Last Updated on December 22, 2020 by IDS Team
Wavetable synthesis in a VERY convenient and affordable virtual instrument + X-MAS GIFT FOR YOU!
I guess we can’t really consider this a vacation, because it’s either that we are sad, struggling with the global situation in our inner circle or we are just so bored with 2020 that we can’t wait to get it over with. Still, it’s been a great year for musicians, as the companies behind our beloved instruments have helped us with good deals, new product and just more and more stuff for us as musicians to do.
Today I will be listening to some brilliant piece of music making nostalgia. Yes out with the SQUARE SAW SINE waves and in with the WEIRDOS. It’s time for some wavetable virtual goodness, so bring out your mulled wine and your slight holiday cheer and let’s get ready for the review of the PPG WAVE 3.V
And since it is that time of the year (no matter what year it is and how hard it was), I will give you 5 sounds that I designed on this plugin, in sample form, free of charge. There will only be one C note played, so you can load them in your favourite sampler and fit chromatically into your own tracks.
What is the PPG Wave?
This interesting piece of software is simulating one of the most sought-after poly synth of all time. If you know Waldorf, if you know or love german music instruments, you know the PPG Wave. A real legend. An inspirational piece of kit and let’s face it, a VERY good investment if you have the money, the space, and the storage conditions for the real thing. At it’s heart, it is like a regular analog subtractive synth. The original 80s beast even had analog filters (faithfully recreated in the VST). But the waves that generate the sound are not just created digitally with 0s and 1s (so extremely stable), but also much more interesting (in my opinion) than the classic geometric shapes that we are used to. So the sonic capabilities are extreme, even to this day. Just imagine how it sounded back in the day, when everybody was so used to those saw waves. The effects on it sound good, but the best part is that they are surprisingly customisable. I mean you can have a delay clock to 28/128. Don’t see this division very often on synths
What it’s not.
Sure, it is wavetable synthesis, but it’s a very very initial form of it. It is NOT competing with the likes of the Arturia Pigments in terms of modulation. No, there is no waveshaping. No, there is no Mod Matrix and of course there is only one LFO. This is not a tinker’s tool. People who want to play with the miracle of wavetable should buy a VIRUS C like I did and for me it is a dream come true. Sure, the Virus is limited to arround 60 waves, no wavefolding, but it is gear and not software (although it is digital) and it sounds much better than the Arturia VST can.
If you just want to go for the Wave’s authentic sound (and the “authentic” user interface), you are going to be extremely pleased with this VST. Plus you can load your own waves, which is always cool.
PPG Wave 3.v features
Feature list from the Waldorf website:
- Up to 256 voices per instance (depending on available CPU power)
- 8 part Multimode
- 8 Stereo Outputs
- Host automation of most parameters
- MIDI Controller automation of most parameters
- More than 100 new Wavetables created by Wolfgang Palm
- Original Waveterm B Factory Sample Library
- Original PPG Wave Factory Sounds
- 2 Wavetable Oscillators
- Sample Playback with 8 bit, 12 bit or up to 32 bit
- Authentic Aliasing Emulation of the PPG Wave 2.2/2.3/2.V or no aliasing
- 12dB / 24 dB Low Pass Filter
- Authentic Filter Emulation of the PPG Wave 2.2/2.3
- Overdrive behind Filter
- 1 LFO
- 3 Envelopes
- Authentic Emulation of the modulation graininess (switchable with True PPG)
Per Part (up to 8 parts available)
- Poly, Dual, Quad and Mono (8 voices) mode with 8 different semitone offsets to create chords or melodic lines
- Arpeggiator with Up, Down, Alternate and Cascade (PPG special) mode
- True PPG Mode switchable between PPG Wave 2.2, Wave 2.3 and Wave 2.V
- 4-Band EQ
- Overdrive with various types
- Phaser with up to 12 stages
- Chorus with up to 6 stages
- Stereo Delay
- Sample loading via drag&drop or load file dialog
- Multisample playback by using the 8 part Multimode
- 8 adjustable Cutoff / Resonance deviations to simulate analog inexactness
- Finer adjustments of several values in Fine Modulatione mode
How it feels
It feels extremely outdated, but nostalgic. The VST really captured the interface style, and we all know how important interfacing with our electronic music instruments is. It has these buttons to access parts of the interface labeled “Digi”, “Graph”, “Tune”, so retro, but after that you just click on the imitation screen on the parameter and use your mouse to change values pretty easily (to be honest I was expecting to click on left/right arrows all the time, so this is a relief). Browser is ok-ish, more cool than useful, but there is a simple windows explorer or mac finder option aswell.
To create big sounds you go to the right side of the “screen” where you can just assign multitimbral parts to the same midi channel, I found that to be the most interesting way to create complex stuff (mostly because like I said I own the Virus C which is a multi-timbral diamond). When you first play with it you feel overwhelmed, there is the illusion of infinite modulation, but for me at least it seems pretty limited by today’s VST standards (and pretty counter-intuitive).
How it sounds
It sounds great. Excellent for long pads, and hollow/weird sounds. Sub oscillator is really nice, but this is not going to be a fat synth. The filter does not self-resonate, nor is it smooth by any means. It gets very weird when resonance is up but i like that. There is a certain buzz about it that makes me understand just how complex the waves are, when compared to traditional analog subtractive. The filter shines well on mid frequencies, and with some modulation it will sound very profane, almost perverse.
I would not use the drive option on the filter, and for sure I would not expect a proper tube emulation, but the features are there if there is a place in your soundscape.
The envelopes are very snappy, they sometimes click pretty hard, but again, there can be space for this as well so tune it to taste. They are of course mostly suited for pads and slow cooked sound design. The Chorus effect is pretty decent, but as with most VSTs, you will not have a very realistic stereo image so don’t get your hopes that up. Still, sound design wise, it is impressive and interesting to play with, and the guys at the “factory” packed a lot of wavetables along, so you have a lot of source material to modulate, filter and arpeggiate. Some of these waves are actually design by the Wave’s daddy Wolfgang Palm.
As promised, here are five samples from the VST. They don’t do it justice because they are monophonic (only the C note), but I think they are both representative and also useful.