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
Josh
October 26, 2011 @ 10:17 pm
'Filter is monophonic' is wrong. A synth is polyphonic, monophonic or paraphonic. That filter is a behemoth w the Moog-slayer mod (Cutoff Frequency, Resonance control) & the FM-mod. The oscillator section may seem lacking. The External Audio VCF Input In mod allows sending any signal into thVCF: watch your amplifier & speakers once modded. Often underrated by people who won't take the time to modify it. Easier to modify than a DW-8000, great for powerful basses, great paraphonic-style string sounds (with external audio) & incorporating it into a sort of modular setup.
Sandi
October 24, 2011 @ 2:02 pm
I have lost my re-programmable tape and my Korg Poly 800 has lost its memory. Any ideas on where I can get another??
Peter
October 13, 2011 @ 3:06 pm
I like this synth. Why? Its small, keytar, it has a character, Sequencer etc etc.
Good vintage analog synth with raw sound. Buy it, if you can! ;)
KaffiMusic
October 9, 2011 @ 2:23 pm
I had one in the 80s. When I was able to afford a DW8000 much later I was happy to sell this pice of crap. I hated the sound in the end and still do when I hear a youtube demo. For sure, never again such a thing.
Keith N
August 30, 2011 @ 5:16 pm
Shat Sandwhich - for the same price as this squeaky toy you can pick up a MONSTER DW-8000. A real synth that is far better value AND sound.

That mono filter really kills this thing.
 
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a 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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