Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave Synthesizer Hands-on Review

In his latest Sonic Lab video, host Nick Batt takes an in-depth look at the new Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave, an advanced wavetable synth keyboard that takes the classic PPG Wave design to a new level.

Like the PPG Wave, 3rd Wave pairs wavetable oscillators with analog filters. It features 24-voice polyphony and 4-part multi-timbral performance capability, which means it’s like having four independent 6-voice synthesizers in one keyboard.

Each of its 3 oscillators per voice can be a classic PPG-era wavetable, a modern high-resolution wavetable or an analog wave shape. You can create up to 64 custom wavetables of your own with 3rd Wave’s Wave Maker tool, which features sample-to-wavetable capability. You can also connect an audio source to the built-in audio input and generate a wavetable at the touch of a button.

Other features include Linear FM, a 6-stage wave envelope per oscillator, 4 envelopes and 4 LFOs with delay, dual effects per part, a pattern/song based sequencer per part, and a 16-slot mod matrix.

Batt calls the 3rd Wave “a major achievement”, adding, “It sounds massive – from deep, deep analog style bass to glassy, ethereal atmospheres and a lot in between. “

Topics covered:

00:00 Intro
00:50 PerfectCircuit.com Ad
01:30 basic overview
03:53 Sounds 1
07:49 Oscillators
13:59 Filters
19:19 All the Envelopes
23:19 Mod Matrix
25:53 Wave Surfer
27:16 Sounds 2
28:05 Multi-timbral Mode
30:50 FX
34:53 Watch out for the compressor
35:53 Making your own Wavetables
38:50 Closing thoughts

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

8 thoughts on “Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave Synthesizer Hands-on Review

  1. The more I get into it, the more impressed I become. Frankly, I now find absolutely no reason to keep my Prophet 6. This does “analog” so much better!

    1. You think so? Is it possible that a real analog machine can’t do analog better than a digital synth? The “analog” doesn’t have a digital sheen? Or are you saying that this does “analog” good enough and does much more?

      1. What I’m saying is that it no longer matters what the nature of the sound generating circuitry used in a synth is. For the last 15, or so, years, the term “analog” has been used to the describe a sound that was made by synths with a VCO-VCF-VCA topology. While it should be obvious that a synth built with that topology is “analog”, I think something has been lost in the use of the word “analog” to describe the sounds that many recent VCO-VCF-VCA synths make. Being old enough to have owned two Minimoogs, two Synthis, three Oberheim SEMs, an EML-101 and two EML-200s, an Arp Odyssey, a 24-module Polyfusion rack, a Univox Stringman, and a Micromoog in the 70s, as well as an Oberheim Xpander in the 80s (all when they were new and off the shelf), I think I have a pretty good idea of what the term “analog” implies (as the term now used for a synthesizer’s sound connotes). Yes, my Prophet 6 is a true analog synth, but in reality, it doesn’t sound all that “analog” to me, especially in comparison to a vintage analog Prophet (of any variety), or as I suggest in the post, to the 3rd Wave. There is no doubt that the 3rd Wave does a hell of a lot more than a traditionally conceived analog polysynth, but what I am contending is that, as a polysynth, it does the “analog” sound better than anything else that has been produced in the last 15 years, or so, that is an actual analog synth.

  2. Its easy to imagine a fair number of people taking this up and using it as a centerpiece. It’ll take Zelensky-sized balls to play it wide-open like that. I hope people will show off its unique angles; it seems to have quite a few of them. Its like an old PPG jacked up on steroids. Wavezilla.

  3. This synth is utterly amazing, all the sound demos are stunning, love Nick’s presentation.

    Meanwhile, I’m making do with a 16-voice Waldorf M, that’s also really cool, though not quite in the same league.

  4. Per Sweetwater prices, this is $4 less than the Minimoog reissue (I’m waiting for someone to reply with an apples and oranges comparison). Give me the apples for $4 less. You get a lot more for $4 less.

    1. And, now after finally being able to play a new Mini reissue, I find that the 3rd Wave sounds a hell of a lot more “analog” (i.e., the new reissue doesn’t sound any better than the one from 2016, and neither of them sounds much like a vintage Minimoog). So, even at the Sweetwater (and now Perfect Circuit) price of $4 less than the Moog Miniclone, it is a much better value!

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