The Korg Poly-800 is a synthesizer released by Korg in 1983. Its initial list price of $795 made it the first fully programmable synthesizer that sold for less than $1000. It featured a 49 key non-velocity sensitive keyboard, two buttons for data entry, and a joystick controller, which could modulate the DCO pitch or the VCF.
At a time when Roland was doing well with their Juno-series, KORG countered with a poly-synth of their own in 1983 with the Poly-800. The Poly-800 was comparable to the Juno-106, at the time, with respect to the fact that musicians now had access to affordable programmable polyphonic analog synthesizers (it listed for under $1,000) with memory storage, stable DCOs (digitally controlled oscillators) and a new state-of-the-art technology called MIDI (although there was no SysEx implementation yet).
The Poly-800 is an eight-voice instrument (two more than the Juno series) with 64 memory patches (half of what the Juno-106 offered) and up to 50 editable parameters! Like the Juno, the Poly-800 had one DCO per voice, although it did feature a Double mode in which the oscillators could be stacked up for a fuller sound and only four voices of polyphony. The analog filter is a 24dB/oct low-pass which is shared by all voices (the Juno has separate filter chips for each voice). There's also a stereo chorus effect, chord memory, a simple built-in sequencer, three digital envelope generators (for the oscillators, the noise generator and the filter), and a funky joystick used to adjust the pitch, modulation and the filter.
In 1984, a keyboardless tabletop/rackmount version was released, called The EX-800. In both the Poly and EX models, all sound editing is accomplished by scrolling to a given parameter, described by little more than a two-digit number, and pushing the up or down buttons to adjust it. Fortunately every parameter’s two-digit numeric code and data-range is printed on the faceplate. Obviously, the Juno series has the edge over the Poly-800 when it comes to hands-on editing, however, some sort of external MIDI controller is usually sufficient to get more hands-on and real-time control.
After production of the original keyboard ended in 1985, the enhanced Poly-800 MkII was released. It featured a digital delay instead of a chorus effect, and included limited MIDI SysEx functionality. It was produced until 1987.
- Polyphony - 8 voices (4 when doubled)
- Oscillators - 1 DCO per voice (2 when doubled). 1 Noise generator.
- LFO - Sine wave only w/ speed & delay and route to osc. or filter
- Filter - One 24 dB/oct low-pass resonant filter
- VCA - 3 ADBSSR Digital Envelope Generators: DCO, Noise, VCF
- Effects - Stereo Chorus, Chord Memory
- Sequencer - 256-step polyphonic sequencer with MIDI Start, Stop and Clock.
- Keyboard - 49 keys
- Memory - 64 patches
- Control - MIDI IN/OUT/THRU, Cassette tape interface
- Date Produced - 1983/84
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