This is a good question to inquire about when it comes to purchasing a digital baby grand piano. It doesn’t matter how good your digital piano sounds or feels if you keep losing notes during play. So what’s the polyphony note count for you? Here’s how you can figure it out.
What will you use the digital piano for?
If you want a digital piano that emulates an acoustic piano for easy practice purposes, then you’ll probably be fine with 32 note polyphony. In the rare case that you start losing notes with sustain pedal usage you may struggle to notice it. Digital pianos use algorithms to determine which notes to drop off if the max note count is reached. In many cases they will likely pick notes that could be dropped minus the listener easily noticing. And so the not so good news is that if you reach your max polyphony you will lose notes. The good news is that you may not notice.
Sequencing and Layering
If you are planning to record multiple tracks on your electric baby grand piano go on and get yourself a higher note polyphony. Every time you add another track on top of a preexisting track, you happen to be adding to the maximum polyphony. The digital piano counts the prior track, as well as your current playing, all toward the max polyphony. So when you start adding different tones and voices on multiple tracks you can see how fast you might reach a max polyphony of 32 at some stage in the song.
Also, if you want to use layering effects a good deal, then have more than 32 note polyphony. The layering effect allows multiple voices / tones to play for each key stroke. For those who have a grand piano and string effect on, every time you press a vital it can use one note of the total polyphony for your grand piano tone then one note for your strings. This, in a sense, halves your total polyphony count.
In these situations, obtain a more than 32 note polyphony. You can find 128 note polyphony digital pianos for very affordable prices.
A Simple Note About Stereo
A number of the tones / voices on the digital piano could be in stereo. This means one note may have two different sounds recorded that play at the same time to emulate the sound of an acoustic. When this happens you might be using up 2 notes of your own polyphony for each key you hit, instead of one. This can essentially turn a 32 note polyphony keyboard in to a 16 note polyphony keyboard. This may only happen on those effects which are in stereo.
A Good Polyphony Test
If you are worried about losing notes while using the sustain pedal use this. Hit the 2 lowest A notes on the digital piano. Hold all of them with the sustain pedal and perform a glissando with both both hands. You shouldn’t lose the two low A’s when the digital piano uses an algorithm to lower off a few of the notes in the glissando. You almost certainly won’t zxmvfy you’re losing notes inside the glissando. It’s best if you don’t lose the reduced A’s, but if you do lose them on your digital piano that’s not the end around the globe.
Consider it like this. During regular piano play, if you happen to get to the point in which you reach your max polyphony count it will probably only happen for a few seconds. So it’s not going to happen throughout most of your song. Which means you won’t lose many notes.
But when you’re acquiring a digital piano online and will avoid this, go ahead and do this. Digital piano prices are affordable enough nowadays that you can get a high polyphony count for a good price. Even a number of the low end models are coming using a minimum polyphony of 64. Only use your own judgment when determining if it’s essential to pay for the little extra for a higher polyphony capability.