Waldorf Intros Iridium Keyboard With Polyphonic Aftertouch

Waldorf Music today introduced the Iridium Keyboard, a keyboard version of their latest synth, featuring a new 49-key FATAR TP/8SK semi-weighted polyphonic aftertouch pressure-providing keyboard.

Polyphonic aftertouch is an expressive performance option that has historically been limited to a few high-end synthesizers. It gives you continuous expressive control over each note you play, vs just capturing the velocity of notes.

The Iridium Keyboard also offers an expanded front panel, with one-knob-per-function control, along with six programmable Macro buttons, with which users can define functions from a wide range of features for additional performance control.

Here’s what Waldorf has to say about it:

“Tremendous tonal changes flow freely when playing the Iridium Keyboard live, since polyphonic aftertouch is transmitted individually for each note played.

Performers can conceivably play and hold down any number of keys simultaneously, subsequently moving each finger individually. In other words, individual keys are affected by the pressure applied by each finger, thereby creating, for instance, individual data streams for modulation purposes, whereas with monophonic (Channel) aftertouch all notes played will respond in the same way.

With a powerful Mod Matrix offering 40 independent modulation assignments, each with individual settings for Source, Amount, and Destination, Iridium Keyboard comes with powerful modulation options — just like the Iridium desktop synthesizer namesake. Notably, Iridium Keyboard is also capable of processing MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) data, duly making multiple parameters of different notes separately controllable to effectively enable it to behave more like an acoustic instrument in terms of spontaneous, polyphonic sound control.”

Here’s a performance demo, by synthesist Matt Johnson:

Pricing and Availability

The Waldorf Iridium Keyboard is available now for 2.849,00 €.

42 thoughts on “Waldorf Intros Iridium Keyboard With Polyphonic Aftertouch

    1. Neither do I. Sweetwater is selling this for $3,799.99USD. I can do more interesting things with a better GUI with Arturia Pigments and save myself $3,700. The polyAT and knobs aren’t worth it for me for that price, maybe if this was in the $2,000 range I might consider it.

      1. Yeah, agreed. The controls are nice but price tag is too hefty. Waldorf seems to stick to the pricing of their old synths, except Blofeld.

  1. everything post-blofeld has not been very interesting to me

    also the blofeld itself, which seems to be the core DNA of all these resulting products

    im sure some people love the new Waldorfs, but imho its a distantly far cry from a XT.. which i think they should have rereleased by now or at least kept up with the more hands-on stuff like the string synth thing and all that

  2. Hey, its a high-end synth with Poly AT. It seems weird to dis it if you’re not a potential customer for a $3K synth anyway. This thing is emphatically digital. I can’t see even wanting to make it sound like a Moog. I’m sure it can do detailed leads, but its pads are colossal. I’d love to have one, but I don’t want to give it the ten years it’d take to fully master it.

    1. I owned a Quantum, it sounded more digital than a soft synth. Every sound , unless it was filtered to death, just screeched or just spiked in the high end even when you weren’t trying. I gave up trying and it was soo deep it just lost me. Wasnt deep in a fun way especial when you got into Kernals (If I remember correctly). I have a polybrute now and you see how a knob layout and a warmer sound (yes analog so obviously) but also unlimited limitations (if that makes sense) give me a fun playground to play on. The difference between taking your kid to the park or disney land. Disneyland is awesome but its crowded, long lines and expensive. The park is just fun.

            1. Poor craftsman blames his tools, yadda yadda.

              I have had a Quantum since it’s introduction, and do not agree with the original assessment. It sounds great, but to each their own. It’s definitely a deep synth, but I welcome that given most pervasive trends.

  3. Well… Idea: make poly at keyboard using the Prophet T8/Oberheim Obsx:form factor: deep and flat so it can support other gear. 7 cm control interface above the keys.

  4. Disapointing for people that hoped for a blofeld 2 after the Waldorf Qrap.
    I do understand 4 octaves for a System 8 or Hydrasynth but not for nearly 3000,- euro’s.

    1. I hope Blofeld 2 would eventually come, it is a complete oversight not to make one for the outstanding longevity and it is becoming a classic.

    2. Considering their recent pricing, there is a risk that for Blofeld 2 they will ask you 3 o 4 times that of a Blofeld 1.

  5. Is Polyphonic aftertouch the new gimmick. This is like the emperors new synthesizer . It looks great and has a great panel layout but the price for most of us is ‘prohibitive’ . It is great that there are manufacturers who are focused on down to earth musicians and not rich kids.

    1. Looks like they focus on the market of pro musicians who make money and those with deep pocket, not common hobbyists.

    2. Dumb comment of the day.

      Anybody who can play will not want to go back after using a good poly aftertouch keyboard.

      Hear any Hydrasynth owners calling a gimmick? Poly aftertouch was one of the things that put that company on the map.

      For my money, the Osmose is the one to beat, it has the most expressive keyboard ever made.

      1. Dumb comment of the day

        For my money I bet you’ve never even seen an Osmose let alone played an Osmose

        they are not available to buy

        Poly AT is a nice addition to any synth – it is certainly not in any way a game changer from a sound design perspective

    3. I hope polyphonic aftertouch is the new gimmick. It’s been mostly missing on regular keybeds until the Hydrasynth came along.

    1. Audio over USB on instruments is not necessarily that great. The latency is usually much worse than the audio interface you use and if you have spare inputs there is no much of advantage. It also can be less stable and have issues with latency compensation if you inject audio from the editor (like with Virus TI, Overbridge, Roland Aira…) The editors are usually great but in practice it’s better to use the editors without the audio, Mainly to view presets and for recall.
      They will get there, It is “the future”, But in practice, not yet…

      Anyway, Maybe it’s usually helpful with multichannel/multitimbral or a drum machine to save some inputs on your interface, But this one don’t have all that, Audio over USB takes allot of resource developing it right, For a small company like Waldorf that can be invested elsewhere.

      1. I’ve never noticed what you’re describing with my 15years old xstation, but novation was probably not aware of this, or these issues have appeared since…

        1. I was referring to synthesizers that pass the instrument sound through usb like the Virus TI, elektron Overbridge, Roland Aira and the Waldorf Kyra.
          The Xstation is a synth with built in audio interface, like an attached audio interface in one package, so its not considered “USB Audio Synth”. It doesn’t pass the synth sounds through the usb stream.

  6. Nice! Poly AT is da bomb for playing evolving stuff. It adds a fantastic dimension of expressiveness that I imagine would work great with the Iridium.

    1. ‘Poly afterthought’ – when your fingers have independent expression and you end up typing something unintentionally hilarious and cheesy as a result.

  7. Wait a minute…. Fatar semi-weighted polyphonic aftertouch keybed?
    This is a thing now?!

    Let’s hope more manufacturers adopt it and also that Fatar considers synth action and fully weighted if they haven’t already.

    If it’s as good as I hope it is I’d love to see it in a Sequential synth.

  8. Guys, peace out, the synth market is about choice.

    What did happened?

    – A renowned keybed manufacturer added a poly AT option to their keybeds.
    – PolyAT is a well known thing from synth history. Some people, not all, really like to have it.
    – A renowned synth manufacturer combined this with their latest flagship engine.
    – A renowned musician did some nice sounds with it.
    – The price tag is in the upper mid range of poly keyboards like Nord Wave 2 or some of the more expensive Sequentials. Nothing really astonishing for a decent musical instrument.

    You have these days a huge range of choice in the low end, the mid range and even the high end has a lot of options. This is really a special situation we should be happy about.

    Have a great idea what the market needs? Start a business. It’s these days easier than you might think.

    Make some music whatever you use.


  9. The good thing with a poly AT keybed is, that you do not have to relearn keyboard playing. It just feels and behaves as usual plus the additional poly AT control.

    MPE controllers give you 2 more dimensions compared to poly AT, but as a result normal playing style without relearning everything is not possible (Roli devices) or difficult. Osmose looks like a normal keybed but playing fast and percussive in a controlled way becomes very hard to control. I had the chance to try it out last Superbooth. For legato and ornamental style it is perfect but it is not a replacement of a normal keybed. It is an addition.

    PolyAT is just one additional control compared to 3 with MPE, but you have a totally normal keybed. I haven’t played the Fatar one yet, but all other from history to modern ones did so and I would assume Fatar does it same.

  10. So to recap w\Waldorf made the quantum, and then its rack/deskop version the iridium, for which they decided it would be great to have a poly AT keyboard which takes us to the Waldorf Iridium keys. This seems lovely and deeply inspired except for one minor detail…had i bought the quantum, i would be terribly pissed of atm…

    1. So, you are basically saying that once somebody does a version with a normal keybed at a time where no poly AT was available from Fatar or elsewhere, but later on they are not allowed to do a new version with a poly AT keybed anymore when these become available? I don’t think this a particular promising perspective I would want to be in as it would destroy any innovation and progress. But it would be interesting to hear from them if there would be a way to retrofit Quantums with poly AT keybeds. On the firmware side the addition of a whole new synthesis engine with OS 2.0 was quite a thing for Quantum users.

      1.  No firmware update will give the quantum users a poly AT keybed and it was waldorf who chose to differentiate the desktop version of their synth, with a new name just to make a keyboard version of it soon after. And please do not use words like innovation in vain, nothing to do with anything we are discussing here.

            1. Oh, sure, you are! Welcome to the club and thanks for you valuable input here.

              None of the owners I know have a problem. Some of us, as I do are just wondering if there will be a keybed upgrade option later.

              Have a nice day.

    2. I am a quantum owner, and I am not terribly pissed. I like the analog filters, which the iridium does not have. However, I would be excited if a keybed upgrade is offered.

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