a softsynth i use a lot is the korg polysix, an emulation of the 1981 6-voice polyphonic syntesizer by the same name. it’s a pretty basic synth, and the range of sounds that can be coaxed from it is limited. but what it does, it does rather well. i made a free preset bank for it, and i couldn’t resist to also write a little personal review.
first the goods: the minz polysix bank. feel free to change the presets and use them in any track. but if you want to redistribute the whole bank, please link to this blog post and leave the file name as it is.
and now the talking. let’s start with the obvious question with emulations: does the software polysix sound like the real thing? frankly, i couldn’t care less. the people at korg tried to capture the quality that made the hardware a classic and to my ears, they have made something that sounds good. because it sounds like a hardware polysix? no, because it sounds good. for me, it’s as simple as that. i’m not here to impress people with the fact that i use a real polysix or something that sounds 100% the same. i’m here to impress them with good sounds. and the virtual polysix never fails to amaze me.
in comparison to its original competitor, the roland juno60, i’d say that the sound of the polysix emulation is a bit softer and more akin to stringsynths. the juno60 sounds more brassy and can be quite piercing, probably also because of its ridiculously fast attack. both sound warm, fit into the mix easily and are able to deliver simple but powerful analog style basses, stabs and pads. sometimes it’s easy to forget that these are actually one oscillator synths. korg and roland added effects to cover that up, but in my experience, the virtual polysix needs them less often than the juno60.
the original polysix had nothing in the way of elaborate modulation, and neither does the emulation. when programming the presets, i occasionally missed the ubiquitous modulation matrix. yet i’m glad korg didn’t add it, as it would radically change the character of the synth. and getting back to basics can actually be quite fruitful. korg made a few changes though.
four parameters can now be externally modulated, scaled along the keyboard and controlled by velocity. this means that sounds can be way more expressive. there’s also the obvious ‘sync to clock’ option for the lfo and arpeggiator. my favorite change is that the filter tracking is now accurate. this means that if you crank up the resonance with the filter tracking set to 100%, you can get some sweet bell-like sounds that can be played in tune across the keyboard. this is not possible on the original polysix.
then there’s the unison function with spread and detune. often, this is the quickest way to turn any sound into a bog standard tarnce lead. but when applied with taste, it’s nice for creating some fat and wide sounds. usually i prefer to make a big sound without unison and then use it to make that sound even bigger. you’ll find most of my presets don’t use the unison function, which also leaves the user a bit of room to easily fatten up a sound.
the final addition in the emulation is the illustrious ‘analog’ knob. i seldom use it. as i see it, any real polysix that sounded like the emulation with the ‘analog’ knob at 3 or higher, would immediately be brought away for repair. i imagine that if you crank the knob up to 10, you hear what a polysix sounds like when its guts are being eaten away by leaking battery acid. which, according to a repair tech i spoke, is exactly why a lot of of hardware polysix synths out there are dying at the moment. oh, the wonders of analog.
finally, a cool trick that is typical for the polysix: put the polysix in poly mode, make sure polyphony is set to 3 or greater, hold a minor chord on the keyboard, and then press the chord button. now play some notes and party like it’s 1991.