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#1907679 - 06/03/12 04:30 PM Polyphony Piano vs Organ
Vectistim Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 312
Loc: Reading, UK
I notice that polyphony limits are often mentioned in threads on various DPs and I wonder quite why it is an issue. It doesn't seem to be an issue with digital organs, which require a much higher level of polyphony to deal with multiple stops etc.

Is it just a case of holding back features for future develpoment cycles or is there some other reason not to just import the organ solutions.

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#1907682 - 06/03/12 04:34 PM Re: Polyphony Piano vs Organ [Re: Vectistim]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Well, the truth is that it's not generally an issue in modern digital pianos. Unfortunately, when salesmen and websites outline the features of a piano, it's one thing that can vary from piano to piano and is easily quantified, so it gives the impression of being an important distinction.

The real differences in quality from one digital piano to another are quite difficult to put into a bulleted list that someone not very familiar with the products can make sense of.

When it gets brought up in theads, unless it be to say that it's not a limiting factor, then the thread participants are making a mistake.


Edited by gvfarns (06/03/12 04:38 PM)

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#1907685 - 06/03/12 04:38 PM Re: Polyphony Piano vs Organ [Re: Vectistim]
Kona_V-Piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 272
Originally Posted By: Vectistim
I notice that polyphony limits are often mentioned in threads on various DPs and I wonder quite why it is an issue. It doesn't seem to be an issue with digital organs, which require a much higher level of polyphony to deal with multiple stops etc.

Is it just a case of holding back features for future develpoment cycles or is there some other reason not to just import the organ solutions.


With a digital acoustic piano sound, there is much more that goes into it than just having a sample play. There are key-off samples, damper pressing samples, whether the sound is in stereo or using four distinct sound positions, soundboard reverb samples, etc. All of these can hit polyphony depending on how realistic the company wants to go.
_________________________
Roland V-Piano, Yamaha CLP990, Yamaha S90

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#1907692 - 06/03/12 04:53 PM Re: Polyphony Piano vs Organ [Re: Vectistim]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5260
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
My GranTouch piano which was introduced in 1995 had 32 note polyphony. I practiced on that piano for over 12 years and never ever noticed any limitations regarding polyphony.

People are used to comparing products using specs instead of their ears. It's easier for some ... and that seems to be the trend.
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#1907703 - 06/03/12 05:07 PM Re: Polyphony Piano vs Organ [Re: Dave Horne]
Macy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/10
Posts: 562
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
My GranTouch piano which was introduced in 1995 had 32 note polyphony. I practiced on that piano for over 12 years and never ever noticed any limitations regarding polyphony.

People are used to comparing products using specs instead of their ears. It's easier for some ... and that seems to be the trend.

I wonder if the way polyphony was defined for the GranTouch in 1995 is different than the way Yamaha defines it now? For instance, it is very easy to generate 100+ voices in some software piano programs while playing. The original sample at a particular velocity counts as well as the release sample and then some programs have separate sustain samples, multiple mic positions, and so forth. So is it possible that the 256 polyphony in today's Yamaha CLP/CVP would be equivalent to something different in Yamaha's 1995 piano?
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Macy

CVP-409GP, Vintage D, Ivory II GP's & American Concert D, Ravenscroft 275, True Keys American D, Garritan Authorized Steinway, Alicia's Keys, EWQL Pianos, MainStage, iPad/forScore/PageFlip Cicada, Custom Mac MIDI/Audio Software Design, Macs Everywhere

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#1907712 - 06/03/12 05:24 PM Re: Polyphony Piano vs Organ [Re: Macy]
Kona_V-Piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 272
Originally Posted By: Macy
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
My GranTouch piano which was introduced in 1995 had 32 note polyphony. I practiced on that piano for over 12 years and never ever noticed any limitations regarding polyphony.

People are used to comparing products using specs instead of their ears. It's easier for some ... and that seems to be the trend.

I wonder if the way polyphony was defined for the GranTouch in 1995 is different than the way Yamaha defines it now? For instance, it is very easy to generate 100+ voices in some software piano programs while playing. The original sample at a particular velocity counts as well as the release sample and then some programs have separate sustain samples, multiple mic positions, and so forth. So is it possible that the 256 polyphony in today's Yamaha CLP/CVP would be equivalent to something different in Yamaha's 1995 piano?


Also the way a not drops off makes a big difference as well. Once the polyphony limit is reached, sometimes you can hear the notes disappear, while other dp's have the note gradually fade.
_________________________
Roland V-Piano, Yamaha CLP990, Yamaha S90

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#1907893 - 06/03/12 10:42 PM Re: Polyphony Piano vs Organ [Re: Vectistim]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3075
Originally Posted By: Vectistim
I notice that polyphony limits are often mentioned in threads on various DPs and I wonder quite why it is an issue. It doesn't seem to be an issue with digital organs, which require a much higher level of polyphony to deal with multiple stops etc.

Is it just a case of holding back features for future develpoment cycles or is there some other reason not to just import the organ solutions.

Romplers that use sample playback for organs are not generating separate tones for each drawbar... i.e. they sample organ sounds in combination. so the sound of a single note with all 9 drawbars out can represent as little as one note of polyphony, not nine (and the number of keys you can play is then still limited by the polyphony of the instrument).

OTOH, most drawbar-based organs are not based on sample playback, they are modeled (or perhaps some hybrid), so the technology is not directly comparable.

As for holding back features for future development (i.e. to get you to buy something "better" in the future), I've never believed this to be an issue. I think every company tries to put out the best product they can at a given price point at a given point in time, because their need to address contemporary competition much more than they need to insure an upgrade cycle. There seems to be some kind of conspiracy paranoia out there about how manufacturers produce products, but in most cases, I believe in Occam's razor and don't see any reason to believe in hidden agendas.

Of course, sometimes they manufacture something even though they have something better in the lab because, well, there's always something better in the lab, but if you always wait until it's "done," you never ship anything. At some point you have to do a feature freeze, bring a product to market, while you continue to develop.

But as others have said, in most cases, polyphony on DPs isn't much of an issue to begin with. It starts to become more of an issue with layered sounds and (especially) multi-timbral sequencer operation.

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#1907984 - 06/04/12 04:49 AM Re: Polyphony Piano vs Organ [Re: anotherscott]
Vectistim Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 312
Loc: Reading, UK
Originally Posted By: anotherscott

Romplers that use sample playback for organs are not generating separate tones for each drawbar... i.e. they sample organ sounds in combination. so the sound of a single note with all 9 drawbars out can represent as little as one note of polyphony, not nine (and the number of keys you can play is then still limited by the polyphony of the instrument).

OTOH, most drawbar-based organs are not based on sample playback, they are modeled (or perhaps some hybrid), so the technology is not directly comparable.


I'm not thinking of drawbar (I don't think I've ever seen a drawbar organ[1]), but digital versions of pipe organs, where each pipe is sampled separately and where Hauptwerk (the organ equivalent of Pianoteq) can provide 32,768 simultaneous sounds (which is rather overkill, but indicates that a stupidly large number is possible).

[1] Just looked up drawbar organ on wiki, and no, I've never seen a machine with drawbar sliders in real life.

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#1908100 - 06/04/12 09:53 AM Re: Polyphony Piano vs Organ [Re: Vectistim]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2100
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Voice-stealing can be a problem with software pianos. For example, setting the polyphony to 16 in EWQLP (the same as my very first digital piano), release samples disabled, and then playing the following fairly rapidly:

1. Play and hold a bass note
2. Repeatedly play a four note chord.

makes it fail on the fourth repetetition - the bass note is cut off, even though it is still being held! My 16-voice digital piano never did that, some 20 years ago.

I think EWQLP is simply terminating the oldest voice when it runs out, which is far too simplistic. My understanding is that digital pianos typically try to hide the effects of polyphony starvation as much as possible.

Note that the reason EWQLP runs out of polyphony at all in this test is because of amount of time it keeps a voice playing after a key is released. (it has to fade it out smoothly)

Greg.

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#1908133 - 06/04/12 10:50 AM Re: Polyphony Piano vs Organ [Re: Vectistim]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3075
Originally Posted By: Vectistim
Hauptwerk (the organ equivalent of Pianoteq) can provide 32,768 simultaneous sounds

Ah, I was thinking in terms of hardware rather than software instruments.

At any rate, different kinds of sounds do seem to make different demands on the processor. In GarageBand on an iPad, I get only 8 notes polyphony out of the piano, only 6 notes out of the rhodes, but had no problem triggering 17 nine-drawbar organ notes (I don't know what the actual cutoff would be). Perhaps it's because the simple looped organ waves each require far less memory than a complex decaying piano sound.

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#1908207 - 06/04/12 01:03 PM Re: Polyphony Piano vs Organ [Re: anotherscott]
Vectistim Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 312
Loc: Reading, UK
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: Vectistim
Hauptwerk (the organ equivalent of Pianoteq) can provide 32,768 simultaneous sounds

Ah, I was thinking in terms of hardware rather than software instruments.

Will a hardward digital organ work any differently?
eg: If I pull all the stops and couples out on a Roland C-330, then playing one note sounds 27 virtual pipes. Add in some decay time after a key/pedal is lifted and I can quite easily see 1,024 being insufficient. And that's a little two manual, a larger machine could easily have fifty pipes sounding for a single key press.

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