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Korg | PolySix


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 than 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!

With it's full editing capabilities, the instrument also has 32 memory locations for the user to save programs. An arpeggiator, and chorus, phaser, and, ensemble effect are also onboard as well as the ability to backup the synths data via cassette tape storage.

More Features:

UNISON and POLY modes, to create incredibly fat six-VCO soloing and bass sounds as well as versatile six
voice polyphonic sounds.
CHORD MEMORY which memorizes intervals and chords, to produce exciting parallel harmonies by depressing single keys. Memorized chords can be arpeggiated as well. 
HOLD sustains notes and chords indefinitely
ARPEGGIATOR the Polysix Arpeggiator automatically "sequences" (i.e. plays in sequence, one after the other) individual notes of a chord being held down, at any desired speed and in three different patterns. This effect is often used to create a feeling of musical "movement" via a rapid cascade of notes. Chords may be latched so as to arpeggiate
indefinitely, if desired. Any Assign mode can be used (except "Hold"), including Chord Memory, which allows you
to produce "sequences" of parallel chord or intervals.

Although the Polysix only had one oscillator per voice, it also featured built in chorus, phaser and 'ensemble' effects (using a 'bucket brigade' analog delay line design), to provide a fuller sound.

Engine TypeAnalog
Voices (max)6
LFO1 LFO assignable to VCA,VCF or VCO
Engine Detailed1 VCO per voice (saw, PW, PWM) + 1 sub-oscillator per voice
Filter (VCF)Low-pass only, self-oscillates at high resonance. ADSR envelope for VCF (filter).
Envelope (VCA)VCA uses filter's ADSR envelope or simple gate on-off
FXChorus, phaser, ensemble
Memory32 patches
ArpeggiatorArpeggiator (Up, Down, Up/Down, Latch; Full, 2-oct, 1-oct; rate 0.2 to 20 Hz)
ControllersChord memory, Arpeggiator sync in
Key typeKeys
CV-gateCV In
Produced:1981 - 1981
Legend: Obvious Y: Yes, N: No, N/A: Not Applicable
VCO Voltage Controlled Oscillator DCO Digital Controlled Oscillator
LFO Low Frequency Oscillator Sub Sub Oscillator
VCF Voltage Controlled Filter VCA Voltage Controlled Amplifier
Velocity As with a piano, the harder you hit a key, the louder the sound, unlike most organs which always produce the same loudness no matter how hard you hit a key. Aftertouch Pressing a key after you activated it. Channel Aftertouch, no matter which key, it will send a Channel message. Poly Aftertouch, sends the pressure per key instead of the whole channel.
Values for OSC, LFO, Filter, Envelope are per voice unless stated otherwise.


If you like to discuss or talk about synths in all forms (including VST and modular), you are welcome to join the Facebook group "The Hard, The Soft and The Modular".

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