Polyphonic synthesizers have been a staple in electronic music production for decades. These versatile instruments offer the ability to create complex and evolving sounds that can be used in a wide variety of musical genres. Whether you’re a professional musician, a hobbyist, or a beginner, choosing the right polyphonic synthesizer can be a daunting task.
With so many options available in the market, it’s essential to know what to look for. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the top polyphonic synthesizers available today. We got something for the house, techno, or experimental producers so relax as we explore their features, sound quality, versatility, and ease of use, to help you make an informed decision when choosing the perfect synthesizer for your musical needs.
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Polyphonic synthesizers are electronic musical instruments that can play multiple notes or voices simultaneously. The term “polyphony” refers to the number of notes that can be played simultaneously on a synthesizer.
There are different types of polyphonic synthesizers, ranging from duophonic synthesizers that can play two independent pitches at a time to paraphonic synthesizers that can play multiple pitches at once using oscillators with a common filter and amplifier circuit.
They can be analog or digital, and they offer the user the ability to define the instrument’s timbre and modify it over time. The earliest polyphonic synthesizers were built in the late 1930s, and they became popular in the mid-1970s with the development of voice allocation technology.
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Watch Now: The Oberheim OB-X8 in a nutshell
Tom Oberheim, the founder of Oberheim, is considered one of the most influential figures in the music industry, and his name is practically synonymous with audio synthesizers. After nearly four decades since the last official Oberheim instrument, the company reemerges with Oberheim himself leading the way. The OB-X8 polyphonic analog synthesizer celebrates Oberheim’s triumphant return, paying homage to the iconic OB series by faithfully re-creating three of its models within a single synthesizer. With a combination of all the primary features of the OB-X, OB-Xa, and OB-8 models, the OB-X8 offers an array of unforgettable and iconic synth sounds of the ’80s, complete with individual filter types and presets that made each instrument unique.
The all-analog signal path ensures that the OB-X8 is just as sonically warm and full as its older siblings, with labelled sections featuring tactile buttons and knobs that offer easy and complete control of your sound. The 61-key FATAR keyboard is velocity and touch-sensitive, providing limitless options for expressive playing. The OB-X8 is a “classic” synthesizer, but modern optimizations such as an OLED screen and MIDI/USB compatibility make it a perfect addition to any modern synthesist’s arsenal. Don’t miss out on the long-awaited return of one of the pillars of synthesizer design and ingenuity!
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Synth designer Dave Smith has brought back the iconic Prophet-5 synthesizer with the most powerful version yet, the Prophet-5 Rev4. This reimagination of the 5-voice polyphonic synth includes features from every iteration of the Prophet-5, making it a standout synthesizer option. The ultra-stable voltage-controlled oscillators from the Rev3 and a choice between the Rev1 and Rev2’s Rossum-designed filter or the Rev3’s Curtis-designed filter make it a versatile instrument. The vintage knob allows for behavior characteristics of the earlier versions, and it comes with a knob-per-function architecture that makes it easy to use.
The Prophet-5 comes loaded with factory presets and 200 user slots for storing custom-made patches. It also features a collector-grade steel housing with hand-oiled black walnut accents and end cheeks, making it a stylish addition to any studio. The Prophet-5 is a must-have for analog synth enthusiasts and a testament to Dave Smith’s synth design expertise.
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Watch Now: PolyBrute | Morphing Analog PolySynth | ARTURIA
Taking analog synthesis to new heights, Arturia has designed the PolyBrute, an advanced synthesizer that’s perfect for sound design enthusiasts. With six voices of polyphony, dual analog oscillators, and a dual filter section featuring both a Steiner-Parker filter and a Ladder filter, the PolyBrute can produce classic analog sounds ranging from basement-dwelling basslines to stratospheric pads.
However, the PolyBrute is no ordinary throwback-style synthesizer. It’s packed with modern features that expand its creative potential, including a 32-destination modulation matrix, a 64-step polyphonic sequencer, a ribbon controller, a digital effects section, and Arturia’s cutting-edge Morphée pad.
The Brute series of synthesizers and drum machines by Arturia are a favorite among synthesists, and the PolyBrute is a welcome addition to the family. For a unique analog experience and next-generation analog synthesis, get your hands on the Arturia PolyBrute.
Watch Now: Korg Minilogue XD Polyphonic Analogue Synthesizer | Reverb Demo Video
The Korg minilogue XD hybrid synthesizer is a next-generation analog synth that comes with a digital multi-engine, effects, a powerful sequencer, and micro tuning capability. This 4-voice analog synth is based on the circuit of the minilogue, which has been further refined for maximum sonic appeal. With the addition of Korg’s digital multi-engine, you can access four types of noise, a VPM/FM oscillator, and 16 user oscillator slots.
The unit also includes three types of digital effects, a step sequencer, and four voice modes: poly, unison, chord, and ARP/latch. You can customize your sound further with 16 user effect slots, giving you endless creative possibilities with the Korg minilogue XD hybrid synthesizer.
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Watch Now: NEW ASM Hydrasynth Explorer – The Most Powerful Compact Synth?
The Hydrasynth Explorer gives you full access to the renowned 8-voice sound engine of the original Hydrasynth in a compact, scaled-down package. Featuring 37 PolyTouch-enabled slim synth keys and battery-powered capability, the Hydrasynth Explorer is a grab-and-go sound lab for intrepid synthesists. Like the 49-key and desktop Hydrasynth models, the Hydrasynth Explorer boasts 8-voice polyphony; each voice serves up three WaveScane oscillators offering 219 different waveforms, with four Mutators total for extensive waveshaping.
There’s a ton of potential for creating nuanced, nonlinear sounds. The five ADSR envelope generators offer delay and hold and can have either linear or exponential curves between stages, and the five LFOs offer a total of 11 waveshapes plus delay, fade in, and smoothing. Throw in a highly responsive pitch-bend strip and a mod strip with LED depth indicators, and you’ve got a compact performance synthesizer with endless sound design capabilities!
Watch Now: Waldorf Streichfett String Synthesizer: 100% Sound Demo
During the late 1970s, synthesizer enthusiasts attempted to imitate string sounds but were unsuccessful. However, their experimentation led to the creation of some of the most famous synth sounds. The Waldorf Streichfett synth string module emulates this iconic sound, and its quality is unparalleled.
The Streichfett offers a broad spectrum of tones and characters, which range from solos to layered ensembles. Additionally, the onboard effects offer endless possibilities for creative exploration. Furthermore, the Waldorf Streichfett can be easily integrated into your rig because of its MIDI and USB connectivity.
The world of polyphonic synthesizers is vast and diverse, with a plethora of models to choose from. Each synthesizer has its unique features and characteristics that make it stand out from the rest. From vintage classics to modern powerhouses, there is a poly synth for every need and budget.
Whether you’re a seasoned musician or a beginner, a polyphonic synthesizer can unlock new creative possibilities and take your music to the next level. Hopefully, this article has provided you with valuable insights into some of the top poly synthesizers available today and helped you make an informed decision when choosing your next instrument.