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Korg iPolysix and Impressions

Korg have released an iPad version of their famous Polysix! I had to drag myself away from it to update the site this morning!

iTunes Description:

iPolysix is an analog polyphonic synthesizer that's been carefully designed to take full advantage of the 7.9-inch display of the new iPad mini as well as the iPad. Bringing together a sequencer, drum machine, and even a mixer, it transforms your iPad or iPad mini into the ultimate analog synth studio. Pack an amazing set of early-'80s analog equipment into your iPad, and time-travel back to the dawn of polyphonic synthesizers!


  • The world-wide best-selling Polysix polyphonic synthesizer, fully replicated on your iPad
  • Use the newly developed Polyseq polyphonic step sequencer to control the Polysix
  • A music production environment including two Polysix units, a drum machine, and a mixer
  • Dual Kaoss Pads with chordal support make it easy for anyone to play analog synth sounds
  • Polyshare powered by SoundCloud lets you publish, share, and remix songs with iPolysix users

Buy Korg iPolysix on iTunes: $29.99


In a lot of ways this feels like a huge upgrade from iMS-20; both in terms of the sonic capabilities in this polyphonic synth, and the functionality added to Korg's way of doing things. This will feel immediately familiar to anyone who has used iMS-20, minus the vestigial patch bay. Everything is much less scary, as friendly knobs replace messy cabling.

Unfortunately while the synthesizer technology has leaped forward by a decade, Korg's iApp technology has not! It has AudioCopy, but that is about the only modern app tool provided. Virtual MIDI is still absent from Korg's design, and background audio isn't an option. There isn't even a goddamn Panic button for when keyboard MIDI notes hang, and they will. Korg's proprietary WIST technology is on board, if you have multiple iDevices you'd like to sync, but the lack of Virtual MIDI at his stage feels like a huge omission from any serious app. You can send it notes from Genome, when sending to Network Session, but you won't hear anything unless iPolysix is in the foreground. In fact just dropping from the app for a second to check your email will cause you to wait through a splash screen when you return to iPolysix.

There are some great improvements though, including lengths of up to 4 bars in a single pattern, instead of the claustrophobia inducing 1 bar of iMS-20. The automation is also vastly improved! Every knob has its own individual automation panel, instead of pecking through the archaic iMS-20 sequencer and trying to assign things in there.

Drums are still synthesized like in iMS-20, but also like iMS-20 you cannot perform any automation there. You can however play around with them manually as a song is playing! If you want a synth-based studio this is easy to recommend, and you might also want to grab the manual. Just don't expect to be using any other apps unless you have a second iDevice to run them on.

Here is an excellent performance from Rutger Muller, aka iNALOG, which you can download from inside iPolysix's PolyShare. All of this synthesis goodness is happening on Rutger's iPad 1! An impressive feat, considering how much Korg have built into this app.

Reader Comments 26

This looks like so much fun, and it sounds good too!

November 26, 2012  | person_outline Yak Nepper

Korg is dropping the ball a little here. These instruments are great but without options like virtual midi, background audio, and preset sharing they are disappointing for the price, considering that there are $1 apps that include all three. Are they even watching the marketplace and how users are interacting with apps? Scary...

November 26, 2012  | person_outline Fletcher Kaufman - Sunsine Audio


Great post on this exciting new app and also for sharing this extensive video on it's capabilities. It really sounds pretty good, the differences between iMS-20 and this sound wise, make it a natural step up in the evolution.

By the way, they were pretty quiet about this...unless you already knew...

November 26, 2012  | person_outline Angel

if you know the polysix and want it's sound, go for it. not sure i would recommend it otherwise once it goes up to it's reg ($32) price.

November 26, 2012  | person_outline Anonymouse

Bought! Lots of pros and cons with this one, most are covered above. Why does Korg skimp out on providing more presets for their legacy apps? Gotta be thousands in their secret labs they can ship with their apps by now..

November 26, 2012  | person_outline ChrisG

And yes "preset sharing" would be great Korg.

By the way, that awesome performance/track above in the video is, as Tim mentions, downloadable from within the app. It does contain a bunch of presets you can borrow I guess. Its a PITA to save presets from other songs, just like it is in iMS20. But it's a cool track watching and learning from rather then the 80s cheese track the app loads at the first startup.

November 26, 2012  | person_outline ChrisG

Major disapointment about the lack of midi, but I have found that Korg apps work well with Backgrounder for jailbroken ios. Also they play nice with Quasar.

November 26, 2012  | person_outline mojofunk

Synth sounds great but cant beleive no metronome for recording & sequencing, drums disappointing & no v.midi or b.audio...what are they on !
Good buy at reduced price but wouldnt pay full whack for it.

November 26, 2012  | person_outline moi

I can't see paying more than a dollar or two for a music app that lacks MIDI.

November 26, 2012  | person_outline DC

Mojofunk's tip about Backgrounder is probably worth exploring for those of you that want to use Genome or other sequencer apps with it. If you are jailbroken! Then you can just send to Network Session, and iPolysix will pick it up.

I haven't personally tested this, because Backgrounder was screwing with another jailbreak favorite of mine (Display Recorder), so I had to uninstall it.

Glad Korg is going for it but I need another ios synth like I need my rent to go up.

I owned an actual polysix for a decade. Wonderful synth and this new version sounds like it has captured a lot of the original's sonic fierceness but with apps like sunrizer, magellan, dxi, addictive, cassini... I'm not sure I get the point. I'd bet money that any sound this synth can make, Fletcher@sunsine could make with another existing ios synth. Cool that you can sorta sequence songs in it but it's about a thousand miles away from NS or BM in that regard. Though this is a more 'electronic performance' oriented sequencer I guess which might be good for some people.

I hope some of the Korg improvements in this app make their way into iMS-20 but I'm not holding my breath.

November 26, 2012  | person_outline Will

Note: I have just been using Genome to drive synth parts 1 and 2 which I then recorded into the sequencer. No hassle. No jailbreak. Until we get background audio you start Genome first then go into iPolysix - choose and tweak your synth settings. It works.

November 26, 2012  | person_outline Trueyorky

Good eye trueyorky! Tested this too, it works. Also tested with NodeBeat, no go. Same with Beatmaker 2. Tried to route Beatmaker 2 to genome to ipolysix and my iPad 1 hung. Anyone else care to try? :) unlocking the mystery is half the fun!

November 27, 2012  | person_outline Fletcher Kaufman

Guess what other Korg app this trick works with?! ;)

November 27, 2012  | person_outline Fletcher Kaufman - Sunsine Audio

Does genome work ok/well on an ipad1?

November 27, 2012  | person_outline Anonymouse

"In fact just dropping from the app for a second to check your email will cause you to wait through a splash screen when you return to iPolysix."

Same thing happens with the iMS 20. It makes it very tedious to work back and forth with other apps.

November 27, 2012  | person_outline Jared

Alright, so, having just knocked out my iOS budget (until another new and shiny synth drops in), I gotta say, this thing is worth the money and then some. I say that not just because it's a $15 app that simulates a $1000 piece of equipment, but because it's a full featured synth / mixer / drum machine / social sharing machine. Yeah, it's a huge bummer that Korg hasn't seen fit to bump up the featureset with Virtual MIDI and the like, but I find it hard to knock this too much as it is still, as mentioned, a $15 emulation of a piece of equipment that cost more than two iPads (which, combined with Korg's WIST, means you could have far more power at your fingertips than should be allowed).

What can I say? Between this and iElectribe finally going on sale, it's been a great couple of days for me :-) .

November 28, 2012  | person_outline cXeGG

It seems to me Korgs motivation here is to create an app that lets you create entire compositions and share them with the community. There are already some impressive user songs uploaded. You can even download your favorite songs and remix them. I dont think this was intended as just another synth app, its something much more than that. Putting everyone in a box containing 2 awesome polyphonic synths, a drum machine and a pattern sequencer and seeing what amazing music people can create. Personally I think its inspired and very addictive.

November 28, 2012  | person_outline Simplex

The sound quality... Oh man! It's good! I know there are more advanced synth apps out there but this one sounds excellent and is a true pleasure to use.

Hopefully they will fix a few things in updates though. One disappointment is that you can't chain two patterns and have note releases carry over even if you continue to use the same preset... there is a total note cutoff that happens with each pattern that destroys the illusion of pads and long key sounds, although repeating the same pattern doesn't cause any problems.

November 28, 2012  | person_outline Kevin McCoy

Wow, for super extra mega fun (again - on jailbroken ios with Backgrounder), try running both ims20 and iPolysix together! The start buttons are quite sensitive, so it's not hard to get them both in sync - no midi involved. They stay together with no drift indefinitely! Extra sequencing tracks, and these two great emulations together are incredibly fun, again - wow! Changing patches within either sometimes causes a glitch, and ruins the timing on my iPad 2, but it was doing that within each app independently also I think. Anyway, it's sci-fi!

November 28, 2012  | person_outline mojofunk

Just noticed Tim had already pointed out that trick in the original text! haha
Anonymouse - Genome was a little shifty on iPad 1 until the most recent update, now it's nice and solid. Just don't expect to run more than a few moderate synths in background :) For external seq. it's fantastic, been using it recently to send four tracks to the DSI Tetra in MultiMode, with automation, fun stuff!

November 28, 2012  | person_outline Fletcher Kaufman - Sunsine Audio

Whoa! I had to buy it after checking only whether there were ANY MIDI support, as the Polysix was my very 1st professional synth that I owned, in 1985. I'd made tons of tunes with it at the Mattel Synsonics and Stix drum machines, using 2 cassette decks.
I've wanted something that I could use for 'chords' for quite a while instead of sampling 3 to 4 octaves of a patch from my Serge all of the time. Beautiful. This will fit my needs wonderfully - as SOON as they bring in a fuller MIDI implementation. Syncing it's sequencer to my external MIDI sequencer would be excellent as well.
They'll update it I'm sure. They did update the i-MS20 (which I also love, having owned one of them as well.)
Great job so far! :)
Heavily preferring real analog gear, it and the i-MS20 are more than likely the only digital apps that I'll be using with my Serge.

December 09, 2012  | person_outline Richarius

I would love to hear what you came up with using a Polysix and Stix! I wanted those so bad as a kid, but my parents did not encourage my budding interest in percussion on the furniture.

This app sounds great but there is one major problem. It is IMPOSSIBLE to set the tempo to a round number. In the Pattern screen you can only set the tempo to seemingly random bpm's like 120.6 or 133.8. Unbelievably stupid. iMS-20 is the same way.

If I'm playing to an external drum beat at 120 bpm and I want to run the arpegiator in time it just isn't going to happen. Makes it worthless for playing with other apps. If I want to use the drum sounds from either app I'm stuck using these random, fractional tempos.

I emailed Korg support about it and they had no clue what I was talking about.

Also, if you move the EG Intensity knob away from the center (center is zero) its damn near impossible to get it back. It really needs a 'double tap to return to original position' feature. Same thing for the Master Tune and VCO 2 Pitch on iMS-20. Korg didn't even address this in the email I sent them.

It's a frustrating affair because both apps sound truly great but the tempo issue really limits their usefulness with other apps.

February 01, 2013  | person_outline EB


Korg have this thing in all their apps where you do a fast short swipe up or down (or whatever the knobs are sett at) to do finer adjustments. So a fast short swipe on the tempo knob will do 1bpm increments/decrements.

February 01, 2013  | person_outline ChrisG

Thanks very much, ChrisG! I was able to get them set for round bpm's. Still frustrating to do so, but at least now I know it can be done.

February 02, 2013  | person_outline EB

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