In designing for Apple’s mobiles, KORG has again turned to equipment from their past. Having reinterpreted the ElecTribe and MS-20, their newest target is the versatile, classic Polysix. The 1981 original brought programmable polyphony to keyboard lovers, with analog oscillators, memory storage, six-voice polyphony, and various effects and modulation. For iOS, Korg models that sound (having done so already with the desktop Legacy Collection), and mimics the front-panel. But even more so than on the DS-20 rendition (iMS-20), they pack in modern features that make this a production tool as much as a synthesizer. That should be welcome news for people who want to use this tool away from their computer.

The iPolysix also has an advantage in skeuomorphism (read: fake knobbery). Whereas the iMS-20’s elaborate control panel left some people’s fat fingers stumbling for parameters and eyes squinting at their display, the cleaner original Polysix layout translates nicely here.

And KORG follows a trend I’ve seen in a number of tablet developers: they describe the app as being “for iPad mini” as well as iPad. In technical specs, that’s effectively meaningless: the iPad mini is more or less a shrunken iPad 2, in display resolution and horsepower. But in practice, it’s good to see developers target readability and usability on the portable iPad – especially as, at a lower price point, the new Apple devices seems destined for success, especially with the oncoming holiday. (You can also add this to Japan’s fascination with portability, minimalism, and small size, a fascination I … share, in fact.)

Also, in keeping with KORG iOS launches, this is 50% off at launch. You want it now, in other words, not after the sale ends December 31st.

Let’s check the specs, shall we?

  • Polysix sound emulation, modeled at the component level – actually, two Polysix models. (In a virtual studio setup, KORG gives you “two” virtual Polysix units.)
  • All-new “Polyseq” step sequencer. (Looks like a fairly conventional affair, but nicely fit to the iPad’s screen.)
  • Integrated six-part drum machine.
  • Integrated mixer, inspired by the vintage KORG KMX-8.
  • Two integrated virtual KAOSS Pads for X/Y control of the synths – including chord support. (Makes sense to me; X/Y control is still ideal on iPad, since for keys, you’re likely better off plugging in a keyboard.
  • SoundCloud export, which they’re dubbing “Polyshare.” (Will be interesting to see if they do extra social activities around this.)

The original Polysix stacked up nicely against other synths from the same era – here, literally, stacked against Roland. But on the iPad, it is a whole heck of a lot slimmer. Photo (CC-BY) musicamang / moni / man pikin.

Marketing keeps emphasizing that this will transport you in time back to the early 80s. I’m perfectly happy to live in 2012, thanks – complete with a copy of iPolysix.

KORG recommends an iPad 2 or better. I’m finding the original iPad is good for older apps and control apps, but it seems the sound heavy lifting will be an iPad 2 or later or iPad mini.

on the iTunes App Store

The scoop here goes to the wonderful blog wire to the ear, run by one passionate (and talented) iOS fan:
korg ipolysix