Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave In-Depth Review

In his latest loopop video, host Ziv Eliraz takes an in-depth look at the Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave, a keyboard synthesizer that’s like a modern take on the classic PPG Wave.

The 3rd Wave is a 24-voice, 4-part multi-timbral wavetable synth, with 3 oscillators per voice, analog low-pass filters, a state-variable filter, 6-stage wave envelopes per oscillator, and an industry-first Wavemaker tool that allows users to create custom wavetables in a single step, through proprietary sample-to-wave technology.

Check out the video and share your thoughts on the 3rd Wave in the comments!

Topics covered:

0:00 Intro
2:10 Overview
3:45 Build & I/O
6:25 Param tabs
7:45 Oscillators
8:45 Waveflow
12:10 Wave surfer
12:45 V-Analog
13:45 Sync
14:00 FM
15:05 SV Filter
16:30 LP Filter
18:05 Res comp
19:20 Pan spread
19:40 Effects
23:20 Wave Env
25:00 LFOs
26:35 Envelopes
27:55 Mod matrix
30:45 Multi-parts
32:15 Arp
33:25 Sequencer
35:55 Wave Maker
37:35 Unison
38:15 Misc menus
38:55 Pros, cons
43:20 Outro, sounds

27 thoughts on “Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave In-Depth Review

    1. Not really. The Iridium is a totally different creature. Currently I have two Iridia in my studio (one desktop, one keyboard). My plan is to sell the Iridium desktop when I acquire the 3rd Wave. Although the Iridium can do many things with its modern wavetable oscillators (when the oscillators are in that mode), emulating a PPG Wave 2.3/2.3 isn’t really one of them. So, I’d say that it is more like an add-on or embellishment to an Iridium as opposed to an alternative. The multiple oscillator modes on the Iridium/Quantum synths make them much more than wavetable synths.

      1. So you know better than Waldorf, though that Waldorf state following comment on their webpage for the product information?
        “Iridium joins the family as a direct descendant of the PPG Wave”
        “Various filter models are available including those from Waldorf Nave, Largo and PPG 3V.”

        1. “Iridium joins the family as a direct descendant of the PPG Wave” is, basically marketing hype. The only thing that makes it a “direct descendant” of the PPG Wave is the relationship of Wolfgang Palm to Waldorf, his role in the development of the MicroWave, and his endorsement of the “authentic sound” of the Waldorf PPG 3v. “Various filter models are available including those from Waldorf Nave, Largo and PPG 3V.” is a true statement, but if you are suggesting that the PPG 3v filter on the Walforf PPG Wave 3v, sounds like the one on the PPG Wave 2.2/2.3 synths, you’re incorrect. As a matter of fact, the whole Waldorf PPG 3v virtual synth, doesn’t come close to anything that sounds like the Wave 2.2/2.3 and their analog filters (and the differences goes way further than the filters). The Waldorf Wave 3v uses the original PPG wavetables, but that is about as similar as the sound of the instruments get (but I guess it may float your boat if you listen to the direct output of the wavetable oscillators). I had a PPG 2.2 in my studio back in the day, and although I can get close to some of the tones I recorded from the PPG on the Iridium, it is only “pretty close”. I admit, I never tried duplicating a PPG 2.2 on a Quantum (with its analog filters) so I don’t know if that may be the “secret sauce”, so I may have gone out on a limb saying you couldn’t do it on a Quantum. But, I know you can’t do it, for sure, on an Iridium. The thing that struck me about the 3D Wave, was it uncanny ability to actually emulate a PPG Wave 2.2/2.3. That’s the reason I will be acquiring one. Otherwise, with two Iridia already in my studio, it would be unnecessary and a waste of resources if I could get PPG 2.2 sounds out of the Iridia.

      1. Never played with a Waldorf M, but it is modeled on the original Waldorf MicroWave. I’ve had both an original MicroWave and a MicroWave II in my studio in the 90s, and neither was a totally convincing substitute for a PPG 2.2 or 2.3. The original MicroWave was a hell of a lot closer than the all-digital Microwave II, though, by a long shot. So, if the M does, indeed, sound like the original MicroWave, it may really be an alternative (one that I never considered, BTW). But, it doesn’t have a keyboard, nor all of the “added features” of the Wave 3D. However, since my plan to purchase the Wave 3D was based on its capability of making those nostalgic sounds of my Wave 2.2, I just might look into the Waldorf M as a $1k cheaper instrument. Thanks for that insight.

    2. people seem to love to talk about the alternative between whoever or whatever, i will never understand this way of thinking with synths. if its not a clone or a copy no two synths are comparable, unless you use them in a really boring way (and i guess most people are boring considering how common this subject) if two instruments do things differently even if they both fm/wavetable whatever and they sound diffrent, how can one be better? ideally if you intrested in both get them both, feel lucky that you find inspiration in both, it’s not an audio interface or studio monitors. you can have more than one you know… will you compare an 808 to 909? 303 to 101? i guess some will but i find it boring and meaningless. what will you say about people who have two or three of the same synths?

      1. I think the “alternative to x” analogies are inevitable when you have a less common or niche synthesizer technology. My setup is mostly analog but maybe I want to add something different, be it FM, wavetable, granular, or whatever – as soon as you specify a technology like that you have a pretty short list of products.

        Worthy contenders in the polyphonic Wavetable arena are the 3rd Wave, a few different Waldorf products, Modwave, Hydrasynth, forthcoming Behringer ‘BBG’ … I’m not sure if Arturia *-freak offers some of this. Of course they are all different but they all have Wavetable in their souls, and many people are likely to add just one of them.

  1. Its a beautifully designed instrument, no doubt triggering GAS across the land. I especially like the custom wavetable aspect. That’s the kind of feature that turns a synth into a starship. Let’s not ask for a module version until the wings are dry on this one, though. It might need a firmware update to polish a few rough edges. The sound sure isn’t one of them, though. A definite power player.

  2. I played this beauty at Synthplex. I was wandering around by myself feeling like a socially awkward dork and the fella at the booth was so kind and invited me over to play. The sound was so gorgeous and lush. I want one so badly but the cost is just beyond what I can justify… so I’ll just lust from the sidelines. What a beautiful instrument, though.

  3. I got a Waldorf M instead, as I used to have an Xt, and I have to say I’m not disappointed.
    The 3rd Wave is clearly the deluxe option but not readily available in Europe/UK yet.
    But the M is also sonically distinct, and to my ears way more pleasing than the Iridium.

    Extra 8 voices winging their way to me shortly from Waldorf.

    1. “But the M is also sonically distinct, and to my ears way more pleasing than the Iridium.” Which is exactly as it should be if it is a faithful voice re-creation of the original Microwave. That’s why I’m now considering it. If I could only find some place that I could play with one.

  4. So we’re working our way up now from analog recreations to digital, what’s next Fairlight and Synclavier recreations? Lol ….. I guess if I wait long enough my old PCM synths like my D70, JD800, JV’s, and Yamaha TG’s will be desirable and worth something ehh ? Lol

    1. Not exactly. The PPG Wave 2.x synths had incredibly smooth and deep analog filters and analog voltage controlled analog amplifiers. Only the oscillators, that I think were the original wavetable oscillators, were digital. They sounded very unique, and until the 3D Wave had a sound that was unique to them. The original Microwave came very close, and it, too, had analog filters and amps but was slightly different sounding than the PPG Wave.

  5. I think if a korg volca sample would be Frankenstein-ed with a Polivoks keybed but be pissed over by angels and bigged up by paid influencers it would be a great solution to people with acute gas symptoms. If that wouldn’t work a Behringer clone of that would presumably…?
    Or a cheap ass VST of a PPG (whatever version) would do for a zillionth of that price. However it’s probably a great synth.

  6. As a 90s teen, wavetable synths were rather out of fashion when I got interested in music (at least in my kind of music), so I think I am lacking the nostalgia that some of the older folks here associate with the PPG. For my ears, it often just sounds “dated”. I do like some of the crunchier, industrial sounds it can make, but I think Waldorf M will be sufficient for that. Good to have choices!

    1. Yours is a perfectly reasonable statement, but I’d be curious as to what music you thought was produced by a PPG Wave in which it sounded “outdated” (I mean, any more so than the sound of a Minimoog)? Also, “crunchy” is not an adjective I’d use for the sound of a PPG Wave. Given the 8-bit quantization of the 2.2, in some situations (especially when using the “standard waveforms” WAVES 60-63 triangle-sawtooth) you can hear the higher frequency artifacts of the “stepping”, but because the oscillators did not run with fixed frequency (e.g., 44.1kHz or 48kHz) clocks, the stepping in the Wave 2.2’s oscillators was minimized (especially for WAVEs 0-59). However, there was no anti-aliasing before the filters, so those artifacts were also there as well. Stepping noise unproved, I would have guessed, with the 2.3’s 12 bit oscillators, but I never played with one. Anyway, even with those quirks, a much better adjective describing the PPGs would be either warm,smooth, or mellow. Of course, with the filter wide open which reveals the aliasing, they can sound pretty gritty.

  7. Yes, perhaps gritty is the better word to describe the timbre I am thinking of. Not a native speaker, so I don’t always get it right. As for feeling dated, it’s not the sound itself of course, but the music I connect it to. I mostly know wavetable synths from 80s synth music, which was quite out of fashion when I got into music in the early and mid 90s, so I connect wavetable sounds with “old music”. That’s why I don’t get nostalgic when I hear this, but a distorted 303 teleports me straight back to my teens. That doesn’t mean the PPG etc. sound bad to me, I just don’t feel the desire to own them as much as with the synths that used to play a bigger role in the making of “my” music. I think the timing of this makes sense too, as the people that grew up with PPG music are mostly in their 50s and 60s now and can much more likely afford a quality synth like this than younger folks.

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