrix, comprising 16 Sources and 96 Destinations.
The AN1x features an Arpeggiator with 30 preset patterns, a Step Sequencer with 16 steps, '256 total sequence patterns '128 voice patterns 'one per voice' + 128 user patterns. All 256 can be overwritten for use', and a 'Free Envelope Generator' '128 user patterns, one per voice'. The Arpeggiator and Sequencer can both output to MIDI and sync to MIDI timecode, and the Arpeggiator can also be applied to incoming MIDI data. Furthermore, the notes may be fixed or transposed via the synthesizer's keyboard or MIDI input. The Step Sequencer can be used to send control data, such as filter cutoff values or notes to the synthesizer's tone generator or to MIDI output. Both the Arpeggiator & Step Sequencer have several looping modes. The "Free EG 'Free Envelope Generator' is a powerful 'motion control' feature that allows the user to record controller movements for up to four parameters, '4 tracks, 1 parameter per track' for a duration of up to 16 seconds each, or 8 bars that are tempo linked. NOTE: If the tempo is set to 40bpm, with a 4/4 count, this would result in 48 seconds of recording time per track. When applied to a voice, the Free EG becomes an intrinsic component of the voice whilst it is played, allowing for complex and evolving organic movement of sound. The way in which the Free EG loops can also be set in various ways, as well as the keyboard tracking and triggering.
The effects block contains 3 different types of programmable effects, as well as a programmable 3-band EQ. The 14 Variation Effect types are: Chorus, '2 types', Flanger, Symphonic, Phaser, Auto Pan, Rotary Speaker, Pitch Change, Aural Exciter, Compressor, Wah, Distortion, Overdrive and Amp Simulator. The 5 Delay Effect types are: Delay LCR, Delay LR, Echo, Cross Delay and Tempo Delay, which automatically matches the delay time to the current tempo setting. The 8 Reverb Effect types are: Hall, '3 types', Room, 2 types', Stage, '2 types' and Plate. The voice signal initially passes through the Variation and EQ sections in series, then on to the Delay and Reverb sections. The Delay and Reverb sections can be configured to operate in either series or parallel. Individual effects sections (Var, Del, Rev) or all effects 'excluding the EQ' can be bypassed at will. Additionally, realtime controllers can be designated to control specific effect parameters.
As well as promoting its "Analog Physical Modelling", Yamaha referred to the AN1x as a "control synthesizer" 'In similar vein to the CS1x and CS2x'. This is due to each voice patch in the AN1x having 20 "control sets", which utilise assignments of the user-adjustable controls and MIDI control change messages to a number of numerical parameters within the sound engine. These User Controls include: Keyboard Pitch, velocity and channel aftertouch, Modulation Wheel, Pressure Sensitive ribbon controller, Two Expression Pedals, Foot Switch jack, 8 Parameter control knobs when in Assign mode. The underlying philosophy of this arrangement is that the user doesn't have to alter the actual sound editing parameters whilst playing, instead using the assignable realtime controls mentioned above.
Being a 1st generation Virtual Analog synthesizer, the AN1x's controller resolution responds by default to 128 increments from its built in controllers. Consequently, the user will sometimes hear slight but distinct 'stepping' of the filter, especially when more pronounced resonance is used. However several work arounds have been discovered to overcome this. One simple method being the use of a newer midi controller or synthesizer, whose controllers generate higher resolution data values. The AN1x does in fact respond to this due to its mature midi implementation and NRPN recognition. The result being a smoothing out of the filter sweep, therefore giving a more authentic 'analog feel'.
Chassis main housing material: ABS Plastic / Base material: Metal Dimensions: 986(W)mm x 285(D)mm x 103(H)mm / Weight: 7.5kg
Reception and Usage
Though containing more features than its contemporaries, the AN1x's control interface proved initially frustrating for some users, due to its programming being 'matrix' based rather than one control per parameter like the Roland JP-8000. To counter these early misgivings, a sound set was released by Yamaha UK, called the 'London' sound set, which contained clones of some of the JP-8000 presets. This helped to demonstrate the sound capabilities of the AN1x. That being said, as with learning any new 'work flow', programming the AN1x becomes fairly intuitive and straight forward once mastered. Today, the AN1x is regarded as one of the most highly respected and versatile VA synthesizers ever produced. The AN1x has been used by numerous artists, including: Jean Michel Jarre, Psyclon Nine, History Of Guns, Velvet Acid Christ, Nine Inch Nails, Nitin Sawhney, Phish, Igor Khoroshev of YES, Steve Hillier of Dubstar, Jacob Thiele of The Faint, 808 State, Antti Pouta of Pariisin Kevät, Above & Beyond, Jesper Anderberg of The Sounds.
- "Yamaha AN1x Virtual Analog Synthesizer". Encyclotronic. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
- "Yamaha AN1X". www.polynominal.com. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
- Inc., Equipboard. "Yamaha AN1x". Equipboard. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
- "Yamaha AN1X". Sound On Sound. August 1997. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
- "Yamaha AN1X". www.polynominal.com. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
- "Yamaha AN1x". Vintage Synth. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
- "Cover Feature: Synth head-to-head". Future Music. No. 59. Future Publishing. August 1997. p. 20. ISSN 0967-0378. OCLC 1032779031.
- "Yamaha AN1x". Making Music. No. 141. December 1997. p. 37. ISSN 0269-2651. OCLC 499235180.
- Yamaha AN1x Sound On Sound preview (archive.org)
- RetroSound AN1x page
- Yahoo! AN1x mailing list and file archive
- Deepsonic AN1x page
- SonicState AN1x page
- KGB's excellent review
- Jexus AN1x page
- Don Solaris sound set for the AN1x
- JayB sound set for the AN1x
- Jexus patches for the AN1x
- 'Analog Night' AN1x Kontakt sound library
- Yamaha Synth Book AN2015 - Virtual Analog iphone app
- AN1X Owner's manual
- AN1x Data List
- Eqipboard.com Confirmed artists who use the AN1x (non-exhaustive)