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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92 Visitor comments
Eddie Random
October 15, 2008 @ 5:15 pm
I found one on Ebay a couple of years ago in perfect condition and remains so to this day. Very gritty sounding and great for one-fingered chord riffs. I was able to pick up a MIDI sync box to lock with the arpeggiator to control with my sequencers. I'm fairly old school and use it alongside my Juno 1 and MS2000 for a nice retro feel.
Dr. Science
October 8, 2008 @ 5:21 pm
I purchased mine in '83 for $1100.00 and it is basically worn out. I've cleaned the key contacts so many times.... oh well - now when I turn it on she just blinks at me. I love the poly 61. it was my first true polyphonic synthesizer. It lived in my rack next to the Crumar DS2(dead), SCI Pro One(still alive) and DX 7 - a decent mixture of knobs and buttons. I now have one of those "Work Stations" (talk about work). I miss the fat sounds and simplicity of the Poly61 and plan to find another one. Thanks for the sight it brings back great memories!
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!
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.
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.
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  • Check Price
  • 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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