Synth Site: Korg: POLY800 Synthesizer: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 3.8 out of 5
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Cleatus from the US writes:
I've had mine for about half a month now. When I first brought it home, it wouldn't even turn on. I took it back to the store and the guy said that I should try using batteries instead of an adapter, and he would reimburse if it didn't work. Well it did...I hate using batteries, most of all Cs. So this thing doesn't work with any of my wall warts. Anyone else having this problem? Is this synth just really picky about power supply?

Anyway...I've been having quite a bit of fun with it ever since. It's not my first synth - I have a DJX (using the term "synth" very loosely here) along with a TR626 and a TR606 and got a TX81z a while ago. So I guess it's my first "analogue", though I am already very familiar with analog synthesis.

I have no delusions about the oscillators, they are definitely digital (no reason to hate them though). The envelopes are pointlessly complicated, too. The sequencer isn't state of the art but it is really fun, considering that you could take this thing on the bus with a pair of headphones...in that respect there's an almost 303-ish charm about it.

The interface really sucks (switches in the back for memory protect??? come on!), but at $116, it doesn't bother me. It's not impossible, just not as intuitive as could be - I didn't even get a manual with mine. The joystick is ridiculous, though turning it directly southward has a kind of fun effect on the VCF (modulation by the "MG" - the LFO that is). Also the Poly 800 isn't velocity sensitive.

I can't seem to get the oscillators properly tuned. Even when turning the pots to the limit it's at least a couple notes off. The chorus effect is cheezy and the organ settings are useless...I'm not really familiar with the concept, it just seems like it's stacking or taking off more square wave harmonics from the sound?

There is something wrong with the noise oscillator, maybe this is just on mine, but when I use the noise, it makes a very audible low bass note which I think is tuned to C. For a while it actually sounded like real noise, but most of the time it makes this low drone. Actually kind of cool sounding, but not very useful 83% of the time.

Now for the VCF - its most redeeming value. This thing is great fun. Turn the resonance (param 42) all the way up, and if you listen closely it's almost self oscillating. I think I actually got it to self oscillate once, though I think it was a fluke. Lately what I've been doing is turning the noise to about 3. If you mess with the cutoff, polarity, EG, MG, etc. for the filter, you can create some really great sounds. I made a kick sound that shook my walls, some analog blips, and some 80s cartoon sound effects. What's kind of fun is to make a really quick decaying envelope such as described above, go into Seq-303 on your computer, and hold down R as you tweak the envelope settings. It's blippy chaos! Fun, fun fun :) One thing (though I don't really give a crap) - if you have a very slow attack or decay, the filter will "zipper" (correct term?) - it won't be a continuous slope of frequency, but rather steps of close frequencies. This is because it's digitally controlled and it's old so the amount of bits are probably really low, like 4 or 8 or something.

That's not all that I like...it's easy to complain about this synth, but it really is very fun to use. It has quite a bit of low end too - and with the chorus on and the OSC2 detuned a bit you can make it sound rather big. It's great for creepy drone basses and 80's synthy pads and blip sound effects. I got pretty much what I expected - a fun toy that makes some nice, very useable sounds. As long as this isn't the centerpiece of your setup, you should be just fine - don't expect really high quality or humongous analog sounds. I really enjoy it, though, and it's a cute, fun, dirty, confused little synth which is actually pretty flexible.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Jan-10-2001 at 14:13
Spyglass a part-time user from Chicago writes:
you either love or you hate this synth. I am bipolar when it comes to it. i will sit down and start programming it and come up with a pretty decent pad, however by the time i move on to start programming another sound i am BORED off my ASS! so i let it sit for another month and program a new pad sound a month later. it's DCO's are just too digital sounding to compete with an "analog" and the attacks arent steep enough for really nice string sounds...the pads can be pretty good, but the LFO is pretty limited, especially since you cant independently control the oscilations of the DCO's and the VCF. However, with enough reverb a poly 800 can give a really great pad sound, and throw it through a sherman FB and...well...anything sounds badass through a sherman. <p> anywho, it can make some nice girgling bass sounds, and come weird sounds too. but for the most part the way the DCO's are linked together i think is its major limitation. if you want cheap string sounds, get a yamaha SY series. if you want cheap basses and leads, get an SCI six-track, and if you want a gurgly and unpredictably 80's synth get a poly800...its a fun lil synth and can double as a nice lil controlller...but...well like everything this side of an alesis andromeda it has its limits. <p> later,<br> <b>spyglass</b>

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Dec-21-2000 at 01:45
Dave, Jay Jay Johanson remixer a professional user from France writes:
What a piece of cake to get the sound of ANTILOOP with the POLY 800 MKII from Korg. This synth can't do everything, but you can get fat bass, fat detuned lead, big sweep. I give a 4 for this synth because of the quality/price ratio, easy to programm. Buy one !!!

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Dec-12-2000 at 06:49
Adrian Mander a hobbyist user from Canada writes:
A fun, cheap, and very portable synth, as previous reviewers have said. People bitch about the interface being "too hard" but really it ain't that bad- just select the parm you wanna tweak form the chart that's printed right on the case, then press a button over and over to tweak it... it's less convenient than twiddling a knob, but nothing to cry to your mama about, really. And it's really easy (not to mention a fun project) to hack in knobs for cutoff and rez, which is what you mainly want knob-type control over, so really I don't see what the problem is with the interface. The reviewer who said that anyone who doesn't have fun playing with a poly-800 isn't capable of having fun was right on the money. The reviewers who hate this synth all sound like humorless, impatient fuckwads who might gain a more positive outlook on life with the help of a good laxative. I give the poly-800 full marks for its goofy character, plus the fact that there are a lot of cool sounds in there waiting to be found by users who appreciate the p-800's unique interface- eg.nice pads w. loooooong filtersweeps, splishes and splashes, badass detuned basses (put 'em thru a boss od pedal for extra badass-ness). I'd recommend this synth to anyone, especially considering how cheap you can get it. It's not the kind of synth that would form the centerpiece of a muzic-setup, but it works well within its niche.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Monday-Dec-11-2000 at 16:46
KNETYK a professional user from Indianapolis writes:
Before I even purchased the Poly-800 MKII, I had read every review on this site as well as any information I could find elsewhere. Everyone complains about the user interface and the battery problem that usually leads to lost presets. Well, I haggled it from a pawn shop for $65. I've never been more happy with it. I'd much rather have a tweakable synth than a "hope ya like this preset" keyboard, no matter how many parameters I have to adjust. That's how people get great original sounds, putting a little effort into time spent tweaking sounds. I'll tell, you, I didn't think I could get the sounds out of this synth that I come up with so far. I do mainly hard trance, and this baby has some nasty sizzly potential. Granted, you can't put this up against a high end synth of any type, but I think it truely holds it's ground if you tweak it out. The great thing about some of these old keyboards is that they were designed with current music trends in mind. So yeah, you're going to get cheesy 80's sounds if you just turn it on and play a few dumb chords. It's all a matter of using the sounds you make in the right context. Some of the presets I've done sound plain crappy if I just try playing major chords, but using the sequencer, looping and synced up with the midi clock of your drum machine or sequencer, you can get some really hard bass/acid bass/or whatever lines groovin. I have to say, the step sequencer is not something to jump up and down about, but at least it's there. I've actually done most of my new songs using the sequencer. I have it synced to my drum machine, and my sampling work station synced to the drum machine as well. So when I arm a track, push the play button on the drum machine, I record only the looping sequencer line. Then I build tracks like that, etc. I've also put the filter cutoff knob modification on it with no problem. One thing everyone should know though about this mod. Once you've added an outboard pot to control the filter cutoff or resonance, it affects the presets globally. So if you have a nice sounding filter setting one preset, you tweak the knob using a different preset, once you go back to your perfect filter preset, it's been reset to wherever the knob is at. I thought this would be a problem at first, but I've come to find it just adds to instant inspiration. It's easy to find that sweet spot again, but it depends upon your mood sometimes. I've never put batteries in this thing, and I've never lost the memory. I found it to be very easy to save my presets from the tape out to my sampler and recording the signal it sends. Then I can save as many variations of my presets I need to my sample pads. I wish it had a few more waveforms since it only has square and saw, but those are it's strong point (for obvious reasons.) No sense in going into wishlists, it's a mute point. The fact is, this synth has some great potential to add character to your music that maybe you were unaware was missing. If you get a deal like I did ($65), jump on it. Hell, you can't buy a decent Casio for that price and this thing blows those crappios away. If you'd like to check out some of the sonic possibilities of this synth, go to http://www.mp3.com/knetyk and check out the songs 'Inspiration' and 'Symbiotic.' Both of these songs were done with this synth as the only synth for every part. I'm giving this a 4 since I'm very happy with it, but I know I need more.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Saturday-Dec-09-2000 at 00:02
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