Can You Hear The Difference Between The 3rd Wave Advanced Wavetable Synthesizer & A Classic PPG Wave 2.3?

Groove Synthesis shared this series of videos, comparing the sound of the 3rd Wave Advanced Wavetable Synthesizer and a classic PPG Wave 2.3.

The 3rd Wave is a 24-voice, 4-part multi-timbral wavetable synth. It’s inspired by the PPG Wave, but is designed to be a much more capable synthesizer.

“The 3rd Wave isn’t designed to be an exact replica of the PPG,” the developers note. “It’s our idea of where the original concept might have gone, had it continued to evolve. And while we feel that it captures the essence of the original and can sound quite close, it is its own synth with its own character.”

Here’s part 2 of the 3rd Wave vs PPG Wave 2.3 comparison:

Here’s part 3:

How do you think the 3rd Wave and the PPG Wave 2.3 compare? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Info on the 3rd Wave is available at the Groove Synthesis site.

45 thoughts on “Can You Hear The Difference Between The 3rd Wave Advanced Wavetable Synthesizer & A Classic PPG Wave 2.3?

        1. The Kurzweil K2700 was “unveiled” over 22 months before it actually shipped, and it was advertized “for sale” over 11 months before it shipped (i.e., mine was shipped by Sweetwater 11 months after they first accepted my order for one). A product is vaporware unless you can actually buy one, especially if it is from a company that has no track record and nobody ever heard of before the advertising hype.

          1. “A product is vaporware unless you can actually buy one”
            nope, a product is vaporware it if announced but not manufactured or said to be cancelled, it’s not even late.

            1. Well, if it is being manufactures they are doing a hell of a good job trying to hide it. I can’t find anybody advertising it (at least through Google searches), even as a forthcoming product. My personal guess is that Uli gets his done before this thing even becomes more widely known other than in relatively obscure forums populated by people who drool over this kind of thing. As far as I the US marketplace is concerned, this clone is as much vaporware as is the Behringer one.

              1. that may be, it just that vaporware is not the right word (and i remembered you are big on definitions 🙂 )
                anyway, some lucky early adapters or more important people than us have it and it seems you can preorder one directly if you are interested.

                1. OK, fair enough. However, I think that the main part of both my frustration and my assumption that this is vaporware is my inability to even find a URL for the company (no matter what I put in the search bar in Google, no hit for the company appears on the first three pages, at least). I did find some Italian company that is taking orders for them for something like 3800 euro, but that’s as close as I came. Maybe Synthopia should consider putting contact information in the articles for the manufacturers of equipment they write about or highlight.

                    1. OMG! I just went back to the Google search to take a screen shot to send to you. As I was adjusting my screen size so I could get the whole “results” section in, I saw it. Yes, you are, indeed, correct and I am, obviously, an idiot. It was right there at the top, above all of the YouTube demo hits. I could probably think of hundreds of reasons why I didn’t see it the last six times I looked for it, but my personal stupidity appears to be the main culprit! Thanks for pointing the obvious out to me.

  1. I like the very subtle tonal aspects you can control with wavetables – not the crazy noises you hear throughout most WT demos. making my own wavetables – not necessarily the waveforms themselves – is a necessity. imo a 2D wavetable with related vs unrelated harmonics are the best. linear wavetables are ok.

    this would be an almost instant yes – if the cost was much lower. my Prologue 16 will do for now.

    fwiw, once you load the PPG wavetables, there’s really not a lot left except DAC’s, and those are not interesting.

      1. The Waldorf Quantum, Iridium, M, Q, Q+, Wave and Microwaves I & II took the original PPG philosophy and extended it in hardware. Wolf Palm himself focused on software and produced PPG WaveGenerator, WaveMapper, Phonem, Plex and Infinite.

    1. Yes, they did actually.
      They have made many over the years in hardware and software, but the one that does PPG Wave with a modern twist, complete with genuine analogue vcfs and vcas is called simply “Waldorf M”, I’ve actually just bought one, it’s probably a little more basic than the 3rd Wave, but mine was “only” £1350, new, so a fair bit cheaper. The limitations are it’s just a module and has 8 voices, though expandable to 16.
      Build quality is excellent.

  2. Interesting how folks within the immediate vicinity of replies to this solid article are actually skirting the point. All or most of the original PPG wave are included within the architecture on the 3rd WAVE. The concept from Groove synthesis is to take it even further, much further. It’s an incredible sounding, powerful synth and ridiculously deep. Waldorf did not go this direction, at all. Playing and hearing the 3rd WAVE is quite the experience.

    1. Yeah, I’ve just been reading the specs on this. Jesus, this thing is s beast of a synth.
      It has 4, yes 4, stereo outs. 2 ¹/? inch jacks per part. You can layer up 4 parts (voices) and because of the 4 stereo outs can process them separately.
      That’s amazing.
      I didn’t think I needed, or wanted, anymore gear for a while but this has me very interested.

    1. true, they did that too, unfortunately many will care if it sound exactly like an old ppg so their adverting departments knows what they are doing

  3. No, I can’t hear a difference, which is what I hoped for. All they did was display the 3rd Wave’s ability to exactly copy a PPG. Its own unique character hasn’t been heard yet.

    Let’s hear a 4-part demo song with at least one slot being a user WAV. For the asking price, I want to hear what it can do by expanding on the original’s sound, not cloning it. Show it off.

    1. so is normalcy – if you can find it anywhere anymore. :0)

      I’ve found I’m not nostalgic for anything – although I do live a good call back like “Beans taste fine”. the past is a goner; live for now – there’s enough going on these days to justify that.

  4. I’m happy that I can now have a reliable gigable PPG wave “plus.” It’s not cheap, but it’s basically hand made. So it’s not for everyone, it may take a few months for manufacturing, but unless you intend buying one, delivery date is really meaningless. If you want one put a deposit down. I will because it’s what I need.

  5. It’s not cheap – BUT! It’s about the same price (give or take some) that I payed for my PPG Wave 2.2. back in the 80’s. Now – consider inflation over the years, and you will understand that it’s cheaper than the PPG – in addition to be more modern – and most likely more reliable.

    I used my “studying financing” to buy my PPG Wave 2.2 – (which meant I was better equipped than my uni – majoring in synth at that time).. 😀 – another detail: I ran it through a Roland Dimension-D. The fx made it sound a tad less digital.

  6. I don’t understand why people feel compelled to leave negative comments, making vaporware insinuations or negative implications that sounding the same as a fantastic vintage synth is a bad thing. What’s wrong with you people? This is a great synth. Unless you were at NAMM and played it, you have no idea what this is. The fact that they use the PPG as a starting point makes these videos necessary. It’s not the end. It’s merely the beginning.
    Regarding the price, it’s not that much if you’re a pro who makes a living off their talent and gear. My speakers alone cost three times as much. But if you’re a wanna-be, poser, jealous hack with anger issues, go ahead and comment away or spend more time developing your skill so you too can buy the tools that the pros use.

    1. this is a big part of what the internet is used for, especially comment sections,
      spit out your negativity and your life frustration 🙂 i learned it here.
      your last sentence sound with anger as well so try to ignore it or you could become whats you against.

    2. I was the person here who labeled the thing “Vaporware”, and I never insinuated it, I just asked if it was because, except for Synthopia, I couldn’t find any specifics about it. As a matter of fact, I really was never really negative about the synth, at all. After dealing with my obvious stupidity (explained elsewhere), I did go to the manufacturer page and took a good look. In fact, I am considering it for a replacement synth in space that currently is occupied by a K2661.

      Also, although I have fond memories of my time with Wave 2.2, I would never go as far as calling it “a fantastic vintage synth”. It was truly a groundbreaking synth (well I guess I mean the Wave 2, in general), and it could be argued that without it/them we may never have ventured into the concept of “wavetable synthesis”, but its filters couldn’t save it from sounding very “digital” (in the way that comparison would have been made in 1983). After all, it did have 8-bit oscillators (although I admit that the 2.3’s 12-bit oscillators improved on that, a bit) and was really noisy as hell. Not that I’m demeaning it for those reasons, but the proper analogy would be similar to somebody, today, referring to a Ford Model-T as a fantastic vintage automobile.

      That all being said, the reason I am looking seriously at the 3rd Wave is because it corrects (probably all) the faults I found with the original PPG hardware. Also, as somebody else here pointed out, the price isn’t that unreasonable considering it’s close to what the 2.2 cost in 1983. Even when comparing it to modern synthesizers, the Waldorf Iridium keyboard, for example, is priced in the same ballpark. I think that the Iridium makes for a good comparison when evaluating the “worth it” price of an instrument of this type, given the overlap in capability and the lineage of the two synths. I had, albeit for a relatively short period of time, a Wave 2.2 in 1983, and I now have two Iridia (one keyboard and one desktop), so my comments weren’t made in jealousy or anger of any kind. You are correct in your assumption that I don’t have $9k speakers. I have never invested in $1000 power cords, either (something I would view as an equally comparative investment to $9k speakers).

      1. Hey John,
        I’m sorry to get all agro on you with my call out of your vaporware comment. Your explanation above clears up your intentions, and I was just a bit sick of the negativity on here for a company that is just starting and has a fantastic product. I was out of line and was spreading more negativity. I will say, though, that the PPG is a fantastic vintage synth that I won’t back down on! If you ever get a chance to work on speakers in the 10k range, you will hear what you are missing. It’s a definite advantage and not as mystical as a 1k power cable. The honesty and clarity of the bass, for instance. The imaging and the ability to hold the mix at low and high levels are just a few examples of why they are necessary. You can quickly nail your mix accurately without having to check it in your car or on other monitors, which is a game changer. They sound better.

        1. I’ve been mixing using a pair of KRK V6s for about 20 years now. I know those speakers so well that I can mentally translate what I am hearing on them to almost any situation in which any normal person would ever listen to music. I think I paid, maybe, $800 new for the pair in 2004. I added a 12″ KRK sub about 10 years ago, but I never turn it on when I’m mixing because over 95% of anybody who ever listens to what I produce would ever have the ability to cleanly reproduce the sub-40Hz response the thing is capable of. Making the walls vibrate for my own amusement is what I use it for. Using $10k speakers to mix for car audio seems to me to be a bit of a waste. There’s nothing magical about anything speakers do. After you get above some threshold value (maybe about $1000/pair) there’s very little that can’t be corrected (i.e., altered to what you want it to be) using a high quality frequency analyzer and a rented set of great B&K mic capsules. If bass is the issue, that’s what sub-woofers are for. Just as in the case of $1000 power cords, a little imagination and a lot of cognitive dissonance can go a very long way in altering the assessment of one’s perceptions.

          1. I’m glad you are comfortable with your KRKs, and if you love them, I’m not telling you to change, but speakers are better now. They’ve evolved much like synths and computers. Once you get into the highest performance level 9k and above, you hear it. The clarity and control, and sound are just on another level. The bass is not just a frequency but has characteristics many cheaper speakers can’t replicate. You don’t even need a sub. The crossovers are just silky smooth, and the amps are fast. Your mix sounds effortless. I’m not alone here, brother; most working studios have a pair of their brand of choice. Mastering rooms easily spend 100k and up on their monitors because they need to stay ahead of all the new sounds, not to mention Atmos mixing and mastering that requires a speaker with flawless imaging working together with 7, 9, 11, 14 other speakers. Stay with your KRKs but know many intelligent people are making incredible breakthroughs in speaker technology.

  7. I did a deeper dive into their YouTube page and was much impressed. The VA material is solid on its own, but I heard some amazing tack-piano-like and guitar-ish patches that made the case for the instrument in an even bigger way. Its brilliant. I wonder how well it could play the role of your centerpiece, with 4 zones to direct. Line up your Boutiques and Volcas! 😛

    1. I agree, Dave. In fact, if the 3rd Wave had a keyboard with polyphonic aftertouch, I wouldn’t have any reason not to order one now. Having it to replace the Iridium keyboard would give me some sane rationalization for hanging on to the Iridium desktop. BTW, I just received word that my Volca FM2 shipped today 🙂

  8. It is an amazing sounding machine. The demo had me sold completely. I’m not a pro though, just a bedroom hobbyist which means I rely on VSTs for my sound sources. That’s OK though, I love working with software instruments because of the fact that your patches get saved with your project, probably their greatest feature. Quite a few of them have come to sound pretty damn good too. But man, if I were a pro who did work with physical instruments, the 3rd. Wave would definitely be on my shopping list.

  9. am I imagining things?
    PPG sounds a little more lofi with the envelope going through the wavetable (example2)
    (example 3) are these the same levels? sounds a little thicker than the PPG

  10. I bought one of these, I’m in the UK, from Groove Synthesis direct.
    It Sounds incredible, it’s exactly where PPG would’ve gone next if they hadn’t gone bust. 3 oscillators, each with it’s own wavetable, multipoint EGs, modulation up the wazoo, but in effects, 4 part multi-timbral and much much more.
    The ability to make your own wavetable just by loading a WAV file onto it via USB (it appears like a USB drive) is just awesome.
    There is nothing else that even comes close to the sound of this.

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