Waldorf Kyra Now Available

Waldorf has released the Kyra, described as “a powerful, hardware virtual analog synthesizer capable of creating a wide range of contemporary sounds for live and studio musicians.”

Waldorf says that the Kyra is “the first professional synthesizer to be based entirely on an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array)”.  This allows them to create a synth with high end specs – including 128 voice polyphony, up to 1,280 oscillators, four stereo outputs and per part effects – while also being low power and fan-free.

Key Features:

  • 8 multi-timbral parts – it features eight independent ‘parts’ with up to 32 notes per PART, each effectively being a complete synthesizer with sound sources (OSC GROUP 1, OSC GROUP 2, SUB 1, and SUB 2); FILTERS; modulators (EGs, LFOs, and MOD MATRIX); multi-effects unit (EFFECTS); and a USB 2.0 connection — can exchange MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) information, as well as send the audio from each stereo PART to a computer as eight stereo 24-bit streams at 96kHz (with 48kHz downsample mode available) and one stereo audio return from the computer supporting a single 24-bit stereo audio stream from the host DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). With that being said, the only other resource they share are the four balanced, stereo output pairs — OUT A (Right and Left), OUT B (Right and Left), OUT C (Right and Left), and OUT B (Right and Left) — using 32-bit DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Conversion) running at 96kHz sampling rate connected to four internal stereo busses and that powerful pool of 128 hardware voices. Versatility further abounds as each PART has a dedicated multi-effects unit comprising nine stereo effects modules — namely, three-band EQ, Formant filter, input Limiter, Distortion module, Delay module, six-state Phaser, Chorus flanger, Stereo reverb, and output Limiter — with dedicated audio stream via USB (Universal Serial Bus).
  • Patches – each PART hosts a Patch from the pool available to the system. Speaking of which, Kyra has a generous Patch storage capacity of 26 banks — A through to Z, each containing 128 patches. The first seven banks are ‘user’ patches stored in RAM (Random Access Memory), meaning users can change them quickly and individually using the Store sequence. The remaining 19 banks are ROM (Read-Only Memory) patches that users can recall and use just like RAM patches but cannot be replaced using the Store sequence. It is, however, perfectly possible to freely copy whole banks between RAM and ROM, so all are user- programmable. And any Patch can be recalled via MIDI program changes and Bank select commands.
  • Oscillators – Kyra has two primary virtual alias-free oscillator groups (OSC GROUP 1 and OSC GROUP 2) per voice, each with Saw (sawtooth); Wave (waveform) — with no fewer than 4,096 18-bit linear PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) single-cycle 32x oversampled wavetables covering a huge range of synthetic and emulated sound sources with two wavetable sources per voice; Pulse; and noise simultaneously available. Also OSC GROUP 1 and OSC GROUP 2 each has an independent detune-able oscillator — SUB 1 and SUB 2 — with four selectable shapes and two selectable (Octave) pitches. Real Hard Sync, ring modulation, and FM (Frequency Modulation) are available between those oscillator groups. Switching from Wave mode — meaning Kyra adopts a virtual analogue synthesis model which has the advantage that it is easy to construct sounds using intuitive subtractive synthesis — to Hypersaw mode configures the voice to use a special algorithm comprising six real oscillators to quickly create lush-sounding soundscapes. Digging deeper, Hypersaw mode replaces Wave mode’s two oscillator groups with a single source whose tonal content is constructed with just two adjustable controls — Hypersaw Intensity and Hypersaw Spread (geometric detuning). Built entirely out of multiple, harmonically-rich sawtooth waves or ‘partials’ each adjusted to that special algorithm, the Hypersaw provides characteristic soundscapes ideal for a wide range of uses — from high-impact lead sounds through to lush, animated pads. Placed in Dual Mode, the Hypersaw has 12 real oscillator sources with an additional adjustable stereo spread.
  • Filter – Kyra offers emulations of classic analogue ladder filters with 2-pole (12dB/octave) low pass (12dB LP), band pass (12dB BP), and high pass (12dB HP), plus 4-pole (24dB/octave) low pass (24dB LP), band pass (24dB BP), and high pass (24dB HP) configurations. Creatively, 128 filters are configurable for single or dual parallel (Dual Filter) true stereo operation.\
  • Envelope and LFOs – three ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release) envelope generators with EG Slope setting are also at hand. One is assigned to the VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier), another to the filter, while the third can be freely assigned. All are available in the MOD MATRIX (modulation matrix), itself being a six-channel affair with up to three destinations per channel giving a maximum of 18 routings. The three LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators) — with 128 waveforms, monophonic, polyphonic, random, anti-phase, and quadrature stereo phase settings — are also available in the MOD MATRIX and additionally as a MIDI clock sync source.
  • Arpeggiator – available on each PART, with 128 preset patterns; Up, Down, Random, and Chords modes; and an ability to synchronize to MIDI clock. Kyra’s ARP is an integral part of a Patch, so settings are always stored.
  • Display and Connections – 256×64 pixel graphic OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display alongside the traditional array of MIDI In, Out, and Thru connections — complimenting USB 2.0 — on five-pin DIN, as well as full key microtuning capability with MIDI Tuning Standard (MTS support).


Sound engine:

  • Virtual analog synthesis
  • 128 voices
  • 8 parts
  • All sound features can be used simultaneously

Oscillators per voice:

  • two Wave osc with 4096 waveforms
  • two Pulse osc
  • two Saw osc
  • two Noise osc
  • two Sub osc with several waveforms
  • Hard Sync
  • Hypersaw Mode
  • Oscillator FM and Ring mod
  • Oscillators are in two groups for better overview
  • All osc per voice are available simultaneously

Per part:

  • 9 simultaneously available effects
  • 6-slot Mod Matrix with multiple destinations per slot


  • 2 filters: 12/24dB and LP/BP/HP in all configurations
  • 3 envelope generators (EG)
  • 3 LFOs with 128 shapes each


  • 26 patch banks (A to Z) with 128 slots each
  • Arpeggiator with 128 preset patterns
  • Octave Transpose
  • Double Mode: layers the same sound two times and detunes them against each other


  • Sturdy full metal case
  • 256×64 pixel OLED
  • Kensington Lock


  • USB 2.0 for MIDI and audio
  • 5-pin DIN MIDI In/Out/Thru
  • 8 balanced analog audio outputs plus Headphone out

Audio interface

  • Kyra can be used as an audio interface
  • Audio is transmitted to the computer via USB in up to 24bit/96kHz
  • Each Part is transmitted to the computer in stereo (16 channels in total)
  • 2 audio channels from the computer can be played back through Kyra

Pricing and Availability

The Waldorf Kyra is available now with a street price of about $2,300 USD.

50 thoughts on “Waldorf Kyra Now Available

    1. And very conventional.

      What would be an interesting video is to demonstrate how it is different from, say, a Korg Prologue or Moog One. I mean, really, how many synthesizers can’t do effect-type sounds? The Kyra and the Prologue are in the same price bracket. This video hints at what the Kyra can do, so something like “it can do that too, and all of this more” would be interesting.

      The one thing I really liked about the video is there’s no talking! Just playing.

      1. Did you go to the website mate? There’s a lot of info there that separates itself from the pack at $2300 vs $7000 for a Moog

      2. Well, the Waldorf is Digital VIRTUAL Analog (with wavetables) and the Moog 1 and Prologue are ANALOG (with the addition of a digital programmable osc on the Prologue). So there are BIG differences in the sound production and capabilities. They can probably be programmed to sound similar, but at their core they are very different.

      3. For one, neither the Moog, or the Korg, or any other currently available non-workstation synth offers 8-part multitimbrality.

        1. Waldorf Blofeld offers 16-part multitimbrality for a fourth the price of the Kyra (and yes; also just a fifth of voices 😉

  1. So powerful. I’m not absolutely blown away by the sound, though. I want to like it, because it’s amazing on paper. But I’m wondering if I’d be disappointed having 128 voices/8 part multitimbral worth of sounds that are “sort of cool”. Did they work hard enough on the patches for the demo? I don’t know. I need to see/hear this thing really sing. I want to hear patches that make me say, “I need this!” I want to see Mylar Melodies do a sequencing demo with it. Jaw dropping specs are nice, but all the demos I’ve heard so far are not selling it for me. And I want to be sold on it! This thing needs a killer demo if it’s capable of one.

    1. same feeling here. Amazing on paper! But i went from caring about voice ceilings on my korg triton, to not caring at all with a 6 voice Prophet, or 16-voice Rev2. Im also waiting for a killer demo that shows how its different.

    2. the problem is with the person doing the demos (Waldorf CEO) – he still thinks Vangelis is the epitomy of electronic music. I demos this and build “some” patches for ti which i beleive are still on it (but he would never demo them) – beleive me when i say this synth goes way beyond anythign shown in demo so far, especially the official one.

      1. Good one, yea, ill look out for that. I mean is there a way for us to all just admit we love Blade Runner, which is great, and then move forward – together – as a community?! (insert laugh emoji).

    1. No its not…you probably could rack mount with custom ears but it is designed for Vesa or Moniter arms….which is still cool

  2. I suppose one big feature of using an FPGA is that it shouldn’t suffer from voice drop-out. If the simulations show it can process 128 voices with all the specified effects, then it can.

    1. Basically custom DSP chips have a really high start up cost, way too high for the numbers of orders that this will attract. FPGA is almost as good but much smaller start up cost.

      Back in the day EMU used custom DSP chips in their synths. I don’t know how much that happens nowadays, but maybe this is a step back in that direction.

  3. A common marketing technique is to use words that sound good but in reality aren’t understood by most people. When I was a kid, they used to advertise “Certs with Retsyn.” Wow, Certs breath mints must be good; they have retsyn. Except, what the hell is retsyn? It’s similar with Field Programmable Gate Array? Whoa! That sounds impressive. Except. at first read, it means nothing to most people. Does it also have retsyn?

    1. Some of us do know what FPGAs are and their advantages (and significant disadvantages). What this demo fails to demonstrate is how there’s no aliasing at the top end, even with extreme FM or wave-shaping applied.

  4. i have a m audio venom and for some reason this thing really reminds me of some of the better sounds that you can get out of that odd synth. a lot of people hate on them for very legit reasons like the impossible to read in any light labeling, but if you fuck with em, you can get some cool sounds. 200 bucks!

  5. They should have officially released this at the start of 2019 instead of at the end. We have seen many new interesting digital synths being released at a very low price point the last weeks.

    I could imagine that it will have an negative impact on the sale, in other words “Bad timing”

  6. apples and oranges but i would take this over a moog one in a second, but i might take a moog matriarch over this in the same second. it sounds really really lovely though, extremely silky and smooth and fantastic industrial design, bravo Waldorf.

  7. I’ve been waiting for this to come out for ages.
    And yes, as mentioned above in the comments, it feels/sounds like a Virus TI2 on steroids, for sure.

    The one question I can’t find an answer to here is:
    Is it MPE-friendly? In other words, if I hook up my LinnStrument, or a friend’s Roli board, what will it spit out?
    I’ve done the same with my Virus units, and the results there were ugly.
    The Peak and Summit handle MPE MIDI just fine, they built in MPE from the get-go on those units, good move.
    MPE is the future.
    I hope the Kyra follows suit, but I can’t find any info on Kyra vs MPE, so I’m concerned.
    Otherwise it sounds fantastic, and Daddy wants a new synth.

    1. it would be lunacy if this wasn’t MPE, but the good part about it being digital is if it’s not now (which i don’t know) maybe it could be implemented in the future. but i agree, i just got a Seaboard block and am totally hooked on MPE now.

  8. Still don’t see where the cash is in this, FPGAs are cheap, it a nice enough box though, has some nice knobs/buttons ect. The sound is produced using FPGA virtual circuit so why the high price? Recouping the dev costs maybe?

    1. The massive disadvantage to FPGAs is that they’re extremely slow & painful to program. That’s why there are so few synths using them! And so that’s the cost: the human expertise and time to code the software (ie: design the hardware circuit for the FPGA) efficiently and musically.

  9. It sounds flat in every demo with no usable low frequencies. I think any of my old FM synths have more dynamics and bass in sound. I think it is a complete fail. There are far more interesting synths to come in a month or two.

    1. I think the demo falls far short of showing what this beast is actually capable of. Where are the 4096 wave-tables? The huge stacked voices of different wave shapes & LFOs? This thing should be an ambient monster!

  10. So its a softsynth in a box for the low low price of over 2k? Totally not my cuppa

    Waldorf’s recent hardware has ambition, which I applaud.. but they should really also consider adding more low-cost synths to their lineup. Blofeld and that analog desktop synth, somewhere along that price point.

  11. I’m sure it’s capable of great sounds and it clearly has a wide set of features, but strip away the effects and I find myself asking how far the raw audio quality of virtual analog synthesis has actually improved in terms of quality since the Virus or even the Yamaha AN1x. Yes, things have developed but considering it’s been over twenty years since, the versatility of digital oscillators paired with analog filters and VCAs give far superior results to fully digital analog-style synthesisers to my ears. Despite its price, considering what you’re getting under the hood in terms of manufacturing costs, I’m not knocking this synth but I do feel it’s a bit lacking in that wow-factor based on my initial impressions.

  12. So those with FPGA experience, could this be programmed to run on a “conventional” modern desktop CPU as a plugin instead? Or would the CPU not be powerful enough?

    1. No. That’s the whole idea. A field programmable gate array is just that – an array of (potentially millions) of logic gates that can be configured to simulate processors, counters and all manner of digital logic.

      For example, you can create digital oscillators that run at phenomenally high clock rates, essentially side-stepping the problems that one gets when generating oscillators at relatively low fixed sample rates.

  13. People sure loved this thing back when it was still called Valkyrie, but now you lot sort of call it a doorstop? Hah. Yes, its Virus-like in one sense, but you know that more than a few buy a major synth or two as centerpieces and then frost them with low- and mid-line gear. Its a time-honored path if your initials aren’t JMJ. I’d sure love to know if it sells well enough after a year to recoup its development costs. Andreas is right about the release timing. If it had hit the street 18 months ago before Peak and the like, you’d be nicer to it. Its sure a drool-worthy bit of kit.

  14. I’ve already thrown my cash at it. Been waiting for ages for this. Needed a super pad instrument and this fits the bill very nicely, thank you very much. I’m considering that this is that major upgrade for my Blofeld which has done sterling service. Being a Waldorf product I’m certain that it is capable of a lot more than what we have heard so far.

  15. I think this is fantastic. I hope it’s offered in a black version as well, kind of like the two color options offered for the Blofeld.

  16. I love digital synths for their polyphony, I have a Virus TI2 and Nord Lead 4. The Nord is my goto synth. I adore it. I’ve got some great analogs too but they don’t get as much use. The Kyra sounds very vanilla Virus. But look at Access, they haven’t come out with a replacement for the TI2. Presumably there isn’t a big enough market to justify it. So why have Waldorf released a Virus competitor now? I cannot see why anyone would buy this.

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