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mtumi

Best polyphonic synth options?

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Hi all - 

 

I have been playing with the synth sounds and gotten some decent monophonic guitar>bass sounds together.  I've been looking for pedals to accompany the HX Stomp in this area.  The SA C4 looks like an amazing monophonic compliment to the HX Stomp, with a lot more control - waveforrms, sequencers, etc.   

 

Anyone have thoughts on a polyphonic compliment for chords?   The SY-1 is coming out but has no midi switching, which is kind of crazy.   SY-300 is huge.  EHX pedals also non-MIDI and you have to buy a different pedal for every sound variation (organ, synth, etc)  Meris Enzo?  

 

Thx in advance!

 

Michael

 

PS:  Anyway HX does polyphonic or other synth enhancements anytime soon?

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58 minutes ago, mtumi said:

PS:  Anyway HX does polyphonic or other synth enhancements anytime soon?

 

The people that can answer this stuff do not talk on these forums.... but there have been hints that they are working on improving polyphonic pitch detection. If that becomes a reality (and assuming it's done really well) that could open the doors to synth enhancements and such. 

 

However.... there is no guarantee or  timeline for such improvements... it is not something I would "count on". If you would like a polyphonic synth solution today or in the near future, your best bet it to continue your search outside of Line 6. 

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Try looking at Midi Guitar 2. Excellent polyphonic tracking.

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Thanks to both of you for the responses.  midi guitar 2 looks great for desktop applications and it was news to me.  still looking for pedal options in case anyone else has thoughts. 

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What are you hoping to accomplish as far as polyphonic synth sounds go? I had the Enzo for a little bit, and it was very cool in many ways, but I got frustrated with it in a few areas. The first was that the secondary parameters aren't labeled, so I found myself constantly looking at the cheat sheet to remember what they did. The controls are fairly interactive, meaning that how you adjust one control can affect what the others are doing, so sometimes what seems like a minor tweak can have a major effect. It seemed that sometimes the space between having something usable and something completely over-the-top was very small. Finally, the MIDI implementation was just annoying. With no display to even show what preset was active, it's very hard to keep track of things. There's no way to see what settings are actually saved with a preset, so unless you want to do a lot of bookkeeping, using it with a MIDI rig can be difficult. It can be doable, I suppose, it you set your presets and don't want to ever change them. The other thing I found was that in polyphonic mode, you're really confined to using it for pad and swell type sounds for the most part. It just doesn't give you a natural sounding attack. So if you're wanting something that is organ-ish or even a fat poly synth, you'll probably find it difficult.

 

I've not tried the C4, but it looks cool, and the samples sound good. It too has screwy MIDI implementation. You have to buy SA's $99 Neuro Hub to get MIDI into it. Again, you'd have the same sort of issue where it becomes something of a black box with MIDI. At least with SA, though, you'd be able to see the settings in your presets with their app.

 

I don't know, I just feel like all these options have significant compromises and drawbacks. I wish someone would release a multi-synth pedal in a form factor similar to the Strymon TimeLine or Boss 500 (or even 200) series. Without having a display of some sort, managing multiple presets is just too tedious, imo.

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(guitar synth user since Roland GR700/G707 bought from new when it was the dogs doodads)

 

vguitarforums is the place to go if you want to discuss this with people who have been doing all sorts of stuff with pitch to midi, pitch to cv, wave reshaping and all other manner of weird ways of making a guitar sound like something else.  We have Bill Ruppert - EHX demonstrator - as a regular contributor and there are subs for pretty much every product past or present.

 

IMO the only way to go full polyphony, real time at the moment is with a hex pickup, be that pitch to midi (Triple Play) or wave shaping (Boss GP10, Roland VG99).  MIDI Guitar 2 is brilliant but has issues with close intervals; the guitar-lead based wave shaping devices like the SY300, SY1 seem compromised above about 3 note polyphony.  I would expect this is the same with things like Enzo too, because were it not the whole forum would erupt!

 

While it certainly doesn't count as a pedal, you can hook your laptop up to your helix and route your guitar into MIDI Guitar 2 and route your synth sounds back to the outputs on your Helix.  If you have a mac, you can use MainStage for your synth host, and it might even all the synth sounds you'll ever need.

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I agree with arkieboy....polyphony tends to be very comprised on guitar synths that don’t process each string separately. It’s getting better, but still not there. 

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Thank you all for the great feedback.  Investigating these options.  Not sure i need a perfect pedal.  Honestly Id probably be happy if EHX combined all the 9 series pedals into one pedal and let you select patches w midi.  

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18 hours ago, Kevin-M said:

I agree with arkieboy....polyphony tends to be very comprised on guitar synths that don’t process each string separately. It’s getting better, but still not there. 

 

I'm not so sure about this... I am quite shocked at how well the EHX keyboard pedals track. Sure... you have to make an adjustment or two, and play very clean (clean as in guitar technique) but MIDI guitar has always been that way.... and it's a good habit to have anyway. 

 

9 hours ago, mtumi said:

Honestly Id probably be happy if EHX combined all the 9 series pedals into one pedal and let you select patches w midi.  

 

This ... or license their tracking algorithm so other company's can utilize it in their systems. 

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On 9/26/2019 at 1:45 PM, codamedia said:

 

I am quite shocked at how well the EHX keyboard pedals track

 

You know thats the paradox with the internet - huge amount of extra choice but nowhere to try anything.

 

I'm fairly certain of the SY assessment as I trust the contributors who report on their problems, and there are multiple reports of the quality of the sound degrading past three notes.  I have downloaded and thoroughly evaluated MIDI Guitar 2 and I may well end up buying it because I don't often do odd inversions for synth sounds.  But I've never been in a shop with some time to have a go at the Mel9 or the Synth9 and the like.  I've never given the EHX pedals much of a thought because they are relatively limited in scope and I know darn well Bill Ruppert can make absolutely anything sound amazing.  I suspect that's why there's not much activity on VGuitar forums too

 

(and you notice I didn't mention them either ...)

 

I kind of hope you're wrong because I'll be £400 poorer if you're not ;-)

Edited by arkieboy
because ...

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Hi - joining this conversation late but wanted to contribute, I have been trying out many synths and integrating them within an HX Stomp and an HX Effects environment depending on the goals. 

 

I have a Meris Enzo for about a year now, the SY-1 for about 6 months and recently scored an SY-300 used. After trying the Source Audio C4 I opted against it because it was monophonic and I can get that out of the EHX Synth9 aside from Helix software blocks - so polyphony has been my goal. Also, I did not like how heavily the software was needed for what seemed like every possible edit. Just to be weird, I sometimes use a Digitech Ricochet with its glitch setting to defeat the poly sometimes - depending on the part I suppose. The EHX Super Ego is also something to keep in mind for creating synth pad textures too out of devices that do not have hold/freeze/sustain functions. 

 

Thoughts per pedal - 

 

EHX Synth9 - simple plug and play, not very deep but fun and covers mono in addition to an awesome poly setting, 3 note chords at max. I like the pedal but it is narrow and I found their Mel9 was a bit more interesting and radical of a tone box. 

 

Meris Enzo - amazing poly sounds and if you bypass the synth it is an amazing filter pedal. It has dual function knobs that leave you a bit in the dark when editing unless you figure out with Chrome/midi 3rd party editing software online to go to town with the presets. It gets annoying but the pedal is rather amazing. Number one downside I found was I could not easily dial in certain types of more aggressive attack/decay tones to play punchy lines versus more pad oriented tones. I have the Enzo, Ottobit and Hedra on a Nano Plus board, I use these less often at moment but have them ready to add on via extra board. 

 

Boss SY-1 - I actually love this pedal and do not mind the tweaking on the dials, you get amazing polyphonic sounds quickly and easily. Downside is that you have to make some sacrifices to get it to integrate. For the sequencer aspect, I bought a Disaster Area Micro Clock to sync the tempo on it to the Line 6 gear - no issues, does Boss' NC setting and midi clock simultaneously. I use a TRS cable from the SY-1 to a separate latching pedal to also still use the sound hold function. Sacrifice is no control over tone settings/changes in real time unless with your hands and you can not also plug in an EXP pedal with the way I have it all set up. Currently this pedal is on a Metro 24 in the HX Effects Loop and usually runs into a Roland JC stereo. 

 

Boss SY-300 - I needed more after playing around with the SY-1 - this thing is awesome and is probably the most in line with what I wanted sonically and how many options for routing or midi control. Negative is the size of it, would be better in the footprint size of a DD-500/MD-500 but it is worth making the leap in size for sake of function and flexibility. I was able to make it fit onto several different boards in the 22-24" x 12.5-14.5" range with an HX Effects/Stomp, 2x Dunlop Mini EXPs and some type of Midi controller like the Morningstar MC6 to steer traffic better due to limited button layouts on both the SY-300 and the Stomp. I recently paired this with my HX Stomp as I could shift some FX block usage between the 2 units and route cleanly into a Headrush FRFR speaker and this become a main go to rig for several weeks at this point. 

 

I have not tried the SY-1000 yet because I know I would need to spend $1K on it then another ~$300-400 for GK pickup and installation. I am trying to avoid that rabbit hole still!

 

Overall, depending on what you want to sound like and how much space you want to dedicate I found the SY-1 to be a favorite for the simpler/basic needs and jamming factor. The SY-300 would be my choice if I needed to build in a proper set list and robust preset grouping. Also, the interface on pedal vs software for the SY-300 is in the same realm logically as the HX interfaces/software, not much of a learning curve luckily. 

 

 

 

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Boss SY-1 - I actually love this pedal and do not mind the tweaking on the dials, you get amazing polyphonic sounds quickly and easily. Downside is that you have to make some sacrifices to get it to integrate. For the sequencer aspect, I bought a Disaster Area Micro Clock to sync the tempo on it to the Line 6 gear - no issues, does Boss' NC setting and midi clock simultaneously. I use a TRS cable from the SY-1 to a separate latching pedal to also still use the sound hold function. Sacrifice is no control over tone settings/changes in real time unless with your hands and you can not also plug in an EXP pedal with the way I have it all set up. Currently this pedal is on a Metro 24 in the HX Effects Loop and usually runs into a Roland JC stereo.

 

@GaryKaneNYC: I have an SY-1 and am trying to separate the sounds to have SYNTH to PA and Guitar through AMP using HX Effects to control it.

Have you been able to send the Guitar sound and Synth sound to different locations... i.e. is the Synth sound going to the Roland JC Stereo and your guitar sound processed through the HX? 

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Since the thread has topped out again, I should report that I've had a SY1000 since they came to the UK.

 

Its brilliant.

 

I created this track almost entirely with the 'wave synth' of the SY1000 - the OSC synth was used for the one sound with portmanteau.  The only thing that wasn't the SY was the drums.  The wave synth uses harmonic restructuring - and I wouldn't doubt all sorts of other black magic - to change the sound of a guitar string into a traditional analogue synthesiser without delay, using the guitar string's own envelope instead of a traditional ADSR.  As such its incredibly expressive and connected to your fingers.

'Astronauts' was used as a theme tune to an episode of the BBC TV science programme 'Horizon' called 'Space for Man' in the late 70s. Track is composed by Peter Howell of the BBC Radiophonic workshop, and was a 'B' side to the single version of the revised Doctor Who theme tune from that time.


If you're worried that in places it sounds slightly thin, that's because I'm emulating ARP Odyssey sounds - the Odyssey is famously zingy, and cuts through complex mixes in a way a Moog would find difficult.  The dynamic synth can be very fat if you need it to be.
 

 

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18 hours ago, arkieboy said:

Since the thread has topped out again, I should report that I've had a SY1000 since they came to the UK.

 

Its brilliant.

 

I created this track almost entirely with the 'wave synth' of the SY1000 - the OSC synth was used for the one sound with portmanteau.  The only thing that wasn't the SY was the drums.  The wave synth uses harmonic restructuring - and I wouldn't doubt all sorts of other black magic - to change the sound of a guitar string into a traditional analogue synthesiser without delay, using the guitar string's own envelope instead of a traditional ADSR.  As such its incredibly expressive and connected to your fingers.

'Astronauts' was used as a theme tune to an episode of the BBC TV science programme 'Horizon' called 'Space for Man' in the late 70s. Track is composed by Peter Howell of the BBC Radiophonic workshop, and was a 'B' side to the single version of the revised Doctor Who theme tune from that time.


If you're worried that in places it sounds slightly thin, that's because I'm emulating ARP Odyssey sounds - the Odyssey is famously zingy, and cuts through complex mixes in a way a Moog would find difficult.  The dynamic synth can be very fat if you need it to be.
 

 

Very nice! I own an SY-1000 as well, and have been blown away by its synth capabilities. The GK pickup part of the equation turns a lot of guitarists away, but it opens up the door to a lot of possibilities. 

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On 5/21/2020 at 9:12 AM, cherub said:

Boss SY-1 - I actually love this pedal and do not mind the tweaking on the dials, you get amazing polyphonic sounds quickly and easily. Downside is that you have to make some sacrifices to get it to integrate. For the sequencer aspect, I bought a Disaster Area Micro Clock to sync the tempo on it to the Line 6 gear - no issues, does Boss' NC setting and midi clock simultaneously. I use a TRS cable from the SY-1 to a separate latching pedal to also still use the sound hold function. Sacrifice is no control over tone settings/changes in real time unless with your hands and you can not also plug in an EXP pedal with the way I have it all set up. Currently this pedal is on a Metro 24 in the HX Effects Loop and usually runs into a Roland JC stereo.

 

@GaryKaneNYC: I have an SY-1 and am trying to separate the sounds to have SYNTH to PA and Guitar through AMP using HX Effects to control it.

Have you been able to send the Guitar sound and Synth sound to different locations... i.e. is the Synth sound going to the Roland JC Stereo and your guitar sound processed through the HX? 

@cherubHi, I have tried a number of combinations, really depends on what you are trying to do in the end. I recently did a number of tests with the HX Stomp and FRFR speakers, in those cases I routed the SY-300 through the HX Stomp and out from it to the FRFR. 

 

If I understand correctly, it sounds like you want to run the SY-1 to a PA but I am not certain of sound quality. I would need to look it up but I do not think the instrument/line levels are correct without some adapter in between in this situation. Personally, I would run the SY-1 in the effects loop all through the HX Effects and use the internal mix settings to do things like signal path A without the FX Block/SY-1 and path B with it, hard left right splits where needed to keep the lines separate. 

 

For output I would either keep the path hard left/right pan and run it into the JC stereo but really like a fake 2 amp situation in that case with both inputs. OR, I would blend the level of path A vs B to my liking, maybe use an EXP pedal to control the blend live in real time as well and have both paths running out stereo to the JC. 

 

I tend to think of the HX Effects and the SY-1 as my external amp friendly combination and then the SY-300 and HX Stomp as the deeper control combo that is more FRFR/recording friendly.  The SY-300 has additional outputs to go to mixers and still yet integrate to other pedals and so forth. 

 

Also, if you skip using the PA, you probably use less cables on the stage and that always means less things to trip on, break, and replace. 

 

Please let me know if you have more details on the setup you are hoping to achieve and if I can be of any help.

 

Also, curious why you want to run just the SY-1 to a PA? 

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@GaryKaneNYC (or others) - how are you syncing the tempo of the SY-1 to anything?  I am looking at the manual and I dont see a jack for midi or clock.   Would love to know more about that.  If I can sync it the pedal is def more attractive. Thanks!  Thanks also for your great input on multiple synth pedals.  

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3 hours ago, mtumi said:

@GaryKaneNYC (or others) - how are you syncing the tempo of the SY-1 to anything?  I am looking at the manual and I dont see a jack for midi or clock.   Would love to know more about that.  If I can sync it the pedal is def more attractive. Thanks!  Thanks also for your great input on multiple synth pedals.  

Hey there - 

 

I found 2 successful work arounds. Disaster smart clock or their micro clock both output a tempo via ts cable and have midi options. Micro clock needs adapters, smart clock has midi in out.

 

With the SY-1 I did a trs splitter into the pedal.

 

one TS side goes to the tap tempo of the disaster area device and the other split went to a latching button so I can still use the hold feature on the SY-1.
 

disaster area smart clock has the most ports and I do wish I’d bought that first over the micro clock.

 

let me know if more questions!

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Thanks @GaryKaneNYC   (I'm also in NYC, btw.)   That's definitely helpful.   I'm wondering how the SY-1 is able to receive this, since I don't see anything about that. 

 

You're saying if you send MIDI clock into the expression jack that it works to set the tempo? 
 

Or does the SY-1 take tap tempo via taps on an expression pedal? 
 

Michael 

 

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On 9/25/2019 at 11:16 AM, arkieboy said:

IMO the only way to go full polyphony, real time at the moment is with a hex pickup, be that pitch to midi (Triple Play) or wave shaping (Boss GP10, Roland VG99).

 

I do wonder if they may implement the Variax for this which has a piezo pickup for each string and I believe they are each processed separately. Since they just added being able to control each string's volume on the Variax through the Helix, it has caused me to ponder this possibility. Ooops. Look what i did. I think I may have just started a rumor.

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2 minutes ago, brue58ski said:

 

I do wonder if they may implement the Variax for this which has a piezo pickup for each string and I believe they are each processed separately. Since they just added being able to control each string's volume on the Variax through the Helix, it has caused me to ponder this possibility. Ooops. Look what i did. I think I may have just started a rumor.

 

you definitely have a great point and it would be super do-able with Variax. 
 

I agree on the pickup response like with the Roland/Boss SY-1000 etc to get best polyphony.

 

without the pickup though, there are some reasonable options that don’t even glitch as much as an old school Whammy pedal :)

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