Again: Juno or Polysix?

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Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby polyjuno » Fri Feb 24, 2012 4:19 am

Hi. I'm buying my first vintage synth, and I've come to (like many others it seems) a choice between the Roland Juno series and the Korg Polysix. First of all, I'm quite a newbie when it comes to synth programming, but I find it very interesting, and I think those synths will give me the ideal combination of being easy to handle, as well as not too limiting. By the way, MIDI seems to often come up in discussions here. For me, MIDI is not essential, at least not yet.

The synth I want the most is the Polysix. But this is based mostly on things I've read so far. From what I understand, the Polysix has a more organic sound, and can sound harsh, ambient, lush etc, with more "degrees of freedom" than the Juno, attributed by many to its VCOs. The Junos are described as being over all a bit softer, and not as varied in what sounds and "mood" they can produce. Do you agree on this? The demos I've heard/seen of them seem to indicate the same thing. For example, this Rhodes-like patch one the Polysix, sounds quite unlike anything I've heard from the Junos. It just has more feeling. But then again, I haven't really heard more than some demos of either synth, so I can't really decide.

What is stopping me from buying a Polysix is two things, price and stability. First of all, the Polysix has VCOs, which are not as stable as DCOs. Is tuning, calibration etc. something that needs to be done regularly with the Polysix, or will it work for years after it's eventually done?

I've also seen comments that the keyboard is rather poor on the Polysix. And then of course, there is the battery leakage problem. I'm a bit worried that even if I buy a Polysix that has been serviced, there may still be corrosion damage to the PCB which can continue to develop because the board wasn't cleaned good enough. Is this likely to happen? To mee it seems the Junos are just better built, and are less likely to cause problems in the future.

The battery problem seems to be driving the prices of the Polysixes quite high. The page here on VintageSynth for it says that it's worth about $600 max. The serviced ones that I've seen for sale have all started at about $1100-1200. Is such a price worth it, or are the differences between the Polysix and f.ex. Juno-6/60 so small that getting one isn't really justifiable? (Juno-6 seems to start at about $600 and Juno-60s at about $800 these days)

I'd be thankful for any comments to help me sort this out. :) I doubt I'll regret buying any of those of course, but the Polysix is my "favorite" right now at least.
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby V301H » Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:46 pm

VSE prices are outdated. Most Vintage Synths have dramatically increased in value over the last few years. And then many sellers ask inflated prices on top of that. If you don't need to buy right away it might be best to watch Craigslist or other sources for a while and wait for a deal to come along.

The Polysix is a nice-sounding single-oscillator-per-voice Synth. Many people prefer VCO's over DCO's and I'm one of them. VCO's usually need to warm up for 15 minutes or so before they will stay in tune. Once warmed up periodic tuning may be needed which is also the case on much more expensive VCO Analogs. What gives VCO's much of their perceived warm sound is that they are never perfectly in tune.

DCO's on the other hand are in tune when you turn the instrument on and don't require any further tuning. While many DCO's sound good they are always perfectly in tune which tends to have a more static sound. This is why nearly every DCO Synth has an on-board Chorus to compensate for that lack of motion.

As far as features the Polysix and Juno 60 are pretty evenly matched. The Polysix has an edge with Pulse-Width-Modulation Speed separate from the Modulation Generator Frequency. It's on-board Chorus has variable Frequency not found on the Juno.

The Juno 60 has an invertible Envelope Generator, stepped High-Pass Filter, and continuously variable VCA level all lacking on the Polysix. The keyboard on the Juno has a quality feel comparable to the Jupiter 6 keyboard in my experience. It may be the same keyboard found on other more expensive Roland Synths of the time.

Before even considering spending $1100-1200 for a Polysix you might take a look at the Sequential Prophet 600. It is more full-featured than either the Polysix or Juno with two VCO's per-voice, two Envelope generators, more Modulation possibilities, Portamento, Sequencer, and MIDI. Other lower-priced VCO analog Synths include the Rhodes Chroma Polaris and Akai AX60.
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby nathanscribe » Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:23 pm

Nicely put, V.

I've been using Junos for 20 years, and they've never let me down. I've got a 6 and 60. You only get one DCO, but you do get the chance to mix PWM, sawtooth and square sub-osc (1 oct down), and the PWM can be manually set, LFO-driven, or envelope-swept. There's also a variable delay (fade-in) on the LFO and a manual trigger for it. The arpeggiator is good, and there are three chorus settings (1, 2, both) - and a stereo output. There's also DCB interfacing on the 60, which means you can sequence it from either a sequencer that has a DCB output (ie, old Rolands) or interface it to MIDI with something like the Kenton Pro-DCB (Mk2 I think is the current one). That allows the Juno to act as a MIDI source as well as destination, so you can play with the arpeggiator and record it as MIDI information, for example. The Kenton unit isn't exactly cheap, but it's extremely good and very solid. It adds a nice extra bit of potential to your Juno without having to carve it up with an internal MIDI retrofit.

There are lots of other synths in that price bracket, such as the Roland JX or Crumar Bit models - bit if you have narrowed it down to Juno or Polysix, I hope I've added something helpful.

Welcome to VSE, and good luck.
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby philip » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:18 pm

I had polisix and now I have Juno's60&106. A can't say I miss my polysix,but I can say I love my junies more than anything.
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby pflosi » Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:54 am

V301H wrote:The Juno 60 has an invertible Envelope Generator, stepped High-Pass Filter, and continuously variable VCA level all lacking on the Polysix.


The P6 has inverted EG (for the filter) as well, it's EG intensity knob is -/+ with 12 o'clock being 0. The VCA level on the Juno is really just an initial gain for the VCA, you can't open the VCA with it - so that's the same as the P6 Attenuator as well. The HPF on the JU can be handy indeed.

I love both the Juno and the P6. Great synths :keys1: get them both :ugeek:
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby polyjuno » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:04 am

Thanks for the comments and advice so far! Although, I must say it hasn't made my decision much clearer. Of course, all of the synths mentioned are great in their own way, and if I had enough money, I'd buy them all. :P

I haven't really even considered (or even read much about) the Prophet 600 before, as I thought this belonged to a whole different price range, out of my reach. However, I see it is actually one of the most affordable ones of the bunch! That's a bit surprising, since from a technological viewpoint, is clearly the most advanced. Why is it not so sought after as the Polysixes or Junos? After som googling and demo listening, it really comes close to the Polysix as my new favorite candidate. Its two VCOs per voice gives a lot more flexibility, and the onboard sequencer seems like a great thing. However, I've also noted a few things: It has no effects section, unlike the Junos or the Polysix. I guess it sounds fat and warm anyway, but still, it might make it unable to do some of the sound "types" that the others can do because of this? Also, I see that it has digitally controlled envelope generators, with not so smooth (not continuous) control of the parameters. How big of a deal is this really? Some say it causes it to have slower envelopes as well? Finally, are there any thins to look out for when it comes to the Prophet 600? Are any parts of it prone to failure like f.ex. the battery in the Polysix? I notice that it has a 110V-220V, which is a nice touch :) (I live in Europe, and a lot of the gear I'm looking at is in the US or in Japan.)
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby GuyaGuy » Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:42 am

Lots of Prophet 600 info if you do a search but in general:

Envelopes are indeed a bit on the slow side (but not as awful as people say)
There is indeed an audible zipper effect depending on your settings (but there's a CV jack for the filter)
No real issues like the Polysix's leaky battery (but check the membrane pad, although even that can be replaced)

It can sound more aggressive than a Juno but it is still capable of pretty sounds too.
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby V301H » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:05 am

The Prophet 600 doesn't really need an on-board Chorus to produce a rich sound. It can simulate Chorus-like effects by detuning the Oscillators against each other or applying Pulse-Width Modulation. The built-in Chorus on single Oscillator Synths is often there to simulate the kind of motion to the sound that is characteristic of dual-VCO Synths. Take note that nearly every DCO Synth has built-in Chorus. Only a few VCO Synths have it.

Not sure why there isn't more demand for the Prophet 600. They seem to be relatively easy to find. Perhaps there was a huge number produced. Definitely one of the best bargains on the Vintage Synth market.
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby GuyaGuy » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:31 am

And if you need chorus you can get it from a $40 DOD analog stomp box.
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby nathanscribe » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:20 pm

GuyaGuy wrote:And if you need chorus you can get it from a $40 DOD analog stomp box.


Quite. The FX65 Stereo Chorus is a particularly good one.

For what it's worth, I ran my Juno 60 through various chorus units to compare the sound (details on the soundcloud page for this track):



Also, last time I looked, prices in the UK for P600s were at least as high as the Juno. Maybe it's cheaper in the US, but over this side of the pond the choice isn't going to be based on price so much I think.
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby polyjuno » Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:05 pm

Interesting!

What I fear about the Prophet 600 is that is isn't as capable of sounding lush and warm as the Junos or the Polysix are. It has been described in many places as being very versatile, but not very good for more lush and etheral sounds (and above, as being more aggressive.) I'll be using the synthesizer a lot to make nice pads and bass lines. Is this something the Prophet 600 can do as well (or nearly) as the Junos for example?

The more I read about the Prophet 600, the more it seems like a bargain at the prices (relative to other synths) that it's sold for now. It has CPU controlled tuning, which is something the Polysix lacks. I don't know how important it really is though? It has a nice sequencer (it seems?), two envelope controls (can someone elaborate on how this can affect sound?) and portamento, which only the Juno-106 has. However, as I asked yesterday, are there any weak spots to look out for? The membrane buttons were mentioned, and it's not hard to imagine that they can be a problem. Are there any other known problems? By the way, how is the keyboard on this compared to the Junos'?

Still, the Polysix seems quite attractive to me. It seems to have a really nice, more organic and alive sound. I'd not dare to say more musical, but it seems to have a great feel to it. (I'll also have to admit that I'm a bit of a sucker for retro design. Of course it doesn't really play a large role when deciding which one to choose, but the Junos (6 and 60 especially) and the Polysix just look a lot nicer than the Prophet 600 to me.)
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby nathanscribe » Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:13 pm

polyjuno wrote: two envelope controls (can someone elaborate on how this can affect sound?)


Let's start with the Juno as an example. They use one envelope - an ADSR type, which is most common on such polys - and that can be applied to the VCA for volume, VCF for cut-off frequency modulation (in either positive or negative amounts) or to the PWM wave pulse width. The amount of envelope you apply can be set at each destination. This means if you want the envelope to sweep the filter (so its brightness changes over time) you're using the same envelope that shapes the volume - likewise the PWM, you're using the same envelope. This might not be the effect you want.

A synth with two envelopes usually has one dedicated to the VCA, and another to the VCF. This means you can sweep the filter with a different shape than the volume - so you can have a sound that starts quiet and fades up slowly, but has a brightness that starts low, snaps up quickly, then fades down again at a different pace to the volume changes.

Typically one of these envelopes (usually the VCF one) can also be used as a modulation source for other things (such as PWM) but that will depend on the way your particular synth is put together.

I never found the single ADSR on the Juno to be much of a problem, but it is nice to have two.
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby polyjuno » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:06 pm

Thanks, I think I understand. :)
I'm starting to think that the Prophet 600 will be ideal as my first analog synth. It has a lot of features, and it's cheaper than any of the others (that have been serviced and checked. I won't even consider auctions by the typical "I HAVE TESTED THIS A FEW YEARS AGO IT WORKED FINE" sellers.) The Polysix is still the most impressive sonically, but I figure I could just go after one later when I've got som skills at using these things. I'd still welcome answers to the questions in my last post. I haven't quite decided which one to buy yet.
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby GuyaGuy » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:29 pm

polyjuno wrote:Interesting!

What I fear about the Prophet 600 is that is isn't as capable of sounding lush and warm as the Junos or the Polysix are. It has been described in many places as being very versatile, but not very good for more lush and etheral sounds (and above, as being more aggressive.) I'll be using the synthesizer a lot to make nice pads and bass lines. Is this something the Prophet 600 can do as well (or nearly) as the Junos for example?

The more I read about the Prophet 600, the more it seems like a bargain at the prices (relative to other synths) that it's sold for now. It has CPU controlled tuning, which is something the Polysix lacks. I don't know how important it really is though? It has a nice sequencer (it seems?), two envelope controls (can someone elaborate on how this can affect sound?) and portamento, which only the Juno-106 has. However, as I asked yesterday, are there any weak spots to look out for? The membrane buttons were mentioned, and it's not hard to imagine that they can be a problem. Are there any other known problems? By the way, how is the keyboard on this compared to the Junos'?

Still, the Polysix seems quite attractive to me. It seems to have a really nice, more organic and alive sound. I'd not dare to say more musical, but it seems to have a great feel to it. (I'll also have to admit that I'm a bit of a sucker for retro design. Of course it doesn't really play a large role when deciding which one to choose, but the Junos (6 and 60 especially) and the Polysix just look a lot nicer than the Prophet 600 to me.)

Pad yes, bass lines yes but the envelopes aren't super snappy
Auto-tuner is handy mostly for live but not a must
Keyboard on the Juno is better than the Prophet
It's not a "nice sequencer" on the Prophet. It's very limited.
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Re: Again: Juno or Polysix?

Postby philip » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:59 pm

polyjuno wrote:Thanks, I think I understand. :)
I'm starting to think that the Prophet 600 will be ideal as my first analog synth. It has a lot of features, and it's cheaper than any of the others (that have been serviced and checked. I won't even consider auctions by the typical "I HAVE TESTED THIS A FEW YEARS AGO IT WORKED FINE" sellers.) The Polysix is still the most impressive sonically, but I figure I could just go after one later when I've got som skills at using these things. I'd still welcome answers to the questions in my last post. I haven't quite decided which one to buy yet.


You mises one main thing,Juno is a better sounding synth.
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