Korg Poly-800

Korg Poly-800 Image

Poly-800

At a time when Roland was doing well with their Juno-series, KORG countered with a poly-synth of their own in 1983 with the Poly-800. The Poly-800 was comparable to the Juno-106, at the time, with respect to the fact that musicians now had access to affordable programmable polyphonic analog synthesizers (it listed for under $1,000) with memory storage, stable DCOs (digitally controlled oscillators) and a new state-of-the-art technology called MIDI (although there was no SysEx implementation yet).

The Poly-800 is an eight-voice instrument (two more than the Juno series) with 64 memory patches (half of what the Juno-106 offered) and up to 50 editable parameters! Like the Juno, the Poly-800 had one DCO per voice, although it did feature a Double mode in which the oscillators could be stacked up for a fuller sound and only four voices of polyphony. The analog filter is a 24dB/oct low-pass which is shared by all voices (the Juno has separate filter chips for each voice). There's also a stereo chorus effect, chord memory, a simple built-in sequencer, three digital envelope generators (for the oscillators, the noise generator and the filter), and a funky joystick used to adjust the pitch, modulation and the filter.

Unlike the Juno, which was still a “studio” instrument, the Poly-800 was built for the performer. With a light-weight plastic case (only 10 lb.), a couple low-profile sliders/knobs and only 49 keys, the Poly-800 can run on batteries and has guitar strap pegs so it can be worn like a keytar. A less common reversed color keys model was released for a unique look as well.

Korg EX-800 Image

EX-800

In 1984, a keyboardless tabletop/rackmount version was released, called The EX-800. In both the Poly and EX models, all sound editing is accomplished by scrolling to a given parameter, described by little more than a two-digit number, and pushing the up or down buttons to adjust it. Fortunately every parameter’s two-digit numeric code and data-range is printed on the faceplate. Obviously, the Juno series has the edge over the Poly-800 when it comes to hands-on editing, however, some sort of external MIDI controller is usually sufficient to get more hands-on and real-time control.

Korg Poly-800mkII Image

Poly-800 mkII

The Poly-800 model was succeeded by the the Poly-800 mkII (pictured above) in 1985. The mkII added digital delay effects, MIDI SysEx functionality and a darker paint job. Note that the Siel DK70 is very similar to the Poly-800. Poly-800s have been used by Orbital, Depeche Mode, Sneaker Pimps, Vangelis, Geoff Downes, Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Yesterdays and Jimi Tenor.

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172 Visitor comments
No_Name
January 4, 2014 @ 9:17 pm
Had my Poly 800 (my 1st synth) since 1983 & never changed the battery. It still retains memory/patches for banks 11-68, some of the patches for bank 71-78 & a couple of patches for bank 81-88. It's so beat up & I barely use it, (volume knob is scratchy & I must apply & hold pressure to get sound, needs many new tactile switches, key springs & possibly partial key bed, etc) so it's not really worth paying to have it professionally serviced/battery replaced. It might be a good parts or project synth, for someone willing to give it some TLC.
Bill
December 17, 2013 @ 3:17 pm
I still have an old poly 800. the internal battery is dead. but its pretty easy to program, even if I have to start from scratch if it gets shut off.
Kind of limited to a particular sort of synth sound, (but its a sound that is unique for sure) and it would have been cool to have knobs instead of these flaky buttons . I had always hoped i would find another one or more. Stacked together these modules create some pretty rich ethereal sounds or run it through a delay or effects box. I like what I can get when I combine it with old FM synths, as they are so different
Lowebrau
November 22, 2013 @ 8:13 pm
Love this synth! The only thing I wish it could do is store more than one sequence. Also having adsr sliders and a few filter knobs would be great for live dynamic performances. Never selling this thing, even if it means eating dog food and pawning my underpants.
mark pigott
October 24, 2013 @ 1:31 pm
It is NOT polyphonic as the review says, it is paraphonic.
Kissing cousin forr the DK-70, betcha the Polly 800 was made by Siel
lcaise
October 11, 2013 @ 6:22 pm
Ive get this little bastard and in my opinion its awesome synth. Easy to programing and powerful sound.

Im happy with ex800
 
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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 - 8 voices (4 when doubled)
  • Oscillators - 1 DCO per voice (2 when doubled). 1 Noise generator.
  • LFO - Sine wave only w/ speed & delay and route to osc. or filter
  • Filter - One 24 dB/oct low-pass resonant filter
  • VCA - 3 ADBSSR Digital Envelope Generators: DCO, Noise, VCF
  • Effects - Stereo Chorus, Chord Memory
  • Sequencer - 256-step polyphonic sequencer with MIDI Start, Stop and Clock.
  • Keyboard - 49 keys
  • Memory - 64 patches
  • Control - MIDI IN/OUT/THRU, Cassette tape interface
  • Date Produced - 1983/84

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