On April 11th, 2018, Musikmesse opened their doors and a and a virtually unknown synth manufacturer called Exodus Digital was the buzz on many attendees minds. The promise of a new synth power house, possibly the long-awaited replacement for the aging Access Virus line, was already teased and the masses were very interested in seeing the final design.
Offering a whopping 10 Oscillators per voice, each with 32x oversampled rate, and a guaranteed 120 voice performance, the Valkyrie (as it was known) promised to be the wall of sound that the digital synth world was waiting for. Beyond the hugely impressive specs, one very interesting fact was that nothing in the Valkyrie was running on the traditional DSP engines that have become the staple of digital synth manufacturers for years. In fact, according to the creator, Manuel Caballero, DSP wasn’t even an option for such massively packed synth. The Valkyrie needed something entirely new. And so we learned of a new technology known as Feild-Programmable Gate Array or FPGA, that according to Caballero, drastically leaps the capabilities of DSP allowing for 128 voices over 8 polytimbral Parts via four balanced stereo outputs at 32-bit/96kHz as well as streaming each Part over USB 2.0 at 24-bit/96kHz. Simply put; WOW!
Despite this seemingly huge milestone of synthesis, Exodus Digital was a fairly unknown, extremely small organization. One of Caballero’s goals at Musikmesse was to find a partner for distribution so that synth heads like myself could actually hope to get our hands on this monster one day. That search not only yielded distribution help but an actual straight-up partnership with synth legend Waldorf Music. The first known fruit of this partnership was a name change and the promise of an overhaul of the layout and build of the synth. We learned the new name very quickly; the Kyra. The new layout and design was just released and featured at NAMM 2019.
The last prototype of the Valkyrie by Exodus Digital
The new (and final iteration) now known as the Waldorf Kyra
Check out the specs below and also the video at the bottom:
- 128 voice polyphony (regardless of settings and effects), each with 10 oscillators per voice;
- eight-part multitimbrality (with each part having its own dedicated nine-module effects unit).
- state-of-the-art audio quality: think 32x oversampled hardware with dual wavetables providing over 4,000 waveshapes;
- true stereo operation, hard sync, FM (Frequency Modulation), and ring modulation;
- oversampled emulations of classic analogue ladder filters, with 2- and 4-pole configurations;
- two filters can be used in Dual Voice mode, making for even more creative options;
- three envelope generators;
- three stereo LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators) with 64 shapes and MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) clock sync;
- an arpeggiator;
- full keyboard microtuning;
- true polyphonic portamento; and
- a comprehensive 18-channel modulation matrix.
- each of its eight parts featuring a three-band EQ with sweepable mid
- dual tube limiters
- formant filter
- six-stage phaser
- stereo digital delay
- comb/flanger/chorus/doubler unit
- programmable reverb
- All effects units on all parts can be used simultaneously and run at Kyra’s native 96kHz sample rate.
- four assignable, balanced 32-bit/96kHz stereo outputs
- a headphone output
- low-latency DIN MIDI
- fully class-compliant USB2 implementation for MIDI
- stereo 24-bit/96kHz audio stream for each of its eight parts.
- USB (Universal Serial Bus) audio return feature, so Kyra can render final DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) audio under ASIO (Audio Stream Input/Output)