Korg PolySix Programmable Polyphonic Synthesizer , c. 1981

Korg  PolySix Programmable Polyphonic Synthesizer ,  c. 1981
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Item # 12084
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Korg PolySix Model Programmable Polyphonic Synthesizer, c. 1981, made in Japan, serial # 465014, black enamel and woodgrain finish, black road case.

The now fairly iconic Korg PolySix was initially an inexpensive alternative to the flagship programmable polysynths of the time. It was released in 1981, almost simultaneously with the Roland Juno 6. This competing pair marked a milestone of being the first fully polyphonic synths ordinary mortal musicians could afford that had comparable features to the industry flagships like the Prophet 5, Oberheim OB-Xa and the Roland Jupiter 8.

The PolySix arrived fully laden with features including 32 memory patches, 6 voices of polyphony, cassette backup of memory, programmable modulation effects and not one but three onboard effects: chorus, phase and 'ensemble'. The latter is likely what made the PolySix known as a poor-man's Prophet, as well as achieving Mellotron-like sounds with its string presets. The fairly advanced arpeggiator can memorize and sequence chords across the keyboard. The ADSR has an impressively wide range; the maximum attack time is around 18 seconds and decay and release both around 25 seconds.

Many synths of this era had begun the move towards digital technology using DCOs or microprocessor-generated envelopes. The PolySix uses a separate analog VCO, VCF and envelope generator for each voice, giving it the warm and full sound it became known for; somewhat softer and brassy-er sounding compared to the Juno and other Japanese synths of the era. It is now recognized as a classic of its time and still a very useful keyboard when in well-maintained condition.

Cosmetically, this synth is in truly outstandingly fine shape, protected most of its life by the included heavy duty Calzone-made flight case. The control panel is almost entirely free of any notable wear or scratches and all the original knobs are fully intact and present. The wood-paneled sides are also nicely intact, save for some scuffing to the lower rear-left corner. The keys and controls are all in excellent condition and even the original power cord is intact. The synth comes with original documentation, including an unopened cassette containing the original factory presets for the unit.

Electrically the unit is all original save for the battery, which has been replaced. Like other programmable synthesizers of the era, the PolySix had a rechargeable nickel-cadmium battery that powered the memory when the unit was switched off. The original batteries are now well past their designed lifespan and thus prone to failure, leaving the instrument unable to recall user designed patches from its memory. More seriously, if the battery is not replaced, it can leak and corrode the circuits.

Unfortunately for the PolySix, this battery is mounted on the main processor board and corrosion here can be fatally damaging to the circuitry of the instrument. Luckily in this case, no such leakage occurred and the original battery was seamlessly replaced with a 3.6-volt Lithium battery kit, courtesy of Syntaur. This is an outstanding example of this unit, as well preserved as we would ever expect to find 40+ years along. Excellent Condition.