6th month thoughts about the Waldorf Quantum

I would buy the Waldorf Quantum over and over

I think in my future synthesizer purchases, I will wait until a synth has been available for a year. Most of the time, issues will be firmware, but sometimes there are hardware revisions. That may be common knowledge but I’m an experience learner, ha! That said, critiques in this post should be properly weighted; the Waldorf Quantum is an amazing machine. Under my new 1 year policy, I would not hesitate to pull out my credit card and buy the Quantum today, and I have little to no regrets about having bought one 6 months ago.

The Quantum is definitely my stranded on an island with only one synthesizer (and electricity) choice. Even analog purists would be well advised to open their minds. Those without $4k to spend would be well advised to move mountains to get one. Those who are not ready to appreciate the value of a $4k synth yet, need to spend time with a Quantum. The Quantum is one of the few pinnacles of synthesis on the market today.

I think there are a few resolvable hardware issues in some 1st year Quantums. Aside from miscellaneous defects or QC issues which all new electronics are likely to have a 1% rate of, here are a few to be aware of.

  • 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 the 2.0 beta 9. You may notice in the image at top of this post, 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.
  • Touch screen bubble – I’ve heard no reports of this visual bubble underneath the top layer of the screen affecting the operation of the screen, but it is annoying. Ultimately, it is what pushed me to send my Quantum to be repaired.
  • Voices with inconsistent resonance – See image at top of this post. 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.

So I’m sending my Quantum off to fix the 2nd, 3rd and 4th issues in February 2020, when I am buying a Sequential Prophet X and will be busy with that new synth for a bit and will have a fresh outer box to ship it in.

UPDATE: I did send it, it’s back and better than ever
New Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer is a Beauty

The Quantum 2.0 firmware beta

What happens in the beta stays in the beta. I will say this though, the current 2.0 beta 9 firmware is more stable and polished than the the non-beta 1.3.0 firmware release. Don’t be shy or paranoid, get the beta, you won’t regret it!

The Waldorf Quantum factory patches

Like most Quantum owners I would imagine, I didn’t buy the Quantum to use presets primarily. I bought it for sound design so I didn’t really spend much time cruising the presets. After 5 months, I did start checking out the presets in more detail. I was pleasantly surprised, there are some amazing presets. Like all synths, some are basic and they could be expanded. There is more than meets the eyes initially though.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

More Waldorf related pages
Updated periodically – Wavetable Synth Comparisons
Updated periodically – Sequential Prophet X or Waldorf Quantum?
Updated periodically – Wavetable Editing Tools
Updated periodically – Quantum/Iridium Presets
Updated periodically – Quantum/Iridium Wavetables & Utilities
Updated periodically – Waldorf Quantum
Updated periodically – Waldorf Iridium

More Waldorf Quantum related posts
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
April 20, 2020 – New Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer is a Beauty

Join revolutionOSC Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/revolutionOSC

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Inside the Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer

Rear view upside down with bottom panel tilted back

The Waldorf Quantum in all its inner glory.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

More Waldorf related pages
Updated periodically – Wavetable Synth Comparisons
Updated periodically – Sequential Prophet X or Waldorf Quantum?
Updated periodically – Wavetable Editing Tools
Updated periodically – Quantum/Iridium Presets
Updated periodically – Quantum/Iridium Wavetables & Utilities
Updated periodically – Waldorf Quantum
Updated periodically – Waldorf Iridium

More Waldorf Quantum related posts
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
April 20, 2020 – New Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer is a Beauty

Join revolutionOSC Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/revolutionOSC

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Sequential Pro 2 gets all new wood ends + front strip

A great support experience and better than new wood

One day I was being lazy, and I leaned my bicycle up against my synths and wouldn’t you know it, somehow I scratched the front strip of my beloved Sequential Pro 2 synthesizer. Yeah, I know it was a fairly insignificant scratch but it just bugged me, so I decided to order replacement parts from Sequential. I ordered the end pieces too, just to be sure the wood stain/finish all matched since I was already going full on OCD, ha! I’m glad I did too, because the replacements looked a lot better than the originals. Darker and a little more sheen to them. Anyhoo, it was a great support experience from Mark Kono at Sequential Support. $75 total including freight for the left+right end pieces and the front strip (including Pro 2 badge) and now, better than new.

The wood ends are a snap to replace, but the front strip is a tad more complicated – fortunately Mark gave me instructions, which follows these images of my parts replacement.

Note: This would be essentially the same procedure to replace the keybed.

Sequential instructions:

You’ll need to remove the keybed as there are screws holding the front wood strip from the bottom of the keyboard as well as from the inside (you’ll see them under the lip of the front once the keybed is removed).

Removing and/or replacing the keybed on the Pro 2 is a relatively simple process involving nothing more than a screwdriver. Here are instructions for replacing the keybed:

To start, unplug all power/audio/MIDI/USB cables.

  1. Unscrew the two screws in each of the wooden sides.
  2. Once the wooden sides are removed, 3 additional screws on the left and 2 additional screws on the right side will be revealed. Remove these as well.
  3. Next, lay down some padding like a towel or a pillow and flip the Pro 2 over. Remove the 2 black screws to the right of the left front rubber foot. They are smaller than the other black screws, they have no flanges, and will be slightly lower than the foot, not directly inline.
  4. Flip the Pro 2 back over and with it facing you place your hands on the sides, on top half of the metalwork, and lift up and away from you. The lid will hinge open and stay open resting on the attached lanyard. You will be looking at the main board in the tray above the keybed.
  5. Remove the 2-wire aftertouch connector from the main board, it is located in the lower left corner. Pull straight up on the connector, DO NOT pull the wires themselves.
  6. Remove the keybed’s ribbon connector, it is located in the lower right of the main board. There are locking tabs holding the ribbon cable in but they are easily opened by prying the tabs away from each other in a horizontal motion with your thumbs or fingers; the cable will just pop out. Only medium force is required.
    • When reinstalling the ribbon with the tabs open, just push the connector straight down and the tabs will close behind it. Push the tabs together to make sure the cable is firmly seated.
  7. With the two connectors detached, close the lid and flip the unit over, face down, and rest the keys on a soft surface.
  8. Remove the 10 screws holding the keybed in from the bottom of the Pro 2. The screws are aligned in 2 horizontal rows of 5 black screws each, located just above the lower rubber feet. The keybed is now detached. Hold the keybed in place and flip the unit back over. The keybed can now be removed.
  9. Reassemble the Pro 2 in the reverse order.

IMPORTANT: The keybed standoffs are plastic. To avoid over-tightening and stripping standoffs when installing the keybed, DO NOT use an electric or powered screwdriver.

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

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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 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 Waldorf related pages
Updated periodically – Wavetable Synth Comparisons
Updated periodically – Sequential Prophet X or Waldorf Quantum?
Updated periodically – Wavetable Editing Tools
Updated periodically – Quantum/Iridium Presets
Updated periodically – Quantum/Iridium Wavetables & Utilities
Updated periodically – Waldorf Quantum
Updated periodically – Waldorf Iridium

More Waldorf Quantum related posts
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
April 20, 2020 – New Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer is a Beauty

Join revolutionOSC Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/revolutionOSC

Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/CryptoMvskoke
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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 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 Waldorf related pages
Updated periodically – Wavetable Synth Comparisons
Updated periodically – Sequential Prophet X or Waldorf Quantum?
Updated periodically – Wavetable Editing Tools
Updated periodically – Quantum/Iridium Presets
Updated periodically – Quantum/Iridium Wavetables & Utilities
Updated periodically – Waldorf Quantum
Updated periodically – Waldorf Iridium

More Waldorf Quantum related posts
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
April 20, 2020 – New Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer is a Beauty

Join revolutionOSC Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/revolutionOSC

Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/CryptoMvskoke
Follow me on Instagram: instagram.com/YehudaRothschild

Sequential Pro 2 officially discontinued

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

Join revolutionOSC Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/revolutionOSC

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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

Join revolutionOSC Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/revolutionOSC

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