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Waldorf Q RACK


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Waldorf Q RACK

Category:  Products / synthesisers / sample synthesisers

Added: 20-Jun-00  |  Author: admin

New price: ?  |   S/H price: Not listed

Waldorf Q RACK

Here's a hands on Waldorf 'Q' review from our resident globetrotter Pongoid ... Hot back from some part time croc' wrestling in the wilds of the aaald aatback, ee's got his paws on a spanking new 'Q' synth rack... - (well Pongoid, you said you hoped i did something with it!)

Okay, kiddies. I know you've been waitng for this one, so I'll try to do this as best I can. I'm no pro at reviews, so please bare with me if I jump around a bit. Shipping: the box came in fine condition,with a cable and the manual, but the manual is still for the keyboard version, and I was a bit disappointed to find that it's for the original operating system (1.09), while my unit shipped with os 2.04; big difference, and I figured the least they could do was print a hard copy of an appendix on new features and tips on using them. They didn't, but offer it all on the web, for those of us so inclined. Otherwise, the unit came in fine condition. Don't know what happened to folks who complain of shaky packaging. Bad luck I guess.

Powering up: You just plug the unit in and it's on. Anywhere, no voltage convertor required. This is cool because it means a lot less hassle for folks who travel a lot, like me. However, it makes me a bit nervous that the thing powers up like that, as some of you, like me may often run into power problems like fluctuating voltages, and occasional to frequent cuts, and frequent cuts and surges are not the best for your unit. I know you're saying 'power conditioner' but this isn't always an option, and a manual startup just gives one a bit more security. It does remember where you were, and what you were working on when you shut the unit down, so this is convenient, although any unsaved edits are lost.

The OS: It works quite nicely, and is typically arranged in a German style. For those of you not familiar with German synths and engineering, it's very well organized, very practical, and extremely logical. If you want to find something, for example some modulation, it may be lay in more than one place, but no mysteries. If you logically deduce what is happening, you'll very quickly find exactly what you are looking for. The architecture of this piece is very modular and flexible, with an oscillator bank, an lfo bank, a filter routing section (which you will find is so very cool), a filter bank, amp section, arpeggiator, envelope bank, and 2 f/x banks. Then there is the Master window, where more magic takes place.

OSC: each voice has 3 very flexible osc's. These things are amazing. In talking to one of the designers, I found that these things are designed with a bit of randomness in the algorithms that generate the wave forms, thus simulating the inconsistencies and imperfections of true analog oscillators, giving them a nice, slightly warm and greasy sound, however still very teutonic and precision.

All three oscillators are capable of generating the basic wave forms (sine, tri, saw, pwm w/+-pw). Osc's 1&2 are are also capable of generating altenate waveform, arranged in the form of WAVETABLES. That's right, this thing does some MW style synthesis too, although not with nearly as many wavetables. Osc's 1&2 each have wavetables of 127 wave forms each, and osc 1's tables are different from Osc 2's.

Controlls are pretty standard for detuning and mixing into the filter, with the addition on being able to adjust the balance of which filter you want each oscillator routed to. Did I mention that the Osc's are cross-modulteable? Did someone say FM? Yes, this thing does FM too, and quite nicely. FM'd wavetable voices can sound pretty amazing. I could go on for days about each section, but I must cut this short, so let say that with this section we're off to a very good start for creating some amazing sounds. Next is the ring modulator, noise, and external input mixing, simple, effective; that's about all to say on that one.

LFO's: 3 Lfo's per voice, also cross modulatable, and capable of generating high enough fequencies to do FM as well. Standard shapes, MIDI synchable, resetable, delay optional, fade ins, fade outs, all kinds of good stuff here.

Filter Routing: This is only one knob, but it determines whether filter 1 runs into filter 2, serially, or if they run to the amp and f/x in paralell, or in any blend of the two. This is modulatable. Nice!!!

Filters: 2 multimode filters, standard types as well as Comb filters. Gotta spit this out: comb filters are wierd but cool. They work like a chorus or a flanger, but one where you can control the oscillation. These things sound crazy when you get them self-oscillating; wierd, etherial, spaced out sounds. I've cooked up a FEW alien lullabyes with the help of these. Otherwise the filters work like most hi/lo/bp/notch filters work.

Amp: Simple: it works. You turn it up, and the soud gets louder, and the opposite also works.

f/x: flanger, chorus, overdrive, phaser, delay, and multi f/x. It sounds okay, clean, and simple, not too complex, but okay, probably the weakest part of this unit, and still decent.

Envelopes: 4 of them. Very flexible, looping if you want, multi stage. Good stuff.

Master Window:

Okay folks this the the kicker. You have 16 virtual patch cables and almost everything is patcheable. Osc's to the filter? Sure, no problem. Env3 to the filter routing? Yep. Env 4 to to lfo 3's rate to the filter panning, as well as the amount of ring mod to filter 1, as well as f/x 2's mix, sure. Yikes.

Almosst forgot the Arpeggiator and Sequencer.

The Arp is slck, tight, very flexible, user editable, synchable, powerful.

The Sequencer is a step sequncer and controlls all kinds of params, as well as the note info. Haven't really gotten into this thing too much yet, so more on this one later. Very powerful, and use ful.

The only thing I'm really not to happy about with this thing is the pots. They are optical, and still a teensy buit buggy. I'm sure this will be fixed with later OS's, but for now, they can jump a bit or not enough sometimes. Even with it's imperfections, I'm completely sold on this unit. I hope that you all can check one of these things out some time. BTW, the sound is thick, full, and tight. On a loud system, this thing can punch, growl, bang, sing, moan, and just get plain wierd, all with extreme clarity, yet still fairly warm. Not going to review the presets. There's plenty of them, and they sound nice, but they are just ideas, scratching the surface of this beast.

So, hope this tells you a little about this thing.


Here's the ol' features list:

  • 16 part multi timbral
  • 300 single programs
  • 100 multi programs
  • 100 step sequencer patterns
  • card slot for additional storage
  • 27 endless dials
  • 45 buttons for editing
  • 2 x 20 character display
  • 6 analog outputs (3 stereo outs)
  • 2 analog inputs (1 stereo in)
  • 1 S/PDIF output (44.1kHz / 48kHz switchable)
  • MIDI In/Out/Thru
  • 2 Switch Inputs (e.g. Sustain Pedal, Gate In etc.)
  • 2 CV Inputs (e.g. Foot Pedal, external controller etc.)
  • built-in universal voltage power supply
  • Dimensions: Width 483mm, Height 89mm, Depth 220mm
  • color Yellow

Per voice:

  • 16 voices, expandable to 32 voices
  • 3 Oscillators per voice
    • Pulse with Pulse Width Modulation
    • Sawtooth
    • Triangle
    • Sine
    • new oscillator algorithms
    • waves
  • Noise generator
  • Ring Modulator
  • Mixer with Balance, each signal source (oscillator, noise, ringmod, external audio material) can be balanced individually between filter 1 and filter 2
  • 2 Filters, different types, all including FM and distortion
    • Low Pass (12dB/24dB)
    • Band Pass (12dB/24dB)
    • High Pass (12dB/24dB)
    • Notch (12dB/24dB)
    • Comb Filter (positive/negative feedback)
    • etc.
  • Modulation Matrix with 16 slots, freely routable
  • Pre-routed Modulation destinations, sources selectable
  • modulation update frequency in audio range to allow the oscillators to be used as modulation sources
  • 4 Modifiers
  • Arpeggiator with user pattern, including accents, timing information, swing, glide, chords and more
  • Step Sequencer with 32 steps, polyphonic, different controller values per step
  • 3 LFOs up to audio range (> 1000 Hz)
  • 4 envelopes, enhanced ADSR configuration with loop and one shot function, bipolar
  • different trigger modes for each envelope, poly, mono, dual, unisono, manual trigger etc.
  • 2 individual high-quality effects per sound, the first 4 sounds keep their effects in multi mode
  • Effect Types:
    • Chorus
    • Flanger
    • Phaser
    • Distortion
    • Delay
    • etc.
  • and lots lots more...

Product Videos

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indietronic,electronica,romantic wave,chillout...

Product Manuals or Files

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Product Resources

User Comments

Product:  Waldorf - Q RACK
Name: deepsmile
Email: Email supplied but hidden
Activity: Professional
Date: 21-Jun-00

Great review pongoid. I bought the unit as well (and I'm the one who had the shaky packaging that cuased a dent in the upper right hand corner - the only upside to this happening is that y'all can be sure that this thing is built rock solid as well. My unit works fine even though it was obviously dropped hard enough to bend the metal. Don't try this at home, however...)
There is also a great review of the unit at Keyboard magazine and SOS. Keyboard (US) gave it a key buy award and SOS gave it a great reveiw as well.
I was going to buy the Novation product, but went for waldorf instead. The Q Rack is fat sounding and very clean, but the best way to know if it is right for you is go test it out at your neighborhood store for a bit.

Thanks for the review pongoid!


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Product:  Waldorf - Q RACK
Name: Jason
Email: Email supplied but hidden
Date: 23-Jun-00

kilo please fix your review thing here. It wont let me scroll all the way down. I have 2 PC's and both show the same problem.


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Product:  Waldorf - Q RACK
Name: errata
Email: Email supplied but hidden
Date: 26-Jun-00

Mine arrived 2 weeks ago broken. Rattling like a bastard and no power when I plugged it in! I've heard this before with these guys (pongoid even mentions it!). But I'll be fair and say it could have been UPS... It shipped from Zsounds, not direct but the packaging was original (packed in a larger box).

So I'm STILL waiting for my sweetheart!

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Product:  Waldorf - Q RACK
Name: k
Email: Email supplied but hidden
Activity: Professional
Date: 14-Mar-01

test add comment to waldorf q rack

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Product:  Waldorf - Q RACK
Name: Brandon
Email: Email supplied but hidden
Activity: Professional
Date: 25-May-01

DON'T order from zzounds! Someone below stated that there Q Rack rattled.... well... I ordered an E4XT Ultra from zZounds and I had to send it back to Emu :( b/c zzounds was not very carefull with it... same with the asrx pro I ordered from them!

OH, the Q Rack is badd-ass!

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Product:  Waldorf - Q RACK
Name: Stian Lothe
Email: Email supplied but hidden
Activity: Professional
Date: 22-Jul-01

I have no comments!

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Product:  Waldorf - Q RACK
Name: LUK
Email: Email supplied but hidden
Activity: Hobby-ist
Date: 25-Jul-06

Zakupiłem ten syntezator dopiero teraz, miałem już dosyć wtyczego VST. Brzmienia są naprawde dobre. Posiadam Fantoma XA ale szczerze mówiąc to nie to samo, co możliwość wykręcanie dzwięków bezpośrednia a nie za pomocą menu --- menu -----menu.

It is really good equipment. with huge posibilites

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Last added comment

Product:  Waldorf - Q RACK
Name: Pan
Email: Email supplied but hidden
Activity: part-timer
Date: 13-Aug-06

The Waldorf Q Rack is a superb synth, with tremendous scope for editing your sounds. The lay-out is logical and well-structured and you'll be creating new sounds before long. Knobs are plentiful and assignable, feeling robust and firm like the rest of the unit. It has far more editable options than its contemporaries, with a very luxurious and powerful filter section. Its effects are nothing special, but do a decent enough job of adding a certain flair to a sound. As before, the effects can be programmed in-depth.

The sound of this thing is hard to describe - it's very wide and varied, capable of very diverse scapes. It can surely sound fat and thick, but also glassy and liquid. Waldorf has included some wavetables in the unit, like their wavetable synths the XT and Wave series. These only add to the undefinable, though certainly recognizable character of this synth which, needless to say, can be put to use in the most varying of situations. From Trance style leads to industrial basslines, from DX7 like electric piano's to the most bizarre FX sequences... it's all there. Highly recommended if you're not afraid to try out something 'different'.

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