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Waldorf Blofeld vs Dave Smith Tetra Synthesizers

Modulate This reader Deman recently commented on a post from February entitle "Blofeld LFOs Gone Mad" - One Patch Performance Series. Deman wanted to know which I preferred, the Blofeld or the Tetra.

Well Deman,  while I’ve only played the Blofeld, I did consider the Tetra so I did some research on both before going with Blofeld. I’ve put together a table highlighting the major differences below.

Update 3/3/2013: Updated pricess since original Post

  Blofeld Tetra
Price $699 $499 $799 $849
Sound Generation Circuit-models of analog waveforms: Pulse with variable pulse-width, sawtooth, triangle, sine wave, wavetables that were introduced by the Waldorf Q and appeared shortly thereafter in the Micro Q series. 100% analog signal path. 2 - analog sawtooth, triangle, saw/triangle, square with variable pulse width.
Synthesis Types Subtractive/FM/Wavetable Subtractive
Multi-Mode 16 Splits/Layers with 2 outs Four-part multitimbral capability with four separate outputs.
Polyphony 25 4
Display 128x64 LCD 2 line LED
Non-Volatile Sample Playback Memory

64 Meg of Non-Volatile Ram wih SL Option
99.00 €

FX 2 Independent FX Processors None
USB Yes, Third-Party Editors Yes, Manufacturer supplied editor


Both synths have strong arpeggiator/step-sequencer capabilities. Here is a summary as described by the manufacturers:

Blofeld Arpeggiator (From the Blofeld Web Site)

Okay, Blofeld's arpeggiator could very well become the biggest chapter of this page but let's try to keep it short...

It features variable clock divisions from 1/64 triplets to more than 1000 bars, with variable swing/shuffle, a range of up to 10 octaves. Up, down and alternate figures, selectable play order from low to high note, low to high velocity, as played or reversed, variable note length, different velocity modes. And Hold or One-Shot, if you like.

But more importantly, it has the most powerful Pattern Editor we have ever seen.

You can set each Step to either play the note it would do so anyway, to pause, to play the previous note again, play the first or the last note, play those together, play a chord consisting of all held notes or a randomly selected note.

Then you can adjust the Accent of each step (including silence), activate or deactivate Glide for each step, set the timing to play a step ahead or behind its nominal time, and finely adjust the note length between short staccato and full legato.

No wonder this arpeggiator had great reviews when it first appeared in the Waldorf Q. It will take you straight to arpeggiator-heaven, as has already happened to thousands of Waldorf customers. Dig it!

Tetrai Arpeggiator (From the Tetra Manual P. 35)

Tetra features a 4 x 16 “analog-style” step sequencer that can generate four separate sequence tracks of up to 16 steps each. Each of the 4 voices has its own sequencer. Individual sequencer tracks can be routed to any standard modulation destination (see the table on page 35). Using VCA Envelope as a destination, for example, varies the volume of each step; a destination of Filter or Filter Envelope Amount will produce different filter settings per step. Typically, however, at least one sequence is routed to an oscillator to control pitch.

The sequencer is a “gated” sequencer. That is, a note must be played, either from the PUSH IT switch or via MIDI, in order for the sequence to be heard and it will continue to play as long as the note is held (gated).

Note: The PUSH IT switch’s Toggle parameter enables notes (and,
therefore, sequences) to be latched on for sustained playback.

The Clock Parameters determine the note value/tempo of the sequencer. The actual gate duration for each step is fixed at half the step time. Use the envelopes to generate notes of longer or shorter duration.

One very useful way to modulate a parameter in sync with a sequence is using LFOs with sync; LFO frequency runs from 0 to 150, after which you can select the sync settings. A setting of 16 Steps for LFO Frequency with a Triangle wave selected and routed to the filter will provide a clean filter sweep over a 16 step
sequence, perfectly in sync! This is much easier (and smoother) than programming a filter sweep using sequence steps.

In a nutshell, Tetra is a strong choice for those looking for a pure-analog solution in a very small desktop form factor. Blofeld is the choice for those looking for a more versatile solution in the sound design department with a more workstation-like set of features (16 splits/layers, built-in FX, option for non-volatle sample memory…). The large LCD display makes the and MIDI matrix make the Blofeld experience similar to using a soft synth on a computer.

I am in the latter category and was also looking for more bang-for-the-buck so I chose the Blofeld. I also felt the virtual analog was quite good. If I had extra budget for an analog desktop unit would I buy a Tetra? You betcha.


Blofled Tetra


Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

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