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Why Go Polyphonic?
Old 8th January 2020
  #1
Why Go Polyphonic?

Just something I was thinking about. I see a lot of people coming into modular and wanting polyphony. Why, though? Modular polyphony is a patching nightmare! Why would you want polyphony in modular when fixed-architecture makes a lot more sense and is cheaper for those purposes?
Old 8th January 2020
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
Just something I was thinking about. I see a lot of people coming into modular and wanting polyphony. Why, though? Modular polyphony is a patching nightmare! Why would you want polyphony in modular when fixed-architecture makes a lot more sense and is cheaper for those purposes?
Could probably buy a Moog One for the cost too!

I wonder what happened to atmultitron? (Modular compatible poly hijinks)
Old 8th January 2020
  #3
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void23's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
Just something I was thinking about. I see a lot of people coming into modular and wanting polyphony. Why, though? Modular polyphony is a patching nightmare! Why would you want polyphony in modular when fixed-architecture makes a lot more sense and is cheaper for those purposes?
First do they really mean multi-timbral as opposed to polyphonic? As for poly, Chord2 more then meets any needs I would have.
Old 8th January 2020
  #4
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void23's Avatar
And then I just saw this newish custom unit for the ER-301 ...

Old 9th January 2020
  #5
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pekbro's Avatar
 

One reason I like to use the 1010 Synthbox firmware, is for it's polyphony. I find
it pretty handy and time saving most times.
Old 9th January 2020
  #6
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spiderman's Avatar
Multitimbral makes more sense in modular. Polyphony doesn't really. You CAN get basic 3 or 4 note sound sources... Chord, e372, Troika, etc.... but those are still weak compared to a desktop or keyboard synth with 8 (or many more) notes of polyphony. I think the only answer to Derp's question... commitment to the format. That's the only real reason I can imagine. Why people would have that type of commitment? That's a little deeper and harder to pin down... but I wager trendy hype is a factor in some of those thought processes.
Old 9th January 2020
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

I started building an 84hp rack around the Demon Core. With that and the expander, plus some filters and modulation etc, you get a pretty powerful poly/para synth. Not sure I would go the Doepfer quad route, that does seem burdensome.
Old 9th January 2020
  #8
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Clumsy's Avatar
 

Trying to recreate a traditional polysynth in Eurorack might be rather pointless, and expensive. That said I have a Qu-Bit Chord V2 that at the moment is usually combined with an Intellijel Quadra, a Doepfer n A-135-2 Quad VCA and a Doepfer A-138s Mini Stereo Mixer, and controlled with Mutable Instruments Yarns in four voice poly mode. I also have a Qu-Bit Tone if I want to filter the four voices (I usually don't bother). Just for fun, there's a ModularGrid of that setup below. Why do that in Eurorack? Well, for instance, if I want I can tap the audio at the Mix out of the Chord V2 and just use one envelope and one VCA, freeing up the others for modulation purposes. And, of course, I can use all my other modules for wacky modulation or triggering, or use my spare functions for other things in my global patch.

As void23 pointed out these "people" might be thinking more about "multi-timbrality" in synthesizer terms, but it's still polyphony in the sense of individual voices. Personally I'm aiming for a Eurorack "ensemble" of at least eight voices (kept in tune by my Sinfonion...when I finally get it...damn). I have enough sound sources but I still need some VCAs and envelopes.

Old 9th January 2020
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spiderman View Post
I think the only answer to Derp's question... commitment to the format. That's the only real reason I can imagine. Why people would have that type of commitment? That's a little deeper and harder to pin down... but I wager trendy hype is a factor in some of those thought processes.
Some people probably get into Eurorack because of trendy hype, but I think most of those who stick with it and continue to spend money on it, who are committed to it, as you say, are those who find it inspiring, intuitive, exciting, fun...and other adjectives that I can't think of right now. It may not be suited to everyone, but for some of us it just feels right.
Old 9th January 2020
  #10
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Personally I think eurorack is at the point where all of the monosynth type modules both east and west coast are more than covered and makers are branching out to whatever isn't covered yet. Last year was like the year of euro samplers which you could make the same argument about. There are oodles of cheap sampler boxes out there that are way cheaper than building the same functionality in modular. But they aren't in the rack and you can't easily trigger them from an analog signal. There's a thread about why there isn't a convolution reverb module yet that pops up from time to time on muffs. There are convolution plugins that come with every DAW AFAIK and probably a few dozen hardware units but it hasn't been done in euro yet so people get excited about the idea. I think it's the same thing with poly. There's always this itch to try what hasn't been tried yet.
Old 9th January 2020
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by subdo View Post
There's always this itch to try what hasn't been tried yet.
There are so many great ideas that haven't been tried out yet. For instance, as many modules are based on guitar stuff, I'm still surprised we don't have an amp modeller in Euro yet. I know that would be uber niche as Pittsburgh's attempt to bring Euro to guitarists failed pretty hard, but I would love tube amp emulation in my rack. Imagine how villainous something like the Pro One would sound through a modeled Mesa Rectum Fryer!

Between that and a decent preamp, there's still a lot left to do in modular for anyone that's got an imagination and a deep pocketbook.
Old 9th January 2020
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subdo View Post
There's a thread about why there isn't a convolution reverb module yet that pops up from time to time on muffs.
Mungo just released the c1 convolution reverb / delay module yesterday.
Dunno the cost, you have to email for the cost or to order. I'm not
overly interested in it personally
Old 9th January 2020
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by pekbro View Post
Mungo just released the c1 convolution reverb / delay module yesterday.
Dunno the cost, you have to email for the cost or to order. I'm not
overly interested in it personally
It's probably high cost. Mungo module prices are usually pretty obscene.
Old 9th January 2020
  #14
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subdo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
There are so many great ideas that haven't been tried out yet. For instance, as many modules are based on guitar stuff, I'm still surprised we don't have an amp modeller in Euro yet. I know that would be uber niche as Pittsburgh's attempt to bring Euro to guitarists failed pretty hard, but I would love tube amp emulation in my rack. Imagine how villainous something like the Pro One would sound through a modeled Mesa Rectum Fryer!

Between that and a decent preamp, there's still a lot left to do in modular for anyone that's got an imagination and a deep pocketbook.
Agreed. There is definitely room to grow for euro in the guitar direction. I'd say even the modules that support guitar pedals are not that great. They are all missing something. I would love something that does stereo send and return with gain staging in each direction that also does scaling for expression pedals. Basically a stereo S.B.G. I'm not sure what the venn diagram of guitar users and modular nerds looks like though. Probably pretty niche as you said.
Old 10th January 2020
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
Just something I was thinking about. I see a lot of people coming into modular and wanting polyphony. Why, though? Modular polyphony is a patching nightmare! Why would you want polyphony in modular when fixed-architecture makes a lot more sense and is cheaper for those purposes?
I think the same could be said for "mono voice" modular synths? Why bother with the higher cost and bigger hassle of a modular when a majority of everything most people do on a modular could be done on a fixed-architecture synth for less money and greater convenience?
Old 10th January 2020
  #16
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subdo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ImJohn View Post
I think the same could be said for "mono voice" modular synths? Why bother with the higher cost and bigger hassle of a modular when a majority of everything most people do on a modular could be done on a fixed-architecture synth for less money and greater convenience?
You're not wrong but even if you're just patching together a standard mono synth voice you still have options to use say a digital VCO with a Moog style ladder filter and Sys100 ADSR one day and then swap all those out for different modules the next. That to me is modular's natural strength, the ability to pick and choose the components in a voice and experiment with different combinations.

That strength is also a weakness when it comes to poly. Like, do you really want to buy eight of the exact same filter and oscillator for true polyphony when you could buy eight different filters and VCOs and get the variety of sounds that gets you? Of course there's nothing to stop you from setting up a poly patch with completely different voices. That's also a natural strength of modular. There's no rules and nothing stopping you from creating an instrument no sane company would ever go to market with.
Old 10th January 2020
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subdo View Post
You're not wrong but even if you're just patching together a standard mono synth voice you still have options to use say a digital VCO with a Moog style ladder filter and Sys100 ADSR one day and then swap all those out for different modules the next. That to me is modular's natural strength, the ability to pick and choose the components in a voice and experiment with different combinations.

That strength is also a weakness when it comes to poly. Like, do you really want to buy eight of the exact same filter and oscillator for true polyphony when you could buy eight different filters and VCOs and get the variety of sounds that gets you? Of course there's nothing to stop you from setting up a poly patch with completely different voices. That's also a natural strength of modular. There's no rules and nothing stopping you from creating an instrument no sane company would ever go to market with.
oh, I definitely agree! I was being a bit of the devil's advocate for fun! I forget sometimes that not everyone knows I have mountains of modular gear and have part of both my largest 5U and largest eurorack systems setup to do 4 voice poly.
Old 10th January 2020
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
Just something I was thinking about. I see a lot of people coming into modular and wanting polyphony. Why, though? Modular polyphony is a patching nightmare! Why would you want polyphony in modular when fixed-architecture makes a lot more sense and is cheaper for those purposes?
I’ve abandoned the (silly and expensive) quest for polyphony in modular and embraced paraphony instead.

I’m now a full-fledged paraphonic freak. I just love it! It's so easy to patch.

Here are four Instruo saw waves (troika + tona) played paraphonically via YARNS with no envelopes, only one filter (traigh) and no VCA. I can drone out just playing four-voice harmonies like this for hours.
Attached Files

Instruo 4v Paraphonic.mp3 (6.00 MB, 564 views)

Old 10th January 2020
  #19
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

Vermona Perfourmer guys - it's one of the best synths I've ever purchased!

Mono stack - two mono's or four voices. Just terrific, each voice is a full synth channel.
Old 10th January 2020
  #20
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mekanik's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
Just something I was thinking about. I see a lot of people coming into modular and wanting polyphony. Why, though? Modular polyphony is a patching nightmare! Why would you want polyphony in modular when fixed-architecture makes a lot more sense and is cheaper for those purposes?
i remember when i got my first hardware synth. it was either the new sem patch panel or a modular.

and i got thinking maybe i could do several sems. but even several sems it seem can take a whole day to sound identical.

in the end i got a modular instead. (richter 2 oscs and dual borg, rest doepfer, basic subtractive setup. i got a og beatstep and a tr8 )

and when i started using this system i quite quickly found out that 1 it would be extremely impractical to do this 5 times over. not to mention getting everything 100% similar. that alone would need to be measured since the pots positions can vary.

the most important thing though is: that if you actually make some phat sounds with the modular, then these sounds occupy quite a lot of the spectrum in mono. and they would completely overtake everything else in poly.

so that alone makes modulars not too well suited for poly sounds imo.

most poly synths sounds quite anemic and thin compared to even standalone monos. thats why they get away with poly.

that being said, sure you can dial a modular back in phatness to make it behave for poly sounds, but why the F even get a modular then?? its like a taking a formula 1 car to go rock crawling.

different horses for different courses imo.

all of this has been known for 30+ years though. its not really news.
Old 13th January 2020
  #21
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For a while I was making plans to include a hybrid 4 voice poly/paraphonic section in my rig. My rationale was that I spend like 80% of my time just using the modular, and prefer patching with CV where I can make all sorts of weird and wonderful things happen. My plan at the time was to get two Klavis Twin Waves, and the Doepfer Quad modules designed with poly in mind (the VCA, envelopes, and maybe the SEM filter), as that would have at least been a lot less precise effort to match everything per voice. But along the way, I realized that I could also just get a DSI Pro-2 and get the same thing with a lot of other options for similar money and ultimately less hassle with programming. I’ve also played around with making a four voice poly on the ER-301, but again it seems like more work than it was worth to me with other polysynths around.
Old 16th January 2020
  #22
I do like the idea of polyphony where each voice is slightly different because it's impossible to make them sound identical. It would certainly be organic sounding, but I wouldn't want to spend thousands just to find out. But y'all know me, I'm all about using samplers for polyphony anyway.
Old 17th January 2020
  #23
Gear Addict
I mentioned to Derp already in another topic, but will explain a bit more.

Ok, mono synths are cool, but I do love chords. I love going from one note into another, parralel. I think the common word is polyphony, but plenty people would just like to play multiple tones at once. So I think people really want paraphony.

I want it, because i do love an edge to one part of the sound while draining the other source into a wet lake of reverb and delay, or just sequence each osc into an 80s song. Oh yes, I can have the real deal on the juno chorus, ursa major delay, and modulate the crap out of it. From nice beefy analog oscillators to a d50 type. way of creating sounds.

Its called modular for a reason. Build your synth the way you want it. And sometimes, but rarely, its not possible/feasable. In case of a divide down string, in example.
With doepfer quad vca for polyphony it became wuite easy. And often, i wouldnt care for 4 filters for oscs as well. Its maybe a cool idea for module makers to allow control from a master source too.

The big issue is with what you can do with less. I’m going for 4 voices. But you dont need 4 noise sources. You can multiply them, or round robin the vca. The constraints make it hard but gets you creative. Or,...you just get 4. :-)

I personally dont understand a huge modular system with hundreds of modules for just random blips. Luckily, we all have different opinions :D

I hope to share some cool vids in some time. But eurorack for a few months means not too many modules yet, $$$$ haha.
Old 17th January 2020
  #24
Gear Addict
I mentioned to Derp already in another topic, but will explain a bit more.

Ok, mono synths are cool, but I do love chords. I love going from one note into another, parralel. I think the common word is polyphony, but plenty people would just like to play multiple tones at once. So I think people really want paraphony.

I want it, because i do love an edge to one part of the sound while draining the other source into a wet lake of reverb and delay, or just sequence each osc into an 80s song. Oh yes, I can have the real deal on the juno chorus, ursa major delay, and modulate the crap out of it. From nice beefy analog oscillators to a d50 type. way of creating sounds.

Its called modular for a reason. Build your synth the way you want it. And sometimes, but rarely, its not possible/feasable. In case of a divide down string, in example.
With doepfer quad vca for polyphony it became wuite easy. And often, i wouldnt care for 4 filters for oscs as well. Its maybe a cool idea for module makers to allow control from a master source too.

The big issue is with what you can do with less. I’m going for 4 voices. But you dont need 4 noise sources. You can multiply them, or round robin the vca. The constraints make it hard but gets you creative. Or,...you just get 4. :-)

I personally dont understand a huge modular system with hundreds of modules for just random blips. Luckily, we all have different opinions :D

I hope to share some cool vids in some time. But eurorack for a few months means not too many modules yet, $$$$ haha.
Old 18th January 2020
  #25
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The main reason I am planning a Eurorack is to expand my Matriarch. After adding a fixed filter bank to complete the Moog Modular experience, I was thinking making it truly polyphonic would be fun. I'd just need two more each of transistor ladder filters, VCAs, and envelopes, along with a polyphonic CV/Gate controller.

Am I insane for considering this? Am I oversimplifying this?
Old 18th January 2020
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gitaarwerk View Post
I mentioned to Derp already in another topic, but will explain a bit more.

Ok, mono synths are cool, but I do love chords. I love going from one note into another, parralel. I think the common word is polyphony, but plenty people would just like to play multiple tones at once. So I think people really want paraphony.

I want it, because i do love an edge to one part of the sound while draining the other source into a wet lake of reverb and delay, or just sequence each osc into an 80s song. Oh yes, I can have the real deal on the juno chorus, ursa major delay, and modulate the crap out of it. From nice beefy analog oscillators to a d50 type. way of creating sounds.

Its called modular for a reason. Build your synth the way you want it.

.
i think its mostly a matter of space and money.

a selfcontained poly is like 10x cheaper. and it sounds good in poly from the start. its made for poly.

sure modulars can sound good in poly too. but i think it will be a bit over the top. but yes i would do it if i made like 6x the money i make now. then i would play that 6 voice while wearing a monocle and d'orsay hat all the time. and also doing a few lines of blow once and again. just to stay in touch with the plebs. keeping it real.
Old 18th January 2020
  #27
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Yeah, poly modular can be fun but when you compare costs . . . .

Like the new Korg Wavestate is only $800! I'm not sure what kind of poly modular you could setup for only $800 but if it's even possible, I bet it wouldn't be very satisfying?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
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I want to thank the person who brought up the 1010 Synthbox, I ended up getting one and I’m more than happy with it.

So far I only have the case and the Synthbox. My next step is the ES-8, which I will use with Audulus to provide modulation and CV processing. And of course I plan to gobble up all that Dreadbox goodness.

Wavestate is a good synth, not knocking it but it’s not really comparable to what’s on offer here with eurorack. All told, this system will cost $1573, which will put it well under the price of some fixed-architecture polys (although again, that kinda misses the point).
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
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Synthbox is cool, not to mention you can load the bitbox and fxbox firmware as well. So yo have the wavetables, a 16 voice sampler and an fix rig along the lines of sugarbytes battery or similar.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pekbro View Post
Synthbox is cool, not to mention you can load the bitbox and fxbox firmware as well. So yo have the wavetables, a 16 voice sampler and an fix rig along the lines of sugarbytes battery or similar.
Yeah, I’m pretty happy with how it sounds! I anticipate trying some of the other firmwares but for the moment I’m enjoying Synthbox. I especially like the ability to send separate CV to each voice, something you don’t see too much of in the fixed architecture world.
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