I wanted one of these the first time I tried it!

I had lusted after the prohibitively expensive Prophet 5 since it was released in 1978 and I had fumbled about with a semi-polyphonic combination of a Crumar string synth through a monophonic ARP Axxe but here, at last, was a truly polyphonic synth which, at £1,200, was affordable. Except for one small problem....

In 1981, I didn't have £1,200!

The Polysix was a trend-setter. It was the first polysynth to use DCOs (digitally controlled oscillators) rather than more expensive (and temperamental) VCOs (voltage controlled oscillators). It was also the first polysynth to take the brave step and feature only one oscillator per voice (until then, all polysynths had two per voice). However, Korg overcame this limitation by adding various sub-octaves to add depth to the sound. These were only switchable (and phase-locked) square waves but they were effective. The Polysix's PWM facilities could also be coaxed into creating swirling textures that gave the impression of detuned VCOs.

The lowpass, resonant filters were all analogue and the same SSM chips used in the Prophet were also used in the Polysix so they sounded pretty good. The Polysix only had one ADSR envelope generator to handle both amplitude and filter shaping duties but there was a 'gate' (i.e. on/off) option for the VCA that made things a little more flexible. There was also a single LFO for oscillator, filter or amplitude modulation

The icing on the cake for the Polysix was the chorus and ensemble effects that were strapped across its outputs and this more than made up for the lack of detunable oscillators providing lush and fat sounds that belied their modest origins.

Although it couldn't compete with the sheer flexibility of the Sequential Circuits or Oberheim polysynths of the time, the humble Polysix could give them both a damned good run for their money for strings, pads, organs, clavs, basses and leadlines (the latter two enhanced by the Polysix's 'unison' mode that put all six DCOs on a single note for a truly thick sound). It could also create a good range of polysynth sounds that were denied to all but those who had the £3,000 at their disposal to afford the aforementioned SCI or Oberheim products. The Polysix was a revelation at the time!

That the Polysix also had a versatile and cabable arpeggiator is often overlooked and this could be driven from an external clock if required (although, for reasons only known to Korg, the external clock input was non-standard and required a convertor if this was to be used with anything other than a Korg product). It also had 32 memories to save your sounds in.

I never did buy a Polysix - instead, I bought a Roland Juno 6 which was released shortly after the Korg hit the streets. It had very similar facilities (but sadly, not the magnificent unison mode and and a few other functions). Neither was it programmable but it was half the price of the Polysix and that's where the appeal lay with me and my bank manager!!