First month thoughts about the Waldorf Quantum

Crazy wild about my Waldorf Quantum

I have to say it. I wouldn’t promote the concept or seek it on purpose, but if I had to have only one synthesizer, the Waldorf Quantum might be the one to have.

After a few hiccups and an exchanged unit (Waldorf Quantum joins “Studio”) the second Quantum has been near flawless. I say near flawless, this however is what I expected.

OK, one super small thing. This morning, I was thinking about how much I like the layout of the Quantum, except for how dark it is around the Selection Dial. See the bottom center of the image above, the Selection Dial is between Save and Prev. You know it is there, even in the darkness. It’s funny how blind I can be, at the same time I was pondering this, I noticed an LED beneath the dial. Unlit. I couldn’t find a setting to turn it on, or documentation about it. On the Facebook Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer Group, it was thought the LED would stay off in OS v1.3.0 and earlier, but could be fixed in a newer firmware release. Weird. I was hoping it was an obscure setting. Oh well, no big deal though it does seem strange that a non-functional LED in the machine would be missed in quality inspection number one, even though I missed it for a month as well. Other than that, the hardware is designed well and works great.

So back to the beginning, my Quantum came with OS v1.2.3. I didn’t spend a lot of time experiencing that version. After making sure everything was basically functional I upgraded the system to OS v1.3.0. This process was easy and quick. Like everyone, I anxiously await OS v2.0, currently in beta. OS v1.3.0 is as I expected, buggy and unstable at times. Again, this is what I expected and not a problem, but I do want OS v2.0, ha! I’m in information technology and I can tell you that a lot of software runs properly when it is run correctly, but when people push the wrong buttons or don’t know what they are doing is where the cracks in the system show up the most. So I probably put the Quantum through its worst tests and I have managed to crash it or make a reboot necessary a few times.

So there you have it, the unexpected bad and the expected bad. Beyond that, all I can say is WOW!

The integrated panel and screen are state of the art

This machine has redefined what I want in a synthesizer. It lives up to the hype. The Quantum is beyond flash if you ask me.

The panel layout is great, lots of knobs with LEDs that may change color, depending on the function of the moment. These colors are custom selectable but in stock configuration, as an example in the Oscillator section, the Wavetable LEDs are teal, the Waveform LEDs are green, the Particle LEDs are blue, and the Resonator LEDs are red. This can be a huge help to know what state you are in at a glance.

I am a big fan of the Sequential/DSI knob and screen combinations on synths like the Pro 2, Prophet 12, and Prophet X/XL. However with its touch screen, the Waldorf Quantum takes screen control to new heights. The visual representations of the LFOs, oscillators, filters, envelopes, mod matrix, and effects are cutting edge. Like the Sequential/DSI adjusting any knob brings up the related area on the screen display. On the screen there are 6 more knobs to fine tune various parameters, 16 buttons to jump to major screens, and the Dial Selection knob to scroll and select with. This is flat folks, there is no sensation of menu diving.

Not only all that, but this screen is a touch screen, you can select even more with your finger. You can even draw things like waveforms, envelopes, and in the example image at the top of this post, sequencer notes.

The digital oscillators

I’m biased towards digital-analog hybrid synths. I have and have had some analog oscillator synths like Korg, Moog and Novation, and they no doubt have certain analog-y sounds, characteristics and charms to them, but I’m still preferenced to digital oscillators like the Sequential/DSI Pro 2, Prophet 12, and Prophet X/XL synths.

That said, the Quantum in its wide open, out the door state, is a little more digital-y than those synths. You are going to notice that digital sound, in some cases metallic or windy. This is not to say you can’t analog and warm it up, you can. I think most Quantum demo videos don’t really show that well, so know you can.

Speaking of videos, the revolutionOSC Waldorf Quantum Page has over 120 Quantum curated videos in 2 YouTube lists, which are good and useful. There are no complete and comprehensive tutorial video sets for the Quantum to my knowledge out there, however. An example of what I mean by complete and comprehensive would be like Marc Doty’s Automatic Gainsay The Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2 YouTube List, a 15 video collection. Hopefully someday Waldorf will produce or underwrite something like this for the Quantum.

Back to the digital oscillators, there are 3 of them, and a choice of 4 synthesis engines – Waldorf-style Wavetables, Classic Waveforms, Granular Sampler, Resonator and soon with OS 2.0, a 5th – Kernel synthesis.

You could write a large book chapter and several videos minimum about each one of these synthesis engines. There is so much functionality and choice in the Quantum oscillators, that you could have no other functions or controls and still have your hands full.

Well, that’s it for now. If you are interested in the Waldorf Quantum, be sure to check back for more. The Quantum will be a major focus of mine for years to come, I’m sure.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

More revolutionOSC Waldorf Quantum related articles
June 30, 2019 – Waldorf Quantum joins “Studio”
July 28, 2019 – First month thoughts about Waldorf Quantum
October 2, 2019 – Inside the Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer
December 15, 2019 – 6th month thoughts about the Waldorf Quantum
January 10, 2020 – Wavetable Synth Comparisons
March 18, 2020 – Sequential Prophet X or Waldorf Quantum?
April 20, 2020 – New Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer is a Beauty

Be sure to join the
revolutionOSC Facebook Group

Waldorf Quantum joins “Studio”

My Atmospheric and Noise Quotients Just Went Way Up

Yeah, I know… buying the synths has (so far) really overshadowed properly mounting the synths. That day will come though. It has to. Living in a Jesus commune means I’m just a little shy on self-fulfillment space. Now if I want to have a auditorium concert, there are multiple options that I wrote about in a previous post A Musician Supportive Sober Home, however, my private studio space is very limited. Still I’m gonna imagine many bedroom producers have issues even worse than mine, so I’ll thank G-d for such a wonderful problem and move on.

A problem I have with saving up for a piece of reasonably expensive gear, is I have time to way overthink the choice of gear. Saving my coins for nearly a year total, I agonized between buying the Waldorf Quantum or the Sequential Prophet X first. Being more of an information technology kind of synthesist than a talented keyboard player, the sound design functions of the Quantum won out in the end. I still intend to get a Prophet X next year, unless something better presents itself.

OK, on to the Waldorf Quantum itself! The first thing I noticed after removing it from triple boxed packaging and firing it up, was that the 4th C key did not work and the keyboard was creaky. On a whim, I upgraded the OS to v1.3 from the v1.23 it came with. This was very easy to do, but there was no change. My reseller’s tech support confirmed they would replace the unit, so I’m waiting on a new one. I also noticed a Particle Oscillator button on OSC3 was named Resonator, another must return item. Tech support said defective returns on the Quantum are around 1% which is normal for electronics from my computer experience. Still, I think these 2 flaws are quality control gone a bit sloppy. In the meantime I get to play with a mostly functional synth until the replacement arrives.

So with 48 hours experience, I am still semi-lost on the machine but I can see the coolness of this synth matches the hype. As I mentioned above the OS is very easy to upgrade. With the SD card, I think it was a bit easier and faster than most USB type OS upgrades. Like everyone else, I anxiously await the OS 2.0 release. I’m not sure what to think yet about the 2.0 beta program.

This synth is built. It’s 40 lbs. folks, def not a lap synth. The Quantum Fatar keyboard is more similar to my Moog Subsequent 37 than my Sequential Pro 2, a little more solid feel of the three higher end keyboards I have. The Pro 2 feels lighter, faster with more of that ‘plink’. The Subsequent has more ‘plunk’ and the Quantum even a little more so. How’s that for scientific description?

Now I would expect no one would buy a synthesizer like the Quantum to use presets primarily. Still for $4k+ I think the preset collection should be world class. There are some really good presets on the Quantum, and some so-so ones. I hope Waldorf releases updated presets periodically.

Anyhoo, that’s all I have to say for first look at the Waldorf Quantum. I’m sure I’ll be posting more soon, as well as updating the revolutionOSC Waldorf Quantum page.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

July 2, 2019 Update: Two business days later, Sweetwater had a replacement Quantum delivered which appears to be in very good order.
July 8, 2019 Update: The replacement Quantum has been rock solid and the impressive machine I expected.

More revolutionOSC Waldorf Quantum related articles
June 30, 2019 – Waldorf Quantum joins “Studio”
July 28, 2019 – First month thoughts about Waldorf Quantum
October 2, 2019 – Inside the Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer
December 15, 2019 – 6th month thoughts about the Waldorf Quantum
January 10, 2020 – Wavetable Synth Comparisons
March 18, 2020 – Sequential Prophet X or Waldorf Quantum?
April 20, 2020 – New Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer is a Beauty

Be sure to join the
revolutionOSC Facebook Group

First look at the Sequential Pro 2

This year’s flagship control center synthesizer winner

I got my Sequential Pro 2 eight days ago from Sweetwater.com, a process made very efficient and informative by my sales engineer Chris Goldbach.

In case you are not familiar, Dave Smith is the original founder of Sequential Circuits, and designer of the Prophet 5 synthesizer, the world’s first microprocessor-based musical instrument and also the first programmable polyphonic synth. He was also a co-creator of MIDI.

The Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2, introduced in 2014, is a descendant of the Sequential Circuits Pro-One, their first and only monophonic synth, a classic built in 1981. The Pro 2 is DSI’s flagship monophonic synthesizer, and Dave Smith says it is his “most powerful mono synth ever”. I believe him.

The first thing you notice about the made in the USA Pro 2 is, wow, this thing is really built. It is solid. My general perception of DSI is they don’t constantly discontinue models and release new ones. Their products seem to be very advanced at time of release and stay relevant for some time to come. With 4 years so far on the market, the Pro 2 software appears very stable and debugged. Mine came with the newest OS v1.3.0 installed.

I haven’t spent a great deal of time playing this synth yet but I did say to myself on day one, I really like this machine. It completely revamped how I thought a group of synths should be configured and what the pieces should be.

Gear acquisition syndrome, I’m sure it affects all of us. Previous to getting the Pro 2, I could easily envision have 10+ synths working together. Now I’m thinking fewer full scale synths but higher quality ones, and definitely with CV in/outs. Modular, an area I’m very interested in, different issue. That I am sure will be where gear acquisition syndrome finally kills me, but oh well…

A better master clock than the BeatStep Pro or a DAW

First of all having 3 MIDI ports (in, out, out/thru) is a real bonus. The way I use my hardware/software, I do not like to have all of it on constantly. Mostly I use the Pro 2 by itself, in which it is a good thing to be master clock, because if it is not the master and there is no clock signal because that hardware is not turned on, in slave modes the arpeggiator and sequencer do not work.

Currently I have MIDI Out going to hardware like my Roland TR-8 and Korg Minilogue. MIDI Out 2 goes to the BeatStep Pro which is sequencing a DAW (Tracktion or Ableton) with soft synth VST plugins. This seems to work out real well and is very stable.

I’m not an analog purist, however…

Generally I lean to analog, but DSI sold me on hybrid, that is to say it has digital oscillators and an analog signal path. It’s easy to make the Pro 2’s digital oscillators sound analog. To have near instant on status is a joy, and the additional wave-forms that digital oscillators add really rocks in my opinion. I’m going to do a cut & paste from the Sequential Specs so you see what I am talking about:

OSCILLATORS

  • Four DSP-based oscillators plus one sine wave sub oscillator
  • Four classic wave shapes (saw, square, triangle, sine) per oscillator
  • Twelve selectable complex shapes per oscillator
  • Thirteen Superwaves
  • Three noise types per oscillator: white, pink, violet
  • Shape modulation/pulse width/superwave detune amount
  • Oscillator cross modulation: frequency modulation (FM) and amplitude modulation (AM)
  • Hard sync, individual Glide, Oscillator Slop

The paraphonic capabilities really are unique, not only allowing 4 oscillator/note polyphony but each oscillator/note has its own envelope, unlike every other monophonic/paraphonic synthesizer I know of, which share one envelope. The dual filters which can be run in series or parallel can also be split, oscillator 1 & 2 on 1 filter, oscillator 3 & 4 on the other.

There are 792 presets, half factory set and non-writable, and the other half user-writable (containing the same programs/sequences, you can modify, replace or delete as you wish).

The sequencer looks like a real gem

I’m going to post more about the sequencer later, but I will say this is an important part of why I decided to make the Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2 the control center of my setup. I have never been that impressed with lower cost synths’ sequencers, which is why I added the BeatStep Pro, which while a big jump from many sequencers, still doesn’t super impress me. Well OK I’ll give the BeatStep Pro a medium impress.

Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2 sequencer impresses me. We’ll see if I can get it to do what I am thinking… More later when I finish fleshing it out.

The biggest ‘problem’ I have with the Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2 is that in researching it I discovered Dave Smith’s Sequential Prophet X. $4k, maybe not this year, ha! But I am seeing the value in it, more later.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

More revolutionOSC Sequential Pro 2 related articles
August 23, 2019 – Sequential Pro 2 gets all new wood ends + front strip 
May 17, 2019 – Sequential Pro 2 officially discontinued
May 12, 2018 – First look at the Sequential Pro 2

Be sure to join the
revolutionOSC Facebook Group