Sonic LAB: Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave Poly Synth

US Flagship Wavetable synthesizer      01/05/23

The folks at California based Groove Synthesis have created an homage to the PPG. It's big, blue and bold and is packed with features.

The metal case, large display and generously sized buttons, give a sense of quality, as does the full 61 key Fatar synth action keybed with Aftertouch (mono). MPE is available via external MIDI.

The 3rd Wave is a 24 voice DSP based Wavetable Synthesizer with three oscillators per voice featuring classic PPG era Wavetables, plus modern interpolated ones, user waves and virtual analog waves. These are then processed by 2 filters - one pure DSP State Variable, and one pure analog 4-pole designed by legend Dave Rossum.

The 3rd Wave also has four part multi-timrballity or splits/layers each with twin digital effects per layer. It also has four stereo outputs so you can route each part out in discrete stereo.

The voices are pretty complex too, each has four LFOs, four ADSR envelopes plus three multi-stage envelopes that are normalled to wavetable position but can also be routed via the dedicated 32 slot mod matrix.

Fans of the original PPGs will be pleased to know that the original wavetables are included but also a whole bunch of additional hi-resolution waves with user wavetables (via audio input) and via USB import - including import of Serum Wavetables.

You can stick to the non-interpolated wavescanning, if a more glitchy sound is your thing, or turn on Wave Flow for a silky smooth interpolated journey through the waves.

First thing that struck me about the 3rd Wave is the depth of the sound, it's got a deep, fulsome low end and a smooth yet hi-fidelity top end - Wavetable synths can be pretty harsh but this sounds really good.

There are plenty of presets to get stuck into, with 500 on board presets in 5 banks of 100. Though no way to create favourites or set lists which would have been useful - and still may. Even though the firmware is still quite young, I didn't find too many anomalies, and presumably there's plenty of room to tweak and grow.

Programming the 3rd Wave is nice and intuitive, you can embark on a synth journey without having to refer to the manual, and if you run out of options, you can add another layer or split and keep going on another patch.

Having said that, multi-timbral mode is probably the weaker area in terms of UI, functionality it's great, all the parameters you would expect for splits and layers are there, but it is quite easy to get lost - when you think your editing one part, you actually just added it to a part or split. Nothing serious and I'm sure a bit of an OS tweak will make it clearer.

Overall, I was impressed by the 3rd Wave it sounds massive - from deep, deep analog style bass to glassy, ethereal atmospheres and a lot in between. 

True, it's a lot of money - at 5K$/£ it's not an impulse purchase, but it already feels very complete and impressive - for a first synth, thats a major achievement.

Who's it for? There clearly is a market for this, and it's not just wealthy hobbyists and top end, top earning composers. I can see this being a useful centre of a live setup too - with four sets of outs, if can do multiple jobs though at 24 voices it might struggle with larger productions.

Good work Groove Synthesis.

Available now priced £4999/$4999

Thanks to for the support, you can buy the 3rd Wave directly from them here:

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