Formanta Polivoks

Polivoks Image

The Polivoks is the most popular vintage Russian synth made in the early 80's and it was among the first synthesizers produced in the USSR. It's purely analog with two voices of polyphony, two oscillators each with triangle, square, saw, two types of pulse waveforms and one noise generator, the levels of which are controlled via the internal mixer. Although the oscillators can become unstable and difficult to tune, the Polivoks is well suited for making screeching sounds and thunderous bass. You can also connect an external audio input for processing through the Polivoks' switchable dual-mode band pass/low pass filter and LFO sections. The LFO, or "Modulator" offers triangle, square, random and noise waveshapes and can be applied to the oscillator level and pitch or the filter cutoff. There are also two ADSR envelopes for contouring the oscillators and filters.

Polivoks had been produced since 1982 by the Formanta electronic factory (one of the biggest at the time); it was sold exclusively in the USSR. Polivoks has its own unique electronic components including a reliable keyboard (49 notes F to E) made with magnetically controlled contacts and DIN sockets for its three outputs and one input. Its synthesis modules consist of independent circuit boards, which is convenient for maintenance and repair. In addition, Polivoks is housed in an original rugged aluminum body of uncommon design with handy controls.

One more thing though, if you come across one of these it helps if you can read Russian. Check out this Panel Layout Translation to English.

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14 Visitor comments
November 29, 2011 @ 3:40 pm
i want one! i like the sounds, the looks and the fact that everything is in Russian. if someone knows where there is one for sale, i would love to hear it!
March 5, 2010 @ 10:14 am
It has noise-generator and 2 osc each with triangle, saw, square and 2 types of pulse waveforms. You can choose from monophonic (both osc play notes just from one key) or duophonic mode (osc1 plays high note). It has 2 modes of the filter: low-pass or band-pass. "Modulator" gives you 4 waveforms: triangle, square, random AND (!!!) noise, there's a mistake here... You can apply it to oscs (both volume and tune) and filter (cut-frequency). You can also modulate Osc1 with Osc2. Both ADSRs have "one-take" and iterative modes, so in fact you can use them as LFO also.
About it's unreliability... that's not true, each 20-30 years old synth needs at least cleaning and recapping with changing electrolytes. If you restore it to initial condition, it will work and sound perfect!
Polivoks is very unique and amazing synth, so is one more Russian beast called Aelita.
October 29, 2009 @ 9:47 am
This is a great and unique sounding growler beastie. Its tone has an always-present tube-like saturation. The saturation increases with resonance, like an MS20, making it increasingly aggressive until it literally screams. I don't mind the clacky keyboard so much. It sort of has a mind of its own, especially after switching pitch range and waveform, and for tuning in duophonic mode. The only 3 problems I have with it are:
1)It's impossible to scale VCO 2 perfectly on mine - I get about 2 usable octaves at most
2)Several vital pots are so incredibly scratchy and filthy, live tweaking is not an option
3)The LFO speed range is very limited

It takes about 30 minutes to warm up into tune, the vertical switches feel kind of cheap, and nearly all the knob ranges are only about 40 percent used. It has crossmod(VCO2 to VCO1), but only seems to really work if VCO2 is a lower octave. It sounds monstrous through a keyboard amp. It’s freaky-deaky!
May 3, 2009 @ 5:07 am
These machines are trully amazing!
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Rated 3.8 (230 Votes)

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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 - Two voices
  • Oscillators - 2 osc, 1 Noise Gen. Waveforms: triangle, saw, square, pulse 1 and pulse 2.
  • LFO - LFO speed and modulation (triangle, saw, square, random waveforms)
  • Filter - VCF: ADSR knobs, ADSR mode, cutoff, resonance, BPF/LPF mode, filter LFO level, envelope level.
  • VCA - ADSR knobs, ADSR mode, mod level, keyb memory.
  • Effects - Glissando
  • Keyboard - 49 note duophonic
  • Memory - None
  • Control - None
  • Date Produced - 1982

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