Polyfusion Modular Synthesizer Returning After 40 Years

At Knobcon 2018, we talked with one of the creators of the classic Polyfusion Series 2000 modular system, Ron Folkman.

Folkman and Alan Pearce created the original Polyfusion in the 1970’s, trying to create a successor to the Moog modular system. Their company evolved away from synths, though, and now Polyfusion does design and manufacturing of custom electronic systems.

Folkman is now working with partners Jim Soloman and Jammie Logan to reissue the original Polyfusion system, and to create a new line of updated modules, the Polyfusion Series 3000. They were showing the 1979 Polyfusion ‘monster’ of Toto’s Steve Porcaro.

The partners have ambitious plans, including rereleasing Polyfusion Series 2000 modules and systems; creating a new Polyfusion Series 3000 modular system; and creating a Polyfusion monosynth. There are still many details to work out – including ownership of the Polyfusion trademark for use with synths – but they are aiming to launch in 2019.

Synth master Matt Baxley, aka Moot Booxle, also stopped by to check out the vintage Polyfusion monster synth and see what it could do.

Check out the video, and if you’ve used a Polyfusion, leave a comment and share your thoughts on it!

24 thoughts on “Polyfusion Modular Synthesizer Returning After 40 Years

    1. Actually it sounds very different from anything out there. Because they were made in limited numbers, not a lot of people have actually heard them. Evidence of this was people coming up to the booth and telling us so. Nothing at Knobcon sounded like this unit, nothing. The cool thing about this system is that when you overdrive it, it can get close to the Moog sound, but obviously one doesn’t have to use it that way.

  1. People need to know more about the Polyfusion – it is actually superior in most ways to the Moog modular synthesizer

    It is tragic to see so many copies of the old Moog designs, when much better designs are available.

      1. Sorry, but I misunderstood the video. They’re not doing Euro, see Jim Solomon’s comment below!

        I personally would prefer them aligning with Euro or 5U, vs a custom format, but no matter which route they take they can’t please everybody!

  2. I am singing at the party
    I am singing, it’s my turn to sing at the party
    Everyone is dancing, happy, party
    But Ramses is not dancing, he does not dance at the party

    At night I play my games, I go to sleep, I think of Ramses
    The people in the street, they eating treats, they eating candies
    Will he ever lose? We’ll never know, he’ll never fight me
    Ramses is the greatest, even though he rhymes with pansies
    (Or panties)

    Ramses number one, he knows the secrets of desire
    Ramses number one, he put the people all on fire

    Ramses number one, he likes to rundown to the playa

    I do want to hear and see more about the Monosynth though, but I have a bad feeling its going to be on the higher end market.

  3. Dad,

    You are an amazing man! Words cannot express how much I admire you. It is a blessing that you are still “going strong” at 74. I remember the TOTO setup in your studio, when I was your cleaning lady, in those early years. I think I still have a photo somewhere of Steve Porcaro with it in your studio. Memory Lane…


    Your Little Girl

  4. Hi this is Jim from Logan Soloman in the video. I’d like to clarify about the 3000 system:

    It is not going to be Euro – it’s just too small of a format. The intent is to shrink the depth of the system, and the width of the modules, not so much the height. So for example, if we can shrink the width of the oscillator from 2U wide to 1U wide, it creates more space or if we can add more functionality to the modules one might not need as many to accomplish the same thing that maybe two modules did before. With all that, our goal is to make the new modules backwards compatible with the 2000 series. So as new modules come out that weren’t available before, original users should be able to insert them into their old systems or the new reissues.

    To the other commenter, they are not clumsy at all – very sturdy and steady. When we looked at the drawings for the cabinets to put into CAD, we were surprised ourselves at the engineering. Ron is a smart cookie.

    The sound is massive on these. One person that came by to play it had actually played Keith’s Moog and said the Polyfusion was just as ballsy. Obviously the sound is apples and oranges, but the richness of the sound was roughly the same.

  5. Jim,
    You should consider doing DotCom compatible versions of your new designs. There are a lot of people out there with that format already. We are much more likely to want add to our existing systems than to start over.

    1. I’d second that.

      I’m sure they’ve got some existing users that will love expanding their systems but that’s a tiny market.

      What I’ve seen a few companies do is make knob PCB’s for the specific form factor that basically just have the knobs, jacks and switches, and then a daughter card that has the ‘guts’ of the module. That way they can reuse the knob PCBs with different designs and reuse the daughter board with different form factors.

      Maybe that approach would make supporting multiple formats workable.

      It sounds like there are a ton of details still to be worked out, though.

  6. Yes, there are a lot of details to be worked out on the new system. This is all good feedback and I will relay it to Ron. Can’t promise anything because obviously Ron has final say – so everything is up to him. It will be brought to his attention though.

    We’ve already had Ron’s Facebook page and Instagram page deleted due to “infringement” reported by the other guys – so once we sort the name thing out, I’ll let everyone know the best place to stay up to date on everything.

    Many thanks and much love to Synthtopia for this video.

  7. Exciting. Not that I will be buying one! I always liked the idea of Polyfusion. I was very heartened to hear they are making improvements to the design (I am sure there is an argument for the imperfections making the instrument but they were designed to be the best they could at the time so why not carry on this ethos).

    Its funny how the market is now set so it can (potentially) support big Moogs, big Polyfusions, Odysseys, Roland modulars etc

  8. I can’t wait to see and hear the new Polyfusion stuff. There are some Polyfusion sound clips on the Vince Clarke cd “Lucky Bastard” I was checking out and it sounds intriguing. Best wishes to you moving forward, Jim

  9. the polyfusion format is 7″ so is smaller than 5u but larger than 3u it not 4u as it dont use banana jacks like serge or buchla. its sound over shadows theres its huge if any one was there they would know the 3u 4u sounded like toys in comparison.

  10. When I was a kid, I got a job as a lifeguard; saved my money, and purchased a Polyfusion modular synthesizer. I had Dave Smith’s envelope generators. You could save 64 patch settings for the envelopes. You could easily pop a module out, and place it in any position. I loved the Buchla module size. It gave it a great tactile sensation. They’re smaller than Moog, and bigger than Eurorack. Eurorack feels cramped to me, but people love it. It seems to me that the money would be in Polyfusion reducing their modules to Eurorack. Getting into that market would be easier than trying the same thing.

  11. I owned the 2nd Series 2000 off the assembly line in 1976… with the STEEL case.

    My friend Dave Yost and I took my Polyfusion to NTC to the Village, to Wendy Carlos’ studio for her to check out a couple days. What a trip that was from Warren Ohio to NYC in a hatch back compact car! We were very young!

    Sadly… I lost my Polyfusion system in 2008 because of the mortgage derivative debacle. I was trying to refi my home in Florida. But the banks had suspended the refi programs for ALL self employed, and my ARM loan ballooned and I lost my home in the long run.

    I only had ONE thing that I loved… and it was my Polyfusion synth. But it was also the one thing I could get enough money to try and save my home and studio… and still continue my production services. So I sold the Polyfusion for $5000. I added $1000 and sent that $6000 to the bank, and they promised it would be enough to reset my mortgage to good standing. They LIED. They took my prize possession and started foreclosure the next week. I have been heart sick ever since. The banking BS of that year prevented me from getting into a 30 year fixed that I waited 7 years to get into, to finally bring my mortgage down into a reasonable payment..

    At the end of a long fight with the banks, I lost the home and my studio build out and lost the most prized instrument of my life, my Polyfusion Series 2000 Modular Synth. The entire situation ruined my life’s momentum as a composer. I will never forget the day I helped a shipper pick up the synth and send it to the New York buyer.
    The most sober sad day of my entire damn life. Here is a link to the sale of my treasured instrument that I used as a signature SOUND for my compositions for years. https://www.matrixsynth.com/2008/06/polyfusion-for-sale.html

    I had just shared an original composition with Wendy Carlos, titled: “Hello Mr. Edison, Are You Still There?”
    The entire piece was created and performed on the Polyfusion synth only. It’s a very impressive piece of electronic music… and unpublished. Carlos compared it to the genre of her own TIMESTEPS from Clockwork Orange.

    I am glad to see Polyfusion coming back into the market. I still own the Sequencer and Sound Around Panner.
    I am currently seeking a location for a the new studio. I have an arsenal of synths, modules and a full service studio. I specialize in creating original music for productions from live theater, video, films, tv and radio commercials. I have been successful in my live with an original music catalog of over 95 hours of music in just about any genre. I have worked on 31 feature films in my career and we are not producing our own videos.
    I have MANY works created on the Polyfusion. A couple are on YouTube.

    Here is a composition that was IMPROVISED on the Polyfusion Series 2000 Synthesizer… put to the surrealistic art works of Kenneth Johnston. https://youtu.be/w8nUBm3H1ow

    GOOD LUCK to Ron Folkman and Alan Pearce… we have a lot of memories from the 1970’s. But I will never live down losing my Polyfusion. Never.

    -Gary Boggess

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