Lately, wavetable synths are all the rage. After Waldorf Music GmbH introduced the Quantum (and later its desktop sibling, the Iridium), a number of synths that incorporate wavetables have been released or announced. These synths can be very nice and some cost significantly less.
They are however, from a wavetable perspective, no match for a 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 in 2020. 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.
Waveform oscillator, a more traditional type
Particle sampler oscillator
Resonator sampler oscillator
Kernel oscillator, brand new in 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 $4k 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, the Quantum is more of a studio synth than a gigging or performance synth. It’s not the biggest and heaviest synth but it’s a player there, which may or may not mean anything to you, but most of all, even OS 2.0 isn’t fully at performance stable yet. OS 2.0 is a huge improvement, 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.
Currently I am running a beta version of OS 3.0 which is publicly available by asking Waldorf to add you to the beta.
This page is a living document, subject to update and expansion. Last edited – 5/1/2021 If you have any content you think should be added, or would like to help author gear pages/posts, please leave a comment here or on our Facebook group.
Manufacturer Specifications: click to open/close or jump to comments
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
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
Dimensions: 1006 x 401 x 131 mm
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.
7 Sort Orders
3 Velocity 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.
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
BT (Brian Transeau)
*) 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