Waldorf Quantum Keyboard

Last modified on March 15th, 2022 at 7:32 pm

Waldorf’s flagship polyphonic hybrid synthesizer

$4799.99

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 2022. 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

In my opinion, until recently the Quantum was more of a studio synth than a gigging or performance synth. It’s not the biggest or heaviest synth but it’s a player in those categories, which may or may not mean anything to you, but most of all, OS 2.0, the newest ‘official’ OS release isn’t fully performance stable and never will be.

OS 2.0 is a huge improvement over OS 1.x, wonderful, a joy, rather amazing, but it is still capable of an occasional loud digital pop/bang. A very minor nuisance in a studio synth but unacceptable for a gigging or performance synth. The OS 3.0 Beta 12+ may have fully overcome that hurdle though.

Currently I am running OS 3.0 Beta 12, which is publicly available 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 12 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 1.x/2.x massively cheats you out of the very best Quantum has to offer. Have I said this clear enough? Ha!

One other thing about Beta OS for Quantum, on the status of 16 voice digital filter only mode like the Iridium, Rolf the lead project developer of Quantum/Iridium announced on Gearspace (3-5-2022):

I have a development firmware running for Quantum which allows for up to 16 voice polyphony when using digital filter only. There are also some hybrid modes mixing 8 analog with 8 digital filter voices in various fashions which I find interesting to play with.

I like to do further performance optimization done as I am not always getting full 16 voices yet but I like to provide this version as a special beta soon for test to collect your feedback.

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. This future is not guaranteed of course, but looking more likely than previously.

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

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 12 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

Apple systems pages
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra

Waldorf related posts
Jun 30, 2019 – Waldorf Quantum joins “Studio”
Jul 28, 2019 – First month thoughts about Waldorf Quantum
Oct 2, 2019 – Inside the Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer
Dec 15, 2019 – 6th month thoughts about the Waldorf Quantum
Apr 20, 2020 – New Waldorf Quantum Synthesizer is a Beauty

Waldorf related pages
Updated periodically – Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave or Waldorf Quantum/Iridium?
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 Keyboard
Updated periodically – Waldorf Iridium Desktop
Updated periodically – Waldorf Iridium Keyboard

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Manufacturer Specifications: click to open/close or jump to comments

Specifications

(subject to change without notice)

  • Digital-Analog Polyphonic Synthesizer
  • 61 Keys high-quality Fatar TP/8SK keyboard, channel aftertouch
  • 8 voices
  • 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