Electronic Dream Plant

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Electronic Dream Plant (commonly abbreviated to EDP) was a British firm which manufactured audio synthesizers during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The company was formed by musician Adrian Wagner (a descendant of the German composer Richard Wagner) and electronics designer Chris Huggett. Although their products are prized by collectors for their unique sound, the company was small and their products were not particularly commercially successful. However, the Bass Station 2 synthesizer by Novation, widely available in the 2010s, shares key features with the EDP Wasp synthesizer.[1]

Products[edit]

Wasp[edit]

The EDP Wasp.

The Wasp was undoubtedly EDP's most famous product, distinctive for its black/yellow colour scheme and brittle construction. It was notorious for its lack of a mechanical keyboard; instead, it used flat conductive copper plates, hidden under a silk-screened vinyl sticker. This was claimed by some to be unreliable, unintuitive, and devoid of much of the expression present with a real keyboard. Despite these flaws, the Wasp was in fact fairly advanced technologically. It was one of the first commercially available synthesisers to adopt digital technology, which at the time was just beginning to become a standard. It also utilised a proprietary system for connecting several Wasp synthesisers together, predating the invention and standardisation of MIDI by several years. The digital interface should not, however, be confused with MIDI, even though similar DIN plugs are utilised (7-pin DIN instead of the 5-pin DIN which MIDI standardized to).

Architecturally, the wasp is a dual DCO (not VCO) synth, with dual envelopes and a single, switchable (low/band/highpass) CMOS-based filter.

Wasp Deluxe[edit]

The EDP Wasp Deluxe, sans membrane keyboard.

The last Wasp revision was named the Deluxe. It offered virtually the same circuitry (but on a redesigned PCB) to the other two Wasps, but with the additional moving keyboard. The deluxe also featured an external audio input to its filter, and mix controls for the DCO, and external input levels. Rumour states that around 80 deluxes were produced before the demise of EDP.

The Deluxe commands an increased price with collectors, presumably because of its further increased rarity, and its improved playability.

Spider[edit]

EDP Spider (against wasp).

A 252-step digital sequencer (most analogue sequencers at the time had 8 or 16-steps), built in the same style as the standard wasp, outputting both LINK (to drive EDP products) and CV/gate information for use with standard analogue synths.

Gnat[edit]

The Gnat was a single-oscillator version of the Wasp. Anthony Harrison-Griffin an independent product designer was responsible for the design and build of the Gnat, drawing on the basic design and colour scheme of the already well established Wasp.

Caterpiller[edit]

A true, 3-octave master keyboard which could control up to four Wasps or Gnats using EDP's proprietary digital control system.

Keytar[edit]

A "heavily modded Wasp that was built into a guitar form" [vintagesynth.com] which, although prototyped, never went into production.

Legacy[edit]

An internal power struggle in 1981 led to the formation of another company Wasp Synthesisers Ltd by the ousted Adrian Wagner, which produced a very limited run of Special versions of the Wasp and Gnat. This breakaway company lasted less than a year and its products are even rarer.

  • Wasp Special

This 'wooden' wasp used the same membrane keyboard as the standard version, but with a new black and gold colour scheme, and the loss of the internal batteries and speaker. An internal mains transformer was added.

  • Gnat Special

Again, as with the wasp special, a wooden case, different colour scheme, and the loss of the internal speaker.

EDP stopped doing business in 1982. The designer of the Wasp, Chris Huggett, went on to co-form another British company, OSC, with Paul Wiffen producing the OSCar synthesizer in collaboration with Anthony Harrison-Griffin an independent product designer responsible for the unique look and build of the OSCar. Anthony had previously been responsible for the visual design and build of EDP's "Gnat" version. Anthony's use of the distinctive black rubberized components to protect the controls and main casing has become one of its lasting features. It proved a great hit when touring as the rubberized ends reduced the need for a flight case. He even built into the ends a dummy 3-pin main plug to safely store the plug.

Although only 2000 OSCars were made they found their way into much more professional hands because both the build quality and the sound quality were much higher. Many are still in use today.

In 1992, Novation developed a new synth with Chris Huggett based on the legacy of the Wasp and Gnat, the Bass Station. This was expanded and redeveloped in the 2010s as the Bass Station 2, a widely available monosynth competing with instruments such as Arturia's Minibrute and the Korg MS20 mini.

Related companies[edit]

  • Oxford Synthesiser Company (OSCar)
  • Groove Electronics (Stinger -essentially two wasp voices in a midi controlled case & MIDI2CV Midi to Link converter) note: contrary to popular belief, the stinger was not made from two butchered wasp boards
  • Kenton Electronics (Midi to Link daughter board, for their range of midi-cv units)
  • Novation, co-developers with Chris Huggett since the 1990s.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Novation Bass Station 2 Review". soundonsound. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 

External links[edit]