Based on the German-crafted PPG Wave 2.3 digital-analog hybridsynthesizer introduced way back in 1984, Steinberg/Waldorf'sPPG Wave 2.V is a faithful reproduction of itspredecessor. Purists will love PPG Wave 2.V's True PPGbutton, which can re-create the “undesirable” digitalnoise endemic to the original synth's higher notes. Even theinstallation CD-ROM's desktop icon looks like one of the whitefunction keys from the Wave 2.3's front panel.
PPG Wave's impressive manual offers long and detailedglossary explanations, waveform descriptions, and illustratedexamples. The software includes several Wave libraries programmedby synthesists such as Volker Barber and Andrew Thomas; however,it's much more fun to create your own sounds. Healthy-size blackknobs on PPG Wave's distinctive blue panel make it easy tocontrol the digital oscillators, LFOs, envelopes, and analog filtermodifiers, but the software also allows you to use a mouse to drawthe curve of each ADSR envelope and filter response — anincredibly powerful and intuitive feature.
A Wave synthesizer sounds unlike any other digital or analogsynth with which you may be familiar. Depeche Mode, Thomas Dolby,Ultravox, and dozens of other influential synth artists exploitedthe Wave's quirky sounds back in the '80s, and techno artists likeRichie Hawtin have used newer incarnations of this technology tocreate chilling textures. The Wave's specialty — long,evolving pads and sound effects that change constantly as you holddown a key — are created by feeding a beautiful mixture ofprecise digitally controlled oscillators through its analogfilters. However, all of this power comes at a price: the plug-inrequires an ample amount of RAM.
With the True PPG feature engaged and the Emphasis (PPG-speakfor resonance) turned way up, you'll experience the harsh, grittytones that have endeared many musicians to this instrument. TheBasis control randomly assigns voices to individual locations inthe stereo field to generate vast, expansive sounds. For afirsthand taste of this cool feature, call up factory patch 24 andturn up the Basis control about halfway. The arpeggiator is alsofaithful to the original's design but is rather primitive bytoday's standards. It even lacks a bpm readout — a hugebummer if you want to synchronize a pattern with an external rhythmtrack.
PPG Wave 2.V is Mac and PC compatible (minimumrequirements for the Mac: PowerPC 250, 64 MB of RAM, and Mac OS8.0; for the PC: Pentium 266, 64 MB of RAM, and Windows95/98/2000). The plug-in provides a myriad of potent andeasy-to-explore modulation routings. In the '80s the Wave 2.3proved that digital instruments could sound warm and huge.Waldorf's PPG Wave 2.V VST synthesizer plug-in revealsthat even a digital software emulation of a digital synth canprovide the same stunning results.
Randy Alberts is a musician, writer, and audio engineerexploring music and recording technology in his studio in Pacifica,California.
STEINBERG/WALDORF PPG Wave2.V
PROS: Sounds just like the original. Includes severalgreat sound libraries. Intuitive graphical interface.
CONS: No bpm readout in arpeggiator. Requires lots ofRAM.
Overall Rating (1 through 5): 4.5