Polivoks

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Polivoks
Polivoks.jpg
ManufacturerFormanta Radio Factory
Dates1982 - 1990
Technical specifications
Polyphony1-2
Oscillator2 with triangle, saw, square and two different pulse settings
LFOTriangle, square, noise, S&H
Synthesis typeAnalog Subtractive
FilterLowpass or bandpass
AttenuatorADSR for VCF ADSR for VCA
Aftertouch expressionNone
Velocity expressionNone
Storage memoryNone
Input/output
Keyboard48-key
External controlNone

The Polivoks (also occasionally referred to as the Polyvox; Russian: Поливокс) is a duophonic, analog synthesizer manufactured and marketed in the Soviet Union between 1982 and 1990. It is arguably the most popular and well-known Soviet synthesizer in the West, likely due to the uniqueness of both its appearance and sound.

The Polivoks was designed at the Urals Vector plant, but actual production was handled at the Formanta Radio Factory in Kachkanar, Russian SFSR.[1] It was intended to appear and sound similar to American and Japanese synthesizers from companies such as Roland, Moog, and Korg. The Polivoks was engineered by circuit designer Vladimir Kuzmin with the appearance of the instrument influenced by his wife Olimpiada,[2] who took inspiration from the design of Soviet military radios. Its retail price upon release was 920 rubles and over its lifetime around 100,000 Polivoks were manufactured - sometimes with a production rate of up to 1,000 units a month.[3] But accordingly to information shared by Vladimir Kuzmin only 200-300 Polvokses were produced per month[4]. It means that total number cannot be more than 32000.

The Polivoks has some features that are either unusual or uncommon on most analog mono synthesizers including a filter that can be switched from low pass to bandpass and two envelopes that can be looped over the AD sections.[5]

Due to its unique history and relative rarity, the Polivoks has become popular as much for its unique sounds as for its aesthetics. It is often used by bands who take inspiration from the Soviet chic movement, as well as the ostalgie phenomenon in the former East Germany.

Notable uses[edit]

  • The Polivoks was used prominently on indie-rock band Franz Ferdinand's 2009 album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, especially in the songs "Ulysses" and "Lucid Dreams" according to music critic Simon Maes.
  • The Polivoks was used by the Russian indie-metal band KanZer, in song "Pepel" and "Plat'e"
  • The Polivoks was used by Goldfrapp on their 2003 album Black Cherry.
  • Polivoks is also being used in trash-electro project of Kuba Kristo, Crashed Disco Balls, according to Bottomlayer.org
  • The Polivoks was used to compose sound for the 2016 video game Doom.[6]

Recreations and imitations[edit]

Hardware[edit]

  • Engineers Alexey Taber and Alex Pleninger worked together with original Polivoks designer Vladimir Kuzmin on a limited run of 100 units for a faithful reissue of the original synthesizer in a keyboardless, compact desktop format.[7]
  • Russian company Elta Music produces another compact desktop version called "Polivoks-M" (or "Polivoks Mini")[8]
  • Latvia-based Erica Synths provides a range of DIY kits for Polivoks-inspired modules in Eurorack modular synthesizer format. The modules include: VCO, mixer, modulator, VCA, VCF, and ADSR. These designs are available only in form of DIY kits - the user receives the PCB, panel and components, and has to solder and assemble them by themselves.[9]
  • The Harvestman manufactures Eurorack modules cloning the Polivoks functions, including the oscillator, filter,[10] modulator, VCA and ADSR. These modules were designed in collaboration with the original Polivoks designer Vladimir Kuzmin.
  • Papareil Synth Labs provides a PCB for a DIY clone of a Polivoks Filter.[11]
  • Mutable Instruments used to offer a Polivoks filter board for the now discontinued Shruthi synthesizer.[12]

Software[edit]

  • A VSTi plugin has been developed that emulates the design, functionality and sound of the Polivoks, called "Polyvoks Station".
  • A Rack Extension (RE) has been developed for Propellerhead's Reason software by Red Rock Sound, called "Ivoks Electromusical Synthesizer".
  • The vintage subtractive VST-Synthesizer "Sawer" attempts to emulate "Polivoks" has been developed by Image-Line Software

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The A-Z of Analog Synthesisers Part Two: N-Z" by Peter Forrest, page 290.
  2. ^ Interview with Vladimir Kuzmin at http://analogik.com/instrument_polivoks.asp
  3. ^ "The A-Z of Analog Synthesisers Part Two: N-Z"
  4. ^ Kuzmin, Vladimir (2009). ""Polivoks". History of a one synthesizer". "Zvukirejisser" ("Sound Engineer") (in Russian). 9.
  5. ^ "Formanta Polivoks Synthesizer". Sound On Sound. July 2010. Archived from the original on 8 June 2015.
  6. ^ DOOM: Behind The Music Part 2
  7. ^ Polivoks: http://polivoks.pro/
  8. ^ "www.eltamusic.com". www.eltamusic.com. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  9. ^ Erica Synths DIY projects: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-11. Retrieved 2015-10-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ The harvestman polivoks vcf: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-11-07. Retrieved 2015-10-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Polivoks filter clone by Papareil Synth Labs: http://m.bareille.free.fr/modular1/vcf_polivoks/vcf_polivoks.htm
  12. ^ Polivoks filter board for Shruthi by Mutable Instruments: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-10-16. Retrieved 2015-10-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]