Is The Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave ‘The Synth Of The Decade’?

In this video, film & media composer Jim Daneker shares his thought on the Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave synthesizer – an advanced wavetable synth keyboard that takes the classic PPG Wave design to a new level.

Daneker says that he initially dismissed the 3rd Wave as a PPG clone. But after seeing a few compelling demo videos, he decided to try the the new synth out. And, after digging into it and creating his own sounds, the 3rd Wave blew him away.

Now he calls the 3rd Wave ‘the synth of the decade’. Is it all that? Check out the video and then share your thoughts in the comments!

Topics covered:

00:00:00 – Intro
00:01:07 – Tragically misunderstanding the 3rd Wave
00:04:28 – Features overview
00:06:35 – First surprise: stunningly good ANALOG!
00:07:25 – Analog Filter
00:08:31 – Resonance Compensation
00:09:26 – Compared to analog legends
00:10:20 – Oberheim-style SEM filter
00:11:05 – Arp example
00:11:56 – Stranger Things-style vintage digital
00:13:23 – Stranger Sequence
00:14:32 – PPG style soundscape with effects control
00:16:42 – Beautiful textural ambient soundscape
00:17:52 – Circuit Drift
00:18:33 – “Aeon Split” – massive Moog vibes
00:20:22 – “Instant Score” – another Moog bass/soundscape
00:21:32 – “Grit Arp” – the mod matrix
00:22:36 – Another arp example
00:24:47 – “Super 80s” analog poly synth
00:25:53 – “Bandpass Heaven” – SEM filter example
00:28:25 – Needs a “home’ button
00:28:58 – More filter examples
00:30:15 – “Crisp Chords” – bandpass filter
00:30:39 – Circuit Drift on analog layers
00:32:15 – Access Virus-style arp
00:33:11 – “Heaven Pad” soundscape
00:35:07 – “Victory 2” big analog arp
00:35:54 – “Mau5Plucks”
00:36:55 – “Skyline 84” – PPG meets Roland D-50
00:38:51 – “Heavy Machine” – brace yourself!
00:41:15 – Someone’s going to get hurt…
00:42:55 – Pan spread
00:43:11 – another SEM filter example
00:43:36 – “Operator Bass” – a look at the effects
00:46:40 – “Pop Stabs” – EDM/pop style patch
00:47:55 – Gorgeous stereo arp example
00:49:37 – Interacting with epic PPG-style layers
00:51:04 – Another Circuit Drift example
00:52:11 – If Prince had a 3rd Wave
00:52:34 – bridging the analog-digital divide
00:53:46 – “Fat Fifths” Oberheim-style pad
00:54:39 – “Purple Power” – aftertouch
00:55:39 – Another arp exploration
00:56:25 – STUNNING mono/lead example
00:57:45 – Massive stereo analog brass
00:58:21 – More PPG-style soundscapes
00:59:39 – Ambient arp & wavetable scanning
01:01:38 – One more arp & filter improv
01:04:00 – This is just the beginning…

30 thoughts on “Is The Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave ‘The Synth Of The Decade’?

  1. I’ve had mine for a few months now. This thing really is the best of two very different worlds. The PPG emulation is incredible, and can sound IDENTICAL to a PPG Wave 2.2. However, like in the video, it is the analog-like sounds that it can produce that blow away anything else polyphonic analog I currently have in my studio, including the Prophet 6. This is so much so that I haven’t even turned on my Prophet since this thing arrived. The Pro-800 I ordered several months back from Sweetwater finally showed up last week. It is impressive and (for what I would use it for) sounds as good, if not better than the Prophet. However, even this being true, if it wasn’t so inexpensive, I’d send it back. There is just no need for a polyphonic analog synth if you have a 3rd Wave. $5k may seem like a lot to spend on a synth, but in the era of $5k MiniMoogs (soon coming from a slave labor factory in China) this thing is a real steal. Seriously, with a 3rd Wave and a Model D you would come pretty close to having all of the useful analog synth functions you might ever need. Add a Quantum Mk 2, an Iridium, a Vector, and any Kurzweil K-Synth, I’m pretty sure you would have just about any possible base covered.

    1. How did you get a Behringer Pro-800 from Sweetwater when their website says they don’t have them yet and they are “coming soon” and it has been saying this since they put the Pro-800 on their website?

    2. Someone needs to call you out.

      1. Moog will never make reproductions of their classic hand-made instruments at Chinese factories. Modern Minimoogs cost a lot because they’re made using old-fashioned and extremely expensive manual techniques. They’re collector’s items.

      2. Are you accusing InMusic of using slave labour in China??! Please provide verifiable sources. We’ll wait.

      1. Comments like that is not what the reality of the global industry is. The device you’re writing your comment with has parts from same manufacturers as you mention. That said, I wish for more locally manufactured instruments, just like Moog up to recently when swallowed by bigger commercial interests.

  2. As I see your list you should certainly look at the Melbourne Nina motorised analog 12 voice
    Morphing desktop synth as that will also blow you away

    1. Looked into it because at first I thought it was a prank. Still seems pretty silly to me, and I have heard no sound from it that I couldn’t get out of a K2000, much less something like an Iridium.

        1. Why should one cut an analogue device slack? If it can be very closely approximated, by digital then it’s fair game to call them in. The digitals of today are really good. It’s analogues that should step up their game to prove they still have value in this day and age. And if they can’t, well… That sucks for them. Motorized knobs is nog going to leave a legacy. It sets them apart from a lot of gear on the current market, but that’s about it.

  3. Jim is great, and unlike a lot of synth YouTubers (other than Matt Johnson of Jamiroquai), Jim is a working, performing professional in the industry and on big stages. He works in the studio on albums and on stage with major artists. It’s nice to get insight from seasoned pros like him and Matt.

    I look forward to checking out this review. These synths are not easily available in Canada and I hope that changes soon.

  4. Man, if I knew a module would come down the line, I’d be saving up for it right away (and get rid of at least one synth). While having a wide range of sounds / possibilties, this synth doesn’t feel like it is going over the edge with options, like some other digital workstations, whose depths I find paralysing; they’d be wasted on me.

    1. I loved this synth the first time I heard it. At that time my only concern was where I was going to put another 61-key keyboard. However, after hearing all the YouTube demos, I decided I still wanted it and decided to move it into the space in my studio formerly occupied by my K2661. I kept the 2661, but it now sits on an X-stand on the other side of my studio away from the main desk and instrument stands/racks. A module form would still be most welcomed by me since the keybed, itself, brings nothing new to the table, and I’m still awaiting arrival of the Quantum 2, that has 61 keys of polyphonic aftertouch. However, when the Quantum gets here, I’ll be up that lack of space wall again. On the good side, when my Osmose finally arrives, it can go on the stand now occupied by my Iridium keyboard. Still, I really hope that Groove Synthesis is working on a module form of the 3rd Wave. My guess is, that if they could knock about $750-1000 off the retail price, that module would fly off the shelves!

      1. Those Waldorf’s are exactly the type of synths I mean by those that are just too much for me! They’re amazing, for sure, and I could see one of the cover most, if all, I might need… But, I know I’ll never truly learn it. It’s why I gamble on Aodya’s Anyma Omega for a somewhat more basic digital synth. While sold by them a bit silly as a digital modular system, I think I like that approach better then the endless settings and tweaks that make the Quantum and such tower so ominously over me.

        Ah well, even if that one falls short I should be able to sell it for the discount price I put into the crowdfunding, so no big loss.

  5. For me, I would love to have this synth. But as of now, considering the price, I’m staying with the Hydrasynth. Absolutely amazing synth for the price.

    1. Yes, the Hydrasynth is an amazing synth, especially for the price (and I probably should have included it in my list of digital synths, above).

  6. Its $5K in part because its designed for people who know what kind of commitment it takes to justify the price. That’s why its so capable. Its wavetables to the max, which includes the detail required for on-the-mark analog sounds.

    Personally, I could only imagine using this synth and maybe one other in the same ballpark. It’d be a bit of a waste otherwise and that includes how diverting great instruments like a Minilogue can be. You’ll always take on more Stuff; that’s the deal. The trick is to know when to marry a centerpiece properly and not just collect.

    I’m with MYC about a module version, although that’s not an easy prospect for a boutique manufacturer. I’m ITB with just a little outboard hardware. I could see a 3rd Wave module being slotted in as a steady player.

    1. Yeah, I am not calling for them to make a hurry with a module. Let them have their go with this version first; the color should stick out on stages, like the Nords. I hope they’re succesful int their segment! Maybe they might even run versions with a poly aftertouch at some time, now that those of Fatar seem to be popping up everywere? Whatever the case, I prefer them to do this one thing well and keep the company going, making a module on the horizon a possibility, even if its more than two years or so from now. It’s not really a synth that I must have now. But it would be great to have at some point. I don’t see any other company willing putting in the effort to compete with the 3rd wave. So let’s see where this one goes. They’ll get my money, at some point.

  7. It sounds like a really, really nice digital synth. I didn’t get an analog vibe from it online. It may be the best-sounding digital synth on the market at the moment. It has a character of its own. However, if you have some “character analog” synths (or character digital!) I don’t see it replacing those, sonically.

    Someone might still prefer to just use the 3rd wave, of course, over their character synths (e.g., 24 voices vs 8 or less). For example, a P6 is pretty easy to replace – even with software – because it’s fairly generic sounding.

  8. I love my Rev 2 for live work because of the sound, depth of the engine over the P6/OB6/Trigon6 series, and ease of use. That said, there have been many times I’ve wished for more than a simple split or layer. Having a dedicated hands on synth with great sounds but with the expanded polyphony and 4 part multitimbrality might be the winning choice. I wonder if there is a way to set up a playlist and access sounds quickly during live performance. More research needed.

  9. All these sounds are great but, they are easily to reproduce in countless VST’s…
    Yes, it does have analog filters but, all these differences will be lost in the mix…
    $5000 bucks? I don’t think so…

  10. I love it! Absolutely! I love all the PPG sounds and hearing all this seems to expand that to analogue realms that I really enjoy! Great demo of a gorgeous instrument!

  11. This guys is ridicolus: it has mediocre synth collection, “It’s very PPGish!!! wow” and it never played or owned a PPG Wave. His preset are generic EDM. Better don’t do video like this, better don’t speak than just open an empty mouth

  12. I am really pining for this synth. It sounds like it really could be my go to synth for just about anything and sound damn good while doing it.

  13. “it might be one of the best values in synth world today”…talking about an 5k synth..Hahaha, this guys is hilarious.

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