Waldorf’s flagship polyphonic hybrid synthesizer
Lately, wavetable synths are all the rage. After Waldorf Music GmbH introduced the Quantum, several synths that incorporate wavetables have been released/announced; most notably the UDO Super 6, the ASM Hydrasynth, the Modal Argon8, the Nord Wave 2 and the Sequential Pro 3. These synths are very nice and some cost significantly less. They are however, from a wavetable perspective, less than one-half the machine a Quantum is. Having wavetables does not make a Quantum.
In my opinion, the Quantum is as state of the art as it gets in 2020. The build quality is tops, and the technology and features are amazing. A new synthesist might want to cut their teeth on something other than a Quantum. It’s not difficult but it is feature rich. That said, the Quantum’s panel and screen together produce a very flat interface, with no menu diving to speak of.
Obviously, no one synth can be everything to everyone, but this comes close. Online video demos tend to over represent the Quantum’s digital side. Sound-wise, the Quantum can do everything from warm analog to crisp digital.
However, if all you want is an analog synth, if you are not looking for the features of a digital synth, the Quantum is not for you.
Wavetables are but one of the five types of synthesis engines in the Quantum.
- Wavetable oscillator
- Waveform oscillator, a more traditional type
- Particle sampler oscillator
- Resonator sampler oscillator
- Kernel oscillator, brand new in OS 2.0, an oscillator construction kit of sorts, way beyond an FM type engine
Your sound palette will be overflowing with options for real. I own a Quantum; if you want a sound universe, this is the one to have.
Yes, it is not inexpensive, but if you think something half its price is comparable, think again. If you are not feeling its value yet, you are not understanding the machine. It is worth the money, period. No snobbery intended. I get it; not everyone can pull $4k out for a synth, but if you can do it without stealing or getting a divorce, consider it.
Rather than reinvent the wheel going into detail of every section, I’m going to point you at a developing video series by Tim Shoebridge in a YouTube video list below. For lack of a better description, I called the series a deep dive tutorial. It is not a basic synthesis tutorial. I was very comfortable with the level Tim speaks to here. As I write this in 2020, Tim’s videos focus was on OS 1.3.0 and I understand Tim was waiting for the official OS 2.0 release which is now out, to make some more videos.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
To me the Quantum is so unique and so amazing, it is worth a few rough edges. Nonetheless, a consumer should be aware of product characteristics, good and bad. If you are going to buy a new or used Quantum, you should be aware of the common flaws.
In my opinion, the Quantum is more of a studio synth than a gigging or performance synth. It’s big and heavy, which may or may not mean anything to you, but most of all the OS isn’t there yet. OS 1.3.0, while still a joy and a positive introduced into your universe, is imperfect enough that I would skip over it day one to OS 2.0, which is a huge improvement. When I have been able to spend some time with the OS 2.0 general release, I’ll reassess the Quantum as a gigging or performance synth.
Hardware issues are a little more important. In the end I chose to send my Quantum in for repair to protect my resale value. The following is quoted from my post 6th month thoughts about the Waldorf Quantum, It is important to note point 1 below is super easy to resolve, point 2 would be easy to ignore and point 3 you probably wouldn’t know if I didn’t tell you.
- Squeaky keys – This one is the easiest to fix. You don’t have to tolerate it or take pass on a used machine with the issue. This condition is common to many brands which use Fatar keybeds. The keybed just needs lubrication, check with Waldorf support or your dealer.
- Touch screen sensitivity and/or dead zone – Most of the issues with this are firmware design, fixed in OS 2.0. You may notice in the image above, the 6 control areas on the left and right sides of the screen are redesigned to reflect more accurately that there are no buttons for selections like normal and mod; the whole rectangular area is a touch area/button, which once you understand that, makes selection a snap. The middle selector knob between save and previous has been programmed to scroll through selection choices much more accurately and easier than previous touch only selections. You could get a new screen through warranty that is purported to be more sensitive, however the firmware changes make a world of difference and you may not care. Likewise, many Quantums have a dead spot on the right 1/4″ of the screen that can be fixed with a screen firmware update (not to be confused with the OS firmware, this is completely distinct and not currently upgradable from SD or USB. A user upgradable screen firmware may become available in the future, but there is no guarantee at this point). I think most people will not bother to deal with repair of these screen issues since the beta take almost all the pain away. To replace the screen or update the screen firmware, you will need to ship the synth to a warranty center.
- Voices with inconsistent resonance – See image above. I wouldn’t have even noticed this if I hadn’t read about it. Thanks to Paul Cotton, who provided these issue confirmation instructions and .wav files: Boot, load a patch > Init the patch > Turn off OSC1 in the OSC MIX (so audio will be just filter self resonance) > Left of the screen, change analog filter 1 cutoff to 67 and resonance to 85.5 , then repeatedly play middle c to cycle the voices. Before fix .wav / After fix .wav To fix this, you will need to ship the synth to a warranty center.
I’m expecting a 2 month or longer turnaround for repair of these issues due to the coronavirus; I’ll keep you updated.
Product support, downloads
Strongly recommended that you run OS 2.0, unless you hate bug fixes, stability and new features. It is an improvement in all ways over 1.3.0.
Facebook user groups
Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer Group
June 30, 2019 – Waldorf Quantum joins “Studio” ha!
July 28, 2019 – Some 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?
Be sure to join the
Uptown Oscillators Facebook Group
This page is a living document, subject to update and expansion.
Last edited – 3/31/2020
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