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3529 posts since 15 Mar, 2003

Postby P.T.; Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:33 pm Is 32 voice polyphony enough for a keyboard?

I am looking for a digital piano or workstation and I am wondering if 32 voices is enough or if that will cause note drop-offs.

How about 64 voice?

Should I go for 128? Is that overkill?

I will most likely record one track at a time into my DAW.
I will not be trying to play complete songs through the keyboard.
6939 posts since 4 Jun, 2004, from Utrecht, Holland

Postby C00kie; Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:27 am

You only have 10 fingers ;-) Do you play a lot of piano with the sustain pedal?

Me thinks 32 should be enough. When in doubt, go visit a real shop and demo one with 32 voices. Try to make it drop notes....
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9381 posts since 17 Sep, 2002, from Gothenburg Sweden

Postby jupiter8; Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:52 am

Remember that it's common for a sound to consist of several layers that'll use a voice each.

A Piano/Strings combo for example can easily use 3-4 voices for each key. Combine that with heavy use of sustain pedal you can reach the 32 voice limit in no time. OTOH Kraftwerk used like 3 voice polyphony for Autobahn and it did'nt seem to hurt their career. :D
256 posts since 22 Oct, 2005

Postby underface; Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:07 am

32 voices should be enough for track at a time recording. In the unlikely event you do run out of notes, you could record the part in two takes (or record the midi in addition to the audio and if you get a drop out but were happy with the performance, use the midi file to create two takes.)

Mind you, that's only if you run out of voices.
1046 posts since 14 Jun, 2004, from Guanajuato, Mexico

Postby fac; Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:36 am

C00kie wrote:You only have 10 fingers ;-) Do you play a lot of piano with the sustain pedal?

Me thinks 32 should be enough. When in doubt, go visit a real shop and demo one with 32 voices. Try to make it drop notes....

32 notes may not be enough for sustain piano playing. Trust me.

Most of these synths have a 4-layer architecture, which means they can use up to 4 voices per note.

Now, imagine you want a really nice thick pad, so you do it with 4 layers. A 32-voice synth would only give you 8 notes of polyphony for your pad. This is barely enough, especially if the pad has a long release. Play a quick progression of 4-note chords and you'll be stealing notes very soon.

Also, most of these synths require two layers for a true stereo sound (e.g., their multisamples may be mono). So, a stereo piano would only give you 16 notes of polyphony, which is pretty low for piano parts with sustain pedal.

So, like a previous poster said, 32 voices may be enough for single-patch playing, but you may get in trouble if you try to sequence varios parts, especially multi-layer sounds. It all depends on what you want to use the synth for.

For playing, 32 voices may be enough. For sequencing, I'd suggest a 64 or 128 voice synth instead.
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9591 posts since 19 Feb, 2004, from Paris

Postby Lotuzia; Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:52 am

For Piano, harps aso : 32 Voices is enough for basic background keys or semicomplex partitions. If the piano is not too present in the mix, it will allways be enough and the voice steal should'nt be noticeable.

It won't be enough for solo (or Jazz trio for example) piano and complex partitions.

Like Jupiter8 mentioned it layers steal one voice per layer, so its rather easy to be short here too.

And like Fac mentioned it, pedal play will use A LOT of voices too.

128 is by far the best.

Hope this helps,

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