Waldorf’s flagship polyphonic hybrid synthesizer
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.
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.
Product support, downloads
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
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