EDP Wasp Synthesizer
Buzzed away

Wasp is an obscure little synthesizer, built in the late 1970ies by British company Electronic Dream Plant. Though it is of really cheap appearance and rather poor workmanship, a small but devoted cult following still rave about its distinctive sound and style.

It's 1977, and synthesizers are still far from being the commonplace instruments they are to become ten years later. Most musicians simply cannot afford the models by big names like Moog, Korg or Roland. This is when Chris Huggett and Adrian Wagner decide to found a company in order to provide poor musicians with a "low cost, but high performance" synthesizer. The Oxford-based company is christened Electronic Dream Plant, and the instrument's names show Hugget's and Wagner's fascination for the world of the insects.

Their first (and most famous) instrument, the Wasp, looked like it was a caricature on the synthesizer industry and cost a mere 200 Pounds. The cheap plastic housing and the incredible "touch-sensitive" flat keyboard - lacking mechanical parts at all - provided its distinctive looks, only to be enhanced by the trademark colours black and yellow, underlining the close connection to its namesakes from the insect world. The instrument was obviously designed as a portable device, as not only was it extremely lightweight, but also equipped with a built-in speaker. There was no need for a power supply unit too, as Wasp could pull its energy from a couple of 5 Volt batteries.

Technically speaking, Wasp is an early digital synthesizer with analogue filter section. It is a monophonic instrument, which means that it can only produce one sound at a time. Surprisingly (and way ahead of its time), Wasp had a proprietary digital interface that enabled the instrument to "talk" to other EDP-products - kind of an ancestor to the MIDI-standard introduced in 1983. Though Wasp featured an analogue output, most users preferred the tinny sound of the built-in speaker - maybe because the all-in-one design suggests it has to be used like this. Due to its lightweight and small size it seems to be the perfect gigging instrument, but in fact it requires careful handling and is very prone to being damaged by the usual tear and wear that live instruments undergo.

> Stung by the Wasp

The Wasp in all its glory

= Buzzed away
> Stung by the wasp