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!!