Category Archives: Wavetables

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

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Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
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Updated periodically – Sequential Prophet X & XL
Updated periodically – Waldorf Quantum Keyboard
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Quantum Iridium Wavetables & Utilities

Waldorf Quantum & Iridium Wavetables

These wavetables work on the Waldorf Quantum Keyboard and Iridium Desktop / Iridium Keyboard, but could work on other hardware or software synths that use standard user supplied wavetables. Many synths have limitations such as a specific wave length, number of waveforms or encoded slot information. The Quantum and Iridium have more liberal limitations than any other hardware synth that I am aware of.

Current Quantum/Iridium firmware has a maximum of 2,000 waveforms per wavetable:

  • 4096 sample period x 217 waveforms
  • 2048 sample period x 430 waveforms
  • 1024 sample period x 846 waveforms
  • 512 sample period x 1,645 waveforms
  • 256 sample period x 2,000 waveforms
  • 128 sample period x 2,000 waveforms
  • 64 sample period x 2,000 waveforms

From Ocean Swift <– more at link and ‘Wavetable’ on the menu bar
1000 wavetables each zip – 100 waveforms each, 2048 sample period
Algorithmically generated, crushed, stitched & morphed
automaton_wt_1000_vol_1_-_four_core_2048w_100s.zip
automaton_wt_1000_vol_2_-_ten_morphs_2048w_100s.zip
automaton_wt_1000_vol_3_-_sign_sines_2048w_100s.zip
automaton_wt_1000_vol_4_-_twisted_flows_2048w_100s.zip
automaton_wt_1000_vol_5_-_pulse_flux_2048w_100s.zip
automaton_wt_1000_vol_6_-_tri_sin_2048w_100s.zip

More Ocean Swift
OSS Wavetable Synthesis Pack 1:
Morphing Wavetables and Single cycle Waveforms
ocean_swift_wavetable_synthesist_pack_1.zip
OSS Wavetable Synthesis Pack 2:
ocean_swift_wavetable_synthesist_pack_2.zip

99 wavetables – Roughly 100 waveforms each, 2048 sample period
Access Virus TI wavetables
From the wild (with permission to use non-commercially)
access_virus_ti_wavetables_2048.zip

50 wavetables, 50 multisamples and 50 single samples
Sequential OB-6
From Modulatable Synthesis
Email: modulatable.synthesis@gmail.com

683 wavetables – 64 waveforms each, 256 sample period
From WaveEditOnline.com
wav-files_256.zip

27 wavetables – Various number of waveforms each, 2048 sample period
JD-XA, Mother 32, Prophet 12, and Sub37 waveforms
Sampled and formatted by Paul Cotton
synth_wavetables_2048.zip

84 wavetables – 50 waveforms each, 1024 sample period
From adventurekid.se, formatted by Paul Cotton
akwf_1024_50_qtr.zip

5 wavetables – 800 waveforms each, 1024 sample period
From adventurekid.se, formatted by Paul Cotton
akwf_1024_800.zip

10 wavetables – Various number of waveforms each, 1024 sample period
Waveforms from the same category: blended, perfect, saw, saw bright, saw gap, saw rounded, sine, square, square rounded, triangle
From adventurekid.se, formatted by Paul Cotton
akwf_bytype.zip

520 wavetables – 8 random waveforms each, 1024 sample period
From adventurekid.se, formatted by Paul Cotton
akwf_1024_8.zip

21 wavetables – 200 random waveforms each, 1024 sample period
From adventurekid.se, formatted by Paul Cotton
akwf_1024_200.zip

Quantum instructions: Wavetable Oscillator > Timbre > Tools > Import from .wav > Set drive in upper left corner to Samples, USB Drive or SD Card > Select a file (eg the first one) > Set period to appropriate length 256, 1024 or 2048 etc. > Load. Then you can use the on-screen [prev] and [next] to move through the wavetable files.

Note: Firmware 2.0 works perfect, however on Firmware 1.3.0, your Import from .wav may not read the SD card, until you read it somewhere else. One solution is Wavetable Oscillator > Timbre > Presets > Export > Cancel > Close, and that will read the SD card so you can then follow the instructions above.

Waldorf Quantum & Iridium Utilities

SampleRobot 6.x Pro $271.00
While not wavetables software, this currently supports Quantum/Iridium and Sequential Prophet X sample exports among other synths. This is definitely the premium sample export software to have.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

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?

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Wavetable Editing Tools

noise55d.wav wavetable in the Pro 3 version of WaveEdit

Utilities to create & edit wavetables

Free Software

WaveEdit – $0.00
This makes a bank of 64 waveforms with a wave length of 256. Open-source wavetable editor. Highly recommended, I use this for Quantum and Iridium wavetables.

WaveEdit Pro 3 fork – $0.00
This makes a bank of 16 waveforms with a wave length of 1024. While this Jeremy Bernstein fork was tweaked to match Sequential Pro 3 wavetable specs, this is totally useful for Quantum and Iridium wavetables as well. There is nothing proprietary, get both WaveEdit versions. See ‘Assets’ for downloads.

  • See Pro 3 Yehuda Wavetables and Pro 3 Wavetables & Utilities.

WavePad – $0.00
This is free with nags, still there are some useful features in this program. The split feature is nice for breaking up wavetables into individual waveforms.

Audio-Term I – $0.00
Wavetable editor/creator. I needed to run this as administrator to get mouse input to work. This is an old school interface, it is supposed to be very useful. Anyhoo, this is it. Extensive YouTube Tutorials.
Download version 2.27 Audio-Term.zip or Audio-Term.zip

Audio Joiner – $0.00
Can use this tool to roll your own by merging single waveforms of a Quantum friendly sample length e.g. a bunch of 1,204 sample length single-cycle waveforms. Can merge up to 200 samples into a single file/wavetable.

Waldorf Blofeld Wavetable Creator – $0.00
Wavetable creator from scratch, sin, triangle, square, saw, freehand waveforms, import wave, export midi.

Serum: Advanced Wavetable Synthesizer – $189.00
Wavetable editor built right in, you can create your own wavetables in a variety of ways.

Icarus: High-end Synthesizer-Workstation – $169.00
Claims “the most powerful wavetable-editor available on the market”.

Phase Plant: Modular Synthesis Engine – $169.00
Wavetable editor built in. You can use it to edit any wavetable, or to create wavetables from scratch. The wavetable editor also has a powerful tool for converting any sample to a wavetable.

Hardware

Waldorf Quantum Keyboard / Iridium Desktop / Iridium Keyboard synthesizers
Have sample to wavetable conversion utility built into OS.
Oscillator > Timbre > Tools > Analyze Audio

Thanks!
-Yehuda

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.