Digital Audio Workstation This is where you arrange your music.

VST (Virtual Studio Technology)

Virtual Synthesizer
VST plugins are hosted within DAW software. Audio and MIDI input from your DAW can be sent to a VST plugin for processing.

Multitimbral and Polyphony

A synthesizer or sampler is multitimbral if it is capable of producing more than one type of sound or timbre (pronounced tam bur) at a time. Usually this is described as the number of “parts” a unit can play at once. For example, a Kurzweil K2500 is 16-part multitimbral, meaning it can produce 16 different sounds at once (a sound being defined as a single patch or preset; part one might be piano, part two strings, part three trombone, part four flute, and so on. Generally these parts are assigned to different MIDI channels for independent control). This is distinct from the amount of polyphony, or number of actual notes the unit can simultaneously generate. Using the K2500 example again, a 16-part multitimbral K2500 can produce up to 48 notes of polyphony distributed dynamically across those 16 multitimbral parts.
Roland uses the term "Voices" for how many multitimbral parts you can play at once.

Voices and Parts

We all know of the human voice as an instrument. In keyboard and MIDI terminology a voice is one of many possible notes/sounds that can be played simultaneously on a synthesizer or sample based electronic instrument. A monophonic keyboard can only play 1 note at a time, and is therefore considered a 1-voice instrument. A 6-voice instrument can play 6 notes at a time, while a 128-voice instrument can sound 128 notes at once. This is also known as polyphony (see Polyphonic). A 64-voice instrument can be said to have 64 notes of polyphony, which means you can get a maximum of 64 notes (or events) happening at one time. It has 64 voices.

Occasionally you will see the term voice used to describe what would more accurately be termed a timbre or patch in a keyboard. If a keyboard can make 10 different sounds there are some who will say it has 10 voices. This is confusing and most professionals try to avoid the use of the word voice in that context, favoring terms like patch, timbre, part, sound, program, or any number of other terms.

Number of Keys

Digital pianos have the full 88 keys of a standard piano keyboard, and most workstations have at least 61 keys or more. Lower-end synthesizers may have as few as 25 keys, although most home-use keyboards come with 49, 61, or 76 keys.


A ROMpler is an electronic music instrument that plays pre-fabricated sounds based on audio samples. In contrast to samplers, ROMplers do not record audio and have limited or no capability for generating original sounds. The term ROMpler is a portmanteau of the terms ROM and sampler. Both may have additional sound editing features, such as layering several waveforms and modulation with ADSR envelopes and LFOs.