the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be honest

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
goreycaster
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:58 pm

the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be honest

Post by goreycaster » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:56 pm

Hi all. I'm pretty new round here. There is an increasing live demand for playing synth with bands. After much consideration, I finally landed myself a Korg Poly800ii as I wanted a genuine analog DCO synth that was light enough for me to carry with my bad back. I use it along side a Novation Bass Station that has been fantastic since the day I got it.

The Poly 800ii has been an endless problem. I am slowly picking up electronic repair techniques that I am finding very interesting but all major work goes to professionals. I have gone to great extents to keep on top of this thing including a complete KLM 1032 replacement new old stock circuit board that cost more than the synth its self. I am now having serious problems with it drifting up (only ever up), which I think could be the cheap, aftermarket power supply or the volume pot.

Shoot me straight. Is the idea of having a 30 year old analog instrument as a main live tool a far fetched pipe dream? I have been playing guitar for 20 years and programming synths in bands and studios but I playing more synth live now than guitar and need to make sure I have something reliable. I really love my Poly800ii and want to keep using it but is it just too unrealistic in the real world? With a 3 week european tour coming up in the summer I need something that will tolerate daily use.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Thanks

User avatar
Stab Frenzy
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 9723
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:41 pm
Gear: Eurorack, RYTM, Ultranova, many FX
Location: monster island*
Contact:

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:21 pm

I wouldn't bother doing any repair work on a Poly800, you can get "not working" ones for next to nothing and usually the reason they're not working is the battery has gone flat and wiped the presets. New battery and program new sounds in and you've gotten yourself a synth for less than the cost of having a tech even look at it.

On top of that, the P800 is nothing special. It's not a real DCO synth, it doesn't have an analogue wave shaper in the oscillator, it just piles up digital square waves to make the different waveforms. It only has one filter so it's not even really polyphonic. It's basically the cheapest thing that korg could get away with putting on the market that could play chords, it certainly wasn't built to last. Why anyone would still want to use one is beyond me.

Get yourself a nice light VA synth like an R3 or Ultranova instead if you want to have something you can tour with. You can save all your patches and even get your hands on a replacement easily anywhere in the world in the event of catastrophic failure. They will be much more reliable day to day as well. If you absolutely must have a P800 for some reason then buy three of them and plan on taking all three on tour with you.

This opinion will most likely not be that popular on this forum, but keep in mind that the people on here aren't generally touring musicians.

User avatar
meatballfulton
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 5774
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:29 pm
Gear: Live 9, Logic Pro X

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:51 pm

Agreed, scrap that Poly 800 and get something modern if you're touring without backup equipment.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

User avatar
rhino
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 2607
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2008 5:00 pm
Real name: bill
Gear: keepers:
Kurzweil K2500x
Ensoniq TS-12
Yamaha SY-99
Alesis QS-8
Roland JD-800
Roland JX-10
Akai AX-80
Ensoniq SQ-80
Korg DSS-1
Moog Mini
Fizmo
Location: kentucky hills

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by rhino » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:43 pm

No electronic gear is bullet proof. Have a backup of some kind. I drag along an old Alesis QS-6 - never failed yet. You can approximate almost any vintage sound on the thing and save them to a PCMCIA card. Keep an acoustic piano , E.piano and a few B-3 patches on hand and you can keep the show alive. Once, I was saved by having a little 60-watt keyboard combo amp when the sound board lost a channel (mine!).
When the wise man points to the stars, the fool looks at the finger.
- Confucius

commodorejohn
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 1564
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:39 am
Real name: John
Gear: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, Oberheim SEM
Location: Sacramento, CA
Contact:

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by commodorejohn » Thu Mar 10, 2016 1:37 am

I'll say that I've never had issues with my JP-6 on the occasions I've used it live (aside from the obligatory twenty-minute warm-up and auto-tune between songs.) But then, the JP-6 is just a tad less chintzy than the Poly-800.
Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73

User avatar
V301H
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 747
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 3:58 am
Gear: Fender The Strat, Stratocaster, Jazz Bass Rickenbacker 360-12, 320 Messenger(Mark Farner)
Band: The Characters
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by V301H » Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:42 am

If you are going to use vintage gear live you probably want to have something for a back-up. I regularly use 50 year-old combo organs but have four of them and at least a couple of them are usually working. Synths are much more complex though. I was using my Jupiter 6 on stage up until a month ago. It had never failed to work in the over thirty years I've had it but now it's dead. I'm now using a Juno 60 until I can get the Jupiter fixed.
Prophet 5 rev.2, Pro-One, Juno 60, Jupiter 6, Matrix 12, OB8, MS20, Poly 800, CS70M, DX-7, CP35, Casio PX-5S, Hammond C3/M102, Vox Continental/Super Continental, Gibson G101, Farfisa Compact, RMI 300A, Pianet N, Combo Pianet, S770, S760, S50, NS3C

User avatar
AdamAnt316
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 72
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 5:36 am
Real name: Adam
Gear: Mattel Optigan 35012
Farfisa Compact
Hammond M
ARP Solus
Korg Poly 800
Triadex Muse
Casio SK-1/SK-5/SK-8
Too many others to list
Band: Dr. Optigan
Location: MA
Contact:

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by AdamAnt316 » Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:49 am

I've been known to haul my vintage keyboard gear around to my occasional gigs from time to time. It's usually fairly arduous since my main keyboard tends to be a Farfisa Compact, which only lives up to its name if you're comparing it to a Hammond B-3, as it weighs "only" 70lbs. It's seen far better days cosmetically, but it was built to be gigged, and the only major issue I've had with it due to said gigging was a stuck key after an 'enthusiastic' solo (fortunately, it didn't occur until the end of the show!)...

As for the Poly 800, yeah, it tends to be a pain in the posterior. Mine had good internal batteries last I checked it, but it's the other batteries which have caused no end of problems. When I bought my 800, I had no idea that it even had a battery compartment. It worked, but developed numerous issues over time. When I opened it up, I found evidence of corrosion due to leakage from the battery compartment onto the boards. I've been able to clean and patch it up to some extent, but it's probably only a matter of time before whatever corrosion left on the boards causes a major failure.

As for my other gear, it depends. I don't bring my ARP Solus around to gigs too often, but it's done fairly well when I have (being built into a road case probably helps). My Casio gear usually holds up fairly well, since it's built to take abuse from kids. Some of my equipment I don't gig with due to being too heavy to carry (the Hammond M), too fragile (the Triadex Muse), or both (the Optigan).
-Adam

User avatar
ppg_wavecomputer
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1007
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:37 pm
Gear: more keys than hands (and feet)
Band: ['ramp]
Location: teutoburg forest, eastern westphalia, germany
Contact:

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Thu Mar 10, 2016 8:30 am

Never had any major issues using analogue instruments live on stage other than a stuck tape in a tape delay.

The top-notch Doepfer sequencer-cum-MIDI-controller box that had been prematurely shipped to the customers turned out to be the only piece of equipment to give out during a concert, which was interesting (at least for the audience).

How you feel about an instrument that is potentially being damaged either on stage or in transit (or gets lost on the way) is a different story altogether.

Why would anyone want a Korg Poly-800? What a waste of time, energy, and money.

Stephen
"Like the light from distant stars, Stephen Parsick's music has existed for some time, but is only now reaching us on Earth." Chuck van Zyl

https://doombientmusic.bandcamp.com/

https://ramp1.bandcamp.com/

https://stephenparsick.bandcamp.com/

User avatar
AdamAnt316
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 72
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 5:36 am
Real name: Adam
Gear: Mattel Optigan 35012
Farfisa Compact
Hammond M
ARP Solus
Korg Poly 800
Triadex Muse
Casio SK-1/SK-5/SK-8
Too many others to list
Band: Dr. Optigan
Location: MA
Contact:

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by AdamAnt316 » Thu Mar 10, 2016 10:26 am

ppg_wavecomputer wrote:Why would anyone want a Korg Poly-800? What a waste of time, energy, and money.
I can think of a few reasons:
  1. They're cheap
  2. Some interesting sounds
  3. They're cheap
  4. Light enough to be worn as a crude keytar, if desired
  5. They're cheap
  6. Less crappy than the average Casio
  7. Did I mention they're cheap?
Despite the problems I mentioned earlier, I've come to appreciate what the Poly 800 can do, and hope to fix its many ills one day. Just about every type of keyboard out there has at least some fans; heck, look at all the people enjoying Yamaha DX-7s and other complicated FM synths. If even the lowly CIEP can garner its fans, why not the Poly 800?

goreycaster
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:58 pm

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by goreycaster » Thu Mar 10, 2016 10:42 am

Hi all, thanks for a great response in such a short time. I can't really describe why I love the Poly 800 so much, but then again I am a guitarist. AdamAnt316, I am also into Casio stuff. I had a CZ5000 but I couldn't carry it. I missed a HZ600 a couple of weeks ago which was gutting. I'm going to keep the Poly 800 for home use and try and get something more modern and practical for live performances.

Thanks to all.

User avatar
ppg_wavecomputer
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1007
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:37 pm
Gear: more keys than hands (and feet)
Band: ['ramp]
Location: teutoburg forest, eastern westphalia, germany
Contact:

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:09 pm

AdamAnt316 wrote:[...][*]Some interesting sounds [...]
Must have missed something here.
goreycaster wrote: [...] I am a guitarist. [...]
You are forgiven.

And of course now I can see the need for a keyboard you can wear around your neck...

Stephen
"Like the light from distant stars, Stephen Parsick's music has existed for some time, but is only now reaching us on Earth." Chuck van Zyl

https://doombientmusic.bandcamp.com/

https://ramp1.bandcamp.com/

https://stephenparsick.bandcamp.com/

User avatar
cornutt
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2117
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:03 am
Gear: 6th
Location: Rocket City USA
Contact:

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by cornutt » Thu Mar 10, 2016 8:32 pm

The Poly800 is an odd little piece of kit. I'll just leave that there. :lol: The advantage, though, is that they are cheap enough that you can afford to have a spare or two. If it works for your music, then there you are.

For something more valuable, I might gig with it locally, but there's no way I'd go on tour with it. Dodgy electricity, punters spilling beer on it, gorilla roadies, and things that mysteriously disappear in shipping.
Switches, knobs, buttons, LEDs, LCD screens, monitors, keys, mice, jacks, sockets. Now two joysticks!

forcedopinion
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 130
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:31 am

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by forcedopinion » Fri Mar 11, 2016 12:19 am

*knock on wood*

I've done several tours with vintage gear and never had any problems. Even with my old Ensoniq SQ-80 which is by far the most unreliable synth I've ever owned. I'm careful with them, have sturdy road cases and keep people away from them. Not proud of it but I have physical shoved people away from my set-up when things get too rowdy just in case of spilled beer or things getting knocked over.

However, having a small back-up synth just in case wouldn't hurt. Even something like a Microkorg or Micron.

You said you're touring Europe..are you already there or are you flying? I guess flying with a vintage synth might be troublesome since baggage handlers don't give a c**p about people's things.

User avatar
sigment
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:41 pm
Gear: MACHINEDRUM, SH-101, MINILOGUE, STREICHFETT, MPC1000, BSII, MINIAK, MS2000R, VOLCA-B, GEKKAN, XE-8, RX-21 + TOYS
Band: SLAVESTAR
Location: Houston, TX
Contact:

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by sigment » Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:10 pm

I had a reverse key poly 800 a while back. I never gigged it. It was always spotty at best as far as reliability even in a static environment. I do agree though that some very unique sounds came from it (intentionally and unintentionally :D :shock: )

But I am in the same boat right now too. I just picked up a 101 and aside from one last issue (the release on the envelope is malfunctioning) it sounds fan-friggin-tastic. It fell into my workflow and sonic palette like butter on a pancake. But I am scared to death to take something that old to a gig. Aside from the fact that they cost too much to have a 'back up', I really think it could give up the ghost at any time. Not because it has shown unreliability, but because it is almost as old as I am and old electronics do that.

+1 to getting a VA that will do what you want, they are as reliable as their power source and are cheap as h**l right now. and would also consider a rackmount synth + good controller.

Also, there is too much new stuff on the market for good prices to be worrying about whether your patches will be there when you turn on your 25 year old poly800 (anyone thats owned knows that feeling!!)

goreycaster
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:58 pm

Re: the reality of using aged analog kit live - please be ho

Post by goreycaster » Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:41 pm

They key tar straps were the first thing to come off the thing I assure you! My main attraction to it was the weight. I never thought I would be attracted to musical instruments because they were flimsy!

Currently looking at JP8000's, MS2000's and Nord leads. I'll have a Modal 002 one day...

Thanks for all the assistance guys.

Post Reply