Thursday, July 19, 2012

Akai AX80 "Simply... Awesome!" ad #2, Keyboard 1985

Akai AX80 "Simply... Awesome!" advertisement #2 from page 7 in the May 1985 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Yup. Not a screw-up. This is a TOTALLY different advertisement than the AX80 "Simply...Awesome!" ad I posted last Monday.  I prefer to call this one "Simply... Awesomer!"

Let me remind you of that earlier ad.

So, I can hear your thoughts. Doesn't look too different from that first AX80 ad, does it?  Well, the difference is significant enough that it may have been the reason the ad was moved all the way up to page 7 in that issue of Keyboard. I'll let you take a bit of a closer look and ponder the significance of the difference between the two ads while reading the rest of the blog post.

And speaking of "significances", back in the 80s, it didn't take long for Keyboard Magazine to realize the significance of Akai breaking on to the synth scene, and Jim Aikin was selected (or volunteered... how would I know?!?!) to write the review of the AX80 in the January 1985 issue.

Side note: I'm not sure why, and please don't find this creepy Mr. Aikin, but for some reason your writer's photo that Keyboard Magazine used for your articles during this time period has never left my memory. When many of the other writers' faces were all looking right at the camera and smiling, you were kickin' the new wave "glow", looking cool as Kraftwerk. Seriously and sincerely. I dig that photo.

Jim starts the review with a sentence or two on the state of the polyphonic synth market - and reading it now gives one a good idea of the confusion keyboard players must have been facing when choosing a polysynth:
"Competition in the polyphonic synthesizer area seems to get tougher every month, with new, affordable, touch-sensitive instruments crawling out of the woodwork at an alarming rate. This is good news for keyboard players because it means prices are coming down, but it does make it tougher to evaluate all the reshuffled combinations of familiar features and figure out which instrument is right for you."
And, without knowing it at the time, Jim really does a kick-ass job at predicting the AX80's future in terms of pricing (that was a hint to the difference between the two ads - more on that later).

As usual Jim gives 100 per cent in detailing the keyboard, controllers, voice architecture, and programming and operations. An enjoyable read - or re-read in my case. And one that delayed me a little in finishing this post :).

In the end, Jim concludes that although he wasn't impressed with the preset patches, he notes the synth does have a "warm, full sound, and can deliver a full palette of musically useful tone colors".  He also predicts the future quite accurately again with his last statement.
"The AX80 is an excellent first entry into the keyboard market by a company that we're sure to be seeing more from."
Okay, before I end this post, I've just gotta say I've left the best for last (well, in my mind anyways   :)

You see, the advertisement actual ran for quite some time between the end of 1984 and well into 1985. So, whenever ads run for that long, I usually go to one of the later ad-runs and do a small comparison check, just to see if, on the off-chance, the company has made little tweaks along the way.

Well, in the case of this Akai AX80 ad, I was NOT disappointed. In fact, in my mind, I hit the jackpot! It seems that the ad change very subtly two times during its year long ride in Keyboard Magazine - and both times it is in reference to PRICE DROPS!

In May 1985, it looks like Akai added text to the ad to let readers know that they dropped the price of the AX80 down three hundred dollars - from $1,695 down to $1,395. That's a pretty sweet price drop - one that I think should have resulted in a bit more attention and promotion in the ad change. Not the small little text addition that they decided on.

Then in September 1985, the ad changed again to show that the price dropped a further FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS - down to $995. WTF? But readers flipping casually through the magazine may not have even noticed. Again, just a small change.

If you haven't found it yet (and I don't blame you), the extra text appeared below the "Simply... Awesome!" promo ad-copy in small black letters. It's like they were trying to hide it or something.

May 1985 - price drop to $1395
September 1985 - price drop to $995

My jaw dropped when I first noticed this. Really? A company drops the price of their synth $700 dollars and then doesn't really give it much attention?!?!?

I'd say that's pretty significant. Heck - it's simply awesome!

Psst - was that ending too predictable?    :)


dan kirkhus said...

The AX80 in the ad is missing the large black data entry knob (aka 'Control')found on production units.. and it has the volume and tune knobs placed horizontally instead of vertically. Prototype?

RetroSynthAds said...

Gah! Excellent observation!

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