Friday, July 12, 2013

Villian on my desk. Waldorf Blofeld.

Recently I was introduced to electronic ambient, specifically, Carbon Based Lifeforms and have been so inspired by them.... and using that as an excuse, I got a hardware synth :D Honestly, I'm not exactly sure why I did this, though part of it was being excited at being excited at music, as well as wanting to understand what the hype was about hardware synths.

The Waldorf Blofeld is a hardware synth, but from what I understand, it's a DSP synth, which probably uses some kind of dsp chip, and not like the analog synths of old which use good old resistors and capacitors, et al.

I had looked up some hardware synths, but the Blofeld seems to fit well to me:
a) Price is just right, and I got an open box synth with an extra discount!
b) Poly, not mono synth
c) Size is perfect for my desktop.

I'd actually tried the Blofeld Keyboard for a good long time at Moog Audio, and really enjoyed it there. The keys on the keyboard version felt really good, way better than the Keyrig 49 I'm using but we're comparing apples to durians here.

Sound wise - please note that my ears are horrible - I really can't tell the difference between the Blofeld and the softsynths I've used. I'd like to say the Blofeld is warmer, more alive, all that jazz, but no, it sounds like a synth, definitely not like one of those old analog synths or even the u-he Diva softsynth. THAT I can hear the difference! Perhaps the Blofeld can, with custom patches but those I've demo'd so far, I don't think I can tell the diff between the Blofeld or say, Zebra 2 or the ES2!

Hooking up the synth was very straightforward on OSX. It has a power input, and I opted to use USB as I was given a USB cable, and the two unbalanced outputs go to my Focusrite 2i4's recording jacks. The 2i4's inputs needed to be switched over to inst mode for it to be picked up. Some forum members mention how soft the patches are, but I found that some patches are really loud, redlining the preamps, whilst some patches could do with some volume boosting, either on the synth's volume control, or the pres.

I decided to just leave the synth's volume at about 60 and got the pre-amps at a good level, so I had leeways to go louder or softer all on the synth and not touch the audio interface.

With Logic, there were several ways of getting live audio - using a software instrument track with the External Instrument instrument, or using a external midi track, and having a second audio track with software monitoring, OR bringing up the environment panel and adding another mixer channel.

Testing the multi-timbral mode of the blofeld on a short track went swimmingly well, though individual tracks may need to be bounced for mixing.

Fiddling around with the blofeld, I found the interface very well structured. Personally, I wish the endless rotary encoders could be replaced with discreet click-stops. I found that I sometimes would overshoot what I wanted to change. Of course, I would then complain about the clicks being too loud. What can I say.

The interface to the synth itself is pretty well thought out, and surprisingly easily to make adjustments with.

One nice touch I thought was that the power adapter is universal, and came with the different prongs to work globally.

Gotta figure out how it all works and make some music!

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