PPG Wave 2 Synthesizers

A sound innovator

Wolfgang Palm is a leading synthesizer hardware designer from Germany, who started out building custom accessories and modular synthesizers under the name “PPG”. The product were originally custom made for  professional users, like the German “Berlin-school” electronic band Tangerine Dream .

The wavetable synths

But Palms real innovation was probably his work with Wavetables – banks of digitally stored single cycle waveforms. The “360 Wave Computer” was an early attempt at an instrument using this technology, but the interface was limited and cumbersome, and the stability was not too impressive, so only few were made and sold.

But when PPG launched the Wave 2 series of synthesizers (Wave 2.0, 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3) with a more familiar synth interface, the world took notice. The instruments digital wavetable oscillators could both produce static waves and the wavetables could be scanned by e.g. an envelope generator, the keyboard or an LFO, producing subtly or wildly changing timbres from the oscillators, that far exceeded the basic (Sawtooth, Square, Pulse, Triangle) waveforms from traditional VCO’s. The sound from these digital wavetable oscillators were furthermore passed through an analog voltage controlled low pass filter (VCF), and a voltage controlled amplifier (VCA) which enabled the synths to both replicate the sounds of the traditional VCO synths, plus adding a whole new timbral dimension.

Going digital

The PPG sound and possibilities were just too tempting, and I had to find the money for it. So in 1980 I got the Wave 2.0, which was a marvellous synth at the time, with a range of new and dramatic sounds that could not be made with my previous analogue system.

The sequencer was 8-part multi-timbral on paper, but was very difficult to control. It had a mind of it’s own, and no real provision for external sync.

Back as a Plugin

Like so many other devices, I regretted parting with the PPG. But luckily the Waldorf company has modelled the instrument in an AU Virtual Instrument, so I now have full access to that sound engine once again. With my custom Logic environment I have full hardware control of parameters on the patch level, and have even added extra functions like randomizing, section presets etc..