Advanced Keyboard Synths - Compared

Some basic facts :

  • Waldorf Iridium Keys
    $3800 USD, €2729
    49 Keys
    Bi-timbral, 16 voice

  • Hydrasynth Deluxe
    $1800 USD
    73 Keys
    Bi-timbral, 16 voice

  • Haken Continuum
    Full size: $5290
    7.79 Octaves
    Unspecified Timbrality, 16 voice ( depends on patch )
    Half size: $3390
    3.84 octaves
    Unspecified Timbrality, 16 voice ( depends on patch )

  • Expressive E Osmose
    $1800 USD
    49 Keys
    Monotimbral, 12 voice ( mostly )

  • Aodyo Anyma Omega Keyboard
    €1,650 suggested final price
    49 Keys
    Four part Multitimbral, 16 voice

ADDED : Iridium European Price.

ADDED : These prices are list prices, and you can always find sales if you are patient, so shop around. The prices here are just for a rough comparison.

I don’t own any of these, but if I could justify it, I’d get the half-sized Continuum. I already have a HS and Iridium Desktop, so I would just want the controller for fluidity of playing. Also, I have Korg Kronos, which I absolutely love, as my main controller. I do wish it had PolyAT, but wouldn’t replace it just because it doesn’t (I never get tired of KARMA for one thing). I am not a fan of Poly AT since I play for meditation, and don’t like having to press the keys hard to get there. I am glad, though, that things are moving back in that direction, since synths that are capable of Poly AT (e.g. HS, Iridium) are then nicely set up for using that parameter as another dimension of modulation. So, I use a Linnstrument to control AT, but instead use per note pressure, which can be set to different levels of sensitivity depending on what I am playing with it. I hope this doesn’t sound too cheesy, but I turn the lights down or off, put my fingers on the Linnstrument, and then oh so very lightly press and swirl various fingers to multiple notes simultaneously to create evolving, buzzing, churning, drones (especially with HS). Today, I will be receiving a Lyra 8 to do the same kind of meditative playing, but with portability (it will be my new “couch instrument.”

I really wanted a RISE, but bought a Seaboard Block to test it out, and it failed on me pretty quickly, and the company never responded to my support emails, even though I was still in warranty. If and when the Osmose becomes a reality, I might take a closer look.

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One thing to factor in standardization:

Left hand controls (Joystick/Wheels/Morphee/Touche)
Ribbon controller
Polyphonic Aftertouch
Note off velocity

These seem to be gradually getting more standard as more people get exposed to them.

Once they essentially become standard then you don’t have to worry about controls you learned on one not translating to another.

The danger with the Continuum/Linnstrument/Osmose/Seaboard is they tend to have controls that are different from anything else and in many cases patented so others can’t use it.

This does happen in the EWI world as well as there are plenty of people that don’t want to switch from their Yamaha WX controllers as they provide the controls they like and have become accustomed to. The problem is that’s currently a defunct product line that Yamaha doesn’t seem to care about so you end up having to do more and more work to keep everything working over the years.

It could very well become the same sort of thing with these bespoke controllers and Roli already went for bankruptcy once.

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The Anyma Omega.

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had never heard of that one yet, thanks


Check out the Omega’s thread, if you’re interested.

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External Editor - Availability and/or Requiredness

Haken Continuum/Expressive E Osmose seem to require an external editor to access functionality. Osmose looks like it will have performance controls available on the screen but it is unclear how deep it can edit. And it’s probably not going to be able to reduce down the giant matrix in the editor to fit.

Aodyo Anyma Omega/Waldorf Iridium/Hydrasynth all have hands on interfaces that should allow for editing without requiring a computer.

From my understanding the Anyma Omega will also have a computer based editor available as well (the Anyma Phi had this).

There are certain things like patch management that’s just going to be a fair bit easier on a computer but a required workflow with an external editor definitely makes it less of an immersive hands on workflow.

Signal Chain

I’m not familiar with the Waldorf Iridium but from my understanding both it and the Hydrasynth still follow the traditional oscillators -> filters -> effects sort of path.

Anyma Omega has a bit less traditional more modular design so you can plug and play whatever you want after the oscillators (within constraints).

Haken Continuum/Expressive E Osmose have a fairly nonstandard matrix configuration which goes even more modular than the Anyma Omega. Probably has some things it can do that others can’t but the increased routing likely comes with increased complexity.

Physical Modelling

I don’t think I’ve really seen anything physical modelling with the Hydrasynth.

I believe the Waldorf Iridium has some mechanism for physical modelling but I’m not sure.

Anyma Omega has a bunch of physical modelling mechanisms and resonators that can be combined as modules. I believe they are largely based on stuff from Mutable Instruments.

Haken Continuum/Expressive E Osmose has physical modelling mechanisms. I think at a glance it appears they may go a bit deeper than the Anyma Omega.

The biggest point in the Eaganmatrix’s favour is it has over a decade of preset design so there’s a fairly well rounded set of deep presets vs the limited amount currently available for the Anyma (hopefully that changes for the Omega).

Either way the Anyma/Eaganmatrix engines seem to have a fair bit of overlap in this area.


You’re getting into some difficult detail with this, thank you adamc.

As to physical modeling synthesis on the Iridium Keys i’ll quote from an article in Sound On Sound :

The Resonator oscillator offers a flexible physical modelling algorithm using a noise source (or a sample) processed through resonant filter banks. Through tight control of exciters and harmonics, plucked strings, wind instruments, bells, chimes, percussion and many sounds you’ve never heard before can be achieved. There are plenty of on‑screen graphics to help you visualise what is happening. Although the physical modelling doesn’t always nail any specific instrument’s sound, it offers a unique sonic palette with which to layer and experiment.


Interesting, depending on the level of control this could be deeper into the nitty gritty of most physical models as fine tuning the harmonics in an easy fashion would make it easier to replicate the timbre of certain instruments.

As an aside, anything with key tracking comb filters and noise can also get into physical modelling territory.

For instance this is on the Waldorf Blofeld which isn’t really known to have physical modelling capabilities (at 18:40): Waldorf Blofeld - Analog Voltage Soundset - YouTube

Here’s a video how to do this in Vital: How to do physical modeling in almost any synth - YouTube

There’s a bunch of noise sources in the Anyma engine and comb filters were part of the second stretch goal in the Anyma Omega kickstarter. That could potentially allow this trick to do doing physical modelling stuff without needing the resonator modules.

The Hydrasynth doesn’t have comb filters, at least not in the traditional filter slots. There is this trick: The Hidden Hydrasynth Comb Filter - YouTube

But I think because of how the mutators work it’s hard to get it into physical modelling territory but maybe someone will figure it out.

Waldorf Iridium Keys is only $2,458 USD from Juno if anyone is looking at one, fit whatever reason Korg puts Waldorf gear at crazy prices in the US.

$2399 USD from Thomann.

Usually comes down to wherever the GBP/EUR is at the moment for which is cheaper (Juno or Thomann) for Waldorf stuff.

There’s usually also duties to consider (and sometimes power supplies).

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… and returns — there was a E’naut, that had to ship a unit back across the Atlantic, IIRC.

The HS is funny, despite not having the formal structure that has been used to do physical modeling, it still does mysterious things, that sound like it’s doing physical modeling, it’s just less predictable, than let’s say using a string or wind module on the Omega.

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Definitely something else to factor in, given some of the quality challenges with the Iridium.

I think the Iridium Keys is mostly fine now, with the growing pains having been dealt with.

The Osmose and the Omega are now both unproven quality-wise, though both companies have good reputations.

The M I got from a user here looks totally flawless, build is great! I’d be confident about the Iridium at this point.


Oof, yeah, I’m never buying Roli again after my experience with Lumi Keys. Months of excruciatingly slow back-and-forth via email, and when I finally got the replacement, it had a different problem. It’s a shame the keyboard is so lightweight that I couldn’t at least use it as an expensive doorstop.

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I guess that’s part of the fun with being an early adopter of new technology.

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Yup it looks like all the talk about expressive controls from last night was vaporized.

Also too recent to hit a google cache by the looks of it.

I will make my best effort to compare these five synths, relative the dimensions of expressions in their keybeds. ( I look for any clarification and updates, to this information. )

For a place of beginning with this, i will describe the dimensions with the ROLI Rise 2. ( Again, the ROLI Rise 2 is only a controller, so is not under consideration here when comparing advanced keyboard synths. )

ROLI Rise 2 — Five Virtuosic Dimensions

  • Strike — Velocity On
  • Press — Polyphonic-Aftertouch, occasionally called the Z dimension movement
  • Lift — Velocity Off
  • Glide — X dimension movement, completely free like on a ribbon
  • Slide — Y dimension movement,

Note : There are and have been other systems of dimensions on other keyboards, as for instance the Moog Eaton Multiple-Touch-Sensitive ( MTS ) Keyboard.( post )


All five have Strike. Are there keyboards that still don’t have variable Velocity ON values. Yeah i guess so.

All five have Press. Poly-aftertouch. That’s the point, if a keyboard only has Channel-Aftertouch it’s nots part of this list. And there are still plenty of synths that don’t even have Channel-Aftertouch, like a bunch of very nice synths from Korg — the OPSIX, Modwave, and Wavestate.

Lift ( or Velocity OFF ) — I’ve been trying to confirm this. Certainly the Osmose, Hydrasynth Deluxe, Continuum have it. I’ve been told by Aodyo that the Omega will definitely have it. As best as i have been able to determine from the manual, the Iridium Keys does not. I have a recent post in the Iridium Keys thread asking anyone to contradict this, and so far no response. So i think four of the five has Lift.
By the way, Velocity Off is a very useful feature, in particular allowing variation in the sound of a note’s release.

Glide. This is a little more tricky. Of course the Continuum has this. It has total freedom of X-Dimension movement. ( Crossing your fingers. ) I include large between note glides and bends, with smaller amounts of movement that can be called “vibrato”, with micro-tuning from finger precise finger placement. The Osmose senses X position and movement of the keys, which allows for vibratos, and small bends. But it also includes something new, new enough to be patented, which Expressive E calls “pressure weighted portamento”. This allows you to use two keys, and sensing the relative amount of aftertouch pressure between those two keys allowing you to quite accurately flow your pitch between those two notes. Resembling this the Hydrasynth Deluxe, and the Omega both have a ribbon controller, with the ability to match the ribbon position to the keyboard note pitch. The ribbon on the Deluxe is one dimensional so is somewhat limited in this role. The Omega though has a ribbon that can sense two dimensions, as well as the ability to sense three simultaneous multi-touches. I am expecting Aodyo to innovate ways to do some more complex forms of Glide, and Vibrato
Note : While you can use a pitch-bend wheel for this, there is not a good way to connect the pitch bend to a single particular note in a polyphonic combination.
I am not aware of any ways to do Glide or Vibrato per note from the keyboard of the Iridium Keys.

This leaves Slide — the Y-Dimension, moving your finger front to back on a key. This is pretty much limited to the Continuum. I am not aware of any other of the keyboard synths being considered here with this capability per note.

I think another thing to be considered relative to these added dimensions, are additional forms of control that are part of these synths. The Omega is remarkable in this regard, which is a topic for another post.

ADDED : To be clearer about the Osmose. Each key can sense “Polyphonic Initial Pressure”, “Polyphonic Aftertouch”, and “Polyphonic Pitch Control”. ( Reference ) To complicate things the first two parameters are not simultaneously controllable, independently on a single key.