Polysix power: polyphony popularised
As the last MS-20s were trundling off the assembly line, Korg had rolled up their sleeves and got down to the business of crushing the price barriers that stood between the average gigging musician and true polyphony. Before 1982, only the wealthy could afford the astronomical prices commanded by the likes of Sequential Circuits and Oberheim for their flagship polyphonic instruments. Korg brought the price of both polyphony and patch recall down to Earth with the Polysix, charging ‘just' £899 for such hi-falutin' luxuries.
Obviously, corners were cut – but judiciously so. The Polysix offered a single oscillator, its lone ADSR envelope was shared by amplifier and filter, and the LFO could only manage a sine wave. Nonetheless, it sounded good, thanks in no small part to the analogue chorus. More appealing to modern users was the inclusion of a spiffy arpeggiator. Performance options included both pitch and modwheels – Korg had yet to jump for the joystick.
At the time, Korg's only competitor was Roland, whose Juno-6 – like the Korg – offered six voices each. However, the Juno-6 lacked patch memory and made use of a DCO rather than Korg's more traditional SSMbased approach (SSM chips were also the basis for the Prophet-5's sound). The Polysix, needless to say, wiped the floor with Roland in the marketplace. By the following summer, Roland were forced to issue the programmable Juno-60 as a result. This was clearly a great time to be a synthesist, and overjoyed players lined up 30,000 deep to buy a Polysix of their own.