Korg Poly-61

Korg Poly-61M Image

The Korg Poly-61 was released in 1982 as the successor to the Polysix. It was somewhat of a step up from the Polysix, as it has 2 DCOs for better reliability. It also retained the arpeggiator of the Polysix. The Poly-61 can provide cool gritty basses or trippy analog sounds and fx.

Korg Poly-61M Image

Also added is the familiar Korg joystick, which can be used to modulate the VCO or the VCF. However, its filter only has 7 steps of resonance and is not as fat as the Polysix's filter. It also uses the same method of programming the Poly-800 and Yamaha DX-7 use, so it's not a very useful synth for real-time-tweaking junkies. The first Poly-61s didn't have MIDI, but the Poly-61M released in 1984 corrects this. Overall, the Poly-61 is still a decent synth, and it can be acquired for practically nothing! It has been used by FM Static and The Faint.

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90 Visitor comments
Pepe
September 15, 2008 @ 7:10 pm
Thanks, Gazdatronik! I always wondered why OSC1 sounds better than OSC2. For example, sawtooth sounds with OSC1=16' and OSC2=4' sound very different from OSC1=4' and OSC2=16'. The low resolution of the second oscillator is the answer. But again: I like the sound!
Gazdatronik
September 14, 2008 @ 3:32 pm
The unique sound if the Poly-61 is because under the hood, there is nothing at all like it. The fliters used were a run of SSM chips that were not produced very long and only used in a few devices. The real oddball is that DCO1 is actually a row of analog oscillators, not as fancy as the polysix, designed to re-sync via the computer, as they are under Hz/Octave control. DCO2 is a goofy 4 bit oscillator, yes 4 bits of resolution-SAW looks like a staircase. The poly 61 was designed in a hurry, and it shows.
backtoguitars
September 14, 2008 @ 7:27 am
This was also my first synth and I really loved that joystick. I found it to be the most expressive way to control VCO/VCF together. Great for funk of the '80s. Sound was a little thin but it could trough drum/guitar mixes quite well. Unfortunately, smoke killed the keyboard and various keys became quite unreliable. I still used it with a retro-fitted MIDI board installed for quite a while before finally retiring it. Brings back great memories.
Analogue Crazy
September 5, 2008 @ 8:49 am
Yeah i also found this to sound rather dirty, but in a very unique and beutiful way. I love this synth, its a shame they are hard to find without problems.
Pepe
August 19, 2008 @ 3:41 pm
This was my first synth and I still have fun with it. The sound is indeed dirty, although I don't understand the comparison with the DX7 in the VSE description. But I really like the sound. It has got its own flair. The Poly-61 doesn't offer lots of functions, but it does its job very nice. It is so easy to use and it's a good tool for beginners. The 7 raw steps of resonance are a pity, but that's the only thing I don't like. I love the machine for it's keyboard. It is so smooth and I can play very fast phrases due to its good response. That's why I use it so much when it comes to lead parts.
 
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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 6 Voices
  • Oscillators - DCO1:sawtooth, pulse, and square; DCO-2: sawtooth, square
  • LFO - 1 LFO can modulate the DCOs or the Filter
  • Filter - 1 lowpass filter w/ ADSR
  • Memory - 64 patches
  • VCA - ADSR
  • Keyboard - 61 keys
  • Arpeg/Seq - Arpeggiator with external sync
  • Effects - Chorus
  • Control - MIDI (on later Poly-61M models)
  • Date Produced - 1982 - 1986
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