Legendary synth designer Wolfgang Palm brings his PPG Phonem vocal synthesiser to the Apple iPad platform. This will be an exciting development for many synth-heads, as Wolfgang was the brain behind the original PPG Wave. Will this software breathe new life into his legacy?
Palm Products GmbH
PPG of course have a massive legacy, mainly thanks to Wolfgang’s original wavetable synthesis made famous by the legendary PPG Wave. The Wave was such an amazing synth but unfortunately they were huge, hard to program and were anything but cheap, averaging around £5500 back in the ’80s!
Music For The Masses
Wolfgang has chosen the iPad as the platform to get his synthesis into the hands of the masses. Of course, an iPad is a fraction of the cost of that old hardware from the ’80s and therefore it’ll be far more accessible for us poor musicians than the old hardware. (Don’t forget the excellent PPG emulations released as VST plug-ins from Steinberg and others back in the day – Ed.) The PPG Phonem is a ‘vocal synthesiser’ and the sound engine is a variation based upon the company’s successful VST/AU version of the PPG Phonem.
The PPG Phonem ships with 500 presets designed around the company’s multi-resonator filter which uses twelve individual resonators to produce vocal-like sounds. Their combination of wavetables and Time-Corrected-Samples (TCS) drive the filters which are then used in conjunction with the twelve resonant filters to simulate the human vocal source.
You also have access to a huge modulation matrix with 19 sources available to control 40 parameters, so a lot of control for an iPad App. Because the PPG Phonem synthesis archtiecture is pretty complex, it’s far easier to see what is happening via the graphical touch-sensitive interface of the tablet.
Touch-Sensitive Control Interfaces
I grew up on menu-based synthesis architecture and it was always awkward to program your synths with such a limited front end. I am a big fan of visual and interactive interfaces for synth programming. I’m looking forward to giving this new iOS synth a whirl and seeing what I can achieve without the limitations of ‘deep menu’ editing. I have attached a demo video below of both a general overview of the PPG Phonem and another of Wolfgang himself explaining his design and demoing some of its key features and presets; both videos are well worth a watch.
Wolfgang Palm PPG Phonem full specs