Waldorf M Hands-On Review

In his latest loopop video, synth guru Ziv Eliraz takes an in-depth look at the new Waldorf M, a modern successor to their classic Microwave 1, 2 and XT synths.

The Waldorf M offers an updated hybrid wavetable synthesis engine, pairing oscillators based on the Microwave 1 and Microwave II/XT  with an analog lowpass 24dB/Oct VCF and true stereo analogue VCA.

Check it out and share your thoughts on the Waldorf M in the comments!

Topics covered:

0:00 Intro
1:15 Overview
7:05 Connectivity
7:55 Oscillator modes – MW 1 vs 2
8:50 Cross mods
9:35 Basic shapes
10:30 Mixer
10:55 ASIC bug
11:50 Digital filter
12:35 Analog filter
13:30 VCA & pan
13:55 Modulation
16:30 Envelopes
17:40 Mod sources
18:55 Env loops
20:10 LFOs
22:20 Arp
23:25 Multi mode
25:00 Misc options
26:00 Alternatives
26:40 vs Iridium
34:10 Pros & cons
38:00 Outro
39:35 Jogging House

32 thoughts on “Waldorf M Hands-On Review

  1. Superb demo & overview as ever from Loopop, but I don’t really get the point of this synth.

    You can probably pick-up a vintage Waldorf XT for less, and that has 10 voices of polyphony and a super gritty sound.

    Or a Waldorf Blofeld, a KORG ModWave, or possibly even a used Iridium, all of which have at least twice the polyphony, built-in effects etc.

    Odd. Maybe it rocks somebody else’s boat. The Iridium rocks mine 🙂

    1. The M takes the hybrid approach of the Wave and the Microwave. Those are more desirable vintage synths than the XT because of their hybrid designs.

    2. I have to agree, and whilst I understand that they outsource all of their manufacturing and the synths are made in Europe, the price point is absurd for such a limited synth. I do wish more synth makers incorporated the digital oscillators with analogue filters as Waldorf has with this particular synth.

      1. Well, it’s kind of a reissue of the MW1. I think it’s cheaper than a Prophet 5, and that’s still pretty popular. I guess there are lots of people who want luxury reissues at the moment. It does look beautiful, whatever the price point.

    3. such a nonsense product, it should cost 500 euro max with twice the polyphony, effects, sequencers, bigger screen, audio interface built in, mseg…
      i know, i used synth all my life

      1. Right, considering the price, performance and quality sounds of Blofeld, even with all those knobs this new wavetable synth M is really overpriced.

  2. For clarification, could someone please tell me if the original PPG which inspired the MW could do anything special that the M cannot? Would having something like this do away with the need of having or rather, seeking out a vintage PPG Wave?

    1. The Waldorfs have reliability. New ones will have an actual guarantee. That’s just for starters. More wavetables, more complicated mod envelopes, proper mod matrixes (including some quite funky algebraic mod options). There’s a lot to love about a Microwave/Wave/M. Less unique nowadays but easy to use and sound good. Probably a lot cheaper than a PPG. I’m a fan if you hadn’t guessed.

        1. Thanks. That’s really feeble. What tiny processor do they have in there? The panel is decently sized but to take away functionality in software is missing so much of the fun. No wonder my MWII is firmly bolted to my rack

          1. I think it was a mistake to mention the XT in the marketing for this. It seems to me focused on a reproduction of the MW1, since it is sysex compatible and even includes options for turning bugs on/off.

            The MW2/XT quite different, with a different mod system, but it’s really brilliant too. It’s a constant source of inspiration. Apparently the firmware source code is lost, but one hope is the DSP563 emulation project, which apparently has Waldorf’s blessing.

    2. Some versions of the ppg where using a variable clock dac to playback the wavetables instead of typical phase accumator resampling. Practically there was no aliasing in the upper frequencies but at the same time the lower octaves would use i believe a compromised wavetable. So they don’t sound the same. Is that important? I don’t know but from what i understand maintaining an ppg and especially one with a waveterm is quite a struggle.

      1. Voice upgrade ?????

        So you have to send your hardware back to them and pay for the upgrade ??

        I haven’t heard of this kind of thing since the 1990s

  3. The omission of an analog Input (Stereo, even Mono) is already questionable, that at least could’ve made this a step above the rest. My XT has an input, sounds almost identical, has built in fx and isn’t analog at all. The Blofeld runs circles around this as a 3 OSC wavetable, other than not having the “analog” part and a denser interface.

    This is like a re-issue of an old movie, still missing some flare that easily could’ve been injected. Not at all saying it’s a bad machine…but it’s really to one’s taste (and size of wallet).

  4. seems like a blofeld + erica acid box would be a better deal. the worst sounding part of any digital synth is usually the filter, at least to my ears. having an analog filter on the end to tame things is essential. uli needs to free the analog filter and make a $60 mf-101 clone.

    1. It has an analog filter, and it’s actually pretty great. I have a Quantum, M, and 4 other waldorfs. I think the M is my favorite filter of all of them.

  5. its not encouraging at all to see every single industry and corporation desperately embracing the wild rush to dumb-down products by removing previous features and cutting corners on features and specifications – while at the same time raising prices and marketing heavily

    1. it will be better if they will stop make synths so we who knows a synth sucks just by watching a video wont have to buy them. its hard enough with covid…

  6. Waldorf makes a mistake with this M. Over priced, no EFX, no rack mount, etc. Iridium is a preatty good synth, comes filled of features and also budget Blofeld makes the deal if you are interested in wavetable synthesis. Will see a M MK II in the future?

  7. I think I like this synth but I would prefer a keyboard version frankly and USB audio. Anyways it seems this M is becoming hard to obtain (supply chain shortages I assume?). I’ll certainly keep an eye out for it,

  8. Fred’s Lab TÖRÖÖ by ex-Waldorf engineer Frédéric Meslin is a small 8 voice wavetable synth with 12db analog filters, fx and more great features. it’s 450EUR.

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