MATRIXSYNTH: EML Polybox & Korg MS-10 : Mono Synth --- Poly Synth

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

EML Polybox & Korg MS-10 : Mono Synth --- Poly Synth

Published on Mar 13, 2006 Genius Anz’s movie vault / Retro and Latest tech!

"Connection is
Korg MS-10(1VCO synth) VCO out (customized) --- Polybox --- MS-10 VCF in

If you send one VCO signal to the EML Polybox, it will become a chord and come out. In the movie, I connect Korg 's MS - 10 VCO out to Polybox, return Polybox out to MS - 10' s VCF in, and play it.

For example, when holding a chord of "C, E, G" with Polybox and playing a note of "C" with MS - 10, "C, E, G" sounds, and MS - 10 plays "D" Then you can get chords of "D, F #, A" and so on.

Long ago, when I was trying hard with a synth with only one VCO, if I could buy such equipment, I would have done a mad cynicalism and copied ELP."

Finally get to see one of these in action. The Poly-Box allows you to play your monosynth polyphonically almost like a real time sampler. It's not clear to me if you can actually play multiple keys at the same time for true polyphony. The video does not show this. If you know please comment.

"Poly-Box is a pitch following variable chord generator controlled by your synthesizer and Poly-Box's own keyboard with built-in memory. Poly-Box takes a single pitch from your synthesizer and creates two banks of pitch sources. Each pitch bank contains 13 simultaneously available pitch sources at precise semitone intervals - covering an entire chromatic octave. The pitch banks may be in the same or different octaves, and can cover the range from one above to three octaves below the synthesizer oscillator."

More on the Poly-Vox on VSE.

1. Make sure to check out the comments for more on the Poly-Box
2. David Rogoff sent the following link on the basic technology to AH:
3. RSF made a comparable box, the black box (via synth ollie also on AH).

Update via Mike DB on AH:
"Clearly he has the polybox output being "re-filtered".
It's an amazing tool, but descriptions of it are often misleading.
Here's my attempt to clarify what it can and can't do. (originally posted
to the EMLsynth yahoo group):

Basically it is designed to track the pitch of one single voice. Then it
has 12 of it's own voices tuned chromatically apart from each other which
can be played on the 12 keys and will sound and stay relative to the
tracked pitch. The original root pitch is always coming from the low "C"
key on the keyboard. For example, press the "E" key of the Polybox
keyboard and you would hear a voice that is a major 3rd above the tracked
"root" pitch. It will follow that source and stay a major third above
it. You can play "chords" or any combination on the 12 keys or all of
them. It does a couple of other tricks like you can move the whole output
up or down a full octave and there are some phasing effects.

It won't read more than one voice and if you try, it will only
respond with some chaotic squawks. Same goes for noise and other sounds
with no distinct single pitch----of course chaotic squawks have their value
It does not translate envelope or filter from the original voice; the
source timbre and expression is not preserved. The new voices are basically
either on or off as you play the keys and they are pretty much of a
generic sawtooth tone which you can fool with a bit on the Poly's
controls. You could, of course, run the Poly's output thru other effects
and filters and such to further modify it, but that's as much as it does
on it's own."


  1. the polybox got 2 voc's witch go into the audio input of the ms20.
    this way you get chords.

  2. It doesn't have voc's (vcos?) in the normal sense. It generates a transposed square wave for every key you hold on it's little truncated keyboard based on the frequency of the master synth VCO going into it. You can hold down all gthe keys if you want and you get a cluster sound out of it. (if you have any use for that).

    You then run the polybox's output back into your synth's external audio input and you have a chord sound that then goes through your monosynth's filters and VCA.

    There is something to be said about it's functionality and flexibility that makes it more than a curiosity than any sort of essential tool. It's not like it was some sort of secret Raymond Scott-esque device.

  3. is that what Mothersbaugh plays in the Devo video Come Back Jonee?

  4. Yeah, and it's what the Minimoog is running through in "Mongoloid." I'm ashamed to know that.

  5. It seems to be a great effect. Are they still made? Where might one get the chips that drive it? Seems it'd be a great module.

  6. thanks.

    i want one too. extra square waves are nice.

  7. No longer made. EML is long gone. BTW, check my latest update in the post by Mike DB. It's an excellent description of what it does.

  8. Yes the Mike DB description nails it. The whole idea it's some sort of special chip is sort of misleading. Variations on top octave divider technology are used in a lot, perhaps the majority of electric organs, what EML is doing is making an octave worth of very simple organ sounds track an external waveform, something organs don't do.

    The problem is of course if you don't own an MS-20, EML-101 or something in the modular or semi modular category it wouldn't be of use.

  9. i think it would be awesome with my little Prodigy (erm, well, once i add that external input). It's just a rad little accessory.

    Somebody has to figure out some sort of clone-thingy. It can't be that complicated. How rare are the old ones?

  10. Well Ortho is also going to have to tap a new direct out off a Prodigy VCO too and get to love those square waves.

    FWIW they tended to go for around $400 before they hit youtube and the blogs.

  11. tap, now that i can do.

    i think.



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