Digital Pianos: 64 vs 128 polyphony?
When I was looking at Yamaha digital pianos, I noticed that some had "64 polyphony" and some had 128 polyphony ; I'm guessing that that's how many notes you can play at once (please correct me if I'm wrong). Will I ever notice the difference between 64 & 128 polyphony? Why is there this distiction?
Thanks for explaining this to me.
- 9 years agoFavorite Answer
That's exactly what it is.
A keyboard with 64 note polyphony can have 64 notes "sounding" at the same time. It's basically how many notes the keyboard can generate at any given moment (this includes previously played notes that might still be decaying/sustaining).
You may notice the difference with 128 note polyphony if you are playing a fast passage with lots and lots of notes that follow each other in sequence and they are meant to sustain. Otherwise you probably wouldn't notice it too often, but it's still nice to have.Source(s): 20+ years performing music and owning musical instruments
- 9 years ago
Like the first guy said, you only really need 128-note polyphony if you're going to be playing passages with a lot of sustain; i.e. mostly Romantic-era literature. I don't know about all Yamaha digital pianos, but last time I looked at them, the entry level P95 had only 64-note polyphony and it's the same price range as the Casio Privia PX-330, which has 128-note polyphony. I personally like the Privias a bit better than the Yamaha P-series, but to each his own. Here's a review for the 330 if you haven't checked it out yet.
- onlyocelotLv 49 years ago
Polyphony in digital keyboards refers to how many notes it can play at one time. This covers both chords and arpeggios or fast runs: if one note starts before another ends, you need 2 voices to play them both.
Indeed, for keyboardists, mostly the ability to play really fast runs with the notes overlapping is most important. You only have 10 fingers, and even with both forearms on the keyboard, you're not likely to play more than 60 notes at once (even on an 88-key keyboard.) Some synthesists, though, use the midi inputs to the keyboard, setting different voicings to each input channel, and can rack up quite a lot of notes active at one time. I think this is more likely the way you'd notice the difference between 64 and 128 voice polyphony, but it is worth remembering that many of the songs recorded during the '60's and 70's were recorded on 4-track recorders: The more you layer up sounds, the less differentiation you get between one song and the next or one part of a song and the next.
And if you're just going to be playing it from the keyboard, don't let the number next to polyphony be your deciding factor, unless it's less than twice the number of fingers you have!
- LorettaLv 44 years ago
Well, heres the deal. If you are playing the keyboard, surely you can not play much more than say, 12 notes at a time (two with each thumb). But that fact is, any song that you may play using the pedal, 32 voice would fill up quite rapidly and you may notice some cutting out of differnt sounds. This is especially evident when you play with any mixed sounds in the keyboard. This would actually use 2 per note. This gets trickey. It really depends on how much screwing around you like to do. If you plan on this as a long term investment, its will be worth the extra to go with a 64 voice. The piano sounds though depends on the brand and quality of the board. Can't go wrong with roland and kurzweil, but shop around.
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- VirginiaLv 44 years ago
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You mention notes, "cutting out" so I guess you understand the difference and the effects of limited polyphony (some people certainly don't!). However, this doesn't mean that there is music that you can't play, just that the lack of polyphony would be noticed as sustained notes disappear. I don't think it would be possible to listen to music (or even examine the sheet music) and say whether there would be polyphony issues. I don,t know what you mean when you comment about tempo. Playing at a slower tempo is likely to to make lack of polyphony more noticeable, not less. Obviously, if the amount of polyphony is the only issue, go for 128, but there are other issues too, price being one of them. Only you can decide.
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