Waldorf Microwave XTK by Hollowman9
So, where do I begin? Do I rave about the massive functionality contained within and how an equivelent modular system
would cost nearly the GNP of Guyana? Do I gush about the sounds and the quality of the sound engine?
Should I praise the build and the sexy design of the cabinet?
No I will begin with the one thing this synth doesn't have.
A headphone output.
I can go to the store and buy some $79.99 home keyboard for learning piano and guess what? It has a headphone output.
In fact all of the cheaper budget instruments I currently own include this simple vital feature.
So what went wrong at Waldorf? Did they just simply forget it? Were they making some kind of statement? Did the engineers go over predicted budget by exactly one inexpensive little headphone socket? Seriously, for what this synth cost when it was new it should have had a headphone output. Perhaps they ditched it in order to add the aftertouch.
Actually I'll really begin here with some innocuous factory patch. Play it a bit. Now turn the red wavetable knob to change the wavetable being used. It's sorta like having several dozen variations of the same patch. Now reach over and tweak the filter type knob. How interesting the mundane factory patch is becoming now. With very little effort that yawn inducing patch has transformed
significantly and is now more inspiring. Now grab the filter frequency, filter envelope and resonance controls and start twising. By now that old patch should bear little resemblence to it's original self. Now look for the envelope knobs and the handy button for switching between each individual e.g. and go to town with that stuff.
Ok you're done. You made a factory patch into something truly excellent in no time at all.
But what if you started changing the effects? Or the various parameters for each oscillator such as sync and FM?
Oh hell just go dive into the modulation matrix already. See you again in 27 years when you finally think the patch is actually done for real.
And this is my favorite part of this instrument. You're never really done. Which roughly equates to you never really get bored.
It is a very deep hole. And the more you go down that hole the more rewarding the experience is.
The user interface is such that it doesn't get painful to dig deep. And there's a software editor for those that prefer the click drag to actual knobs and buttons.
Is this a desert island synth though?
Nope, no headphone output. Unless your desert island has monitors or a PA system on it.
Then there's the notorious aftertouch issue.
And I find that my unit tends to get frequent stuck notes when controlled via Midi. Not sure if it's only my unit or not though.
But if this was the only synth to be had on a destert island I'd likely be perfectly content.
But since I'm not on a desert island I can do things like marry it up in master/slave combinations with my other synths and run their signals into the XTK's external inputs. Ok now we're talking. So I can now take my actual desert island synth (Poly Evolver) and make it part of the Microwave's sound. Or vice versa! This totally rocks!
The Microwave XT(K) is flexible. inside and out.
It never gets boring.
It sounds absolutely amazing, or so horrible you want to douse it with holy water. Whichever you prefer.
Working with it isn't hard to do, although you might never be done.
It's a brilliantly engineered machine - well mostly anyways.
And it's ORANGE!
They are getting thin on the ground these days. The mark of a true future classic you might think. I happen to think so. I don't see myself ever selling this instrument.
Here's a demo of my own patches using only internal effects.