A synthesizer capable of playing more than one patch, or timbre, at a time. Until fairly recently (about 1990), this was a feature found only on high-end synths, but with processing and memory capacity getting less expensive, it is now appearing on more affordable systems (although it is still by no means universal). Due to the fact that many of today’s synths use DSP processors for sound generation and effects, and because DSPs can be reassigned to different functions, some multitimbral synths have two operating modes: the multitimbral mode, and a monotimbral mode in which the tradeoff is the availability of more voices or additional effects. On a traditional multitimbral instrument such as a pipe organ, the control of the different timbres is provided for by having a multi-manual keyboard, but since very few synths are built with multiple manuals, this control is usually provided either by employing a keyboard split, or by assigning each timbre to external control via a separate MIDI channel.
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