Waldorf Microwave XT by Allesmachine
The Microwave XT was on the forefront of the "return to knobs" in the late nineties. Maybe synthesists were tired of carpal tunnel? I remember seeing it at Guitar Center among the plethora of 1U EMU and Alesis rompler racks and it was just a standout visually. Then I convinced them to let me hook it up and I was sold. Shimmering evolving pads and sparkling plucked strings and rich bells. Problem was, I didn't have $1200 or whatever they were charging for it at the time because I was 15.
Several years later I was able to buy one used on eBay, a 30 voice no less, for around $850. It's really defined my aesthetic for better or worse ever since. It sounds like what I imagine God to sound like. It stands out in in a mix instantly even when mixed with my other synthesizers which have similar synthesis engines (Ensoniq VFX SD for example).
Although for many, the appeal of this synth lies in the real time control, I find it's greatest asset comes from the combination of that with the modulation matrix.
I am a bit romantic about the Microwave XT, probably a little too much. So I must admit, you can get this sound for cheaper even today. The Blofeld is basically a combination of the microQ and microwave and it's much cheaper. Obviously you don't get all the knobs, but you get a better screen and better filters. Also, I will say that despite all the knobs, you really do need to crack open the manual to get the most out of this device. Wavetable synthesis is not the same as subtractive and if you treat it that way, you will be missing out on the best part of the sound. Use those wave envelopes, modulate them with the mod matrix.
Finally, I love that Waldorf implemented Polyphonic Aftertouch as a modulator! My Ensoniq keyboards actually have this feature and it is soooo expressive when used to modulate the Startwave position or WE times/levels.