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A paraphonic synth is one where all of the notes being played go through a single filter (VCF) and amplifier (VCA). This was a popular scheme in the early days of polyphonic synths in that a separate oscillator (or organ-like frequency divider, in the case of “string synths” and the such) was used for each note played, but they were mixed before all going to the filter and amp to articulate the note(s). It was not uncommon for some monophonic synths to allow two to four independent notes to independently control the pitch of its oscillators, while still going through a single filter. This works great for chords; it doesn’t always work all that great for when a new note is played while others are being held as all of the notes will be re-articulated together. Several modular MIDI to CV/gate converters support a duophonic or other similar paraphonic mode.

Some users play fast and loose with terms such as duophonic, monophonic, and polyphonic; some really care about precise usage. For the definitive comparison between monophonic, polyphonic, and paraphonic, I suggest you read this post by respected synth historian Marc Doty.

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