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Kawai FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Kawai instruments, product features, and other topics.


What is polyphony?

Digital PianosSound


This is the upper limit to the number of sounds that can be produced simultaneously. Bigger is better: old (and some modern, cheap) digital pianos might be limited to 32 or 64 note polyphony; higher end models are more often 192 or 256 note.

But you only have ten fingers, right? Why would you need more than 32 note polyphony? There are a couple of reasons: first, imagine playing a complex chord and sustaining it, while continuing to play other notes. You can very easily find yourself pushing 20 or more samples through the CPU at any given time this way.

More importantly, good digital pianos produce a multitude of sounds every time you strike a key, not just the sound of the note itself. The sounds of the dampers moving, the sounds of the hammers falling back, and a host of other mechanical sounds are included to help inspire the feeling that you’re playing an acoustic piano – and each of these sounds will eat into that polyphony limit.

If you run into that limit, you’ll find notes dropping out or not playing. You’ll want the highest polyphony rating you can get.