Some first month thoughts about 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 (First 48 hours – Waldorf Quantum joins “Studio” ha!) 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 Uptown Oscillators 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

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