Powerhouse virtual vintage polysynth and production suite for iPad
By Phil O'Keefe
The original Korg Polysix was first released back in 1981. This six voice poly synth was one of the first affordable programmable polyphonic synthesizers with the ability to store patches to onboard memory locations - there were 32 patch memory slots in total. Although the Polysix was a single oscillator design and maybe not quite as fat sounding as some dual oscillator synths, it still provided a beefy sound courtesy of its analog voltage controlled oscillator and 4-pole voltage controlled filter. All six voices could be stacked in unison mode for extra thickening, and onboard chorus, ensemble and phaser effects allowed you to enhance the sound even further. It really was a breakthrough synth in its day, and it still remains popular on the vintage market.
The iPolysix is a virtual recreation of the vintage Polysix synth. The voice architecture is the same, and users who are familiar with the original synth will quickly feel at home with iPolysix. The iPolysix runs on iOS; specifically, on iPads (iPad 2 or later). It also works fine on the iPad mini. I tested version 1.1.2 of iPolysix on a 16GB iPad mini. I had no problems with the interface, even with the mini's smaller screen. However, it is not supported on the iPad or iPhone.
What You Need To Know
By "app" standards, iPolysix isn't exactly cheap. The iPolysix is more expensive than a lot of "music making" apps - many of which are kind of toy-like. Make no mistake - this app is far from a toy. While I did not have an original Polysix available for direct, side-by-side comparisons, I've spent enough time with the hardware version to be able to say that Korg did a very good job at emulating the vibe and sound of the original synth. Some of the added features in the software version were unexpected, but welcome - while I prefer a keyboard interface, I have to admit I had a lot of fun playing around with the Kaoss pads too. And let's face it - two Polysix synths is better than one - and when you add in the drums, and the mixer, and the greatly enhanced collection of effects, and the Audiobus support… there is a lot of music-making power available here. Not just as something to have fun with when you're on the go, but good enough that I could easily see it being used for keyboard parts on pro quality recordings. It's easy to use, sounds great, and best of all, I had a lot of fun with it. It's a must-have app for any musician who owns an iPad.
MSRP $29.99 - available from the Apple App / iTunes Store
Korg's iPolysix web page
Apple Lightning to USB "Camera" adapter for use with external USB MIDI controllers
Korg iPolysix demo video
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.