PPG WaveMapper Visual Synth App for iPad

August 1, 2013

Just back in January, we lavished well-deserved praise on Wolfgang Palm’s comeback app, WaveGenerator. Well, the man who once brought us the PPG Wave synth apparently has quite a few more tricks up his virtual sleeve because he’s back with another iOS hit: WaveMapper.

Like WaveGenerator, WaveMapper is an incredibly deep synthesizer and that’s where the similarities end. In his latest synth, Palm takes an elegantly simple concept—mixing and matching important aspects of multiple synth patches—and implements them in a manner that’s strikingly like a board game.

Under the hood is a three-oscillator synthesis engine with a sweet sounding resonant lowpass filter, stereo amplifiers, a delay, and a bunch of performance features like multiple LFOs and a groovy little arpeggiator/sequencer. But with WaveMapper’s approach to synthesis, the intricacies of all of these parameters are a moot point. Yes, they’re there if you want to build your sounds the old-fashioned way, but if you’re new to sound design you can dive in and create your own sounds with extraordinary ease.

Here’s how it works: WaveMapper presents you with an 8 x 4 grid of squares, each of which can contain a different preset. On top of the grid are eight “pieces,” each representing a different synthesizer component. There are three discrete oscillator pieces, a filter piece, a noise piece, a gain (amp) piece, and two modulation-related pieces.

Placing a piece on one of the synth patches in the grid transfers those parameters to your current sound. Sound complicated? It’s actually the easiest process, maybe ever. For example, you can grab oscillator 1 from a sitar patch, two more oscillators from a string patch, and filters from an ethereal pad patch, all just by moving the pieces around on your grid.

Things get way cooler when you have an arpeggiator in the mix, thanks to the seamless transitions when moving parameters and WaveMapper’s ability to record your audio. Just fire up a cool arpeggiated preset, tweak the style and tempo of the arpeggiation to suit your track, fire record, and start moving pieces around the grid. You’ll quickly discover what works and doesn’t, but chances are you’ll end up recording something you can use in a track that has massive character. Then, simply transfer the results when you sync your iPad and drop the file into your DAW of choice.

As for the die-hard programmers out there, keep in mind that once you’ve composited a sound you like, you can dive into each of the elements and tweak familiar parameters directly, customizing the sound to your heart’s content. You can even import your own audio files to transform into exotic wavetables if you’re feeling ambitious.

So, if the depth and complexity of WaveGenerator was a tad too intimidating for users, WaveMapper has that problem solved with real innovation and an interface that brings the fun of sound design to a whole new generation of producers.


Unique game-like approach to synthesis. Intuitive interface lets novices get results quickly. Deep synthesis tools give power users a wealth of detailed sound design opportunities. Can import audio for wavetable creation.


You’ll still have to crack the manual to understand the basics.

Bottom Line: A very cool new approach to synthesis for all skill levels.

$19.99 | wolfgangpalm.com

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