I’ve been going on about the Waldorf Blofeld a bit. As you know, I’m pertty much 100% laptop based with piles of VSTs and many have been asking me why I’ve added a hardware synth and why I picked the Blofeld.
To put it simply, there are times when I just don’t want to mess with a computer and I’m looking for instant-on. However, if I was going to go with a hardware synth, I wanted something that would compliment my Ableton Live rig. In a nutshell, a synth that:
- I could throw in a backpack
- Had contemporary sound with built-in fx
- Had a strong interface that would allow quick tweaking with visual feedback without using a computer
- Supported Mutli-Mode so I could pair with Tenori-On
- Had a USB and MIDI In so I could use it with either a computer or a generic MIDI controller
- Had an option for loading and playing back sample-data
- Was affordable
While there are a number of instruments in the sub $1,000 range, I found the Blofled to have the richest and widest variety of features at a great price point that met my requirements. After using it for a few months I’m still very happy with my decision.
What are my favorite features? Checkout my top-10 list below.
10 Build Quality/Form Factor - A metal enclosure with 7 endless metal knobs. It’s built like a tank. It’s also heavier than you might think so the weight of the cables won’t pull it off your stand or controller. It’s plenty small enough to fit in a backpack.
9 Quick Editing – The physical parameter matrix with default mappings set to common parameters is fantastic.
8 16 Channel Multi-Mode
Like the Tenori-On 16 layer sequencing model find yourself wishing for an a more aggressive pallet? Blofeld 16 channel Multi-Mode is a great answer. You can setup splits and layers making this perfect for gigging.
6 Computer-Like Display Without a Computer
The display is fantastic. It’s like using a soft synth. You see immediate feedback of envelopes, waveshapes etc… when you manipulate parameters.
5 Robust Synth Engine
Subtractive, wavetable, FM, adequate sample playback, built-in FX, arpeggiator… there is plenty under the hood for producing a wide variety of sounds and for those who like to program. Ships with more than 1,000 sounds for those who want to play and not program.
4 Ability to Load Your Own Samples and Use them as Oscillator Sources
The keyboard edition, or the desktop edition with the License SL option support 60M of non-volatile sample RAM which can be managed via a software app called – wait for it – Spectre :^)
3 A Killer Modulate Matrix
A 16 slots matrix! Includes the ability to assign custom MIDI CC’s to 4 controls W-Z (see my previous post for more on this).
2 Huge Sonic Palette
I personally love it. It can be warm, harsh, metalic, and you can radically change the character of a sound via the user interface or through MIDI control. I posted this previously, but if you missed it, check out this sample
Blofeld LFOs Gone Mad - One Patch Performance Series.
1 The Name
And my number 1 favorite – why the name of course. I love Waldorf’s tongue-in-cheek naming and Bond branding. Check out the official product page to see what I’m talking about.
By the way, I’m not affiliated with Waldorf – just a fan :^). I also want to thank Jeff at Sweetwater who answered many questions and did some research for me before I bough the Blofleld – and no, I’m not affiliated with Sweetwater either.
Electronic Musician, Boulder, CO