Yamaha AN1x

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Yamaha AN1X.jpg
Manufacturer Yamaha
Dates 1997 - 1998
Price £899 (1997)
Technical specifications
Polyphony 10 notes
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)/ slave(sub) osc on osc1
LFO 2 sine/sawtooth/square/triangle/s&h/mix
Synthesis type Virtual analog Subtractive
Filter 1 resonant multi-mode & 1 high-pass
Attenuator 2 ADSR
Aftertouch expression Yes, channel
Velocity expression Yes
Storage memory 128 patches
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
Left-hand control Pitch bend, modulation wheel, ribbon controller
External control MIDI

Yamaha AN1x, produced by Yamaha Corporation from 1997 to 1998, is a DSP-based analog modeling synthesizer (a.k.a. virtual analog synthesizer) and was marketed as an "analog physical modeling control synthesizer".

Although the synthesiser uses very similar casing to the CS1x and particularly the CS2x, those use sample-based synthesis rather than virtual analogue technology and are not directly related to the AN1x: although they share the manufacturer, overall user-interface, and marketing as "Control Synthesiser" devices (see below), the engines used to create sounds are significantly different.

Voice architecture[edit]

The AN1x has a maximum polyphony of 10 notes, although the actual polyphony depends upon whether the voice is Single (monotimbral; a single Scene) or Dual (two scenes layered or split), whether it is in Mono or Poly mode, and whether the note-multiplying Unison mode is active. Dual mode halves polyphony to 5 per voice, dividing each of the two 5-note processors in the synth to one Scene respectively. 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 voice architecture resembles a twin-oscillator with multi-mode filter design. Available waveforms are: PWM, Saw, Square, Saw2 (behaves in a different way than "Saw" when used with PWM), and Saw/Square "mix". Additional waves (Inner1-3) are available for OSC1 in oscillator sync mode. Triangle and Sine are achieved by altering the Edge of Pulse Waves. The Edge tool (wave shaping), also enables extensive intermediate waves. OSC1 additionally has a tuneable 'slave' (Sub) oscillator when activated via multiple 'sync algorithms'. The AN1x has 4 FM Frequency Modulation algorithms, where OSC1 is modulated by OSC2. Finally there is ring modulation and white noise.

For each Scene, amplitude, filter, and pitch envelopes affect the combined two oscillators on a per-note basis, and two LFOs, the first with more capabilities, affect all notes at once (i.e. monophonic LFOs). The AN1x also offers a non-resonant high-pass filter in series with the resonant multi-mode filter (which is capable of self-oscillation), feedback from the VCA back to the mixer of oscillators before the main filter, and frequency modulation that can be used alongside oscillator sync. Finally, a digital multi-effect, reverb and delay system can process the output of the Scene(s). Effects are assigned per patch/voice.

The AN1x also features both an arpeggiator with 30 preset patterns and a step-sequencer with 16 steps. Both can 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 synth's own keyboard or MIDI input. The step sequencer can be used to send control data, such as filter cutoff value or notes, to the synth's own tone generator or to MIDI output. A "Free EG" allows the user to record knob movements for up to four parameters for a duration of up to 16 seconds each, or 8 bars that are tempo linked. (NOTE: If the tempo were set to 40bpm, with a 4/4 count, this would result in: 1 beat every 1.5s = 1 bar every 6 secs. 6s x8 (bars) would equate to 48 seconds of sequence). These parameter changes can then be applied to live performance.


The synthesizer also allows two individual sets of parameters, called Scenes, within each patch; these can be layered variations on one sound or two completely different sounding voices. The user can quickly switch between the two Scenes, interpolate ("morph") between them (which morphs individual parameters, rather than simply crossfading), and layer them. This arrangement also allows limited multitimbrality when in split keyboard mode, as both scenes receive MIDI input on separate channels.

Control synthesizer[edit]

As well as promoting its "Analog Physical Modelling", Yamaha referred to the AN1x as a "control synthesizer". The latter designation is shared with and gave the name to the company's CS range of keyboards, which, as noted above, bear visual similarities to the AN1x albeit with distinctly different voicing technologies. The designation of the AN1x as a control synthesiser is due to each patch in the AN1x having 20 "control sets", which were assignments of the user-adjustable controls and MIDI control change messages to a number of numerical parameters of the sound engine. User controls includes keyboard pitch, velocity and channel aftertouch, modulation wheel, a pressure-sensitive ribbon controller, connectors for two expression pedals, a foot switch jack, and the 8 parameter-editing knobs when in Assign mode. The underlying philosophy of this arrangement is that the performer doesn't have to alter the actual sound editing parameters when performing; user assignable controls can be used instead, whose parameter range has been scaled properly, for more predictable action.

Controller Resolution[edit]

Being a first generation Virtual Analogue synthesizer, the AN1x's controller resolution responds by default to 128 steps from the built in control knobs. The result being especially noticeable when slow filter sweeps with more pronounced resonance are attempted. The user can hear slight but distinct 'stepping' of the filter. However several work arounds have been discovered to overcome this. One simple example being the use of a newer midi controller or synthesizer, whose control dials generate higher resolution movement intervals, the result being that the AN1x does in fact respond to these inputs and step changes sound remarkably more smoothed out. Thus resulting in a more 'analogue' filter effect.


The AN1x has been used by several 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, 'potentially' Boards of Canada, Spacehotel, Daniel Ruppar of Down In The Lab, and Jacob Thiele of The Faint.

External links[edit]