Before we cover the star of this particular review I want to give a brief overview of a couple of products we had a chance to check out a few months before recieving Waldorf PPG Wave 2.V mid-June, the Model-E and LM-4, both virtual instrument plug-ins accessed from within VST or other host applications capable of supporting virtual instruments.
Model-E, a full featured polyphonic synthesizer with 3 oscillators (6 waveforms per oscillator), 2 and 4-pole low pass filters, filter modulation and all the usual bells and whistles you'd expect from a modern synth, made us realize that, as with Koblo's excellent virtual instruments we reviewed in the Fall of 99, things were looking good for the electronic music maker. This reasonably priced piece of software is a totally usable instrument within its own right. A particularily cool feature is the way in which a patch with a filter sweep, for example, can be dropped onto an existing track, or tracks, and have the effect applied automatically.
As a drum module the LM-4 is about as good it gets. With 18 pads per set (20 sets included) ranging from classic acoustic and electronic drum pads through to some of the coolest 24bit sets we've heard in a while courtesy of :wizoo:, this sample driven plug-in should easily satisfy even the most demanding musicians among you. We managed to get 6 of these units running at the same time, along with two Model-E's, before performance started to suffer, but up to eight of these drum modules can theoretically be running at once on a single host computer.
Which brings us to Waldorf's PPG Wave 2.V, a product which re-defines the term virtual synthesis. A plug-in which gives the electronic music maker all that the original PPG had to offer and more besides.
To give you an idea of just how close the software engineers modelled this virtual instrument on the "real thing" here's a brief excerpt from the manual:
"...the filter in the original PPG was a SSM 2004 chip. If the resonance was increased, this filter attenuated the input signal by up to 12dB. The PPG Wave 2.V works exactly like that. Furthermore, the resonance of the SSM 2044 had a very special character which in this form is not implemented in any other filter circuit or IC. If you have a chance to listen to and directly compare both the original and the Plug-In, you will find that the resonance (or Emphasis, as it's called in the PPG) of both sound absolutely identical."
Quite obviously a lot of time has been taken to make this plug-in sound as close to the original instrument as possible, and as you can see from these images the control panel is faithfully reproduced also. Right down to the pale blue LCD which I spent countless hours peering into back in the late eighties when I owned a PPG. And it sounds as good today as it did then. Even better actually due to the fact that the noise produced by the LCD's backlight is now inaudible.
As with most virtual recreations of classic instruments artistic licence is neccessary when adding those elements that weren't part of the original, such as MIDI status and channel number indicators. But this hardly detracts from the user experience. In fact I'd like to see more useful information added to the control surfaces of these virtual instruments, even at the expense of losing the classic look and feel, but for the time being I'm just glad to have a relatively inexpensive, weightless version of what is already a very rare and much sought after instrument.