Synth Site: Miscellaneous: Polaris Synth: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.2 out of 5
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Leslie Secundus a professional user from Canada writes:
Anyone thinking about buying a Polaris should at the very least read ALL of the reviews provided here by One of the few negative reviews I saw was submitted by someone calling himself "a part time user", which might go a long way towards explaining the negative review.

My experience is that even somebody with a good analog synth programming backround might not "get it" right away. It takes some experimenting, really nothing more than understanding what's "below" the front panel, just to break the Polaris out of it's generic shell. Once that's happenned, the Polaris can become an a pretty intimidating sounding instument.

Here's the point really. Compared to the Polaris, other analog machines seem a lot easier to get to that equivalent point. The point they are out of their cage, so to speak. [I think it has to do with the way the oscillators are set up on the Polaris.]

It's worth talking about this since, in some quarters, the Polaris is said to be "generic sounding". I have to assume the people involved have not gotten to the point where the Polaris has started to sing, or scream. Considering how easy it is to get at all the parameters, it's hard to understand how they havn't got there yet.

There's a small number of people in the world making a living programming synths professionally. One I know, makes programs for some really great analog instruments like the Matrix 12, Jupiter 8, Rhodes Chroma, Memory Moog, as well as the Polaris . According to him, the Polaris is one of the best sounding analog synths ever made.

Most people who have heard or played a well programmed Polaris find it amazingly fat and punchy, not to mention warm and unique. Compared to any number of analog synths out there worth owning, the Polaris seems to stand out in terms of fatness.

It's not easy to find an analog synth that's able to play 8 channel multitimbrel and has dynamic voice allocation. Voice allocation is essential to make best use of the channels.

I found it interesting something the part time user said. He said, "I found that many features were rendered useless once I tried to impliment them into several advanced type of MIDI settups".

My experience has been different. The Polaris can operate as 8 independant sythesizers with total control over any aspect of each of them. It's only a matter of whether the sytem has enough control to do that or not. So in my experience, it's the controlling system, not the Polaris where difficulties arrise. What few problems that did come up were trivial compared to the things that the Poaris was actually able to do over MIDI.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Nov-16-2000 at 21:16
Max Potekhin a hobbyist user from USA writes:
This keyboard is a combination of an analog synth and Intel based microcomputer which performs control and patch storage functions. Everything related to the analog part is clearly labeled and extremely easy to navigate. There are about 20 sliders, I believe, and that provides convenient access to all parameters. Sliders are nicely marked to distinguish between bypolar and unipolar parameters (i.e. those which can take both positive and negative values, and positive only).

All the MIDI configuration controls, however, are either poorly labeled or not labeled at all. There are plenty of crucial functions which are virtually inaccessible without heavy use of the manual.

I believe the polyphony is 6 note, 6 voice multitimbral. The keyboard action is pleasing light semi-weighted. It's velocity sensitive, no after pressure.

No effects. There is a memory extension for the onboard sequencer which I never bothered to learn about.

The unit has one (count them!) one output, which makes it hard if not impossible to use in multitimbral mode, because one would typically want to use different effects on different patches.

Where this keyboard really shines, is the MIDI CC implementation. All sliders transmit and receive control change messages, and in that regards this unit is on par with most modern synths (and it's 15 yrs old!). All the filter and envelope manipulations can be done in real time and sequenced. You can't reassign CC numbers but it rarely causes problems.

And of course, it has wooden sides without which no synthesizer can be considered true analog.

Sounds: Versatile is the keyword here. I managed to get very fuzzy pads out of it which resemble Oberheim. It appears to be capable of producing some very convincing classic bass. PWM modulation is very helpful. With the ability to route the LFO to most relevant parameters, sci-fi effects are easy to get. It can also sound clean and warm, very ARPish. The filter is great!

This keyboard is a great value and tons of fun to play.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Jan-19-2000 at 11:38
AdamT writes:
My serious gripe with the Polaris is that they didn`t market them in the UK in great numbers (I`ve never seen one for sale anyway).. they tend to go for around $350US S/H that makes them around £220.. I`d love a bloody polaris for £220. Everyone I`ve spoken too who`s heard one says it`s a real Juno killer and probably gives the Jupiter-6 a run for its money too.. I know it`s no Chroma (as in ARP chroma) but I bet it weighs less than 50KG and doesn`t overheat (though I wouldn`t part with the old beast even if I DID find one, it sounds magnificent, but I would like to try it`s little CBS brother).

posted Tuesday-Jun-29-1999 at 18:39
a part-timer user writes:
At one point, I purchased a pristine Chroma Polaris from a good friend of mine, and everything worked. While I thought it was neat at first, as I went further along with experimenting, I had discovered an enormous amount of features that had been missing from a majority of synths of that period. Even though I gave the synth a more than enough fair chance to work with all that was possible with it, there are a few major aspects that were totally absent from this synth.

(1) While it exhibits many features, I found its overall sound quality interesting, but at the same time, generic.

(2) With all features present to interact with even the most advaced of MIDI setups, I found many features were rendered useless once I tried to implement them into several advanced type of MIDI setups (of course not mine). I will say that it did what few features it promised to do, but there are too long of what situations resulted from what every MIDI expert I knew tried.

In all fairness, I will give it 2. Seems pretty spartan, but it has few too good things to work with in compared to what idiosyncrasies it exhibits. Accoring to several experienced MIDI and electronic technicians, my unit was devoid of any technical problems (as I had witnessed myself), but once I felt that I could use more money and space and less equipment to deal with, the polaris was the first to go. While i do miss a few of its unique sounds, I don't miss the whole synthesizer itself.

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Monday-Mar-01-1999 at 00:18
Patrick Coleff a part-timer user from USA writes:
I picked up this board only a few days ago and am already in utter love with it. It sounds rich and thick and whips out some amazing sounds. Then when I found i was able to record slider movement on the sequencer. heaven! Luckily, I have no memory problems right now, but after reading all of this posted, I shall be wary.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-Aug-24-1998 at 19:14
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