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Explain to me what “Synth Voices” mean

Explain to me what “Synth Voices” mean
« on: January 21, 2019, 06:05:07 AM »
Sorry for the most basic of questions but I’m pretty new synth’s I need someone to explain to this to me. I understand some basics like monophonic, duo, poly, multi timbral etc and what they mean to an extent. One thing that always confuses me is when people talk about voices. Please if possible explain to me what voices mean! I’m asking because I’m looking to buy my first synth and I have not a clue if 8 or 16 is the right choice?

Razmo

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Re: Explain to me what “Synth Voices” mean
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2019, 06:21:20 AM »
Sorry for the most basic of questions but I’m pretty new synth’s I need someone to explain to this to me. I understand some basics like monophonic, duo, poly, multi timbral etc and what they mean to an extent. One thing that always confuses me is when people talk about voices. Please if possible explain to me what voices mean! I’m asking because I’m looking to buy my first synth and I have not a clue if 8 or 16 is the right choice?

A "voice" is simply what it says... a synth voice... it's part of polyphony... if you have a 16 voice synth, it means that you can hold down 16 keys at the same time, each playing a single voice... so if you hold down 4 keys, you use 4 voices. A voice also includes all the parameters that make up that voice... LFO's, EG's, Filter, VCA etc... for ONE voice... for each voice you would have these, though you only program a preset for a single voice, the parameters are duplicated for each voice.

So if 1 voice has say; 1 LFO, EG, FILTER and AMPLIFIER, then each voice will have that... so in the case of this synth having 16 voices, you would essentially have 16 LFO, EG, FILTER and AMPLIFIER.

I hope that clarified it a bit... you could in short say that Polyphony Number = Number of Voices...
« Last Edit: January 21, 2019, 06:36:18 AM by Razmo »

Razmo

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Re: Explain to me what “Synth Voices” mean
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2019, 06:30:57 AM »
If 8 or 16 is enough depend on what sounds you want to play... but it never hurts to have 16 instead of 8.

If you have 8 voices, then if you hold down 9 keys in a chord, the 9th note would not have a free voice to play the sound, as it only has 8 voices... instead that 9th note will steal one of the other 8 held keys that will then stop playing as it is used for that 9th key... that is what is called "note stealing".

So how often will you run into this "note stealing"? ... that depends... it's rare to hold down 9 or more keys... you only have 10 fingers... so if the sound you are playing was a sound that start abruptly, and ended abruptly when you released a key (like en Organ sound for example), then 8 voices would be more than enough.

But what if it was a piano sound that fades out slowly after you have released a key? .. in that case the voices would still be sounding even if you released the keys... so if you then press another chord while the previous still was fading out, then those voices would be hijacked by the new chord, abruptly stopping the old chord as the new one uses the same voices.

This is where 16 voices is better than 8 voices because you can hit a new chord, and use new voices instead of those already assigned to the old chord that is ringing out... so; the more voices, the less chance of voice stealing.

On top of this, when you use "stacked mode" with say; a REV2, it actually use TWO voices per note you press down, one voice for layer A, and another for layer B... so if you have a REV2 16 voice synth, and use it in stacked mode, then you in essence only have 8 voices in that case, since each key uses up two voices.

Personaly, I'd say that the chances that you will run into note stealing at some point is high... even with 16 voices it can happen with sounds that have very long decaying times after the keys have been released. So if you plan on only playing Organ, Leads and basses, plus other sounds with a short release time, then 8 voices might be enough... but if you plan on playing huge pads and other sounds with long release times, you'll probably run into note stealing problems.

Re: Explain to me what “Synth Voices” mean
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2019, 06:41:51 AM »
If 8 or 16 is enough depend on what sounds you want to play... but it never hurts to have 16 instead of 8.

If you have 8 voices, then if you hold down 9 keys in a chord, the 9th note would not have a free voice to play the sound, as it only has 8 voices... instead that 9th note will steal one of the other 8 held keys that will then stop playing as it is used for that 9th key... that is what is called "note stealing".

So how often will you run into this "note stealing"? ... that depends... it's rare to hold down 9 or more keys... you only have 10 fingers... so if the sound you are playing was a sound that start abruptly, and ended abruptly when you released a key (like en Organ sound for example), then 8 voices would be more than enough.

But what if it was a piano sound that fades out slowly after you have released a key? .. in that case the voices would still be sounding even if you released the keys... so if you then press another chord while the previous still was fading out, then those voices would be hijacked by the new chord, abruptly stopping the old chord as the new one uses the same voices.

This is where 16 voices is better than 8 voices because you can hit a new chord, and use new voices instead of those already assigned to the old chord that is ringing out... so; the more voices, the less chance of voice stealing.

On top of this, when you use "stacked mode" with say; a REV2, it actually use TWO voices per note you press down, one voice for layer A, and another for layer B... so if you have a REV2 16 voice synth, and use it in stacked mode, then you in essence only have 8 voices in that case, since each key uses up two voices.

Personaly, I'd say that the chances that you will run into note stealing at some point is high... even with 16 voices it can happen with sounds that have very long decaying times after the keys have been released. So if you plan on only playing Organ, Leads and basses, plus other sounds with a short release time, then 8 voices might be enough... but if you plan on playing huge pads and other sounds with long release times, you'll probably run into note stealing problems.
Wow thanks for the response that really helped! I think after reading your post it might be clear to me that 16 voice is the way to go. I could see 8 not being enough now that I have a understanding. Especially that you said the rev2 has stacked mode using 2 notes per voice. The rev2 was actually the synth I was looking to buy.

Razmo

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Re: Explain to me what “Synth Voices” mean
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2019, 06:44:50 AM »
Hey thanks that clarified things up a bit for me! My next question is why would you need or what would you use a 16 voice synth for than? I’m thinking as a noob bare with me here!

In my case I use a 16 voice REV2 because i make Ambient music, that has a lot of sounds that decay (fade out) slowly after I release the keys... i do not want new keys that i then play to stop the ones that are still fading out... the only way to prevent this is to have more polyphony/voices (polyphony and voices are basically the same).

If you in another case have a multitimbral synth that can play more than one program at a time, you would also want a high polyphony/voice count because the more voices you want to be playing AT THE SAME TIME, will require more polyphony... that is why bigger digital workstations today easily come with up to 128 voices... just imagine a song that includes a piano, bass, strings and flute... each of these sounds might play chords with each chord eating as many voices as you hold down keys in that chord... so if you played a score with those four sounds, that each played 5 key chords, you would need at least 20 voices! ... and if the sounds was of the type that fades out after you release a chord, you'd easily need double that! ... 40 voices! ... to avoid note stealing.... if those sounds had two layers each eating up two voices, you'd need 80 voices! ... I hope you can see what I'm talking about here... voices ARE important, and you need to know how many you'd need... which depend on how you want to use the synths.

If your choice is between a REV2 with 8 or 16 voices, and you are still in doubt: get an 8 voice... if you notice note stealing wich becomes unacceptable, then buy the voice upgrade so that you get 16 voices :)

Re: Explain to me what “Synth Voices” mean
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2019, 06:50:43 AM »
Sorry for the most basic of questions but I’m pretty new synth’s I need someone to explain to this to me. I understand some basics like monophonic, duo, poly, multi timbral etc and what they mean to an extent. One thing that always confuses me is when people talk about voices. Please if possible explain to me what voices mean! I’m asking because I’m looking to buy my first synth and I have not a clue if 8 or 16 is the right choice?

A "voice" is simply what it says... a synth voice... it's part of polyphony... if you have a 16 voice synth, it means that you can hold down 16 keys at the same time, each playing a single voice... so if you hold down 4 keys, you use 4 voices. A voice also includes all the parameters that make up that voice... LFO's, EG's, Filter, VCA etc... for ONE voice... for each voice you would have these, though you only program a preset for a single voice, the parameters are duplicated for each voice.

So if 1 voice has say; 1 LFO, EG, FILTER and AMPLIFIER, then each voice will have that... so in the case of this synth having 16 voices, you would essentially have 16 LFO, EG, FILTER and AMPLIFIER.

I hope that clarified it a bit... you could in short say that Polyphony Number = Number of Voices...
Hey thanks for clarifying things up for me that really helped!

Razmo

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  • 1714
Re: Explain to me what “Synth Voices” mean
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2019, 06:53:44 AM »
If 8 or 16 is enough depend on what sounds you want to play... but it never hurts to have 16 instead of 8.

If you have 8 voices, then if you hold down 9 keys in a chord, the 9th note would not have a free voice to play the sound, as it only has 8 voices... instead that 9th note will steal one of the other 8 held keys that will then stop playing as it is used for that 9th key... that is what is called "note stealing".

So how often will you run into this "note stealing"? ... that depends... it's rare to hold down 9 or more keys... you only have 10 fingers... so if the sound you are playing was a sound that start abruptly, and ended abruptly when you released a key (like en Organ sound for example), then 8 voices would be more than enough.

But what if it was a piano sound that fades out slowly after you have released a key? .. in that case the voices would still be sounding even if you released the keys... so if you then press another chord while the previous still was fading out, then those voices would be hijacked by the new chord, abruptly stopping the old chord as the new one uses the same voices.

This is where 16 voices is better than 8 voices because you can hit a new chord, and use new voices instead of those already assigned to the old chord that is ringing out... so; the more voices, the less chance of voice stealing.

On top of this, when you use "stacked mode" with say; a REV2, it actually use TWO voices per note you press down, one voice for layer A, and another for layer B... so if you have a REV2 16 voice synth, and use it in stacked mode, then you in essence only have 8 voices in that case, since each key uses up two voices.

Personaly, I'd say that the chances that you will run into note stealing at some point is high... even with 16 voices it can happen with sounds that have very long decaying times after the keys have been released. So if you plan on only playing Organ, Leads and basses, plus other sounds with a short release time, then 8 voices might be enough... but if you plan on playing huge pads and other sounds with long release times, you'll probably run into note stealing problems.
Wow thanks for the response that really helped! I think after reading your post it might be clear to me that 16 voice is the way to go. I could see 8 not being enough now that I have a understanding. Especially that you said the rev2 has stacked mode using 2 notes per voice. The rev2 was actually the synth I was looking to buy.

Exactly... with an 8-voice REV2 playing a sound in stacked mode, your perceived polyphony/voicecount would in fact only be four! ... that would mean that chords with more than 4 keys held would simply not be possible, and every time you played a sound like that with a long release, you'd hear voice stealing all the time.... this can still happen with a 16 voice playing stacked sounds, but it happens a lot less, and at least the notes that ARE stolen, will in most cases have reached so low a volume, that it does not matter much... sounds using non-stacked mode with full 16 voices you'll have to make REALLY long release time on sounds to be able to hear any note stealing.

Re: Explain to me what “Synth Voices” mean
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2019, 06:55:07 AM »
buy once cry once right. Might as well go for the 16 now that I actually understand it’s purpose. I gotta say I’m learning a lot from this forum glad I joined!

Razmo

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Re: Explain to me what “Synth Voices” mean
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2019, 06:59:17 AM »
buy once cry once right. Might as well go for the 16 now that I actually understand it’s purpose. I gotta say I’m learning a lot from this forum glad I joined!

No problem, you just ask if there is anything else you want to know later on... and i fully understand your choice... personally I would not want an 8 voice REV2... I want to utilize this beast to it's fullest! :)