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Playback - Spring 86


Article from International Musician & Recording World, February 1986

The new Korg Poly 800



It was launched in 1984 and acclaimed as 'a truly superb little instrument' by Music UK, 'a breakthrough, excellent value for money' by International Musician, "an extremely impressive piece of equipment" Electronics and Music Maker. Since then the Korg Poly 800 has established itself as the biggest selling Poly synth in the world. With eight voices, 64 programmable memories, a built-in sequencer and midi, the Poly 800 has been bought by professionals and amateurs alike not just because of its outstanding features for the money, but also because of its convenience, weighing only 4.3 kilograms. Professionals take the Poly 800 off the stage and back to their hotel room. As Geoff Downes of Asia said "for what it costs it's fantastic, not really much less versatile than a lot more expensive synths".

1986: THE POLY 800 II

So, how could Korg improve on the success of the Poly 800? 1986 sees the introduction of the new Poly 800. In many respects the same as the original, the same compact size and weight, but with just a few improved features.

A BUILT-IN DIGITAL DELAY. The Korg DW8000 was the world's first synth to have a built-in programmable digital delay and the new Poly 800 is the world's second. This means that instead of a simple chorus control, all types of delay effects, including flanging, phasing, slap echo and straight echo can be produced. Each programmed sound can have a different delay effect. This gives a whole new versatility to programming sounds on the instrument.

A LARGER BUILT-IN SEQUENCER. The Poly 800 has a built-in polyphonic sequencer. This is a very useful extra feature, not normally found on synthesizers and it has been the inspiration of some of the hits of the last two years. It is easy to use and sequences can be stored on to tape and re-loaded as required. The sequencer on the new Poly 800 has an expanded note capacity of 1024 notes.

A BUILT-IN PROGRAMMABLE EQUALISER. Most amplifiers have bass and treble controls to modify your keyboard's output. But often each programmed sound requires a different treatment. The programmable bass and treble controls on the new Poly 800 allow each program to have its own equalisation.

A MODIFIED ENVELOPE CURVE. The Poly 800 has three digital envelope generators, each featuring Attack, Decay, Breakpoint, Slope, Sustain and Release. The new Poly 800 envelopes have an exponential curve making a far more realistic and natural sound. This makes a marked improvement to all the sounds of the instrument.

The new Poly 800 is set to continue as the world's most successful Poly synth and as Chuck Leavell of the Rolling Stones said, "One of the most versatile musical instruments I've played in years".


Vantage Profile Series and Road Series Microphones

Mic's are an integral part of almost all musicians' equipment, and choosing the right mic for your needs can be difficult. So here are a few pointers:-

There are many types of microphones on the market including dynamic moving coil, condenser, electret condenser, and ribbon mic's, all with different pro's and cons depending on usage. The main advantages of dynamic microphones such as the Vantage range are that they are less expensive and more robust than the other types mentioned, which is an important consideration if a musician is constantly gigging/touring etc. Also they do not need any external power source (unlike the condenser mic).

Within each broad type of microphone there are then four variables to consider:-

1 Polar Response/Directivity

Mic's are seldom sensitive to sounds arriving from all angles, and are categorised as i) Omnidirectional, where the mic response is equal from all around, ii) Bi-directional, where the mic will pick up sounds from in front and behind, but not at the sides, and iii) Unidirectional, which will only pick up sound from the front. The Unidirectional mic is most often favoured because it will discriminate against any unwanted noise from the rear.

2. Impedance

In order to preserve the strength and overall frequency range of the signal as it passes from the mic into your equipment, it is important to select a mic with an impedance that will match the input impedance of the amp or mixer that is being used. High impedance mic's give high levels of output signal, but low impedance mic's are often chosen because they are less susceptible to background hum when used with long cable lengths. Dual impedance mic's are also available and can be switched to high or low impedance and therefore used for all purposes.

3. Sensitivity

Sensitivity is a measure of how readily voltage results from a sound wave input (at a given sound pressure level). In general terms, the greater the mic sensitivity, the better the signal to noise ratio, therefore resulting in less background hiss.

4. Frequency Response

The frequency response of a mic indicates the range of frequencies which the mic can handle, and a frequency response curve shows the response in dB across that range. A smooth response over a range of frequencies is desirable in the majority of cases. The greater the range of response, the more likely you are to capture and transmit the total sound.

Vantage have three ranges of microphones at prices ranging from £12 to £49, complete with leads, with varying specifications as below. All are dynamic mic's, so will stand up to rough stage treatment, and all are unidirectional. Within this range there are mics for a wide range of musicians.

Model No Impedance Frequency Response Sensitivity
Profile Series at 1000Hz
V-1500 Low 80-13000Hz -78dB
V-1800 High 80-13000Hz -63dB
V-2400 Low 80-13000Hz -78dB
V-2500 High 60-14000Hz -63dB
V-2600 Dual 60-14000Hz -63dB
Performer Series with detachable shielded cable
VMD-120 High 60-14000Hz -56dB
VMD-150 Dual 60-14000Hz -56dB (-74dB)
VMD-250 Dual 50-16000Hz -55dB (-74dB)
Road Series with detachable shielded cable
RS-65 Low 50-16000Hz -74dB
RS-85 Low 40-16000Hz -71 dB
RS-75 (instrument mic) Low 40-16000Hz -74dB


Linko Kit, Model 506

New to the UK drum market is the name Linko, introducing two drum kits which represent excellent value for money.

Each is a five-piece kit consisting of two hanging tom-toms, floor tom-tom, bass drum and snare, and is complete with stands and chain driven pedals. Linko drums are available in standard or deeper shell kits and in a choice of colours. What more could an aspiring drummer need for his first kit!

All Linko shells are 9-ply in construction, and all are fitted with American Remo heads, a great asset to any drum kit. The snare drum is of chrome-steel, producing a good crisp sound.

The bass drum incorporates sturdy bass drum spurs which disappear within the drum when not in use, and the chain driven bass drum pedal has been designed for smooth, fast beating.

These kits produce a great sound, and with a price of around £299 for the complete package, if you're looking for a well made kit at a budget price, these are the drums for you.


Model No. 506, 5½" snare, 12x8, 13x9, 22x14, 16x16
Model No. 551, 6½" snare, 12x10, 13x11, 22x14, 16x16


Takamine EF 391 Jazz Guitars

The Takamine Company takes its name from the Takamine Mountains of Central Japan, where there exists a centuries-old tradition of fine craftsmanship in wood working, which is evident in all Takamine guitars.

The first thing people notice about the Takamine Jazz guitars is their incredible beauty and striking colours. But underneath this dazzling appearance lies a commitment to uncompromised acoustic sound quality. The body of the guitars is of flamed maple in blue, ebony or red, is hard, durable and superbly finished, with the slightly arched back and table of a traditional jazz guitar. Also available in natural spruce top with rosewood back and sides (EF 391 only). The necks are of maple with a rosewood fingerboard.

The Takamine EF 391 model has Palathetic pick-ups at the bridge, and also a well-shielded low noise FET pre-amp, which retains the natural guitar sound, bright and jazzy. For an alternative more bassy overall sound, the EF 590 model (with slightly shallower body) has a magnetic two-bar pick-up mounted at the end of the neck in place of the last two frets. Each have equalisation controls of treble, middle, bass and gain Both are beautifully made and are ideal for any jazz influenced player.

The key to Takamine's superiority in acoustic/electric guitars has been the incorporation of careful design, quality materials, and masterful construction into a fine hand-crafted instrument that projects the warm natural sound of wood. Many professional musicians have been quick to catch onto the success of these impressive guitars, and the long list of Takamine users includes names such as Ry Cooder, Glen Frey, John Williams, Kevin Peek, David Lindley, Steve Lukather, Gary Moore, Earl Klugh, Nancy Wilson, Jackson Browne, James Taylor and many more.


During the last couple of years there has been a tremendous increase of interest in and use of the saxophone in current day rock and pop music. Unlike many other instruments, the saxophone can be picked up and learnt at almost any age, and it looks good on stage. But probably the main reason for their increasing popularity are the range of sounds that can be produced, from bright and raunchy through to a haunting soulful sound so often featured in today's music. Whatever the reason, the sax, always popular with jazz musicians, now has increasing presence in contemporary bands.

Jupiter is an up-and-coming name in the brass and woodwind world, with a reputation of producing good quality reliable instruments at reasonable prices. The current range of Jupiter instruments include an Eb Alto and Bb Tenor Sax, all developed with the help of professional musicians. Both instruments now include a high F# key to maximise the register attainable. The keywork is power forged brass, designed to operate positively and easily (especially those operated by your weaker little finger)

The overall finish is a luxurious, long lasting deep gold lacquer which is very attractive, and both instruments are easy blowing, producing rich and mellow sounds.

Also in the Jupiter range are trumpets, trombones, cornets, flutes, and many more band instruments.

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Publisher: International Musician & Recording World - Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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International Musician - Feb 1986

Playback - Spring 86


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