After last years intriguing release when Palm released the PPG Phonem for iPad, a synth that lets you create synthesised vocal phrases, Palm is now back and a couple of days ago Wolfgang Palm started to tease on his upcoming release – the PPG Infinite, in essence a new wavetable synth. Now we have lots of more information on what this new synth can do and what it sounds like. Of course Infinite is, just as its predecessors, all about wavetable synthesis, with fingers gliding through representation of waveforms, as per the original PPG Wave synths and PPG’s first app, WaveMapper. In essence wavetable synthesis is a sound synthesis technique that employs arbitrary periodic waveforms in the production of musical tones or notes.
When Palm released the below featured teaser video on July 30th we did not have all the answers and some guesswork remained to what the Infinite could actually do. The main thing that comes with this new synth can be spotted in this statement from PPG: “At the end of the 70s Wolfgang Palm developed wavetable synthesis. This was very successful and used by many synthesizer companies in the 80s and 90s. But this technology has its limitations. The main reason is that all sounds are harmonic. In nature this does not happen very often. Many sounds like a piano string have small offsets from the harmonic frequencies. This is even stronger in sounds like bells or percussion.
Infinite overcomes this limitation.”
So of today we have received a lot more information of what the PPG Infinite synth can do and also a lot more sounds like the one below. This video features an audio demonstration by using the Rauschwerk factory presets.
The frequencies of the overtones created by Infinite can be totally freely defined. So the sounds it produces are totally free in the frequencies of their overtones. This means that each partial wave can have an arbitrary frequency. Moreover it is possible to move these overtones independently during the duration of a note.
“This has always been my dream. A system which can reproduce all kinds of sounds and transform them into a universal set of parameters. Thus all these sounds are completely morphable.” (W.Palm)
Another important part of most natural sounds is noise. Be it a flute or when a drumstick hits the drumhead – and this all can be reproduced in Infinite. Furthermore the noise source can be used to modulate the tonal part which results in very powerful effects.
Besides these new digital features, we still have the typical 24db Lowpass filter, 2 VCA with stereo out and effects. All this is controlled by 10 envelopes, 4 LFOs and a modulation matrix.
“Maybe the greatest innovation in Infinite is the Morpher. It is so easy to create new timbres and real-time effects by morphing the gains and frequencies of sounds with the X/Y controller. Infinite comes with more that 300 tonal resources, which can be loaded into the 5 fields inside the Morhper. But it does not stop there. You can edit these in detail on two extra pages and can import your own sounds from the PPG WaveGenerator and WaveMapper apps. On the SineEdit 1 panel, you edit the sine tracks with a set of parameters for each track. A track is the time sequence of one sine componente over the full length of the sound. A 3D display gives a good impression of the whole resource.” (W.Palm)
To get more into the understanding of the UI and how the synth is structured Palm has provided some screenshots.
On the SineEdit 2 panel, you edit the fine structure of a track in a bargraph. A FREQ mode lets you do this for the frequency.
The Parameter page edits the program parameters like Oscillator Pitch, the VCF (a 24dB lowpass filter), gain envelopes and LFOs. PPG Infinite is equipped with 10 envelopes. Some are fixed to a certain function, others can be freely connected with the matrix.
The browser page offers a number of easy ways to manage your programs. To group a selection of programs in a browser list, you have several filters and modes available. You can create a new list and then copy single entries from the browser list into the target list.
Wavetable synthesis is fundamentally based on periodic reproduction of an arbitrary, single-cycle waveform. In wavetable synthesis, some method is employed to vary or modulate the selected waveform in the wavetable. The position in the wavetable selects the single cycle waveform. Digital interpolation between adjacent waveforms allows for dynamic and smooth changes of the timbre of the tone produced. Sweeping the wavetable in either direction can be controlled in a number of ways, for example, by use of an LFO, envelope, pressure or velocity.
Many wavetables used in PPG and Ensoniq synthesizers can simulate the methods used by analog synthesizers, such as Pulse Width Modulation by utilising a number of square waves of different duty cycles. In this way, when the wavetable is swept, the duty cycle of the pulse wave will appear to change over time. As the early Ensoniq wavetable synthesizers had non resonant filters (the PPG Wave synthesizers used analogue Curtis resonant filters), some wavetables contained highly resonant waveforms to overcome this limitation of the filters.
Of course, the other Palm apps have also now been available as VST/AU plug-in, so we hope we’ll see that for this product as well.
PPG INFINITE KEY FEATURE LIST
New system which can synthesize harmonic and inharmonic sounds
Morpher – X/Y controller which morphes 5 user selectable sine resources
Noiser – X/Y controller morphing 3 noise resources and performing modulations on the tonal part
Molder – acts as a digital filter with any amaginable filter sweeps
Two detail editor pages for the Sine resources featuring a 3D display
Import WTS and TCS files from the iPad WaveGenerator and WaveMapper
Import Phonem utterances and use them in the Infinite Molder
Versatile matrix system – allowing 16 sources to control 40 parameters
10 Envelopes, for control of filter sweeps, waveform, noise and many modulations
4 LFOs which can be freely routed via the matrix
A/B compare your edited sounds
AU extension – run multiple Infinite instances in AU hosts
IAA – inter-app audio support
Audiobus 2 with statesaving
Export audio to AudioShare
Preset browser with new listing filters
Directly accessible context help for each module
Freely configurable schematic keypads, with extremely expressive modulation options
4 Keypads play modes: Poly, Mono, Legato and Multitrigger.
4 MIDI modes: Omni, Poly, Mono, and Voice-Per-Channel.