The Wasp synth was an electronic music synthesizer manuufactered in England by the Electronic Dream Plant (EDP). When it first appeared, during the late 1970s many professional musicians were puzzled but, for anyone interested in sound synthesis it was the first time a synthesizer was available for a reasonable cost.
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It didn't matter that the Wasp ran on batteries (but also via a power supply), that it had a built in speaker (with audio outs too) and a touch sensitive keyboard strip rather than keys. Yes it looked like a toy but it sounded out of this world and could even create sounds somewhat equal to the really expensive alternatives but available at a street price less than £150 (ours originally cost £130 new). Although that was still rather a large sum for the average keyboardist but saving for one was not impossible for a great many British musicians.
What you got for your money looked impressive on paper and when you look at the specifications below you will see why so many were so eagre to lay their hands on a Wasp synth. Unfortunately, at such a low price point, corners had to be cut and, besides the lack of keys, this was evident in the casing which was made from a rather brittle plastic. As a result the synth weighed very llittle, especially when run from a power supply (rather than heavy batteries)easily be fatally knocked to the floor, especially if another band member walked (or ran) through the cables. Over time the plastic became more brittle so that even heavy use could lead to horrendous damage and today it is rare to find a Wasp synth with the casing perfectly in tact and they are becoming increasingly rare as a result. If you are buying a Wasp the easiest way to tell if it has had a hard life is by an examination of the touch sensitve strip. Heavily used Wasps will display white patches on the most played keys, where the yellow has simply been worn away. Also it is well worth making sure that it has not suffered from leaking batteries as many would put them away leaving the batteries inside.
Famous users of the Wasp include; Vince Clarke, Nick Rhodesof Duran Duran, Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, The The, The Stranglers, Devo, Bauhaus, Kim Wilde, 808 State, J. G. Thirlwell. of Foetus, WhiteHouse, Add N to (X), Notwist, Dave Holmes and many , many more.
I can't remember exactly what the original Wasp power supply looked like as it is rare to find one with the synth these days. When we were recently given (yes it was given to us as a gift from a wonderful man who sadly died a few weeks later - thanks Ron) an EDP Wasp synthesizer in almost mint condition, unfortunately, it did not have the original power supply. I'd read online that it was safe to use any standard power adapter from the likes of Maplins but as we already had a reasonable collection of this annoying items we decided to give one a try. Well all I can say is that the poor old Wasp Synth screamed as though it was in pure agony and the output suffered from extreme noise. I quickly changed the power supply and the same thing happened but the Wasp sounded somewhat different. In a classic case of "third time luckY" my next power supply seemed to work well so I was happy.
A couple of weeks later I decided to try out running the Wasp on batteries (yes it can run on 6 size C batteries with the battery compartment on the underside of the synth). Well, again the synth sounded different again, this time the noise was vastly reduced and the synth behaved more in the way in which I would expect it to (though it still had that wonderful unpredicatability that Wasps are renowned for).
Well an EDP Wasp synth in mint condition wil set you back a great deal more of your hard earned cash than the original price of less than £200. In the last six months (March 2012) I have seen reasonable specimens sold on eBay from £550 and £750 and even a battered, rather ill looking and with a somewhat dismembered casing (but apparently still working) went for over £400. So buying a Wasp may not be a suitable option for many. When we are faced with wanting a particular synth we will, sometimes, buy it then sample it as much as we can, then resell it, most of the time we end up getting our money back but sometimes we make a small profit, especially if we have had it for some time. So if you cannot justify spending so much on a Wasp synth then why not do what we do and, sort of rent it for a while?
There are other options to consider. Before we were given ours I bought a "Wasp Drive" from Clactronics. It's supposed to be a clone of the filter section of the Wasp but for some reason ours would not cut as much as it really should do. With my experience with the power supplies I experimented and found that with another power supply is could sound very much like the original so, after speaking to Ben at Clactronics I decided to send it back for examination - I will update this when I get it back.
Other companies, such as Doepfer and other modular synth manufacturers produce clones of the Wasp filter too but adding one of these to a modular system just adds a "little something" of the tone but not much of the soul. It is possible to build something of a clone yourself in the form of the Pixie but really the only cheap way to include the Waps synth sound in your productions is to equip yourself with a decent collection of samples.
Our collection of Wasp synth samples have been created using fully professional equipment. We created over 100 useful instrument sounds, each of which has a range of 5 octaves. We also created 300 oneshot samples with which we created 5 full banks of 5 octaves. To ensure that we managed to capture some of the soul of the Wasp synth we took nearly 8,000 individual samples. If you want to create something really unique you can load each instrument into a decent soft sampler such as Kontakt 5 and apply their various filters and effects so that you can go beyond the sound of the humble Wasp. Usually you would expect to have to pay a small fortune for such a collection but Defective Nation are about providing useful sounds at affordable prices so you can have DVD 1 for only £19.76.
EDP WASP SAMPLE PACK
Contains over 100 Wasp 24-Bit Sounds
P&P: £1.99 (UK ONLY)
You must ensure that you have selected the sampler you use in the drop down list above