Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer In-Depth Overview

At the 2018 NAMM Show, Waldorf introduced the Quantum synthesizer, a new flagship synth that builds on the company’s wavetable technology, along with the power of analog filters.

We talked with Christian ‘Bubba’ Ayoub, who gave us an overview and demo of the new synth.

According to the company, the Waldorf Quantum ‘combines the raw power of a classic digital & analog hybrid synthesiser, with futuristic sounds that are only possible with today’s software synthesisers.’

The Waldorf Quantum offers 3 oscillators per voice, each of which offers four synthesis algorithms:

  • Waldorf-style Wavetables with the latest additions from Nave, including speech synthesis and wavetable generation from audio
  • Classic Synthesizer Waveforms with multiple waves for an ultra fat sounds right out of the oscillators
  • Granular Sampler with multi sampling plus traditional sampling mode
  • Resonator for virtual sound sculpting

Other highlights include an intuitive panel with aluminum knobs and encoders; high-resolution multi-touch display; and multi-color LEDs.

Features:

  • Digital-Analog Polyphonic Synthesizer
  • 61 Keys high-quality Fatar TP8S keybed
  • 8 voices
  • Dual timbral: split or layered mode with separate stereo audio outputs
  • 3 stereo digital oscillators each capable of four synthesis algorithms
  • Wavetable: Waldorf style with latest additions from Nave including speech synthesis, wavetable generation from audio and new features
  • Waveform: Waveform with up to 8 simultaneous waves per Oscillator in detuned or chordal mode with hard-sync, warp & PWM as well as tunable noise
  • Particle: Sampler in traditional and granular mode using multi-samples or live input
  • Resonator: Exciter using multi-sampling plus filter bank sound model.
  • Two analogue lowpass filters per voice each in 24 or 12 dB configuration using innovative link modes
  • Digital former: Additional digital algorithms per voice like comb filter, high-pass, band-pass & notch filters (Nave, Largo or PPG models), bit-crusher, drive and more
  • Flexible routing system for order of analog filters & digital former and individual oscillator routings
  • 6 LFOs in poly and global mode with extensive parameter set
  • 6 loopable envelopes
  • Komplex: multistage LFO/envelope modulator
  • Extensive modulation matrix with 40 slots and easy via-controller assignments
  • Intuitive modulation assignment via panel elements and control LEDs
  • Master effect rack of 5 slots for each timbre choosing from FX like phaser, flanger, chorus, reverb, drive, eq and more.
  • Compressor for main output
  • Step sequencer with step recording, parameter automation and scale-based pitch quantization
  • Microtonal pitch configurations capable of importing Skala scl files
  • Capable of polyphonic aftertouch via external MIDI inputs
  • Chord and latch buttons
  • Unisono mode
  • Module-based preset system for effects, oscillators, step-sequenzer and Komplex modulator
  • Single-function potentiometer and encoder controls for intuitive editing
  • Visualisation and deeper sound editing via context-sensitive high-resolution capacitive multi-touch display
  • Spectrum Analyzer and Oscilloscope at various processing stages
  • Up to 10,000 sound patch capacity organized by banks, attributes, author and patch number.
  • Favourites lists for quick recall of sound patches like for set-lists etc.
  • Pre-loaded with wide variety of patches by acclaimed sound designers like Howard Scarr
  • MIDI output of local keyboard, wheels and assignable panel elements
  • Automation of sound parameters from MIDI inputs via MIDI CC learn function
  • Recording of samples from audio inputs or self-recording of audio outputs
  • 4 GB*) internal Flash memory for presets, samples and wavetables
  • Pre-loaded with more then 1 GB sample data
  • Export & import of presets, sample & wavetable via SD card
  • Import of Nave presets
  • Mod wheel can be assigned to any parameter which can be modulated in the matrix or via quick assign
  • Pitch wheel can be assigned to each oscillator individually

See the Waldorf site for more information.

37 thoughts on “Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer In-Depth Overview

  1. Finally, a new forward-thinking synth design. It sounds beautiful, and best of all…. it’s real!
    However, innovation is expensive: RRP $4600 🙁

      1. When the Waldorf Wave was introduced there were way less soft synths. The market is not the same anymore. Its now a complete different market.

    1. Korg only has one filter per voice from what I see. This beast has two analogs and a high quality digital per voice. And that’s just a single feature comparison. Seems like the price points make sense.

    1. I have 2 and still can’t afford it. Want it though. If it also had a VCO it would be a must buy. That would just add a lot to its sound potential.

  2. Enthusiasm excluded it would be nice to see someone able to put 3 notes together or at least a synthesist demo this thing..I mean you hear all the talk and the sound snipsets are completely amateuristic and childish..This is embarrassing really.

  3. “…with futuristic sounds that are only possible with today’s software synthesizers.”

    This is not a good line to put in article for a $4,000 hardware synth.

    1. An iPad can blow away just about any synth available, in terms of synthesis options and capabilities, so that doesn’t bother me.

      Something like the Quantum can excel at being an INSTRUMENT that you want to play, that has great tactile features and that’s a reliable and permanent solution for performance. Those are all things that software isn;’t as good at, and things that make a synth like this so sexy.

      Of course – I’d expect a synth like this to be able to handle a lot more polyphony and effects before it breaks a sweat than an iPad or even a desktop computer.

      1. Is, “…an instrument that you want to play, that has great tactile features and that’s a reliable and permanent solution for performance” worth over $3,000 more? Especially when there are soft synths that can “blow away” hardware synths.

        I suppose the $3,000+ differences are subjective. Waldorf obviously isn’t aiming their Quantum product at amateurs on a budget.

        It just seemed odd to compare an expensive synth like this to things that can only be done using (much less expensive, as in waaaaaaay cheaper) software synths.

      2. I’ve had first hand experience of coding on an embedded quad-core ARM7 synth, and porting the same code to iPhone 6 – which turned out to be easily 5x more powerful. The truth is that Apple can afford to put powerful custom CPUs in their iProducts, something small synth manufacturers find very difficult to compete with.

      3. I like Waldorf products a lot but they should not compare a synth with an instrument. One can express oneself so much more with vocals, string instruments and wood and brass instruments.The music by those instrument do have most of the time lots of dynamics which you won’t find in music made by synths.

  4. What filter models are implemented ?
    … Moog diode-ladder, Steiner-Parker, OTA … ?
    … and what filter modes: low, band, notch, high, … ?

  5. Since we’d probably agree that it *sounds* impressive, you just have to accept that its a seriously boutique mega-synth and not meant for mere mortals with mortgages. I once dropped 3 large on a synth that was The One, so it can happen if you really bond with it. I found the perfect balance between Gear Lust and serious commitment. Sheesh, sounds like I’m gonna marry it, but yeah, a fair number of people are going to make this one a centerpiece in their rigs. It has a nice aroma of Best-of-Waldorf-In-A-Box. Stay tuned for the Nick Batt review; that’ll tell us what’s what!;)

  6. I don’t hear anything I haven’t heard before. A blind listen based on this I’d have guessed it’s an early 80’s PPG Wave. Synths of the last 50 years seem to fall into two main categories. Either warm lush analogue or DX7 style plink plonk pluck.

    1. > A blind listen based on this I’d have guessed it’s an early 80’s PPG Wave

      that will probably cost you the same, if you can find one, and will be quite unreliable besides…

  7. AHHHH that quantized noise at 8:52…..such good vibes. This thing is very progressive while having a vintage charm, hope to get my hands on it. I see granular synthesis being the next big thing for the next few years (along with VCO polysynths)

    1. I agree. Hopefully they’ll do some in depth demos that show the wild side. I really want to see the sampling in action – with all the modulation options and analog filters I’m guessing it will be very tasty

  8. Demo guy is a boss. I love his enthusiasm, like he’s actually getting high off the synth magic. I wonder where I could possibly demo one of these… I doubt Guitar Center will carry this

    1. i never know what to do with my hands that’s why i started doing visuals for shows because turns out rock bands don’t like it if you just start jamming with them mid set

  9. “with futuristic sounds that are only possible with today’s software synthesisers” -> So Waldorf are implying that software synthesisers are in general technically superior than hardware synthesisers. For years I had a feeling this might be true, now this is the first company post I read that openly acknowledges it.

    1. uhhhhh, not really. Most software synths are incredibly nerfed under the hood. A lot of them are not solving modulation at anywhere close to sample rate, for example. They are using awful ancient filter DSP that breaks up in unpleasing ways in the high and low frequencies and turning into an annoying ringy mess with high resonance. And the software synths that don’t cut these corners ( Serum, DiVA etc ) can easily eat the processing power of an expensive computer with 8 voices.

Leave a Reply