Synth Site: Korg: POLY800 Synthesizer: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 3.8 out of 5
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Adam a hobbyist user from USA writes:
Just picked up one of these fuckers on eBay for around $60 or so, shipping included. I spent an hour trying to load the factory patches via .wav file on computer plugged directly into the Poly 800 and it won't work. After the file plays through, you either get the 'Err' display or only a few crazy assed sounds in the 2,5,and 7 banks. I tried it at all kinds of volume levels no go. So it was time to program. If you can program a JX3P or a DW8000 this should be no problem. Yeah it takes awhile and the fact that it doesn't have a data slider makes it a bitch. But the parameters are easy enough to understand. Ok another thing..the footage settings are great! Kinda like having drawbars for each DCO. Ok you can only on or off but you can have up to 4 octaves of harmonic per DCO, too bad it doesn't have 5 1/3 or 2 2/3 or 1/3/5 settings than you could get some nice effects. But you can simulate that using keyboard 'chord' mode. You can have up to 8 notes in your chord, and the keyboard becomes monophoic. The VFC control on the joystick is really cool, and yes you can program that too. I made a couple of brassy patches last night after I unpacked it, and got totally different textures just by playing with the harmonics and filter. And speaking of filters I fully intend to do the filter mods. The moog slayer one sounds cool but I'm not so sure I want to start chopping off resistors and diodes. So I'll keep it simple and just do cutoff and reso. This thing is doing double duty as both a synth and a portable MIDI controller for my Yamaha QY70. It really is a great little machine and I think the construction is OK, but mine came in totally mint condition. No I will not smash mine, and I will use it live, already have a strap for it. I wouldn't have paid more than $100 for it but I got it cheap cheap cheap and it is cool cool cool!!!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Oct-10-2002 at 11:43
Keith Middlemass from Hawick, Scotland writes:
My first real synth and have still got one. Cheap n nasty to some but I think its a classic. Better spec than most sizers of that time. Infact, if it had more than one filter it would have been awesome. Sadly, restrictive styles of play due to the filter as the sounds don't trigger correctly. I had the EPROM updated by Korg to sort the midi problems. Still, its got great potential in the right hands. Its got some excellent sounds and great for psychedelic music. If Chris Franke (Tangerine Dream) can use one then it can't be bad.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Monday-Aug-12-2002 at 16:23
a part-time user from Madison, Wisconsin writes:
ok, first and foremost, it has charm. i like that. its cheap and plastic and enbelievably lightweight but it can compete with the big boys. its like the little synth that could. i've gotten a surprising variety of fantastic sounds out of it, including warm pads, funky basses, and a really convincing bell/chime sound worthy of fm synthesis (email me if u want to hear). also, its quirky. since the day i've gotten it the lithium battery hasn't worked. that just forces me to sit down with it and program a patch from scratch. also, that joystick is just peculiar. the vcf is just fucking evil. a hint: turn the resonance up to 10 or so and the vcf up to 15 and you can make any patch just fucking GROWL man. yes the envelope is just impossible and i can't figure it out even with the manual, but oh well. and about that sequencer. you could say hey it sucks, or you could just punch in notes at random and come up with some blippy sounding sequences (i.e. the beginning of Prime Audio Soup by MBM). i paid more than i should have (185 including shipping) but im happy with my purchase. i think it is a good beginner synth and i dont think its sounds are quite as recognizable and overused as the junos are, which admittedly do the same sort of thing much much better. at any rate if you dont expect a power synth, and dont pay more than 150 for it, its a good piece of gear to pick up and will endear itself to you in time if you give it a chance.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Sunday-Jul-07-2002 at 00:58
Saso Podobnik a part-time user from Slovenia writes:
Especially when taking into account the second-hand price, you'd think that the Poly 800 would make a great beginner's synth...but I can tell you first-hand that it doesn't. Its user interface is tedious (parameter-value), the advanced envelopes confusing at first and the flimsy buttons don't help very much. The only feature that would benefit from digital control, the step-sequencer, has a slider to set its tempo. Go figure.

Furthermore, the results of the programming were, at least for me, rarely gratifying. Korg Poly 800 doesn't sound very good, full stop. I believe that the culprit for this are the oscillators which have a strange disposition towards producing square wave overtones, regardless of their setting. Hadn't this sounded so plasticky, it could've been something that people would go for, but it's merely annoying as it is.

It's attractive price makes the Poly 800 a favourite among the modders and some modifications are great, notably the installation of filter cut-off and resonance knobs and the "Moog slayer" filter mod. (Refer to a search engine for more info, my Poly was left unmodified.)

If you decide to buy it still, make sure you check it out thoroughly. I had noting but bad experience with mid-80's Korg build quality so I might be somewhat paranoid, but the keyboard scanning mechanism is in itself an example of poor engineering; and do check if the internal battery is still doing its job.

I spent almost a year with the synth. I made a few good sounds, but not a single unforgettable one (e-mail me at "sartre@siol.net" to hear it in action - synthpop warning!). I'm not a terrific programmer and it's perfectly possible that I didn't make the best of the Poly 800. I sold it yesterday, for exactly the same price I bought it for. I can't be bitter about it at all therefore - the Poly will always be my first synth and the one that got me hooked on making synth music in the first place. I might miss it for sentimental value, but my later acquisitions (both analogue and digital) will not leave me craving for its sound and/or functionality.

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Jun-04-2002 at 03:13
Charlie a part-time user from Sweden writes:
Cheap plastic synth. this is a good machine. nothing particular. I use it for some filter pads, basslines, warm strings. it can´t do much but what it does it does good. very east to program new sounds. no noisy outputs. The sound is a little thin and digital in comparison to my Juno-2. But pick one up, they´re really cheap and got some cool sounds.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Sunday-Jan-20-2002 at 12:18
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