Category Archives: Synthesizers

Wavetable Synth Comparisons

Trying to make sense out of all the wave* variant synthesizers out there today in 2023

Ever since the introduction of the Waldorf Quantum, wavetable synthesizers have been all the rage. And why not, wavetables are ultra-cool ways to significantly expand your sound palette. In addition to the Quantum and its siblings the Iridium Desktop & Iridium Keyboard in this wavetable synth comparison, there are the Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave, Waldorf M Desktop, Sequential Pro 3, Access Virus TI2, ASM Hydrasynth, Korg Modwave, [Korg Wavestate is not a wavetable synth], Modal Argon8, Nord Wave 2, Novation Peak, Novation Summit, and [UDO Super 6 is not a wavetable synth] synthesizers. Who knows, 2023 may yield even more wave* variant synthesizer announcements before it is done.

With prices over a wide range from $599.00 to $4799.99, what gives? Are these synths roughly similar? In a nutshell, no. By far, the Quantum/Iridiums are kings of the wavetable hill. Clearly there are other factors which determine value or desirability, such as build quality, keyboard size, other types of synthesis, sampling, touch screens or other interfaces, and so on. This post is only about the wavetable or wavetable-like synthesis in these synthesizers.

These are all great synths. Many of us would love to have all of them. There are differences and reasons why you might want to spend $599.99 or $4799.99.

Waldorf Quantum Keyboard

$4799.99 note: MK2 version just released
8 stereo voices. Hybrid digital/analog, true wavetable synth.
Pretty much the original wavetable synthesis, evolved from earlier PPG and Waldorf hardware and software synths. The Quantum comes with 68 wavetables of 64 waveforms each, and 16 wavetables of 14-377 waveforms for a total of 6013 individual waveforms. Plus, with user supplied wavetables, the sky is the limit. Not only are there many pre-made wavetables available, but you can also make your own custom wavetables in the Quantum from samples or in the voice synthesis function, and in 3rd party wavetable building utilities. Depending on the number of samples per waveform, wavetables with as many as 2,000 waveforms will work on the Quantum. There are also interpolation functions like smoothing or stepping.

Waldorf Iridium Keyboard

$3799.99
16 stereo voices. All digital, true wavetable synth.
This is a sibling of the Quantum. Same OS, same sound engine. The differences are really outside of the wavetable functions, which are the same as the Quantum. Notable differences aside from the obvious form factor differences, are there is no analog, no auxiliary outs, there is CV, and a 49 key Fatar semi-weighted polyphonic aftertouch keyboard.

Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave

$3795.00
24 stereo voices, Hybrid digital/analog, true wavetable synth.
The factory wavetables are 32 classic PPG-lineage waves plus 48 high-resolution custom waves. It also has a built-in sample-to-wavetable tool that create a 64 wave wavetable or user can import wav files with USB. The 3rd Wave doesn’t have the non-wavetable sound engines that the Quantum/Iridium have, or the kernel oscillators which can incorporate wavetables in amazing ways, but the 24 voices, sequencer and multi-timbral features are very impressive.

Waldorf Iridium Desktop

$2699.99
16 stereo voices. All digital, true wavetable synth.
This is a sibling of the Quantum. Same OS, same sound engine. The differences are really outside of the wavetable functions, which are the same as the Quantum. Notable differences aside from the obvious form factor differences, are there is no analog, no auxiliary outs, and there is CV and a 2nd type of sequencer with the pads (on/off, not for drumming).

Waldorf M Desktop

$2099.99
8 stereo voices (16 voices w/expansion avail 2022?). Hybrid digital/analog, true wavetable synth.
There are 96 factory wavetables and 32 user wavetables. The M has 2 wavetable oscillators, and both use a common wavetable. However, each oscillator can play a different waveform or set of waveforms within the common wavetable. The M uses wavetables with up to 64 waveforms per wavetable and 256 samples per waveform at 8-bit. There is no interpolating between waveforms in a wavetable. The upper three entries in the factory wavetables (positions 61, 62 and 63) consist of the classic analog type waveforms triangle, pulse and sawtooth. Until I know differently, I’m going to assume user wavetables are converted into this format as well.

Sequential Pro 3

$1999.00 Std – $2199.00 SE
2 stereo analog and 1 stereo digital, 3 paraphonic voices total
The 3rd oscillator is a digital oscillator that in addition to the classic waveforms saw, super saw, pulse, triangle and sine, has 64 digital wavetable slots with 16 waves in each slot with wave morphing; can function as an LFO for complex wavetable-based modulation. Wavetable slots 1-32 are factory supplied wavetables. Wavetable slots 33-64 are for user supplied wavetables as of the 1.1 firmware update. There is also a Sequential wavetable generator site to make an unlimited selection of wavetables for those user supplied slots.

Access Virus TI2

$1999.00-$2915.00
20+ stereo voices. Digital, true wavetable synth.
This is the only other wavetable synth available today that even starts on the path to approaching the Quantum/Iridium wavetable capabilities. It has 100 wavetables with 100 waveforms each.

ASM Hydrasynth

$599.00-1799.00
8 Stereo voices. Digital, true wavetable synth.
From a selection of 219 single waveforms, the Hydrasynth builds an 8 waveform wavetable, with up to 10 points of interpolation between them, for a total of 78 waveforms per wavetable. There are also 7 types of mutator waveshapers that you can use 4 of at a time. Does not load user supplied wavetables.

Korg Modwave

$799.99
32 stereo voices. Digital, true wavetable synth.
Newly announced, no availability date. This could very well be the best low-cost wavetable synth when it becomes available. Over 200 wavetables each containing up to 64 waveforms and loads user-supplied wavetables. Layer samples over wavetables from the included multi-gigabyte PCM library.

Korg Wavestate

$649.99
64 stereo voices. Digital, wave sequencing 2.0 synth.
This is not a wavetable synth. The Wavestate is an improved reiteration of the Korg Wavestation, a 1990’s wave sequencing synthesizer, which was derived from Sequential Circuits Vector Synthesis. Essentially, the Wavestate uses samples which can be longer than single cycle, and Pulse-code modulation (PCM), a method used to digitally represent the sampled analog signals. There are 6GB of PCM sounds, which I’m sure is a lot but not directly comparable to wavetable numbers. I don’t believe you can load user supplied PCM sounds.

$769.00-$969.00
8 Stereo voices. Digital, true wavetable synth.
There are 120 wavetables, split into 24 banks of 5 morphable wavetables. The wavetables are comprised of 5 single waveforms with 32 steps for each waveform for a total of 128 steps. The pure original waveforms that make up each wavetable can be found at 0, 31, 63, 95, and 127. Additionally, there are 32 static wavetable processors that can be applied to the 120 wavetables to give an array of permutations and new waveshapes. Does not load user supplied wavetables.

Nord Wave 2

$2899.00
48 voices, stereo or mono I am not sure yet. I think it is full digital.
There is no specific information at this time on the wavetable configurations that I know of. Nord so far has made the meaningless statement “A large number of advanced wavetables covering a wide range of tonal characteristics”. The ambiguity makes it sound like it would be the worst wavetable oscillator on the market, though I am sure it is a very nice synth, the wavetables are just a tiny bit of the flavor, not a core function. If I find more details, I’ll update this post.

Novation Peak

$1399.99
8 Stereo voices. Hybrid digital/analog synth, true wavetable synth.
There are 60 factory wavetables composed of 5 waveforms each. There are also 10 user wavetable slots composed of 5 waveforms each as well as an external application to import or create wavetables for these slots.

Novation Summit

$2299.99
16 Stereo voices. Hybrid digital/analog synth, true wavetable synth.
There are 60 factory wavetables composed of 5 waveforms each. There are also 10 user wavetable slots composed of 5 waveforms each as well as an external application to import or create wavetables for these slots.

UDO Super 6

$2999.00
6 stereo voices. Hybrid digital/analog synth, wavetables possible in future firmware, but not today.
I’m not sure why UDO calls oscillator 1 a ‘7-core super-wavetable main oscillator with waveform download’. At this point in time, the UDO Super 6 is NOT a wavetable synth. Osc 1 has 4 standard waveform slots (sine, sawtooth, square and triangle) that can load individual alternative waveforms. Additionally, Osc 1 allows you to load 16 individual waveforms into the alternative waveform slots. UDO will make a collection of waveforms available for download and regularly add to it. A future firmware upgrade might have a system in place for users to load their own waveforms, and wavetables may be implemented as well.

Summary

In online forums, every time another synthesizer gets announced with the word wavetable in its specifications somewhere, inevitably someone asks if it could be a Quantum/Iridium for less than $2k or even less than $1k. This of course is silly. The reason Quantum/Iridiums cost what they do, is not only because the development and production costs are that high, but the synth itself has no rival. Nothing comes close to it. As a Quantum owner, I can tell you the Quantum/Iridiums are a sound design dream, the interface is unmatched in the industry and it is worth every penny. If you want the best wavetable synth money can buy, with more functions and capabilities than any other, buy a Quantum or Iridium.

The Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave is also a really strong wavetable synth. In some ways it surpasses the Waldorf Quantum/Iridium and in other ways Waldorf surpasses it. They really have different strengths but both are clearly the major contenders of the wavetable hill.

Otherwise, the Hydrasynth and Argon8 would be today’s most affordable alternatives to experience basic wavetable oscillator capabilities. Soon, all the synths above will be available and you will have a number of options to get the flavor of wavetable synthesis that you need into your music.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Useful Links

My Gear related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Sequential Pro 3
Updated periodically – Sequential Prophet X & XL
Updated periodically – Waldorf Quantum Keyboard
Updated periodically – Gibson SG Standard Electric Guitar
Updated periodically – Martin HD28E Acoustic Electric Guitar

Follow on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social

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Sequential Prophet X & XL

Synth and sample engines polyphonic

Sequential Prophet X & XL $3499.00 / $3899.00

October 21, 2021 Update: The Prophet XL appears to be discontinued. It is no longer on Sequential’s price list or Sweetwater’s site. Rumor has it the Prophet X may be discontinued soon as well. In my mind, the Prophet X/XL will go down as perhaps the #1 Sequential marketing screw-up, since clearly the synth itself is its best ever made to date.

In my opinion, the Sequential Prophet X & XL are the best polyphonic synthesizers that Sequential has ever made to date. See my comments expanding on this statement in the summary section below.

I received my Sequential Prophet X on January 31, 2020. Fast, painless, and a discounted price from Sweetwater. I was set to get it in 2019, then Dave Smith said a new synth “hopefully will be out in September-ish” [2019, video minute 14:40] with no other details. I wanted to see what this new synth would be, before making another Sequential investment. September turned out to be too optimistic, and at the mid-January 2020 NAMM show, the Sequential Pro 3 was announced, so I went ahead and purchased the Prophet X. I am so glad I did, it has become my favorite synthesizer.

Essentially the X and the XL are identical machines, except the XL is larger, and has a 76 key weighted keyboard. The X has a 61 key semi-weighted keyboard. As a Sequential Pro 2 owner at that time, I was very comfortable with the features and controls on this synth from the get go. Dave Smith’s feature set and design are near perfect in my opinion.

With essentially 4 oscillators (2 digital oscillators and 2 sample instruments), the PXs have 8 voice-mode stereo, 16 voice-mode mono, and 32 voice-mode paraphonic with a single oscillator and sample instrument. Halve those in stacked or split modes. Be sure to install the v2.1.0.0.0 or newer OS to get the full voice functionality. The newest OS released is v2.2.0.0.0 at this writing.

The Prophet X low-pass filter is yet another beautiful Sequential filter, but it is important to note that you can bypass it on sampled instruments that may already be well filtered. Doing this will give you 16 stereo voices which are extremely useful for instruments like pianos. Pianos are probably the last things on many synth purchasers minds, but everyone walks away enamored of the Prophet X pianos… Just warning you, ha!

The digital oscillators are like the Prophet 12 or Pro 2, and have sine, sawtooth, pulse, and supersaw waves. Very good, but the more you understand the sample instruments, the less you will use them. The real stars of this show are the sample instruments.

The sample instruments are incredible, plus you can add 50GB of user-imported or 3rd-party samples. I would recommend that you view Tim Shoebridge’s video The Sequential Prophet X Sample Library for an honest listen to the PX sample library. I agree with him generally, some of it is amazing, and some is filler… However this can be subjective. For instance, I love the variety of noise and racket sounds, which can also make some great mod sources, but not everyone does or doesn’t understand yet how useful to sound design these odd tidbits can be.

I can’t think of a synth that comes with a more extensive sample library, but it would be nice if there were a librarian app that could manage a larger set of Sequential/8DIO samples. As it is now, yes there are 150GB of factory Sequential/8DIO samples, but you can’t delete any or substitute other add-on Sequential/8DIO samples in that factory space, you can only add to the 50GB user/add-on area. I understand Sequential can’t delete what some people perceive as filler, as it could be incorporated into user patches, but they could allow people to make their own choices and keep unused samples off-synth in an external librarian program and continue to expand the stock sample library as well as add the 8DIO optional cost sample packs to the 150GB area. Just a thought, such is life. If what we have now is all we get and it probably is, I’ll take it anyway, ha!

The X/XL has a polyphonic sequencer with 64 steps and up to 6 notes per step, with unique sequences for each layer if working in stacked or split voice mode.

Finally, this synth has an incredible effects section, 2 effects per layer, with multiple reverbs, 2 delays (standard and BBD), chorus, phase shifter, flanger, ring mod, vintage rotating speaker, high-pass filter, and distortion.

Summary

Like I said at the beginning of this page, the Sequential Prophet X/XL is the best polyphonic synthesizer that Sequential has ever made to date. It would appear to be the unloved child of Sequential line though. 8DIO the supplier for the onboard samples has never fully delivered on the promise to continue developing sample sets and sample utilities for the Prophet X/XL.

I can only guess that perhaps Sequential’s degrading over time relationship with 8DIO prevented Sequential from putting the necessary pieces in place to properly market the Prophet X/XL and fuel greater sales. I believe that adding a lower cost desktop version along with proper demonstration & real sound design tutorial videos for specifically the sample instruments would have completely changed things.

The good news is that bad news doesn’t matter. Here’s the real skinny. The sample instruments are to die for, and the real power in them comes alive with your own custom curated sample sets added to the stock sample sets. The Prophet X/XL comes with quite a bit of incredible sample sets, but you do need more. The full potential of this powerful and amazing sounding synth comes with sample sets that you add or create, and not with just 8DIO sample sets. The 8DIO sample utility is junk, don’t waste your time with it. Use PXToolkit or even better use SampleRobot 6.5 Pro to create sample sets.

I will say a few more things about the Prophet X. There is something about it I cannot even quantify over features, specifications and the brilliant sample instruments. It makes me a better keyboard player. It is the synth I practice on and rough out ideas on as well as most often, part of the final production. I am wild crazy about my other synths, but the Prophet X is the synth that is in the prime spot, front and center. The Prophet X just warms my heart.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.sequential.com/product/prophet-x
https://www.sequential.com/product/prophet-xl

Product support, downloads
https://www.sequential.com/support

Download the newest OS
https://www.sequential.com/updating-prophet-x-os

MIDI System Exclusive (SysEx) messages utilities to update
http://www.midiox.com (Windows)
https://www.snoize.com/SysExLibrarian (MacOS)

See these pages, for complete lists with links of all known factory and 3rd party patches, sample packs, and utilities
Prophet X Patches & Samples
Prophet X Utilities

Facebook user groups

Sequential Prophet X / XL
https://www.facebook.com/groups/SequentialProphetXXL

Forums

Sequential Prophet X Forum
Gearspace.com Prophet X Forum

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Sequential Prophet X YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Prophet X Patches YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Prophet X Music YouTube Playlist

Follow on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social.

Prophet X/XL Specifications

SAMPLE PLAYBACK
  • 2 multi-sampled stereo instruments per voice with editable sample start, sample end, loop size, and loop center, loop on/off, sample reverse, sample stretch, bit-rate reduction, and sample rate reduction
  • Forward and forward/reverse loop modes
  • 150 GB of factory-installed 16-bit, 48 kHz sampled instruments created by 8Dio
  • 50 GB of additional storage for user-imported samples or 3rd-party sound libraries
  • High-pass and low-pass filter per instrument
  • Instrument 1 and instrument 2 delay as mod destinations
OSCILLATORS
  • 2 digital oscillators per voice with selectable sine, sawtooth, pulse, and supersaw waves. You can vary the shape of any of the waveshapes.
  • Glide (portamento): separate rates per oscillator; (samples can glide in Sample Stretch mode)
  • Hard sync
FILTERS
  • 2 x analog 4-pole resonant low-pass filter per voice
  • Digital high-pass filter in Effects section
ENVELOPES
  • 4 loopable, five-stage (ADSR plus delay) envelope generators: Filter, VCA, and two assignable
SEQUENCER
  • Polyphonic step sequencer with up to 64 steps (6 notes per step), and ties and rests.
  • MIDI note output
  • Sequences can be copied between Layer A and Layer B
AMPLIFIER ENVELOPE
  • Four-stage (ADSR) envelope generator
  • Velocity modulation of envelope amount
LOW FREQUENCY OSCILLATORS
  • 4 LFO’s with key sync, phase offset, and slewing per LFO
  • Five wave shapes: triangle, sawtooth, reverse sawtooth, square, and random (sample and hold)
MODULATION
  • 16-slot modulation matrix
  • 28 sources
  • 92 destinations
  • 11 additional dedicated sources: mod wheel, pressure, velocity, breath controller, footswitch, LFO 1, LFO 2, LFO 3, LFO 4, Env 3, Env 4
ARPEGGIATOR
  • Fully-featured arpeggiator with up, down, up+down, random, assign modes
  • Selectable note value: 16th note, 8th note triplet, 8th note, dotted 8th note, quarter note
  • One, two, or three octave range
  • Re-latching arpeggiation
  • Note repeat
  • Beat sync
  • MIDI note output
ALTERNATIVE TUNINGS
  • 64 preset alternative tunings
  • Additional alternative tunings can be imported via SysEx
DIGITAL EFFECTS
  • 2 digital effects on each layer
  • Stereo delay, BBD delay, chorus, flanger, phaser, ring mod, vintage rotating speaker, distortion, high-pass filter, spring reverb, room reverb, hall reverb, super plate reverb
CLOCK
  • Master clock with tap tempo
  • BPM control and display
  • MIDI clock sync
PERFORMANCE CONTROLS
  • Prophet X: Full-sized, semi-weighted, 61-key 5-octave keyboard with velocity and channel (mono) aftertouch
  • Prophet XL: Full-sized, semi-weighted, 76-key, Fatar TP/8 keyboard with velocity and channel (mono) aftertouch
  • Backlit pitch and mod wheels
  • Spring-loaded pitch wheel with selectable range per program (1 to 12 semitones up and down)
  • Transpose controls for an 8-octave range
  • Hold switch latches held notes on
  • Polyphonic glide (portamento)
  • Unison (monophonic) mode with configurable voice count
PATCH MEMORY
  • 512 Factory Programs (4 banks of 128), 512 Optional Programs, and 512 fully editable User Programs with 2 layers (2 separate sounds) in each Program
IN/OUT
  • MIDI In, Out, Thru
  • USB MIDI
  • Sample import jack for USB Stick
  • Main stereo audio output: 2 x 1/4″ phone (TS, unbalanced)
  • Output B stereo audio output: 2 x 1/4″ phone (TS, unbalanced)
  • Pedal/CV: responds to expression pedals or control voltages ranging from 0 to 5 VDC (protected against higher or negative voltages.
  • Volume: responds to expression pedals or control voltages ranging from 0 to 5 VDC (protected against higher or negative voltages.
  • Sustain pedal input: accepts normally on or normally off momentary footswitch.
  • Sequencer: accepts normally on or normally off momentary footswitch to trigger sequencer playback.
  • Headphone output: 1/4″ stereo phone jack.
POWER
  • IEC AC power inlet for internal power supply
  • Operates worldwide on voltages between 100 and 240 volts at 50 to 60 Hz
  • Power consumption: 25 watts maximum
Prophet X PHYSICAL SPECS
  • Dimensions: 38.44″ L x 13.53″ W x 4.13″ H (97.6 cm L x 34.3 cm W x 10.9 cm H)
  • Weight: 24 lbs
Prophet XL PHYSICAL SPECS
  • Dimensions: 46.8″ L x 15.5″ W x 4.1″ H (118.7 cm L x 39.4 cm W x 10.4 cm H)
  • Weight: 33.2 lbs (15 kg)

Sequential Pro 3

Clearly the Sequential Pro 3 is the #1 monophonic paraphonic synth on the market today

Sequential Pro 3 $1999.00 Standard Edition – $2199.00 Special Edition

I can’t speak for the market, but an informed synthesist knows there is nothing quite like a Sequential Pro 2; it clobbers every other keyboard class monophonic/paraphonic synth made. A Pro 3 would have to be an amazing machine to take its place. It is a very high bar to reach that has been set by the Pro 2. The Pro 3 reaches that bar.

First of all, both Pro 3 models look great, especially the SE with its ala Moog hinge, traditional woods and printed panel design that matches the Sequential Prophet X. The Pro 3 includes both analog and digital wavetable oscillators. The sequencer is killer. The 4 knob/4 button screen interface is a familiar joy.

I’m sure the high end paraphonic synthesizer market is a tough place to play, but after the initial sparkles wore off, I saw a few major changes in the Pro 3 compared to the Pro 2. It is very important to approach the Pro 3 as a whole new synth. It is not a souped up Pro 2.

The Pro 3 has 37 keys exactly like the Moog Subsequent 37. This is the critical competitor comparison here in my opinion. Sequential/Dave Smith Instruments synths have always been Moog killers. In fact, when I decided to buy the Pro 3, it was mainly to replace my Subsequent 37. I loved the Moog, but I’m an even bigger fan of the Sequential screen/knob workflow (and let’s face it, the Subsequent 37’s screen capabilities at best are extremely dated), and now with Pro 3’s analog and digital wavetable oscillators, the Moog would have been even further isolated in my gear, so I sold it.

My Pro 3 use is generally lead, bass, percussion, heavily sequenced or modulated sounds. It is not my go to poly. I have 2 flagship polyphonics; I am not looking for the Pro 3 to do chords or pads, though it can do that very well. Paraphonic is the most I need and most of the time mono. Dave Smith did his homework here, the market yearned for analog and wavetable oscillators and the price is still in a range it doesn’t have to compete with high-end polys.

With all 3 oscillators, the Pro 3 has 3 paraphonic voices instead of the Moog Subsequent 37’s 2 paraphonic voices. To be clear though, you can only do 2 of those voices with the exact same oscillators (analog). I think many people will really like the Pro 3’s analog oscillators. They sound amazing. You can stick to the classic wave shapes (triangle, saw and pulse, all with wave shaping) common to all 3 oscillators (analog and digital) to get fairly similar paraphonic voices. A 2 oscillator duo mode is also in firmware 1.1 and newer.

Some might consider 3 voices with 2 distinct types of oscillators to be somewhat unusual, however I think the unusual would be very desirable and exactly what you want. Mixing it up even further with all 3 oscillators set to different waveforms, shaping and modulation is the peak use of the paraphonic mode in my opinion.

The 3rd digital oscillator is quite interesting, with 64 digital wavetable slots with 16 waves in each slot with wave morphing; can function as an LFO for complex wavetable-based modulation. Wavetable slots 1-32 are factory supplied wavetables. Wavetable slots 33-64 are for user supplied wavetables as of the 1.1 firmware update. There is also a Sequential wavetable generator site to make an unlimited selection of wavetables for those user supplied slots.

Obviously, the Pro 3 is no Waldorf Quantum, but I’m 100% certain that is not Sequential’s intention nor are the price points remotely comparable.

There are 3 filters on the Pro 3. You can use them one at a time. There is no serial, parallel, or split oscillator routing. Dave Smith says it would get messy routing 3 filters, and most of the time routing a low-pass through a low pass wouldn’t make sense. Personally, I would have liked to have split oscillator routing through two different filters, but this is minor.

There is 1 latchable position-sensitive touch slider, without pressure-sensitivity. There are 3 LFOs, and to be exact, the wavetable oscillator can be your 4th LFO, and its abilities are a real upgrade to the LFO palette.

The Pro 3 improves on the Pro 2 capabilities to function as your control center synth. In addition to MIDI in, MIDI out 1, MIDI thru and MIDI out 2, it has 4 CV inputs, 4 CV outputs and a gate output. The 16 track 64 step sequencer outputs to CV and all other modulation destinations. All the extensive modulation sources output to CV as well.

The Pro 3 is a real contender, I expect it to outsell the Pro 2. The Pro 3 is definitely a Moog Subsequent killer. You will find many people that have owned both, and almost every one of them prefer the Pro 3 over the Moog. A small minority still hold on to the legend of Moog bass, and perhaps it’s subjective but I think they are meshuganah. The Pro 3’s bass will peel the posters off your walls, if you let it.

In actual use, the Pro 3 pairs well with a Prophet X or Quantum, just like the Pro 2 already does.

If you are fortunate enough to have a Sequential Pro 2, keep it! The Pro 3 not only reaches the bar the Pro 2 sets, but complements it in amazing ways.

“Combining a Sequential Pro 2 and Pro 3 creates a monster synth system… 7 oscillators, 5 filters, 7 envelopes, 32 lanes of note, parameter and CV sequencing, 8 assignable CV Ins, 8 assignable CV Outs, and I’m not even going to try to count the modulation possibilities.” -Chris Stack

I know I’m not the only one that thinks the Pro 3 really whets the appetite for a Sequential Pro Poly8. One can only hope. Sequential Pro 2/3 features are like nothing else.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.sequential.com

Product support, downloads
https://www.sequential.com/support

Strongly recommended that you download the newest OS, unless you hate bug fixes, stability and new features.

Facebook user groups

Sequential Pro 3 Synth
https://www.facebook.com/groups/762398134270622
Sequential/DSI Pro 2/3 Users Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/719776201445367

Forums

Sequential Forums
https://forum.sequential.com

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Sequential Pro 3 YouTube Playlist

Useful Links

Follow on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social.

Specifications

3 OSCILLATORS
  • Two analog, voltage-controlled oscillators
  • One DSP-based digital oscillator
  • Analog oscillators produce three classic wave shapes: (triangle, saw, pulse) with variable shape modulation/pulse width on each
  • Digital oscillator produce 64 digital wavetables of 16 waves each with wave morphing, plus classic wave shapes (sine, triangle, saw, variable-width pulse) and super saw
  • Digital oscillator 3 can function as an LFO for complex wavetable-based modulation
  • White noise generator
  • Hard sync, per-oscillator Glide, Oscillator Slop
3-VOICE PARAPHONIC PLAYABILITY
  • 3-voice paraphonic mode with individually-gated envelopes per oscillator
3 FILTERS
  • Three classic filter types
  • Filter 1 is a 4-pole, 24 dB per-octave, Prophet-6™ low-pass filter
  • Filter 2 is a classic, 4-pole, 24 dB per-octave, transistor ladder filter with optional resonance compensation
  • Filter 3 is a 2-pole, 12 db per-octave, OB-6™ state-variable filter. It can be continuously varied between low-pass, notch, and high-pass operation, with an optional band-pass mode.
3 LFOS
  • Three syncable LFOs with phase offset and slew per LFO
  • Five waveshapes: triangle, saw, reverse saw, square, and S&H
4 ENVELOPES
  • Four ADSR envelopes with delay (Filter, VCA, and two Auxiliary envelopes)
  • Envelopes freely assignable to multiple modulation destinations
  • All envelopes can repeat/loop
DIGITAL EFFECTS
  • Dual digital effects
  • Stereo delay, BBD delay, chorus, flanger, phaser, ring mod, vintage rotating speaker, distortion, high-pass filter, super plate reverb
FEEDBACK AND DISTORTION
  • Tuned feedback with Grunge for extra-aggressive tonal destruction
  • Programmable analog distortion
32-SLOT MODULATION MATRIX
  • 32 slot modulation matrix with over 46 mod sources and over 171 mod destinations
  • Modulation assignment buttons enable quick and easy modulation routing
  • Mod Matrix runs at audio rates
4 CONTROL VOLTAGE INS & OUTS AND GATE OUT
  • Four control voltage (CV) inputs and outputs for interfacing with modular synths and other CV-compatible devices
  • Parameters that can be sent to CV outputs include oscillators, LFOs, envelopes, sequencer tracks and any other source within the modulation matrix. Runs at audio rates.
  • Gate Out for triggering external CV-compatible devices. Any CV in can be used as a gate input.
16-TRACK SEQUENCER
  • Advanced sequencer with three modes: normal, gated, and trigger
  • 16 tracks and 4 linkable 16-step phrases
  • Per-step ratcheting, duration, and velocity
  • Multiple playback modes: forward, reverse, forward/reverse, random
  • Supports real-time/step input, rests, and variable-length sequences
  • Syncs to MIDI clock and external audio and CV input
  • Sequences freely assignable to any modulation destination
ARPEGGIATOR
  • Sophisticated arpeggiator with up, down, up+down, random, assign modes
  • Syncs to MIDI clock and external audio and CV inputs
  • Re-latching arpeggiation
  • Runs concurrent with Sequencer for arpeggiated patterns with parameter automation
CONTROLS
  • Over 60 knobs and 70 buttons enable deep, comprehensive editing with minimal menu diving
  • Backlit pitch and mod wheels are easily visible in low-light situations and have a smooth, precise response.
  • Independently adjustable upper and lower pitch wheel range
  • Position-sensitive latchable touch slider for enhanced interactivity and control
  • Full-sized, three-octave, semi-weighted keyboard with velocity and aftertouch
MEMORY
  • 512 user and 512 factory programs
  • Playlist mode for generating easily accessible set lists of your favorite programs
IN/OUT
  • 1 MIDI In, 1 MIDI Out, and 1 MIDI Thru/Out 2 port
  • USB port for bidirectional MIDI communication
  • 4 CV inputs (4 x 1/8″ jack) with -10v to +10v voltage range
  • 4 CV outputs (4 x 1/8″ jack) with -10v to +10v voltage range
  • 1 Gate Out  (1/8″ jack)
  • 1 Sustain/footswitch input
  • 1 Expression pedal input
  • 1 External audio input  (1/4″ phone jack)
  • Main stereo output (2 x 1/4″ phone jack)
  • Headphone out (stereo 1/4″ phone jack)
POWER
  • 1 universal IEC AC power inlet for internal power supply
  • Operates worldwide on voltages between 100-240v, 50-60Hz, 30 watts maximum power consumption
PHYSICAL SPECS
  • Premium, 3-octave, semi-weighted Fatar keyboard
  • 26.5″ L x 13″ W x 3.5″ H (67.3 cm x 33 cm x 8.9 cm)
  • Weight: 16 lbs (7.25 kg)

Waldorf Quantum Keyboard

Waldorf’s flagship polyphonic hybrid synthesizer

$4799.99 [note the MK2 version has now been released]

Lately, wavetable synths are all the rage. After Waldorf Music GmbH introduced the Waldorf Quantum synthesizer (and later its nearly equal digital siblings the Iridium Desktop and Iridium Keyboard), a number of synths that incorporate wavetables have been released or announced. These synths can be very nice and some cost significantly less.

From a wavetable perspective, none match the Quantum. Having wavetables does not make a Quantum.

There are no comparable alternatives to a Quantum. There is no room for interpretation of that statement. The Quantum is in a class by itself. Waldorf owns the wavetable hill, period.

In my opinion, the Quantum is as state of the art as it gets even today in 2023. 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 virtual analog to crisp digital.

The Quantum has analog filters as well as digital ones. 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 since 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 fork out nearly $5k 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 the Quantum Tutorials YouTube Playlist below.

Firmware progress

Currently the newest ‘official’ firmware release is v2.8.0 which is roughly equivalent to OS 3.0 Beta 12. There is no excuse for running an OS version less than v2.8.0. I would still recommend joining the Beta program (free) and updating to newer Beta versions.

Currently I am running OS 3.0 Beta 15 (Quantum), which is publicly available for Iridium/Quantum by asking Waldorf to add you to the Beta. If you are waiting for the official release of OS 3.0, don’t. OS 3.0 Beta 15 is much more stable, bug free and feature rich. There are also many great patches that require OS 3.0. There is no downside to running the Beta, none. Running OS 2.x.x massively cheats you out of the very best Iridium has to offer. Have I said this clear enough? Ha!

One important thing about Beta OS 15 for Quantum is that it includes the 16 voice digital filter only mode like the Iridium. There are also some mixed 8 analog/8 digital voice modes that are pretty cool.

Personally, I’m fine with 8 analog and/or digitally filtered voices. In actual use I think most people would prefer to have the Quantum’s current 8 analog and/or digitally filtered voices, than 16 digital only filtered voices like the Iridium, but I do think it will be a good to have both options.

The Quantum clearly has value over the Iridium, don’t doubt it for a second. Analog filters, 61 keys, bigger screen, more panel real estate, AUX outputs…

Either way though, get a Quantum or Iridium. Anyone that has or plans on having two or more synthesizers, should have one of these Waldorf synths, period.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Waldorf Quantum Standard Edition

Waldorf Quantum Shadow Limited Edition

Manufacturer’s website
https://waldorfmusic.com/en/quantum

Product support, downloads
https://support.waldorfmusic.com/products/Quantum

I strongly recommended that you run OS 3.0 Beta 15 or newer, unless you hate bug fixes, stability and new features. It is an improvement in all ways over OS 1.x/2.x.

Facebook user groups

Waldorf Quantum & Iridium Synthesizer Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/184475775419027

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Waldorf Quantum Tutorials YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Waldorf Quantum YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Quantum Patches Music YouTube Playlist

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series

Waldorf related pages
Updated periodically – Waldorf Quantum Keyboard
Updated periodically – Waldorf Iridium Keyboard
Updated periodically – Quantum Iridium Patches
Updated periodically – Quantum Iridium Wavetables & Utilities
Updated periodically – Wavetable Editing Tools
Updated periodically – Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave or Waldorf Quantum/Iridium?
Updated periodically – Sequential Prophet X or Waldorf Quantum?

Follow on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – @Yehuda@Mvskoke.social.

Specifications

(subject to change without notice)

  • Digital-Analog Polyphonic Synthesizer
  • 61 Keys high-quality Fatar TP/8SK keyboard, channel aftertouch
  • 8 voices (16 voices in OS Beta 14+)
  • Dual timbral: split or layered mode with separate stereo audio outputs
  • 3 stereo digital oscillators each capable of five synthesis algorithms
  • Wavetable: Waldorf style with latest additions from Nave including speech synthesis, wavetable generation from audio and new features
  • Waveform: Waveform with up to 8 simultaneous waves per Oscillator in detuned or chordal mode with hard-sync, warp & PWM as well as tunable noise
  • Particle: Sampler in traditional and granular mode using multi-samples or live input
  • Resonator: Exciter using multi-sampling plus filter bank sound model.
  • New Kernel synthesis with possibilities from classic 6 operator FM to innovative audio rate wavetable modulations
  • Two analogue lowpass filters per voice each in 24 or 12 dB configuration using innovative link modes
  • Digital former: Additional digital algorithms per voice like comb filter, high-pass, band-pass & notch filters (Nave, Largo or PPG models), bit-crusher, drive and more
  • Flexible routing system for order of analog filters & digital former and individual oscillator routings
  • 6 LFOs in poly and global mode with extensive parameter set
  • 6 loopable envelopes
  • Komplex: multistage LFO/envelope modulator
  • Extensive modulation matrix with 40 slots and easy via-controller assignments
  • Intuitive modulation assignment via panel elements and control LEDs
  • Master effect rack of 5 slots for each timbre choosing from FX like phaser, flanger, chorus, reverb, drive, eq and more.
  • Compressor for main output
  • Step sequencer with step recording, parameter automation and scale-based pitch quantization
  • Microtonal pitch configurations capable of importing Skala scl files
  • Capable of polyphonic aftertouch via external MIDI inputs
  • Chord and latch buttons
  • Unisono mode
  • Module-based preset system for effects, oscillators, step-sequenzer and Komplex modulator
  • Single-function potentiometer and encoder controls for intuitive editing
  • Visualisation and deeper sound editing via context-sensitive high-resolution capacitive multi-touch display
  • Spectrum Analyzer and Oscilloscope at various processing stages
  • Up to 10,000 sound patch capacity organized by banks, attributes, author and patch number.
  • Favourites lists for quick recall of sound patches like for set-lists etc.
  • Pre-loaded with wide variety of patches by acclaimed sound designers like Howard Scarr
  • MIDI output of local keyboard, wheels and assignable panel elements
  • Automation of sound parameters from MIDI inputs via MIDI CC learn function
  • Recording of samples from audio inputs or self-recording of audio outputs
  • 4 GB*) internal Flash memory for presets, samples and wavetables
  • Pre-loaded with approx. 2 GB sample data
  • On board audio file editor
  • Export & import of presets, sample & wavetable via SD card or USB drive
  • Import of Nave presets and selected legacy FM .syx files
  • Mod wheel can be assigned to any parameter which can be modulated in the matrix or via quick assign
  • Pitch wheel can be assigned to each oscillator individually
  • Weight: 17.8kg
  • Dimensions: 1006 x 401 x 131 mm

Sampling capabilities

Each of the 3 Oscillators of a single timbre can be used in one of three modes using samples:

  • Stereo Multi-Sampler with looping and reverse playback
  • Granular Sampler with extensive parameter set
  • Resonator model using sampler as exciter

Samples are organized using key and velocity maps, selections rules like round robin, random etc., and individual pitch, gain and pan settings.
Samples are stored in internal Flash memory of about 4GB capacity pre-filled with over 1GB specially made for Quantum factory samples.
New samples can be recorded from external stereo audio inputs, or from self-recording Quantums own engine.
Samples can also be imported an stored to internal Flash via SD card or USB drive using WAV and AIFF file format (44.1kHz sample rate).

The Quantum allows for a huge range of sample-based sound design capabilities from classical synths sounds to uncharted territories.
It’s worth noting that the sample use in the Quantum is always within a synthesizer’s sonic context, and it is not meant to work as a “bread and butter” sample keyboard to play back like traditional sampling instruments nor third party libraries.

Huge range of arpeggiator parameters:

  • 7 Algorithms to choose from like up, down, random etc.
  • Octave range
  • 7 Sort Orders
  • 3 Velocity Modes
  • Gate length
  • Swing
  • BPM
  • Beat Division
  • Rhythmic patterns 
  • Reset Modes
  • Keyboard Latch chordal and non-chordal

If that’s not enough, individual patterns can be created in the step sequencer including transpositions and scale quantisations.

Connections:

  • 2x stereo audio out for main and aux timbres
  • Stereo audio input for sample recording and real-time processing
  • High-Quality 24bit A/D and D/A converters
  • Headphone out with separate level adjustment
  • Sustain pedal input
  • Control pedal connector also capable of CV input (0-5V sensitivity)
  • USB host type A connector for interfacing MIDI controller or USB drives for sample/preset exchange and software updates
  • USB device type B connector for interfacing computer or other class-compliant MIDI USB hosts like iOS devices **)
  • SD Card for sample/preset exchange and software updates
  • DIN MIDI In, Out & Thru
  • Integrated power supply unit

Sound design of factory patches:

  • Albert van der Zee
  • Beat Müller
  • BT (Brian Transeau)
  • Bjoern Vogelsang
  • CO5MA
  • Don Solaris
  • Howard Scarr
  • Ian Dunlap
  • Jörg Hüttner
  • Kurt Ader
  • Lukas Schütte
  • Maxime Dangles
  • Mike Huckaby
  • Peter Jung
  • Reinhold Heil
  • Richard Devine
  • Rolf Wöhrmann
  • Sascha Dikiciyan
  • Steven Wartofsky
  • Thorsten Quaeschning
  • Wolfram Franke

*) Raw physical data size for complete system including pre-loaded data and system software. Net usable size for audio samples is about 2GB including pre-loaded samples.
**) separate Apple “Lightning to USB Camera Adapter” adapter needed