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
gridsleep
June 21, 2013 @ 9:41 pm
"dave colins": more accurate comparison is a Challenger tank to an Abrams Fighting Vehicle. Smaller, lighter, less heavily armed but faster to the punch and much more mobile in tight spaces. Your Segway comparison belittles a very well made, fine sounding and popular keyboard.
Simon
May 21, 2013 @ 4:30 am
Picked up in a charity shop for... wait for it... SEVEN POUNDS!

Really enjoy it, different entirely to my more modern MS2000. I prefer it, in many ways. And for under a tenner, there can be no arguments!
Miguel
April 30, 2013 @ 2:39 am
An astonishing beast for just 50 bucks! It will always keep a special place in my studio.
Dave Colins
April 24, 2013 @ 11:51 am
"The Poly-800 was comparable to the Juno-106" - Yes, in much the same way as a Challenger tank can be compared to a segway. The poly 800 isn't a bad little synth, just don't expect to get much in the way of fat bass from it. Basically it sounds like an 80's arcade game, which isn't surprising when you consider that the same DCO chip in the poly800 was also used in most arcade machines of the era. The filter is ok, but the DCO's are a bit thin. It does benefit hugely from being modded though, and there are plenty of mods available for it on the net.
Pete Vomex
March 8, 2013 @ 6:23 am
"A misunderstanding, when talking about analog technology, is that DCO are digital oscillators. But booth VCO and DCO are analog, but Voltage controlled pitch or Digital controlled pitch." from http://www.gearslutz.com/board/6971428-post6.html
He's right.

https://soundcloud.com/cheapchip
 
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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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