Voice Stealing

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Voice Stealing

Post by Analogue Crazy » Sat Aug 02, 2008 8:24 pm

I was playing my Andromeda today and could not help but notice that in unison it was sounding a tad bit thinner than usual. I went into global mode and had a look at the voice display and 2 were turned off. It turns out this was due to something called voice stealing which switches off voices when you exceed maximum polyphony (usually 8 in my case). This is a usefull function because it allows you to carry on playing when youve exceeded the polyphony limit but on my Andromeda you have to remember to turn them back on. I turned the functio off because i find it slightly annoying.

What im wondering is, do any other polysynths use voice stealing or a similar fuction?
This is the first time iv come across it.
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Re: Voice Stealing

Post by Synthaholic » Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:29 pm

Voice stealing doesn't switch off voices, it "steals" voices from sounding (or decaying notes) to play the new notes you're trying to play.

For example, on a synth with 4 note polyphony, if you play 5 notes, the first note may be cut off to "steal" the voice to play the 5th note.

I don't know how the Andromeda handles this, but it shouldn't "turn off" voices. Maybe a couple voices failed to auto-tune successfully or something?

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Re: Voice Stealing

Post by hfinn » Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:47 pm

If I remember correctly, on the A6 in unison you can actually choose how many voices will sound. Useful incase you want a unison sound but 16 oscillators might be a bit overkill. Also great so that you can have a four oscillators in unison and still play four notes at a time, or something like that. My math sucks today.

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Re: Voice Stealing

Post by Bitexion » Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:25 pm

Yeah, but when you have 4 decaying notes (and 4 note unison), it will cut off the decay of the first played notes to be able to play 4 new notes in unison. It's a common thing for all polysynths really. But I haven't encountered voices turning off completely. However, I've noticed some patches are pre-programmed to ONLY use voice 1-6 for some reason, and it will only cycle between those 6. Basically, big unison isn't suited well for playing polyphonically anyway, it will completely drown out everything else. Plus it is easy too hear the voice stealing cutoffs unless you use a slow attack sound.

You say your unison sounded "thinner" than usual, make sure you use the same amount of voices in unison. It changes with how the patches are programmed. It's not just Unison On/off on this synth. You can choose how many voices from 2-16, or even the wonderful STACK mode, where it divides the unison across the notes you're playing at any time (like the Jupiter-8). Play a single note and you got 16 voices. Play two notes, and you got 8 voices on each etc. I've never had a synth where you have this much choice over the voice allocation..usually it's just Unison on/off, which piles all the voices into a single note.

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Re: Voice Stealing

Post by aXL » Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:49 pm

In one of my songs, I use voice stealing to my advantage. Using the ESQ-1, I first play a filter sweep, then while holding down the sustain, I switch patches to a pad sound, playing five new notes while the two I used for the sweep are still going. Then, continuing on, I continue playing, eventually having the pad canceling out the initial sweep. (You can hear this song on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/blackstonescard. It's called "Darkest Love".)

It's a cool trick, especially if you have a synth that doesn't reset the voices when changing patches.
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Re: Voice Stealing

Post by premieklovn » Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:57 pm

The Roland Jupiter 4 got a similiar unison-function.

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Re: Voice Stealing

Post by cbjlietuva » Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:52 pm

hfinn wrote:If I remember correctly, on the A6 in unison you can actually choose how many voices will sound. Useful incase you want a unison sound but 16 oscillators might be a bit overkill. Also great so that you can have a four oscillators in unison and still play four notes at a time, or something like that. My math sucks today.
+1

The ion works in the same way- you can choose to have 2, 4 or 8 voices stacked in unison, the 2 and 4 for polyphonic and duophonic playing, respectively.
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Re: Voice Stealing

Post by Bitexion » Mon Aug 04, 2008 1:04 am

But the Ion unison sounds totally weak and washy compared to the power of the A6 unison. I have compared many times, with the same amount of voices. There is just no competition for VCO unison. Dunno why. On the Ion I get a kind of mushy-like sound, but on A6 it turns nasty and gritty and growly on low notes, specially with no tuning spread. I always use a bit of "analog drift" on my Ion sounds too.

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Re: Voice Stealing

Post by cbjlietuva » Mon Aug 04, 2008 3:30 am

Bitexion wrote:But the Ion unison sounds totally weak and washy compared to the power of the A6 unison. I have compared many times, with the same amount of voices. There is just no competition for VCO unison. Dunno why. On the Ion I get a kind of mushy-like sound, but on A6 it turns nasty and gritty and growly on low notes, specially with no tuning spread. I always use a bit of "analog drift" on my Ion sounds too.
I wasn't trying to make this another analog/digital deabte, I was comparing the concept of the unison mode on Alesis' synths, which is the same as found on the A6
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