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1982 was the end of an era for both synthesists and manufacturers. MIDI was just around the corner and the desire to provide affordable instruments would soon wipe clean once be-knobbed synthesizer front panels in favour of date-entry sliders and diminutive LCD displays.
Korg's Polysix was, in fact, one of the company's final adherents to analogue tradition. Its single VCO would be supplanted by digital variants in future instruments, and its generous complement of real-time controls would give way to silk-screened legending, LEDs and a mere smattering of buttons.
Yet sales of the Polysix would indicate that the design still held appeal for many musicians. And though it didn't break any new ground at the time, its simple design ensured that users could get a grip on programming the thing, all the while encouraged by its lively analogue sound.
That sound quality came courtesy of the same sorts of SSM chips used in Sequential Circuits’ lofty Prophet-5 and, even if the Polysix had nowhere near the depth of said instrument, it bettered its polyphony by exactly one, and could be had for a fraction of the price.
Fast-forward to the present. Korg is still around and the Polysix has managed to become something of a minor classic. Its parent company has resuscitated the P6 three times now: first in VST form (as a part of its Legacy Collection); then as a Reason Rack Extension; and now as an iOS synth for iPad and iPad Mini owners.
In theory, these tablets should offer enough screen real estate and power to recreate the Polysix's many parameter controls and sonics, so let’s find out if Korg’s latest app delivers.