Advantage of a monophonic synth?

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superdadan
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Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by superdadan » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:44 pm

Hi,
I would like to know what are the advantages of a monophonic synth compared to a polyphonic one in terms of sound?
Thanks!

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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by Zamise » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:02 am

There aren't any. However if you play a mono or put a poly in mono mode, what happens is that when you play a second note it immediately cuts the end of the first note off even if it is being held so there is no release. If you want to make acidy, or bendy, or stretchy, or glidey or slidy sounds it works better in mono, the notes bend in to each other when you put some portamento on it. That don't happen or sound the same with poly, you'll just get chords or it'll sound like c**p as the notes continue to play with each other and not resetting. You can hold a note in mono, play a second note and let it go and the first note will immediately reset like you bouncing back and forth but you are continuing to just hold the first note. It is almost more a style of playing than an advantage over the quality or type of sounds monos or polys make, because they are virtually the same thing except polys you can play more notes simultaneously, and you have to keep in mind fall off or decay and release settings because even if you let off a note they can continue to play. Blah blah synth 101 stuff.
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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by blavatsky » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:51 am

^ good explanation

I'll add that some poly's don't have a "true" mono mode, like for example the Juno 106...it can go mono but it puts it in unison mode which is kind of overkill to me...a little too stacked sounding; tons of good bass sounds rely on simplicity, like just one oscillator for that stripped down bassy tone. And as mentioned you can tweak your playing around the re-triggering/legato style of playing that may lead to different types of riffs vs. trying to play a poly as a mono and being overly careful about note decay/hitting more than one at once.

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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:34 am

Think of it as the difference between having one guy with a trumpet playing a solo or having six guys each playing one note of the solo one after the other. That's basically the difference between mono and poly. A lot of the time when you're playing an intricate monosynth lead the interesting parts will happen in the transitions from one not to the next, as the amp and filter haven't quite closed and you hear the osc slide up to the next note. Neither way is better or worse, just different and you might like the way one sounds more than the other.

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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by CfNorENa » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:28 am

Zamise wrote:There aren't any.
Not sure I agree.

I have owned a Pro-One and currently own a Prophet 5, and can assure you that the single voice of the former is punchier than a single voice of the latter (which has nothing to do with playing style, different portamento/glide, etc. etc.). The consensus among the techies seems to be that the Pro-One is not, in fact, a single voice of the Prophet 5 (despite the same circuitry in both machines). Apparently something to do with how the VCA operates in a mono vs. poly, internal gain staging, blah blah blah (stuff I don't pretend to understand). So perhaps in that case there is a sonic advantage to the mono.

All of that said, I do agree with the general point that it comes down to how you play and interact with the instrument. For most basses, arps, and leads, I simply prefer the feeling of a mono synth...

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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by Black Tomorrow » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:10 am

To add to this, it seems that monosynths often have features that polys don't. This isn't because of any inherent difference between them, as I'm sure these features could easily be implemented on a poly. I think the main reason for this is that when monosynths were first introduced, no one was really sure what a synth should really include, so there are quirks that are unique to a particular mono or series of monos. By the time polys were being introduced, there was some degree of consensus on standard features, and even monos had fewer oddities. Quirky features probably didn't come back until the modular resurgance gained steam. But I'm getting off track.

This is just how I see it, but someone correct me if I'm off base.
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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:37 am

CfNorENa wrote:I have owned a Pro-One and currently own a Prophet 5, and can assure you that the single voice of the former is punchier than a single voice of the latter (which has nothing to do with playing style, different portamento/glide, etc. etc.). The consensus among the techies seems to be that the Pro-One is not, in fact, a single voice of the Prophet 5 (despite the same circuitry in both machines). Apparently something to do with how the VCA operates in a mono vs. poly, internal gain staging, blah blah blah (stuff I don't pretend to understand). So perhaps in that case there is a sonic advantage to the mono.
It's the gain staging where all the voices are mixed together post-VCA in the Prophet 5. I'm not going to go into all the numbers because it's logarithmic which is a headache, but suffice to say that each voice in the Prophet 5 (or any polysynth) needs to be turned down by a certain amount so that even when all five voices are sounding at full volume the output level isn't clipping. In the Pro One there is just one voice so it can be turned up the full way. Due to the non-linearities in the circuit as the output voltage approaches the power rail voltage you get a nice soft clipping happening which is where the 'punchiness' comes from. In the Pro One the gain staging is such that you get that punchiness with every note, in the Prophet 5 you only get it if you're sounding all five voices and the oscs are all perfectly in phase, which basically never happens.

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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by CfNorENa » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:33 pm

@Stab: thanks. First explanation of this that I've actually understood!

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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by V301H » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:51 pm

Most Polys don't have a true Mono Mode where only one Voice is heard. Unison Mode is common where usually anywhere from four to eight voices are stacked . The Roland Jupiter 6 has true single voice Mono Mode selectable by a button on the front panel. It can be done on the Oberheim OB8 and others by disabling all but one voice. The OB8 takes about eight or nine button presses to do this.
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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by Zamise » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:35 pm

V301H wrote:Most Polys don't have a true Mono Mode where only one Voice is heard. Unison Mode is common where usually anywhere from four to eight voices are stacked . The Roland Jupiter 6 has true single voice Mono Mode selectable by a button on the front panel. It can be done on the Oberheim OB8 and others by disabling all but one voice. The OB8 takes about eight or nine button presses to do this.
Most poly VAs and PCMs do tho ;) So I am not entirely in agreement or disagreement, I may be persuaded one or the other way on that matter depending on the various methods of putting a synth in Unison and possibly how many voices or poly is left afterwords etc..

I can see where you guys are comming from with a mono versions of a synth sounding better and I figured someone would bring that up. If that is what op is talking about then we'll have to go in to specific examples and why like stabby did, otherwise it is like saying having one dollar sounds better than having two because you can count how many you have every time with your favorite finger.
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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by Kenneth » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:18 pm

You can achieve this on the Polysix as well by holding the chord memory button and playing just one note. That will lock it into a single- oscillator, monophonic mode.
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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by Black Tomorrow » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:33 am

Kenneth wrote:You can achieve this on the Polysix as well by holding the chord memory button and playing just one note. That will lock it into a single- oscillator, monophonic mode.
This is also true with the Poly 800. Probably true on the Poly 61, but I don't have one to test the idea.
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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by superdadan » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:00 pm

Thx for all your replies! =)

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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by pflosi » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:09 pm

Black Tomorrow wrote:
Kenneth wrote:You can achieve this on the Polysix as well by holding the chord memory button and playing just one note. That will lock it into a single- oscillator, monophonic mode.
This is also true with the Poly 800. Probably true on the Poly 61, but I don't have one to test the idea.
Also true on the alpha Juno... Very handy.

The Andromeda chord function is polyphonic, so this trick doesn't work - but it is amazing for tons of other stuff! Fortunately it has a true mono mode :2cool:

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Re: Advantage of a monophonic synth?

Post by philip » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:05 pm

DM records done mostly with mono synth. Martin said that this is the secret of their cool sound, and the second reason -they couldn't play with two hands(until Alan)

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