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  • Waldorf Streichfett String Synthesizer

    By Chris Loeffler |

    The Futurist Sounds of Yesterday Return as Today's Nostalgia

    By Chris Loeffler



    String synthesizers had their improbable start through Eminent, a 90 year old Dutch organ manufacturing company. The Eminent 310 Unique became commercially available in 1972 (the Freeman String Synthesizer was debuted in prototype form at Musikmesse that same year) and featured what was the first commercially available string synthesizer section. While financially unsuccessful, the 310 Unique birthed the Eminent Solina (rebranded by ARP as ARP String Machine in the US) and is the foundation upon which virtually every subsequent analog string synthesizer is built upon. The otherworldly, quivery moan of the string synth became a mainstay for sci-fi and fantasy movies of the era and represented the sound of the future… a machined version of an organic instrument. Waldorf, of synthesizer filter fame, has decided to bring that once futuristic, now nostalgic sound into the present with the Waldorf Streichfett String Synthesizer.

    Translated from German to mean something between “Fat Strings” and “Fat Prank”, the Waldorf Streichfett String Synthesizer is a love letter to the synthesizers of the 70’s and 80’s that produced the ethereal, gooey string and orchestral leads that swirled through movie soundscapes and the burgeoning prog rock scene at that time. The unit features a String section with controls for Octaves, Registration/Voice, Crescendo, Release, and Ensemble, a Solo section with controls for Tone, Tremolo, Attack, Decay/Release, and Split and an effects section with three modes and a depth control. The Streichfett has twelve storable presets, MIDI In/Out, Stereo In/Out, a Headphone Out, and is powered by USB.

    What You Need To Know

    The Waldorf Streichfett features a 128 voice, fully polyphonic String section that covers Viola, Violin, Cello, Brass, Organ, and Choir voicings. Rather than being limited to distinct presets, the control for the voicings glides between settings and creates dozens of in between sounds that are incredibly musical. Blending the bass and grind of the Cello voice with the Violin setting creates thicker, more complex harmonics, much as the area between Organ and Choir reveals uniquely fat and crisp pad swells. Users can tweak the effect to include the base note(s), an octave up, or both and can select between String or Chorus modes.

    Layering over/under the Strings voicing is a separate Solo section, where the “tone” of the voicing is adjusted. The Solo section features Bass, E. Piano, Clavinet, Solo, and Pluto. Whereas the Strings section is used to dial in the true voicing (setting, crescendo, and release), the Solo section controls the attack and decay characteristics of the “synth”. Bass is round and fat, while changing to Clavinet maintains the same String voicing but gives it a chirpy, percussive feel. At the far end of the spectrum, Pluto is smooth as silk with extended, even decay.  Much like the Stings settings, the Solo settings aren’t single settings but rather a continuous blend between two successive tones.

    The String voice and Solo tone in themselves are meaty and punchy throughout the range, but Waldorf opens up tonal possibilities even further with the inclusion of three modulation effects- Chorus, Phaser, and Animate. Only one effect can be used at a time, and all feature a Depth control to dial in the amount of the effect. While Chorus and Phaser modes experience an increase in modulation depth with the Depth knob, the Animate mode experiences an increased cut to the pseudo sample/hold pattern. There is also a Tremolo control that allows varying degrees of amplitude modulation of the synthesizer that synchs with the other effects. 

    Curiously, Waldorf marketing seems to be tying the Streichfett to “adult film” soundtracks. While I can’t speak to that specific and odd positioning (I thought those were all about bass and envelope filters?), the Streichfett covers classic Jean-Michael Jarre, Brain Salad Surgery era Keith Emerson, Tangerine Dream and Goblin-scored Argento film soundtracks.

    Tracking is flawless and glitch-free with even the most extended or diminished chord phrasings. The responsiveness of the Streichfett perfectly meets the feel of a well maintained analog string machine. If it weren’t for polyphonic functionality I would have thought it was a true analog device. It opens, breathes, and closes like an analog envelope and is entirely devoid of any detectable digital artifacts. 




    Musicians living in a purely TRS world may be disappointed that MIDI is the only way to feed the Streichfett.


    The Waldorf Streichfett is without a doubt one of the coolest pieces of gear a player looking for vintage synth sounds can hope to find for under $500. The small form-factor and the ability to seamlessly integrate with any rig makes it a no-brainer for players seeking retro-future tones to add to their ambient mix or synth leads. 


    Buy at B&H 




    Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 


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