Welcome to my Waldorf Blofeld review. Blofeld is a synthesizer that comes in either a full keyboard version or a small synthesizer module version, available in either black or white. It features 3 oscillators with a choice of 4 different waveforms (saw, square, pulse, and sine), 4 different types of filter (high pass, low pass, band pass and notch pass), distortion, effects, a selection of envelope options, LFOs, various modulations and modifiers, and two effects slots.
It also has an extremely flexible arpeggiator. As for the sounds, it is capable of producing, you can hear from the video below that it has a very distinctive synthesizer character to it.
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Product: Waldorf Blofeld
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon
Warranty: 1 year
Absolute Music Think it’s a Great Synth for Live Performance
Controller Matrix Makes Good Use of Limited Space
When you first look at the control surface of the Waldorf Blofeld, you might think it doesn’t have many parameter controls. However, what they have done here is used a matrix layout to make the most of the compact surface area.
So you have four control knobs, and above those is a matrix of parameters which you can use to quickly switch the function of each of the four knobs. Some people may even find that they can get away with just setting the four knobs on their 4 favorite parameters and just using those. Other users will want to experiment more and so will end up switching between the parameters on the matrix.
Personally, I think it would be much nicer to have more knobs and/or sliders for immediate access to the different parameters like you get on the wonderful Roland GAIA SH01. However, that would obviously take up a lot more space, even without the keyboard attached. So it really depends on what is most important to you, space or immediate hands-on control.
It Definitely Has a Distinctive Sound Character
Of course, one of the main things to consider when deciding whether to buy a synthesizer is the sounds it makes. The Waldorf Blofeld definitely has a very distinctive sound character. It’s very metallic and digital sounding, which could be great for some sounds. Some people will like it, and some people won’t. Opinion is also divided over the built-in effects. Some people love them, some people don’t.
I know what you’re probably thinking. The GAIA SH01 is more expensive than the Waldorf Blofeld. Well, the truth is, hardware synthesizers are always going to come at a relatively expensive price if you want high quality. Personally, I think a better option is to use software synthesizers with a MIDI controller to manipulate the sounds live.
My own personal choice is to use Propellerhead Reason along with the Akai MPK Mini MKII. The great thing about Reason is that it comes with several software synthesizers built into it. Then you can assign the control knobs on the MPK Mini to whatever synthesizer parameters in Reason that you want to control. Personally, I think this gives much more flexibility and access to far more sounds than with a hardware synthesizer.
But this is a review of the Waldorf Blofeld, so let’s get back to that…
One of the Most Versatile Arpeggiators I’ve Seen…
The built-in arpeggiator on the Blofeld is very versatile. You are not just restricted to 8ths or 16ths, you can go all the way up to 64-note triplets for as long as 1,000 bars. There are also several different pattern variations, such as up, down and alternate figures, and more. it even has a really powerful pattern editor.
If you sync this up to other equipment to get it playing at the same tempo, the arpeggiator could be a really useful addition to a live performance setup. By pressing keys and generating live sequences in time with the rest of your music, this brings performance back into live electronic music.
But Let’s Talk About Hardware and Connectivity…
It’s fair to say, the Waldorf Blofeld does have a nice sturdy build. In that respect, it would be tough enough to take to gigs if you want to use it for live performance. The metal knobs are reassuringly solid, so they don’t seem like they are going to break easily like some cheap plastic knobs might.
Some people may be disappointed that the Blofeld doesn’t have a MIDI out port. It does, however, have a USB port for connecting to your computer, so that might solve the problem. Well, it would do if the USB port didn’t emit an annoying hum sound. Yes, that’s right, the USB port on the Blofeld makes a rather irritating hum sound.
There is one situation where none of that matters, though. If you are using a MIDI keyboard to control is via the MIDI in port, then you won’t need the MIDI out or the USB port. For many people, this will be how they will use the Blofeld.
However, there is a more serious issue I need to tell you about. Several users have reported that it tends to crash. This means it would actually be unreliable for live performances. You really don’t want your synth to crash while you are performing.
At this point, I should point out that Propellerhead Reason almost never crashes.
Is the Waldorf Blofeld Suitable for You?
It is suitable for you if all of the following are true:
- You already have a MIDI keyboard you can use to control it (doesn’t apply if you decide to get the version that comes with a keyboard).
- You have limited space.
- You like the metallic style of sounds it creates.
However, it is not suitable for you if:
- You need something that won’t crash when doing live performances.
- You want all synth parameters accessible via individual knobs/sliders.
Thank you for reading my Waldorf Blofeld review. I hope you found it helpful. If you have any comments or questions, please post them in the comments area below.
All the best,