Released in 1983, the Poly 800 was the Korg’s reply to the popular Roland Juno 106. Both machines make use of DCO and both are polyphonic, but apart from that the Poly 800 has a quite different architecture. Designed for live performances rather than for studio sessions, the Poly 800 was first programmable polyphonic synth priced under $1000 but this has never stopped pro users from using this atypical budget synth. The Poly-800 has been used by artists like Orbital, Depeche Mode, Sneaker Pimps and Vangelis.
In order to cut costs, the Poly 800 has been built around the Oki MSM5232, a chip widely used in arcade game machines. It features 8 DCOs capable of generating a wide range of waveforms by tweaking or switching ON/OFF its 4 square waves at different harmonic intervals. The resulting sounds are very interesting and range from steppy 4-bit sawtooths to complex buzzy waveforms. The Poly 800 implements a paraphonic filter architecture and its resonant VCF (basically a clone of the popular SSM2044) contributes to give to the sounds the warmth typical of vintage analog synthesizers.