Korg Poly-800

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The Korg Poly-800 is a synthesizer released by Korg in 1983. Its initial list price of $795 made it the first fully programmable synthesizer that sold for less than $1000.

It featured a 49 key non-velocity sensitive keyboard, two buttons for data entry, and a joystick controller, which could modulate the DCO pitch or the VCF. Though the Poly-800 had MIDI, it did not feature MIDI SysEx functionality (except EX800 – the expander-version; or by modding the Poly800 with additionally selectable EX-firmware-ROM), and patches had to be backed up to cassette tape. It had 8-voice polyphony (paraphony) with one DCO per voice.

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It could be switched into double mode which stacks two DCOs for a fuller sound, but reduces the polyphony to 4 voices. It featured one analog resonant low-pass VCF with 24 dB/oct which was shared for all voices. Like a monophonic synthesizer, the filter was switchable between single or multiple modes. In single mode, the first key pressed triggers the filter envelope, and unless all keys are released, the filter does not re-trigger. In multi mode, each key pressed in turn triggers the filter envelope, even if other keys are still pressed down. Further it had three digital envelope generators, a noise generator, an LFO, and a chorus effect. The Poly-800 could be run off batteries and had guitar strap pegs, allowing a performer to wear it like a guitar. It was also available with reversed-colored keys, which gave an appearance similar to a Vox Continental organ.

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