Synth Site: Quasimidi: Polymorph: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.6 out of 5
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RhythmRancher a part-time user from California writes:
The QM Polymorph is an unusual and original sounding beast of a machine. You will find endless synth fun here. with 4 seperate sequencers, you can do some mind-boggling programming and the sound is like nothing else. I got mine direct from Germany years ago, and i will never sell it. This machine is built to endure time and the OS while confusing is a dream to use since it really is intuitive. you have to play this thing to understand how cool it is.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Jul-23-2008 at 20:16
Soundwave a hobbyist user from UK writes:
Well I’ve had this unique beast for around two years now and it still brings surprises with its raw power and sequencing capabilities.

The down side of the machine is only 8 knobs can be tweaked at once although this isn’t as bad as it seems and you soon get used to it. Still beats punching button on your usual groovebox style step sequencer by miles.

VCO 1 tries to be like a VA but is still a sampled waveform at the end of the day so the PWM doesn’t quite sound right although the vast range of other waves means you’ll tend to find something suited to your needs. The sync function is amazingly raw to the point of overkill but it the Polymorphs main strength in the VCO department. The waveforms on VCO 2&3 although useful some start to sound a little ‘mickey mouse’ above C3 that’s not to say the excellent Mellotron and digital waves sound naff its just their range isn’t quite like what you’d get from say a K2000. Oh yeah there is also a hidden pitch AD style envelope in the menus mainly used for the sync mode but when you use it on normal waves with a sharp decay you get some very powerful percussion sounds, think ER1 but with tons more waveforms. You can also have the step sequencer flick through different waves for each step for a kinda pseudo wave sequencing effect.

You can replace VCO3 with one of the external ins which makes this machine in to the best gate FX ever. Chop those synth pads for instant rhythmic evolving textures. If you assign two parts the same sequence/patch then its possible to make this into a stereo FX but the editing is a little fiddley when having to save one patch and recall to the other. This all goes through all the FX like a normal patch would.

The filters build upon the same ones found in the 309 and Sirius which happen to be the best raw analogue style filters this side of the digital curtain. The filter overdrive behaves as it would on a real analogue but with more of a harsh (but a good harsh) digital edge. 12/24db LP coupled with a 12db HP which can work together with the LPF to give varying BPF widths when altering the HP cutoff. Both filters have their own dedicated envelope which gives scope for sharp percussive to strange evolving textures at low tempos. It also has its own dedicated LFO which can be synced to MIDI from 1/32 to 4 bars. All in all very raw and very powerful which is why you got a Quasimidi’ in the first place.

Next are the EQ and distortion FX. The EQ is a simple but useful two band shelving EQ like the one found on other Quasimidi gear but the distortion needs taming somewhat to make it useful. At really low drive settings with a little lp cuttoff and resonance (this is the distortions OWN lp cutoff and res not the main LPF’s) you get a really nice lo-fi like analogue sound which will cut through a mix just as well as any vintage monster. Perfect for techno but when the drive is cranked up and you’ve got some wild modulating percussive sound going through you’re in instant experimental IDM territory; an unexpected virtue of this machine considering its initially aimed at the European Berlin School (TD/Schulze) crowd.

The send FX are basic by today’s standards but each of the four parts has its own dedicated mono and stereo FX unit. These range from some edgy flangers and thick chorus’ but it wouldn’t be worth its ‘Berlin School’ salt if it wasn’t for the tempo delay FX which gives you instant 70’s TD or Klaus Schulze (who also help design it). Sadly you can’t get triplet divisions but setting the sequencer to ¾ time gets you there.

The other two LFO’s are hardwired to the VCO and VCA and all behave in pretty much the same way. The usual square up/down, sine, random ect which can be timed to MIDI clock upto 4 bars. All good for rhythmic evolving sounds and I don’t have to tell you what that sounds like with a tempo delay.

Next is the 4 row analogue style step sequencer of which each of the four synth parts has its own. The first is hardwired to pitch but the other three are assignable to almost any of the other synth parameters, simply hold down which sequence row you want to edit and whiz the jog wheel to flick through the parameters. The clock division you select is global for all four rows but the direction (forward/back/random) and length are easily definable for each row from the surface panel. You can mute and edit eight steps at once and hold eight presets of transpositions and part muting (unfortunately not step muting) which quickly selectable from the main eight mute buttons when in sequencer select mode. In fact all main sequencer modes have their own dedicated button on the left side so editing’s a breeze once you get your orientation. Contrary to the previous review you can sorta chain sequences together amongst the four parts. You can have a sequence trigger from any step from another sequencer part. E.g you have a slow ¼ sequence for the first synth part the have a second sequence from another part only trigger when the first part reaches say its fourth step. The second sequence part will only trigger again when the first part cycles round to its fourth step again. You can assign any of the four sequences to trigger once from any of each others steps. Sounds kinda confusing and I bet my description hasn’t helped but its better than the description in the manual. This feature is very unique to the Polymorph being a four part analogue sequencer style synth (unlike a single part AN1x or MS2000) and its possibilities are just as unique as well as quite immediate. No other analogue step sequencer does anything quite like this as far as I’m aware. (well maybe the Spectralais but at a much higher ££££). You can also shift the entire sequence by one step whilst its running in case there’s a hidden groove in your sequences that just need needed subtle re arranging. You also get a proper swing function, good for basslines. Unfortunately the sequencer will only trigger basic MIDI gate/notes in the outside world and you have to turn off the internal sound to do so. The modulation sequencers don’t transmit any usable external MIDI data but they do act as an internal modulation rather than an absolute MIDI CC value which is probably best for tweaking and behaving like a real analogue style sequencer (Korg did the same for the MS2000). The sequencer also NEVER gets out of sync when slaved along side other MIDI gear even when your messing around with the timings it just locks itself back in without you even noticing. You can also stop and start whilst other stuff is running.

All the front panel knobs transmit MIDI CC# so if you have a softsynth with freely assignable controllers then the Polymorph becomes even more useful. I had fun controlling four Aurturia Moog ModularV’s having all the same parameters assigned to the same parameters as on the Polymorphs front panel and having the Poly’s sequencer driving the notes on the MMV’s all in sync with their own internal mod sequencers. Step sequencer heaven! Many of the hidden menu parameters are also assigned to MIDI CC, good for tweaking FX using an external controller.

Your entire setup for all four parts and their respective sequencers can all be saved as a bulk setup in one of the 60 setup memories which is tons better than the 309 where you had to save each patch/pattern individually and hpe you hand’t forgotten something or overwritten something you shouldn’t have. If you’ve done a lot of tweaking on your sounds/sequencers then just one global save will preserve everything for next time without any fear of it reverting to its previous unedited patch or sequence. On top of this you have another 128 user patch memory locations and 50 user sequencer slots on top of the x4 60 patch/sequencer memories. You can of course flick through any of these within your setup whilst everything is runing to mix ‘n match what might sound good. The preset sequences and patches are excellent if a little too recognisable in some places.

Ok you aren’t going to get the sonic pallet of an Access Virus or the extensiveness of a P3 sequencer but for the unique raw sound (much more aggressive than many Far Eastern VA’s I might add) and loadsa hands on sound/sequencer parameters that demand to be used live (which also double as a decent MIDI controller) then its really worth hunting one down. I really like the way you can edit everything on the fly whilst the sequencers are running which really adds to the fun. Not a synth that will give you everything but what it will give it does very well in the only way it can. A keeper for sure and getting they’re getting sparse as people are starting to delve deeper into its initially unobvious possibilities.

I’d give it four stars if it cost £700 (as they were new) but 2nd hand they are a steal and there is still nothing around today quite like it in one box.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Sunday-Jul-30-2006 at 15:35
Buddha System a hobbyist user writes:
Kudos to snappar for the in-depth tech review below.

Some shortcomings aside, this is a unique synth with an enormous sonic potential. Even pads are great, and the metallic bass patches really shine when sequenced.

My only beef is that the sequnecer does not allow to chain sequences, i.e. you can't program a complete song on it. It only allows to trasnpose. So if you are into something remotely sophisticated in composition... you either have to program a few patches with different sequences and switch via MIDI, or you have to sample -- which is probably the best.

Highly recommended piece of kit.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Feb-03-2005 at 17:07
snappar a hobbyist user from US writes:
I like it, but it's got enough shortcomings to keep me from loving it. Keep in mind that I don't have a manual, so these problems may have solutions that I've overlooked.

Here's what pisses me off.

1. Stepping parameter modulation. Ugh. I hate this. Most knobs send and receive a MIDI signal, but they zip badly. The up side is that they smooth out nicely when being controlled by LFO--usually. See #2.

2. Sampled osc sync and PWM waves. When you press the sync button and modulate the pitch of osc 1, you're actually cycling through sampled sync waveforms of a saw wave. Even if you started with a sine wave, it's suddenly a synced saw wave when you press the sync button. That leaves you with only one sync sound, which is a shame, as I would love to be able to sync and mess with all the cool oscilator waveforms in this thing.

Same deal with the PWM. Half of the waveforms available in osc 1 are snapshots of the various stages in a PWM sweep. When you set the LFO to control the PWM, all it does is cycle through these waveforms. Osc sync and PWM parameters therefore are extremely unversatile and they unconditionally step between values.

3. Bad portamento. The portamento is "steppy" too. It's not so noticable if you have it set slow, but as you increase its speed, it really tumbles between notes. When it's set even higher, it compensates for its lack of smoothness by actually crossfading between notes!

4. Stupid retriggering notes. If you play the same pitch twice with a patch that has a long amp attack and release, it kills the tail of the first note as soon as the second note is triggered--usually. Some of the waveforms available in osc 2 and 3 don't do this, which is bizarre. This means that if you have osc 2 set to one of these allowing waveforms, and osc 3 set to a bad one, osc 2 will trail off nicely when the same note is struck again, while osc 3's tail gets run over. This requires smart note placement if you plan on using the polymorph for pads.

5. Hanging-over notes. Even with the amp release set to 0, the note duration is always slightly longer than the programmed note. This is especially noticable when you're running the poly's sequencer and one of the lines is controlling, say, cutoff. If you have step one programmed to play a note with a low cutoff, and step two is silent but the cutoff is high, you'll hear a quick spike of the cutoff at the very end of step one. I decided at first that this was a really cool effect, but it lost its appeal after all my sequencer parts started to sound that way. Yes, you can adjust the cutoff of silent steps to correspond with the previous step's cutoff, but what a pain.

6. No sequencer step-hold. There's no way to sustain a step longer than one step unless you want to take the time to assign one of the controller lines to the amp release... is there?

7. Weak modulation options. There's no mod matrix here, and you have the option of assigning velocity to volume and volume.

8. Aliasing of high notes. And aliasing of not-so-high notes. A whole slew of overtones get introduced to the signal if you play anything above like a C4.

9. Rhythmic delay will not do 3/16 timing. What's up with that?

With all that aside, I'll say it again that I like the Polymorph. The waveforms in osc 2 and 3 are truly cool, and the sequencer lets you twist the sound all over the place. The filter is one of the most unique I've heard and the effects and EQ can really make it scream. The things that make it unique are what it does best, but everything else seems to have been an afterthought.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Saturday-Mar-08-2003 at 00:18
Richard a part-time user from Oklahoma, USA writes:
This little box rocks. The interface is beautifuly ergrenomic and the sound...like butter.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Feb-05-2003 at 23:07
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