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Museum : PPG Room : Wave

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. PPG Instruments
100 Modular
200 Modular
300 Modular Synthesizer
The 340/380 System: The 340 Wave Computer and 380 Event Generator
Computer Sequencer 350
Wave Computer 360
Expansion Voice Unit
Hard Disk Unit
Processor Keyboard PRK

Search the Synthmuseum.com Classifieds for this instrument.

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. Manufacturer:
Palm Productions GmbH, Germany Room

Wave 2, Wave 2.2, Wave 2.3

Production period:
Wave 2.2, 1982-84; Wave 2.3, 1984-87

Quantity produced:
Wave 2.2, 300; Wave 2.3, 700

Famous Fingers
Who played this instrument?

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PPG Wave

image courtesy of Kevin Lightner

In 1981 Wolfgang Palm "knew he had to develop complex wavetables to improve the sound quality of his synths. But even with more complex waveforms, Palm eventually realized that 8-bit digital sound was too brittle. 'I found that wavetable switching wasn't smooth enough,' he says, 'So I returned to analog and connected a VCF and VCA to the digital oscillator. That was the Wave 2.

"By 1982, Palm had advanced to the next generation, the Wave 2.2. ...The 2.2's oscillators could generate almost 2,000 different single-cycle waveforms (some created from samples of acoustic instruments like sax and piano), a huge increase over anything else that was available at the time.... Palm continued to develop his instrument's sample-playback capabilities. 'In the Wave 2.2,' he explains, 'you could only play very small periods that consisted of 128 samples. The next step was the 2.3, in which the hardware was changed, and there were two modes. One was the digital oscillator mode, and the other was the sampler mode where you could play through the entire memory in a linear fashion, like on a sampler. Of course, you could transfer waveforms from one mode to the other, which was very interesting. You could sample something and then take out periods, make Fourier analysis, and put that back into a wavetable.'" ...Not only did it allow linear playback of samples in memory, but the resolution of those samples was increased to 12-bit, which greatly improved the Wave's sound quality. The 2.3 was also multitimbral, sounding up to eight different wavetables at once. And it had MIDI, the implementation of which was a sore subject as far as Wolfgang Palm is concerned. 'PPG had an 8-bit parallel bus system before MIDI came out,' he says, 'because we had to transfer samples from the Waveterm to the Wave - a very thick amount of data. Our bus was much quicker, so we didn't like MIDI very much. It was okay for some things. The problem was, MIDI was a second interface that we had to use and support. It took much more effort to redesign our existing machines than it would have been to implement all the MIDI capabilities from the beginning.'"

[excerpted with permission from the book Vintage Synthesizers by Mark Vail, copyright Miller Freeman, Inc]

The Wave's front panel featured a standard complement of analog control knobs for tweakabilitiy. This section of the Wave was known as the "Analog Control Panel". Most of the deeper functions were controlled through the "Digital Control Panel" which was the right side of the machine with the keypads and LCD display. The Wave also incorporated an onboard 8-track sequencer accessible through one of the LCD pages. This sequencer was fairly advanced for the period, and featured automation of several functions including pitch, loudness, filter cutoff, waveform, and filter envelope attenuation.

As part of the PPG system the Wave could be controlled by other components, or could in turn control components such as the EVU. Both the Waveterm and the PRK could download new wavetables into a Wave keyboard. In addition to sweepable synth waveforms, sampled sounds could also be downloaded.

[excerpted with permission from the PPG pages at Antarctica Media courtesy of John A Trevethan]

Famous Fingers
Who Played This Instrument?

Serge Blenner, David Bowie - on Underground Movie soundtrack, Eat-Static, Electronic Dream Planet - version 2.2 (x2), Eurogliders (Wave 2.3), Edgar Froese, Jim Gilmour of Saga - albums 'Worlds Apart' and 'Heads or Tales', Rupert Greenall from THE FIXX, Trevor Horn of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Jean Michel Jarre, JJ Jezilik of Art of Noise, Mark Kelly keyboard player of Marillion, Brian Kehew and Roger Manning of The Moog Cookbook, Geddy Lee of Rush (Wave 2.3), SJ Lipson of Propaganda, Mike Mareen, Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Robert Palmer - on Addicted to Love, Propaganda, Psychadelic Furs (used live on Mirror Moves tour), Re-flex, Andrew Richards (ex-Wham), David Lee Roth band (circa 1996-97), Robert Schroeder, Klaus Schulze, Tears for Fears, Talk Talk, Tangerine Dream, Midge Ure and Billie Currie from Ultravox Steve Winwood, Stevie Wonder

[Let us know if you have any further additions to this list.]

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