Still looking for my PPG...

Any music gear discussions that don't fit into one of the other forums.

Moderators: Kent, Joe., luketeaford, lisa

hippo1
Common Wiggler
Posts: 214
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2014 6:22 pm

Still looking for my PPG...

Post by hippo1 » Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:50 pm

So I've been on my quest again for a synth to fill a gap in my arsenal: Strictly digital, wavetable standalone HARDWARE synth... that can sound like an 80s PPG; without actually spending as much as a car (I'm targeting the newer crop of stuff, current or just recently discontinued). [And yes; I'm aware that Waldorf makes a great PPG VST, that uses all the identical wavetables... but it's in-the-box, and I'm looking for a SYNTH.] I own a Blofeld (module), and it can be programmed to have a lot of the feel of the OGs... maybe 80%.

But it, and a lot of the other wavetable-equipped synths (Ultra-/Mini-nova, KingKorg with its DWGS stuff, Sledge etc.), sound a little... shiny. Too clean. To be clear, I'm after that classic PPG digital sound of the 80s: the Fixx, Rush's Grace Under Pressure album, mid-80s Saga, Tangerine Dream's Exit/Poland era (of course!), and countless 80s one-hitters. I'm beginning to think that the sound I'm after (harsher, more 'digital') has more to do with bad DACs than the tables themselves. In a recent Sonicstate News, BT went off on the power of modern computing, and the interpolations used in wavetable synthesizing; and I can't help thinking that I'm wanting for a little 'bad code' in the oscillator section. The new Argon8 offers a 'de-rez' mod in the osc section; that, along with a little distortion as a post-filter effect, makes me lean more towards this rather than the Hydrasynth (disregarding the ribbon and poly aftertouch: Two really big draws!). I know the Hydra has the 'mutate' pre-filter effects... if anybody has one and reads this, please lemme know! I'm subsisting solely on Youtube demos of both synths, and while both sound great (maybe the Hydra is a little more 'harsher'), I doubt I'll actually get to demo either: I'll just have to buy one and see. As to the Blofeld, though it may share real DNA with the original tables, it too has a glossy sound that I can't seem to shake. [And, I'm a little tired from the menu-diving of programming it, even with the Coffeeshopped iPad editor.]

Am I just not trying hard enough, or is there some mojo lost in the mists of code-time? And: Does either the Argon8 or the Hydra have the ability to be more gritty, more straight-up digitally harsh? I know, synth manufacturers want their synth to be all things to all people, so the quality of the sound is of utmost importance. [At this point, my rant seems rather elitist, assuming the target audience already has some other analog-type synth to get their 'real' waves from if need be. All I can do is assure the reader that I'm not hiding in my synth lair, surrounded by Moog Ones and Quantums; using Push controllers as big coasters, lighting cigars with hundreds. Really... NOT the case.]

User avatar
StillNotWorking
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 654
Joined: Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:29 pm
Contact:

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by StillNotWorking » Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:28 pm

Ensoniq ESQ-1 / SQ-80 often called poor mans PPG. Internaly running 12-bit with analog filters gives them character from the time period.
looking for service manual for the Clavia ddrum AT or ddrum III

User avatar
GuyaGuy
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1743
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:49 am
Location: Brooklyn | NY | USA

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by GuyaGuy » Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:03 pm

hippo1 wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:50 pm
Am I just not trying hard enough, or is there some mojo lost in the mists of code-time?
I've never played a PPG but I'm guessing it's the low bit rate and aliasing that contribute to the sound you're talking about. Tried a PolyEvolver? Those have 12-bit waves, which I believe is what the PPG had, and analog filters. Great for rougher digital tones--almost the opposite of the Blofeld. Otherwise the Aragon8 does look great and the de-rez would probably get you there.

User avatar
nostalghia
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 996
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:46 pm
Location: central usofa

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by nostalghia » Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:23 pm

I have a Waldorf Microwave XT (rack), and have never heard one in person to be able to compare it to the XT (or Blofeld), but you might see if you can find one of the original (gen 1) Microwave racks-don't think there was a keyboard version as there was for the XT(K). Supposed to be very close to the old PPGs, more so than later Waldorf wavetable synths. Has analog rather than digital filters, which could be one of the key factors.
You mentioned you wanted something current or recently discontinued (so OG Microwave may be out of the running)-is there a reason? Reliability/service availability?

http://www.vintagesynth.com/waldorf/microwave.php
http://www.polynominal.com/site/studio/gear/synth/waldorf_microwave/microwave.html


“If you look for a meaning, you'll miss everything that happens.” - Andrei Tarkovsky
https://soundcloud.com/nostalghia70s

oldgearguy
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 656
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 6:42 am

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by oldgearguy » Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:00 pm

I still own a PPG (bought it in the late 80s, early 90s).
Closest thing to it that I've owned is the first rev microWave (people call it the rev A). Polyevolver, not close. Blofeld, ok, like you mentioned 80%, nothing modern with wavetables gets exactly there. Waldorf Wave was a great sounding machine, but bigger and smoother sounding than the PPG and I ended up selling it and keeping the PPG.

nthall
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:25 pm

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by nthall » Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:34 pm

The sound is probably a combination of the DACs, and noise from all of the other ICs crammed into those things with no shielding. Probably external RF too. That's hard to recreate.

User avatar
3hands
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1617
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:36 pm
Location: Ottawa Ontario

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by 3hands » Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:24 pm

Seconding the ESQ1! And are you Canadian? Not many people outside Canada know SAGA! I’m just curious....
Gum is fun, but not on a cat.

My minds an art gallery.

User avatar
Blairio
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2021
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:50 pm
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by Blairio » Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:52 pm

3hands wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:24 pm
Seconding the ESQ1! And are you Canadian? Not many people outside Canada know SAGA! I’m just curious....
Another vote here for the ESQ1. In fact even the later ensoniq synths (VFX, SQ80) had the ESQ1's 'soul' but by degrees the rough edges were coming off.

A slightly left field suggestion would be a Kawai K5. It uses additive synthesis rather than wavetables, but has a similar early digital roughness to it. Or even the lowly (but wonderful) Kawai K1?

User avatar
Ceres
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 260
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 1:20 pm
Location: Local

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by Ceres » Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:26 am

A lot of 80s music used period digital reverb. Perhaps running your 80% Blofeld into an 80s digital reverb will get you some of that primitive DAC sound color.
If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.

User avatar
estin
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1147
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 7:56 pm

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by estin » Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:38 am

I can't recommend the ESQ-1 enough, I just adore its dirty lofi digital sound. If it had HP and BP filter modes I could get away with it as my only poly.

User avatar
tron23
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1186
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:03 am

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by tron23 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:09 am

+1 for early digital reverb along with those tables offered by the esq1/sq80, microwave plus the mighty kawai k3. :guinness:

Sir Ruff
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2033
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:23 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by Sir Ruff » Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:09 pm

GuyaGuy wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:03 pm
hippo1 wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:50 pm
Am I just not trying hard enough, or is there some mojo lost in the mists of code-time?
I've never played a PPG but I'm guessing it's the low bit rate and aliasing that contribute to the sound you're talking about.
there is actually no aliasing thanks to the variable sample clock that each voice has (goes into Mhz range).

The thing that always struck me about the older PPGs (in my case, the PPG 2) was that there was quite an almost metallic sheen in the low end. I never heard this on later Waldorfs. Conversely, the high-end always sounded like a square-wavey organ, regardless of the original way, specifically because of the low bit-rate sample and high-frequency sample clock.

I adore the SQ-80 to no end, but these days the Quantum is the only way to go if you are determined the have "that" sound (i.e., samples with analog filter). Failing that, I would suggest the XT, which was has WAY more aliasing/quantize noise than any PPG/Waldorf that preceded it. To me that sounds much closer to the original PPGs than the Microwave 1.

User avatar
doombient.music
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1231
Joined: Mon May 02, 2011 5:23 pm
Location: the city that doesn't exist, germany
Contact:

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by doombient.music » Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:22 pm

nostalghia wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:23 pm
[…] Supposed to be very close to the old PPGs, more so than later Waldorf wavetable synths. […]
If it were that easy, life would be a gas.

The early MicroWave is closer to the Prophet VS than to the PPG Wave 2.3 it was brought out to mimick. The VS is no bad synth, but it's no PPG... neither is the ESQ.

Stephen

User avatar
3hands
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1617
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:36 pm
Location: Ottawa Ontario

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by 3hands » Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:38 pm

doombient.music wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:22 pm
nostalghia wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:23 pm
[…] Supposed to be very close to the old PPGs, more so than later Waldorf wavetable synths. […]
If it were that easy, life would be a gas.

The early MicroWave is closer to the Prophet VS than to the PPG Wave 2.3 it was brought out to mimick. The VS is no bad synth, but it's no PPG... neither is the ESQ.

Stephen
Yes we get that.....


We’re offering an alternative. Nothing more, nothing less.
Gum is fun, but not on a cat.

My minds an art gallery.

User avatar
doombient.music
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1231
Joined: Mon May 02, 2011 5:23 pm
Location: the city that doesn't exist, germany
Contact:

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by doombient.music » Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:42 pm

3hands wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:38 pm
[…] We’re offering an alternative. Nothing more, nothing less.
And I'm telling you there isn't any, only halfway houses…

There is that PPG plug-in (Wave 3.0 or something) which is okay but it lacks all the grit that is induced by the hardware.

Stephen

hippo1
Common Wiggler
Posts: 214
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2014 6:22 pm

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by hippo1 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:31 pm

I'd like to thank all of you that replied; as I suspected, there's vintage... and then there's none. The recommendations for an Ensoniq are worthwhile; but even they are falling prey to the dreaded age-related problems: wrinkles, spots (oh, wait; I meant leaky caps, bad displays...!) It was my forlorn hope to 'fake it' in the New Age with some new gadget. I have plenty of bad 80s-era reverb devices, so I'll put 'em back in circulation (diffusion? Pah!); and I'll simply wait with baited breath for the Argon/Hydra slug-fest. Their pre-filter mods/mutates LOOK like they may fit the 'harsh' bill; we'll see.

I'm no mastering guru, but there's some mojo to even the sound of my old DW-8000s, filter wide-open; that noisy, alias-y grit that is so much more than a bitcrush pedal. Though, running things thru an old-skool cap cascade delay, in all its noisy glory, does have its own take on the 80s sound...

Again, thanks, and happy wiggling!

galaxiesmerge
Common Wiggler
Posts: 60
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:58 am
Location: Alexandria, VA

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by galaxiesmerge » Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:11 pm

I sold my PPG Wave 2.3

Why?

Because my Microwave-I with stereoping controller sounded great too.

And, because, my VST synth (Waldorf 3.V) when sent through an external tube-distortion and filter sounded so much the same that I could not tell apart the difference when doing an A/B of the sounds a week later!!!

So, unless you just want the full size look and feel of a real PPG Wave 2.3 with OS 8.3 and all the costly upgrades (which I did do!), I can honestly tell you that the sound can be replicated to perfect. Some synthesizers just cannot be replicated. For example, my Jomox SunSyn can sound thematically similar to the PPG but is completely different and I suspect it is because of the combination of analog and digital oscillators. The Bowen Solaris can also sound many times indistinguishable to the PPG. Finally, I do regret selling my PPG Wave 2.3 but not because of the sound: because it was a genuine and authentic piece of music history. As for the sound, I have replicated many times since. After I sold my original Jomox I ended up buying another Jomox Sunsyn as I could not replicate that. So it all depends on what you really, really want and why.

My 2c FWIW.

User avatar
3hands
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1617
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:36 pm
Location: Ottawa Ontario

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by 3hands » Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:37 pm

galaxiesmerge wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:11 pm
I sold my PPG Wave 2.3

Why?

Because my Microwave-I with stereoping controller sounded great too.

And, because, my VST synth (Waldorf 3.V) when sent through an external tube-distortion and filter sounded so much the same that I could not tell apart the difference when doing an A/B of the sounds a week later!!!

So, unless you just want the full size look and feel of a real PPG Wave 2.3 with OS 8.3 and all the costly upgrades (which I did do!), I can honestly tell you that the sound can be replicated to perfect. Some synthesizers just cannot be replicated. For example, my Jomox SunSyn can sound thematically similar to the PPG but is completely different and I suspect it is because of the combination of analog and digital oscillators. The Bowen Solaris can also sound many times indistinguishable to the PPG. Finally, I do regret selling my PPG Wave 2.3 but not because of the sound: because it was a genuine and authentic piece of music history. As for the sound, I have replicated many times since. After I sold my original Jomox I ended up buying another Jomox Sunsyn as I could not replicate that. So it all depends on what you really, really want and why.

My 2c FWIW.
Look out, the PPG fanboys will go nuts after reading this!
Gum is fun, but not on a cat.

My minds an art gallery.

oldgearguy
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 656
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 6:42 am

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by oldgearguy » Tue Mar 03, 2020 9:06 am

Actually, I have been thinking about selling my PPG 2.3.
Not going to replace it with anything, but even though I love the sound of it, I'm really not using it much these days; it just kind of sits there taking up space.

Unfortunately, since recent prices have climbed into near Jupiter-8 territory, I know if I let it go, I'll never be able to buy one back again.
Tough decisions.

User avatar
Tun
Common Wiggler
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:56 pm
Location: Thailand

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by Tun » Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:52 pm

Sir Ruff wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:09 pm
I would suggest the XT, which was has WAY more aliasing/quantize noise than any PPG/Waldorf that preceded it. To me that sounds much closer to the original PPGs than the Microwave 1.
I have owned both the Microwave Rev 1 and XT and would definitely agree with you there.

galaxiesmerge
Common Wiggler
Posts: 60
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:58 am
Location: Alexandria, VA

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by galaxiesmerge » Sat Mar 07, 2020 3:51 pm

@oldgearguy Well, well, well!!! Just as I thought I would never see another PPG Wave 2.3 with all the updates, there was your PPG Wave 2.3 which I can now happily say I will be the new proud owner :). The great part is that since we live in the area it will be available if you need it for something. And it will be in very good company. Thanks so much for putting it on sale!

oldgearguy
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 656
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 6:42 am

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by oldgearguy » Sat Mar 07, 2020 6:29 pm

galaxiesmerge wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 3:51 pm
@oldgearguy Well, well, well!!! Just as I thought I would never see another PPG Wave 2.3 with all the updates, there was your PPG Wave 2.3 which I can now happily say I will be the new proud owner :). The great part is that since we live in the area it will be available if you need it for something. And it will be in very good company. Thanks so much for putting it on sale!
I will be sad when I drop it off, but I know it's going to be living in a good studio. :tu:

syncretism
Morbidly self-aware and liking it
Posts: 1527
Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:05 pm
Contact:

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by syncretism » Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:41 am

I gather you want polyphony, but if a monophonic solution works for you, there’s always the Momowave, designed by Paula Maddox, who probably knows more about the Wolfgang Palm approach to wavetable synthesis than just about anyone. It’s available again in kit form, it seems:

https://elby-designs.com/contents/en-us/d9.html

Sir Ruff
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2033
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:23 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by Sir Ruff » Thu Mar 19, 2020 11:08 am

syncretism wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:41 am
I gather you want polyphony, but if a monophonic solution works for you, there’s always the Momowave, designed by Paula Maddox, who probably knows more about the Wolfgang Palm approach to wavetable synthesis than just about anyone. It’s available again in kit form, it seems:

https://elby-designs.com/contents/en-us/d9.html
Monowave, like the Modal 02, isn't really a good replacement since there is now wave modulation.

nadafarms
Buy and Sell
Posts: 452
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:53 pm

Re: Still looking for my PPG...

Post by nadafarms » Thu Mar 19, 2020 5:56 pm

I still regret not buying a Ppg you were selling years ago :hihi:

Post Reply

Return to “General Gear”