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The many great sounds that marked an era. A synthesizer collection completely reconstructed in software. Featuring a sound produced by authentic simulation of the analog and digital circuits of the legendary KORG synthesizers, the Legacy Collection has remained a best seller to this day.
Korg Legacy Collection
Mark EwingOver the last two issues, I’ve been taking a close look at Korg’s Legacy Collection, specifically the software Wavestation and MS20, and confirming that they really are remarkably accurate recreations of the original instruments. So here we are, ready to put the final elements of the Collection through the SOS mill. Will Legacy Polysix live up the promise of the other components, and will Legacy Cell and its effects deliver what is claimed of them?
Legacy Polysix I discussed how to load and authorise the Collection in the previous parts of this review, so I’ll start by assuming that you have the software installed and running.
On launching Legacy Polysix, the first thing you’ll see is the Play screen shown opposite , a fixed-size representation of the original synth. However, this is not where the real action happens, and you’ll probably want to jump immediately to the Edit screen shown overleaf , which contains all the original controls, plus the new ones that Korg have added for the Legacy Collection version. Even if you’ve never played a real Polysix, this is a simple and intuitive layout, and if you read my review of the Legacy MS20, you’ll immediately recognise and understand the new controls that Korg have added to the original architecture.
The Oscillator As on the original Polysix, Legacy Polysix ‘s oscillator section is simplicity itself, with three waveforms — sawtooth, pulse and pulse-width modulation PWM — three octaves, and a sub-oscillator. Because MIDI hadn’t yet been invented when the original Polysix was released in , this wasn’t present on the original, and the amount of modulation engendered by the Polysix’s own modulation wheel was hard-wired.
Nonetheless, the addition of this control in no way detracts from the original design. Legacy Polysix’s Play screen. Testing with a signal analyser shows that the sawtooth wave produced by the original Polysix is surprisingly close to the ideal. This is relatively easy to model so, with the filter wide open, and no contouring or modulation, it’s no surprise that the sawtooth waves from Legacy Polysix and the hardware original sound remarkably similar.
The square wave on the Polysix is less ideal, exhibiting a significant overshoot on each transient, but the sound is still close to that of an ideal square, so the software and hardware incarnations again sound alike. In this case, it’s necessary to close the filter of the original Polysix just a tad to match the brightness of the two instruments, but they then become almost indistinguishable.
The PWM waveforms are also close to one another, although they require slightly different initial pulse-width settings to sound the same. Likewise, the sub-octaves have similar timbres, although the original Polysix’s is again somewhat brighter. Overall, this is a very encouraging beginning. I checked, and it doesn’t. Although Korg originally released the PS the same year, and the big polysynth shared much of its panel hardware and design philosophy with the MS20, it was a very different beast, with a single non-oscillating low-pass filter, pulse-width modulation of both oscillators, a graphic EQ, an ensemble unit, and many other voicing and control differences.
These gave it a character that still sets it apart from other instruments. Even today, nothing else sounds quite like a PS The Filter On the original Polysix, there are four filter controls: However, the actions of these knobs are highly sensitive to the settings of the synth’s internal calibration trimmers. The tiniest error in any of these can produce the most amazing errors and inconsistencies in the front panel’s operation.
For example, adjusting the Keyboard Track trimmers incorrectly causes the Kbd Track knob on the front panel to add a variable delay before the filter Attack, rather than affecting the keyboard tracking itself. The Edit screen in Legacy Polysix.
The Legacy Polysix ‘s filter has a wide range, with the cutoff ranging from 13Hz at the low end to And, with resonance turned to maximum, it produces a moderately pure sine wave, albeit with a moderate amount of contamination from the third and other odd harmonics. Given the sensitivity of the original synth’s internal calibration, I had little confidence that my Polysix’s filters would sound or respond in the same way as those of the software version.
Yet when I compared the two, a remarkable thing happened I found that the filters in the original synth vary from 15Hz at the low end to In short, the only significant difference between the two incarnations is the amplitude of the self-oscillation when you raise their cutoff frequencies. On Legacy Polysix, this remains fairly constant, whereas on the hardware Polysix, the amplitude of the sine wave diminishes almost to nothing at high frequencies. This is possibly a characteristic not of the filter itself, but of a bandwidth limitation in the rest of the signal path.
OK, so figures tell one story, but how do the filters sound? Remarkably, they’re very similar, whether static or swept at various intensities. Sure, there are small differences, but with the resonance set to zero, I don’t think that I could reliably identify which was which in a blind test. Nonetheless, when you increase the resonance, greater differences become apparent, and when the filters start to self-oscillate, it becomes straightforward to tell the two synths apart.
This is because Legacy Polysix ‘s filters track the keyboard linearly to the extent that, at percent, you can play them just as you would another bank of oscillators. This feature, which became the norm in when Roland launched the Juno 6, was never a characteristic of the original Polysix, whose filter tracking is, at best, inconsistent. With careful programming, you can force the filters to lock to the oscillators, but you could never play them conventionally in isolation.
Whether you view the differences between the original synth and the software as improvements or not is, I suspect, just a matter of taste.
Again, these controls are echoed in the software version, as is the final volume control. The only concession to the 21st century is a pan pot that balances the relative amplitudes of the left and right outputs — the original Polysix was strictly single-channel.
Naturally, the envelope times differ somewhat between the software and hardware versions, with the Decay and Release stages being slightly longer on the software, but the differences are no more than I would expect from tweaking those internal trimmers a tad. What’s more, the curves sound similar, so Legacy Polysix ‘s envelopes — whether applied to the filter or amplifier sections — provide much the same response as those on the original.
Despite the added complexity, I doubt that there’s anything here that is anything less than intuitive so, finally, we come to the element of the Polysix that makes it the instrument that it is: The features new to Legacy Polysix. When the Polysix was released in , it was the first true polysynth that was truly affordable.
Nevertheless, it was the Polysix’s amazing string and pad sounds that made us all sit up and take notice. In an era when many manufacturers believed that the inclusion of chorus and ensemble effects was ‘cheating’, the Polysix sounded fuller and richer than instruments costing many times its price. Indeed, this ensemble effect is so respected that a number of people have attempted to emulate it, while others have tried to add external signal inputs to turn their Polysixes into effects units.
To sum up, good effects are essential on any emulation of the Polysix worth its salt. A few listens left me stunned. The phaser is not quite as accurate, lacking some of the depth of the Polysix’s, and the chorus is perhaps the least accurate of the three. But for me at least, it’s the ensemble that matters. What’s more, Legacy Polysix is a stereo synth, which explains the extra knob in the Effects section. Called ‘Spread’, this does exactly what you would expect, transmuting the original synth’s monophonic effects into glorious stereo.
Admittedly, this is very much an addition to the original instrument’s spec, but who cares? It sounds gorgeous! Inevitably, there are others, such as the EG1 Attack and Release knobs, which control Polysix ‘s Arpeggiator Range and Mode switches that are less intuitive. It would be nice if Korg were to offer a plastic overlay for the MS20iC’s front panel showing the Legacy Polysix assignments.
Alongside them, you’ll find Legacy Polysix ‘s polyphony selector 1 to 32 notes the Unison selector 1 to 16 voices , the Unison detune, Unison spread, and ‘Analog’ random CV generator. The actions of each of these controls are identical to those found on the Legacy MS20 with Unison taking the place of Legacy MS20 ‘s Mono so I’ll direct you to last month’s review for a description of each. Likewise, Legacy Polysix shares Legacy MS20 ‘s external modulation philosophy, with two sources from a list of eight controlling a number of destinations, each with individual depths and polarities.
As on Legacy MS20, you can use the Configuration page to select the modulators that will be received and, again, you can also ask Legacy Polysix to learn new MIDI controller assignments, using the menu hidden under the Korg logo to display, save and load the maps you create.
At this point, my computer was using about 60 percent of its available CPU power, but this was while really pushing things to the limit. And even while I was trying hard to get the stand-alone Legacy Polysix to trip over, I was unable to induce anything remotely resembling a crash. Backing things off to a more sensible level, I tried using Legacy Polysix as I would the original. I found that it could be indistinguishable from the hardware version, from the oscillator at the start of the signal path to the effects section at the end.
So, for the third month running, I must compliment Korg’s engineers on the accuracy of their work. What’s more, being accurate to the original is a compliment in itself because, despite its simplicity, the Polysix has bucketfuls of character.
It can be deceptively smooth or surprisingly gritty and, whether you’re using the original or the soft incarnation, you can obtain all the conventional single-oscillator sounds — imitative and electronic — with minimum effort. If you need a helping hand, the documentation is again first-class, and, as a bonus, the original Polysix manual and sound charts are provided as PDFs on the installer CD.
Nevertheless, it’s when you step beyond the original Polysix’s limitations that things really start to happen. Using Unison to layer two or more voices, spreading them in the stereo field, and adding for example velocity and pressure sensitivity makes this one of the most lush and expressive software synths I have yet heard.
Add to this the benefit of accurate filter tracking and synchronisation with the outside world and as long as you accept the limitations of the Polysix’s original architecture there’s little left to criticise. Indeed, in addition to the sound quality, new flexibility and robust operation on offer, there are at least two additional reasons to be excited by Legacy Polysix. Firstly, the original synths are becoming unreliable, with many reaching the point at which we can do little more than make them comfortable and wait for the end to come.
The main culprit for this is the backup battery; this leaks as it gets older, and the acid destroys the circuit board and any components in the vicinity. For obvious reasons, Legacy Polysix is immune to this, so you are not going to suffer the horror experienced by many Polysix owners when they find that the thing no longer works properly.
Secondly, the sound generated by original Polysixes can be rather noisy, with a constant background hiss regardless of the settings apart from the attenuation and final output volume.
For the worst cases, there is a fix for this, but it’s a truly foolhardy procedure that involves making an earthed metal cage from metal foil and plastic kitchen wrap, and installing this inside the case. If you get this wrong, and the foil makes friends with the circuits — or, worse still, the power — you can do serious damage to the synth, your studio’s fuses, or even your own chances of seeing another dawn. In contrast, Legacy Polysix is silent except when you want it to be otherwise.
This is a huge improvement, because nobody can convince me that suffering unwanted noise enhances the ‘analogue experience’. There’s really only one criticism I can level against Legacy Polysix. Unless there’s a good technological reason why this should be so, this is a silly oversight.
Other than that, I love it! Legacy Cell I may have finished talking about Polysix, but this is not the end of the goodies on offer, because Korg have written a conceptually simple but masterful ‘wrapper’ for MS20 and Polysix. Called Legacy Cell, this allows you to play two synths simultaneously, offers the option of passing each through two powerful Insert effects, passes the results through dual Master effects, allows you to mix to taste, and finally presents the finished sound to the outside world.
It’s a powerful architecture which has graced many of Korg’s best synths, so my expections were high. Legacy Cell’s Performance Page. The bottom half of Legacy Polysix running under Legacy Cell, with its associated insert effects visible. When you start up Legacy Cell, you’re presented with the Performance page above. Ignoring the on-screen keyboard and control wheels, this is divided into six sections.
At the top, four buttons allow you to navigate through the four major pages of the package. Moving a Performance within a list is simplicity itself; you simply drag it and drop it in a new location, at which point the two will swap.
Korg Legacy Collection Series for Download – EMusician
Mark EwingOver the last two issues, I’ve been taking a close look at Korg’s Legacy Collection, specifically the software Wavestation and MS20, and confirming that they really are remarkably accurate recreations of the original instruments. So here we are, ready to put the final elements of the Collection through the SOS mill. Will Legacy Polysix live up the promise of the other components, and will Legacy Cell and its effects deliver what is claimed of them? Legacy Polysix I discussed how to load and authorise the Collection in the previous parts of this review, so I’ll start by assuming that you have the software installed and running. On launching Legacy Polysix, the first thing you’ll see is the Play screen shown opposite , a fixed-size representation of the original synth. However, this is not where the real action happens, and you’ll probably want to jump immediately to the Edit screen shown overleaf , which contains all the original controls, plus the new ones that Korg have added for the Legacy Collection version.
VIDEO: KORG Polysix v Free Download | Go AudiO
Here is my layout for the MonoPoly VST Synth from Korg’s Legacy Collection. Well, I didn’t include them, because I was running out of free CCs and Now working on the Polysix VST, but that one proves to be much more. Kp6 is a free PolySix emulation plug-in developed by EFM. VST rate. / 5. (4 votes) (4/5) Anyway, it’s always good to see Korg emulations. I’m a fan of. The KORG Legacy Collection Analog Edition ’07 delivers three classic Korg analog instruments reborn as synthesizer software. Taking.