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Waldorf Rocket Digital Monosynth Review

waldorf rocket review

TL;DR:

Waldorf Rocket Synth Review. The Rocket is a digital monosynth that offers brilliant flexibility and sound quality with tons of engaging patches all tied up with an analogue filter.


Review Preface:

Synthhead or electronic artist, having hardware will always provoke a faster musical production for your projects that plug-ins just can’t replicate. Decent usable hardware is rarely inexpensive, however here at The Pro Audio Web Blog we have the Waldorf Rocket, an affordable yet powerful hardware synthesizer that we are eager to get fired up and put into our review firing line! This German born and raised synth retails at £199.00.


Unboxing:

The Rocket lands on your doorstep with a very basic packaging layout, however it is functional, protective, and looks fun even before you take it out of the box. The Rocket it self is protected well and certainly will survive re- entry. Thats where the rocket jokes will end, I promise. Alongside the Waldorf Rocket unit, the box contains a USB cable and adapters to use the Rocket with a standard 9v input or take its charge from the computer ports.


Build Quality:

The Rocket is clad in a matt black plastic shell with a matt black metal faceplate, where the temping controls are placed. The pots are black plastic but feel solid and rotate smoothly with no wobble or determental effects to the users precise control. Overall these functions play a major factor when controlling parameters such as the speed of the arpeggiator. The selector switches for, waveform, LFO/ARP, Boost, Sustain,Release etc. and all are silver, metal cylinder style switches, that have an industrial feel which feeds back a satisfying sturdy click to the finger when engaged. I strongly believe that the quirkiest design feature is the with the launch button that, no matter your age, still feels somewhat pleasing to press... repeatedly! The design is finished off with a lime green and white text that labels the parameters and controls of the device.


Moving to the rear side plate, the Rocket sports MIDI in and out plus USB (for power and connectivity) as well as audio out, VCF in, and lastly a built in headphone out port. Having the headphone out built in is a great feature as you don’t have to use this device in your studio/creative setup for play back. It allows you to be on the road with your laptop and compose, which is a growing necessity for the new wave of electronic artists and performers, however the sound of the headphone output isn't as good as the direct balanced line out.


Sound Quality and User Interface:

I simply began just messing around with no real direction for sound or arrangement, and I was amazed on how quickly I had created unique sounding tones and rhythms that I would have thought impossible before using this device. I quickly hooked in a MIDI keyboard to trigger the Rocket and routing the signal out of the Rocket via the audio out to my interface. The controls here are easily understood with just a few seconds of view which allows quick and direct immersion into your creative work flow with little or no learning curve. However, having an understanding in synths and electronic music will be needed, as with most synths, to create the most complex sounds and to get the upmost from the Waldorf Rocket. It is however important to highlight that this is a monophonic, or monosynth, synthesiser.


The OSC and LFO both created rich tones that you can adjust beyond expectation and define your sound with a precision that you would expect from a product 2-3 times the price. The arpeggiator, with its easy to use pattern selector and full control over speed, also has a 3 type direction control that gives a broad range of patterns to accompany a wide scope of musical ideas. The VCF functions work brilliantly as well, the 3 stage band pass filters open up a whole host of sonic capabilities. Making use the VCF functions I was extremely pleased with a very close emulation of one of my favorite all time synth sounds, the Roland 303.


This is just one of the many sounds and textures I created on the Waldorf but this sound really did show of its many talents and features. Now in most compositions of Electronica we want that little bit more, that punch to push the crowd of the edge and Rocket, has an aptly named ‘Boost’ switch that does what the label describes by overdriving the signal and pushes the generated sound up into the stratosphere.


One of the features not available on the product, which is a slightly negative, is no save feature for settings... Not to worry though, there is an official iPad app that connects to your device via USB and Apples camera connection kit, or over WIFI. The iPad app allows you to save and recall presets, as well as alter them in real time, allowing you to have your module somewhere else in the studio or live set up and control it remotely. In the app Waldorf have kindly add an on screen keyboard, with mod and pitch wheels, which allows your set up to be as convenient, slim and portable as can be.


Review Conclusion:

As I have said previously, the striking and simplistic but informative UI coupled with brilliant sounds left me as a musician more that satisfied sonically and would use this product greatly in projects and there is most certainly a space for this module in my creative works. This sleek small black box packs a heavy punch that it throws well above its weight and lands it perfectly! The stylish design with intuitive controls and outstanding sound means this is a must have acquisition for any ‘Synth Head’ or electronic composer. All these ticked box’s and first class results means, here at The Pro Audio Web Blog, we give the Waldorf Rocket a well earned 5 stars!


Chris Pavey

Chris Pavey - 14th June 2013

US RRP: $349.99 | UK RRP: £169.00

Editors Rating:

Five Star Award
Waldorf Rocket
5/5 stars
Waldorf Rocket Synth Review. The Rocket is a digital monosynth that offers brilliant flexibility and sound quality with tons of engaging patches all tied up with an analogue filter.