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Why would anyone want a monophonic synth?
Old 28th January 2011
  #1
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synthRodriguez's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Why would anyone want a monophonic synth?

Serious question, not trying to flame here.

I was trained on piano so maybe that has something to do with it, but I just don't get it. I always figured there wouldn't be another mono made after 1980.

I can see how they might be useful for leads or weird noises due to routing possibilities. And with the Moog units, running those massive filters in a poly is going to blow anything else out of the mix anyway.

Outside of some expanded routing and a dominant sound, what does a mono give you that running a poly in unison mode doesn't (especially for the prices I see these things going for!)?

Someone enlighten me.
Old 28th January 2011
  #2
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golden beers's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
edit
higher VCA level.

but its not just about the sound. its also about the modulation matrix. monos can have more and be more complex.
Old 28th January 2011
  #3
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flat's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Good question.

I have to say, owning a Prophecy that I use quite alot, the reason I use it is purely the way it makes me make music.

If I go to play a solo on say, Nord Lead, I usually end up straying into playing extra notes. A mono on the other hand, keeps you focused on that limitation, where each note is all improtant. Theres no padding out with other notes so it makes you think different.

I think its always good to have a mono in your setup tbh.
Old 28th January 2011
  #4
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Price, cheaper to produce a mono as you don't have to multiply the components (filters, vcas etc.) as with a poly.

You can still do lots of stuff with one voice as well. A synth can produce such a wide variety of sounds that only having one voice isn't always a limitation. It's different than an instrument like a guitar where only being able to play one note would be boring. You can do a lot more with one note on a synth than any other instrument.
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #5
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upfineclouds's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The keyboard playing technique is way different on mono synths. You can't do certain things like trills and legato in the same way on poly keys unless they've got a mono mode switch.

Envelope triggering is an art in itself on monophonics.
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #6
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Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
well a sweet sounding mono synth on top of a Hammond, Rhodes, Wurly or Clavinet is just real nice
Also a good TRUE Polyphonic synth is usually more expensive, bigger and has much more compromises in them if you want to keep em in a small and affordable domain. we're talking analogue synths right?
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #7
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Jetty's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Batchainpuller78 View Post
well a sweet sounding mono synth on top of a Hammond, Rhodes, Wurly or Clavinet is just real nice
Also a good TRUE Polyphonic synth is usually more expensive, bigger and has much more compromises in them if you want to keep em in a small and affordable domain. we're talking analogue synths right?
As a polylover I also always wondered why one would bother with monosynths.

Now an owner of legendary polys, I understand why. For the sake of example: Let's say you need 80 components to make an 8 voice poly. You need 10 components to make a mono. You can up the quality quite a lot on those 10 components and still make it much cheaper than the poly. You get better sound.

As everybody else say, when you have less components it's also easier and cheaper to offer more interaction choices between them (i.e modulation). This again can allow for more interesting sounds. A very measly example, right before I went on Gearslutz now I was walking around thinking "Why didn't those engineers at Roland add a dedicated LFO for the performance section on the Jupiter 8?" Price, I guess. Complexity, perhaps.
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #8
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Rust Creep's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
why would anyone want to play a saxophone, trombone, tuba...or any other monophonic instrument?

i'll never scoff at extra voices... but it comes down to sound design options vs price
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #9
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Lumin One's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rust Creep View Post
why would anyone want to play a saxophone, trombone, tuba...or any other monophonic instrument?

i was just about to say this but you beat me to it.
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 10 years
This is a great question and some great answers. Monos are just kind of their own thing. A lot of people here talk about how important the visual aspect of synthesizers is to them, and I agree. A 50- or 70-some-odd-key polysynth doesn't have the same visual zing as a compact mono whose keyboard is dominated by all the kooky knobs and sliders. That meshes 1:1 with the emphasis on modulation over key playing. Sequencing a simple melody line (or just Holding a single note) and then modulating it is my main way of working with monos, and that modulation can be way more musical than the simple description "weird sounds" would suggest.
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #11
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🎧 15 years


Mr. Emerson, want to give him your answer?

Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #12
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🎧 15 years


or even better, Klaus Schulze can you help?

heh
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #13
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🎧 15 years


Calling Malcolm Cecil, Mr. Cecil do you read me?

Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #14
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kilon's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vartan k View Post


Calling Malcolm Cecil, Mr. Cecil do you read me?

I did not know that Christopher Walken is a gearslut , nice , even the Hollywood cannot escape this dicease.
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rust Creep View Post
why would anyone want to play a saxophone, trombone, tuba...or any other monophonic instrument?
Haha yeah, why doesn't everything just ditch all those monoflutes and get a set of pan pipes!?
Old 28th January 2011
  #16
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iksrazal's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottrod View Post
Serious question, not trying to flame here.

I was trained on piano so maybe that has something to do with it, but I just don't get it. I always figured there wouldn't be another mono made after 1980.
I played piano long before getting seriously into synths, and I have two mono semi-modulars. The two things I use my monos for are bass and leads, neither which at least for me really need poly. You can do a lot on a lead with a mono - I use my weighted keys Oasys 88 for them for example and it works for me. And imho most of the time you really don't need poly for bass.
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #17
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🎧 15 years
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Originally Posted by splitradix View Post
Haha yeah, why doesn't everything just ditch all those monoflutes and get a set of pan pipes!?
Those damn monoflutes!

Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #18
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🎧 10 years
It really comes down to sound. The most successful monosynths have a very distinct and special sound. Having multiple voices is just another feature like MIDI or a step sequencer or multi-mode filters. You buy the sound you like as a result of the features that affect the way you play and what you can make.
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #19
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wwjd's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
hmmmm yeah, I'm a poly guy too. NOTHING AGAINST MONOs, just not for me. My first was a mono kinda, and it never worked out. Poly since then and most of my polys have a mono switch which gets used often enough. I run out of notes even at 16 analog voices, and usually prefer those 32 or 64 voice romplers even. but always scratched my head at monolove when you could play some sweet chords, but I understand the cost. so I saved and saved and saved and saved and bought an a6
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #20
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Tarkovsky's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The vast majority of basslines are monophonic. Bass is an area in which synthesisers excel.
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #21
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shaft9000's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
an analogy:

playing a polysynth is a bit like conducting a choir of voices with your fingertips; and all the wonderful variety and flexibility that situation has to offer.

however...

playing a monosynth is much more like actually being one of those singers in the choir. every aspect of the sound you produce is under your tightest control(assuming you know what you're doing) and each inflection or adjustment you make in your body translates to a difference in the sound. differences which may or may not be perceptible to the conductor and audience, but certainly they are to the individual that is doing them.

it's not so evident when you're massing chords together and thinking laterally across the frequency range as most composers do (piano-based).
a monosynth focuses instead on the single point the sound is emanating from and adjusts it from there, in order to develop the sound-designer's idea and customize each individual timbre. sort of like micromanagement.
with a mono the aspect of sound design is much more intimate and results in a more focused selection of parameters, generally. and of course there is the cost factor of buying duplicate voice circuits in a poly, but not so much of an issue w/ DSP-based synths.
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #22
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synthRodriguez's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rust Creep View Post
why would anyone want to play a saxophone, trombone, tuba...or any other monophonic instrument?
I figured that response would be coming.

The very nature of those instruments only being able to play one note is due to the limitations of the human body, not the instrument, whose form and function followed that limitation. If we all had one finger, that would be the limiting factor for a mono synth. A mono synth's design is by choice, not necessity.

People play one note lead lines on guitars, but they're still polyphonic. A poly synth can play one note leads as well. I don't see people rushing out to buy one string guitars.

Having read the responses, I think Shaft9000 and Brainchild, your answers speak to me best to understand, thanks.

Shaft9000, your response also plays into the mono wind instruments mentioned above. It's about intimacy with the instrument. I can get that, and I understand what you mean.

Thanks all!
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #23
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Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
well no the nature of monophonic limitation like the saxophone and trombone is by the design of the instrument, not the human body.
it's a pipe, you can shorten or lengthen the distance resulting in a higher or lower note, that's it.

I do like the intimate respons as well with the choir versus singer.

But mainly it's a cost, complexity, size, design thing... first in the days before digital (DCO's gave more options available for compact design) how many TRUE polyphonic synths that were commercially viable and mass produced were made and what was their cost?
Most polyphonics actually shared oscillators or filters or vca which would be more paraphonics.
A monophonic synth was already quite expensive, and things like the polymoog were a designers nightmare, now you could make yourself a Polyphonic modular but that grows pretty big, complex and expensive quite fast, Memorymoog, mucho dinero, Jupiter 8, mucho dinero, Prophet 5/10 mucho dinero. Korg PS mucho dinero.
So I guess people are quite happy with a mono or duophonic synth that offers a lot of shaping & modulation possibilities.

And not to forget the cost of 1 finished product pales with the cost of R&D & Production.

edit : this is just to say that people did not get swamped with affordable true polyphonic synthesizers at that time.. but plenty of mono's to go around so why not use them? heh the sound was different from their other keyboards, and it lends itself perfectly as a solo or bass instrument.
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #24
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vartan k View Post


or even better, Klaus Schulze can you help?

heh
Nice. How about so many great songs/albums that were done with monophonic synths versus a lot of s*it being done with polyphonics?
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #25
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🎧 10 years
because I hate chords.
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #26
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BTByrd's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Because I love cords.

Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #27
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Dirty Halo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
One word:

Bass.


-andrews
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
cos some blokes can only think about one thing at a time heh
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #29
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aeonlux's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirty Halo View Post
One word:

Bass.


-andrews
Word. thumbsup


cheers,
Ian
Old 28th January 2011 | Show parent
  #30
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BTByrd's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by aeonlux View Post
Word. thumbsup
Haha... That's what I said when I read that post too!
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