Not only in its concept but also in its execution, the Waldorf Pulse came close to being the ultimate monophonic analogue, but it just fell short of it somehow. I owned the Pulse for a couple of years and used it extensively, but always struggled to come up with the patch just how I wanted it. It wasn't as much the unique editing matrix that bothered me, but the way how that the parameters seemed to influence the sound in an unpredictable way (compared to most other synths that I own, that is). I just couldn't seem to "click" with the synth and was forever unable to realise its supposedly great potential.
I could live with that particular issue quite happily if the patches themselves sounded great, but this wasn't the case either. For the record, the Pulse can go incredibly deep and it has an amazing punch, but it lacks warmth and what "phattness" means to me. Regardless of whether its three oscillators are VCO's or DCO's - it's a matter of opinion more than anything else, really - they sound surprisingly clinical. As a reviewer before me pointed out, their cycles are always exact and if not detuned just right (i.e. not a lot), the interaction between them can cyclically take out most of the bottom end, which is one of my major complaints. In the higher octaves, this isn't noticeable and Pulse excels at leads much more than at bass, in my opinion, also because of the flexible modulation matrix that will make a sound very expressive if played - and programmed (see above) - right.
All the knob-tweakers among you should take note that the Pulse's knobs perhaps weren't made to be overly abused. I don't know how gentle the previous owner of my machine was, but the red knob on the extreme left-hand side (the one controlling the cut-off of the VCF) felt decisively wiggly, while but the others as well refused to fully co-operate at times. It's also a shame that Waldorf didn't opt for endless rotaries - it would've made for more intuitive editing. Otherwise, the Pulse felt rugged and quality-built, though the lack of a power switch - the synth comes alive immediately after you plug in the external power supply - also rather annoyed me, as well as the fact that the only way to update the synth, Waldorf having been known to sell their synths with anything but complete and bug-free operating systems, is to change the ROM chip inside. With the company having gone bust recently, this is now even more of an issue than it used to be.
The Pulse is fortunately still a popular instrument and I got a good price for it in the sale. I must say that I don't miss it at all - for my money, other synths, both real analogues and VA's, do a better job in terms of versatility and warmth. Still, with all its shortcomings, it made a mark on many of my songs, which must mean something; e-mail me at email@example.com to hear the Pulse in action.