Best Music Keyboards, Part 5: How much polyphony do you need?

What are the best music keyboards for you?

The right keyboard is one that contains the features you need and nothing more. You should never pay extra for features you will have no use for. It's important to know exactly what your needs are.

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Before buying a keyboard you may have questions on what amount of polyphony is best for you. In fact I get lots of questions from visitors to this site about this.

When it comes to polyphony, beginners are fine with just a few notes. The music they play is very simple so they are alright with as little as 32 notes.

For advanced players it's a different story, as we shall see.

Polyphony has to do with the number of notes that can play together simultaneously. So if a keyboard says 16 notes polyphony, it means that no more than 16 notes will play together at the same time. 128 notes of polyphony means that as many as 128 notes can sound together simultaneously.

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Lots of polyphony is particularly important if your keyboard comes with a sequencer and you're interested in doing complex compositions where several tracks play together or a sustain pedal is used.

If you're an advanced player, YOUR best music keyboards should have nothing short of 98 or 128 notes of polyphony. If your keyboard doesn't have enough polyphony, some notes will cut off. 

If you're basically playing one or two voices at a time, and you're not doing too much sustaining, you don't really need lots of polyphony. In that case 32 or 64 notes will do. 

Choices include 16 or less, 32 to 64, 98-128, and 128 and over.

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What is the best keyboard for you? - Further reading.

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