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Korg PolySix Vintage Analog Synthesizer w/ KiwiTechnics KiwiSix Upgrade, MIDI


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Up for sale, a 1980s Korg PolySix programmable polyphonic vintage synthesizer in perfect working order, augmented with a full KiwiTechnics KiwiSix upgrade kit including upgraded circuit board and power supply.

First released in 1981, Korg designed the PolySix with the goal of capturing the functionality of larger, much pricier synths like Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 in a compact, comparatively affordable package. Setting the PolySix apart from Roland’s entry-level offering were the PolySix’s “real” analog VCOs and suite of onboard features: 6-voice polyphony, 32 memory slots for patches with a cassette port for patch backups, and an arpeggiator. Aside from the KiwiSix upgrade, which dramatically increases the functionality of the unit, this PolySix has also been decorated and painted with a fun purple-and-yellow vintage Batman aesthetic.

Thanks to the SSM2044 4-pole voltage-controlled filters, the PolySix has a warm, organic, almost brassy sound; more overtly gentle than a Juno-6, but big and bold for 6-voice unison leads. Standard controls include Tuning; Bend Intensity; VCO/VCF/VCA sculpting; EG Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release; and a small suite of onboard effects. Effects are Chorus, Phaser, and Ensemble Intensity; all governed by a Speed/Intensity knob. The Ensemble effect utilizes a “bucket brigade” analog delay design, able to produce an almost Mellotron-esque thick and rich sound. The Arpeggiator is governed by an independent Speed/Intensity knob, with switchable parameters/arpeggio direction and breadth controls via a pair of three-way switches, and is able to “memorize” and sequence chords. The Programmer controls have been altered by the KiwiSix upgrade, switching from Tape management to MIDI functionality, but general sequencing remains largely the same with a range of selectable note durations and functionality like transposition and tempo adjustment.

The KiwiSix upgrade significantly expands overall functionality and mitigates several issues common to the PolySix, including replacing the original KLM-367 circuit board; which are frequently corroded due to the frequent failure of the original nickel-cadmium batteries. The KiwiSix upgrade also provides 512 tone slots, all able to be stored/edited, with 64 preloaded tones. Sequencing capability is increased; 8 separate 124-max step sequences can be edited and stored. Additionally, the KiwiSix enables MIDI functionality, with the ability to independently set the MIDI In & Out channels. The Arpeggiator and Sequencer can both output MIDI, and the Sequencer can be entirely dictated by MIDI input. The internal clock hardware has been overridden and expounded upon; now able to clock the Arpeggiator and/or Sequencer and can optionally generate a MIDI clock. Key Transposition augmentation allows transposition from 1 octave down to 2 octaves up.

Finally, the power supply has been replaced with a proprietary KiwiTechnics design which utilizes modern voltage regulators. Many PolySix units often have extensive damage as a result of years of overvoltage; the KiwiSix Power Supply is KiwiTechnics’ much-needed answer to that issue. Beyond hardware, all future software updates to the system can be downloaded free of charge from KiwiTechnics’ website.

Cosmetically, this unit is extremely unique. It has been painted purple with yellow trim, with a large vintage Batman sticker placed central to the back of the enclosure on top of additional purple-painted tape. The knobs have also been painted purple. There is a fair bit of honest wear across the enclosure, but nothing extending beyond minor nicks and dings. Additionally, some of the yellow spray paint extends to the upper two octaves of keys and cheek.