Korg PolySix

The Korg Polysix was loaned to me (together with the Korg Mono/Poly) by a friend, who at the time was the keyboard player for local prog rock group Glacier. Both of these keyboards were such a step above what I had at the time (a Yamaha CS5 monophonic synth and a Yamaha SK10 Strings/Brass/Organ keyboard). The quality, warmth and power of this synth simply blew me away.

This was also the first synth I used that had presets. Just to be able to change sounds at the touch of a button was a revelation.

  • Loaned: 1984
  • Gigged with: Egor's Funky Jumper

Return to Synth Museum Main Page

Overview Specification Resources

Information from Vintage Synth Explorer

The PolySix was a milestone because, along with the Roland Juno 6 which appeared almost simultaneously, in 1981 the PolySix was the first opportunity ordinary mortals had to get their hands on a proper programmable polysynth. Up until then, you had to be loaded to afford a Prophet 5, Oberheim OB-Xa, or Roland Jupiter 8.

At first glance it looks like a scaled-down Mono/Poly, but really it's not! In fact it had a lot of great new features such as 32 memory patches, 6 voices of polyphony, cassette backup of memory, even programmable modulation effects and Chorus, Phase, Ensemble!

The Polysix has warm-sounding real analog oscillators, softer and brassy-er sounding that the Juno. Engage the built-in Chorus on a simple single-oscillator sawtooth patch and you were pretty darned close to that expensive Prophet sound. But the big ace in the Polysix's hand was the Ensemble effect. Instant Mellotron-like strings.

Like the Mono/Poly the voices can be played in Unison for a 6-oscillator lead sound that was so big, it was often too big! The advanced arpeggiator can memorize and sequence chords across the keyboard. The PolySix has now been recreated in software as part of the Korg Legacy software bundle! The PolySix has been used by Eat Static, Geoff Downes, Astral Projection, Jimi Tenor, Global Communications, Kitaro, Robert Rich, Keith Emerson and Tears for Fears.

Specification

  • Polyphony: 6 voices
  • Oscillators: 1VCO per voice (Saw, PW, PWM) + 1 sub-oscillator per voice
  • LFO: 1 LFO assignable to VCA, VCF or VCO
  • Filter: Low-Pass only, self oscillates at high resonance, ADSR envelope generator for VCF
  • VCA: Uses filters ADSR envelope or simple gate on-off
  • Effects: Chorus, phaser, ensemble
  • Memory: 32 patches
  • Keyboard: 61 keys synth action
  • Arpeg/Seq: Arpeggiator (Up, Down, Up/Down, Latch; Full, 2-Oct, 1-Oct; Rate 0.2 to 20 Hz)
  • Control: Chord memory, Arpeggiator sync in, CV input for filter cutoff
  • Produced: 1981

Videos