The Mode Machines MW-01 Wasp Filter is one dirty little fuzzy, filthy, buzzy but bad ass filter. End review. Thanks for joining us.
No, really. The Wasp is so good at what it does that its almost scary. I mean, as soon as you turn this boy on he gives off a bit of a pulsating buzz. Noisy? Maybe. Bad? Not even. Everything about it seems to be designed to bring its name sake to life in your music. The LFO are its wings. The LFO speed? Well, that’s its speed and it determines how fast the wings fly. The Drive is its stinger. The cut off and the resonance determines how venomous of a punch it will inflict on the signal. (Well, was that descriptive enough?)
So, as I learn more and more about the Wasp I’ve come to know more about some pretty important synth history. Purists please excuse your selves while I speak to those of us that are just learning of the history and the creator of the original EDP Wasp synth.
Wasp Synth – Courtesy of Vintagesynth.com
OK synth newbs… The Wasp was created by a cat named Chris Huggett. Chris Huggett founded a company named EDP in the late 70’s and created the classic Wasp synth (Sound familiar?). In the 80’s he went on to create a rare vintage synth called the OSC OSCar (maybe only 1000 made). OSC Oscar modeled soft synths and Kontakt Sample libraries are still readily available today. Chris Huggett later worked for Akai where he was charged with writing the OS for the Akai s1000 rack sampler. Soon after, he began working with new comers, at the time, Novation. Later, Chris joined forces with Novation and developed the Novation Supernova which gave way to the lineage of Novation bass synths right on down to the latest Novation Bass Station 2 which also comes equipped with… (you guessed it.) the Wasp filter design.
Now, enter Mode Machines and their ingenious micro mode series where they have designed and plan to set to market 10 classic filters in micro form factor. The Wasp is one such filter in Mode Machines micro mode series. The Wasp has an audio in, audio out and power connector on its back side. The top side of the case is obviously where all the business of effecting and filtering sounds happens, at least where it concerns what you control.
So what’s the build like? Mode Machines is pretty consistent in their build aesthetics. The Wasp is a black metal case with solid black sides and three yellow stripes on top. Each yellow stripe is home to a few controls, switches etc. On the top row there is the LFO led light, 3 position Filter Type selector and the on/off switch. Next row is home to LFO Speed knob, Drive knob and the Self Osc on/off switch. On the last row there is the LFO level knob, the cutoff and resonance knobs.
Now as for the sound characteristics, I for one do not have experience with a WASP synth to make a comparison but I can certainly tell you that the WASP is nasty and grimey. But in a good way. It has a definite character about itself. The silk screened grimacing, muscular, knuckled-up Wasp is certainly indicative to how strong of a punch this box packs.
When I turned it on for the first time there was already a bit of a buzzing pulse. The sound corresponded to the LFO led light’s off/on pulse. The LFO speed was set to a low / slow setting at that point. Well, I knew right away that this Wasp Filter was a monster. I ran my Arturia Minibrute thru it, then out to my effects unit and into my interface for recording to DAW. The combo of the Minibrute and the Wasp along with some delay was absolutely entrancing.
The ability to switch between LOW, BAND or HIGH filter types gives you plenty of options when deciding which direction you’d like to bend the sound. Obviously, at least in my case, the LOW pass filter setting was mad fun to freq’ with. With drive set to its minimum, the self osc switch set to “on”, the LFO Speed at mid-way and the LFO Level at mid-way to its max I was so pleased with the wild sounds that the Wasp spat out. Varying the Cutoff and playing with the LFO speed introduced me to how wild and freq’y it could really get. I love to leave the LFO Speed on a higher set-ting and turn the LFO level up to max then play riffs thru it. The WASP just pulsates and bends the crap out of the sound source. Its rather amusing on a strong lead. It truly reminds me of the audible representation of fast flapping wings. Of course you can dig deeper while playing with resonance and there is a noticeable difference with self osc off.
I could go on for days playing an analog synth through this WASP filter with either filter type and all of the settings I’ve mentioned but the real magic and chaos happens when the Drive knob is thrown into the mix. First things first, turn your volume down on the monitors, headphones etc. before you venture into Drive knob territory. Your ears will thank you. Now, just giving the drive a notch or two the sound is instantly crunchy and distorted. Its mean. Turn it up about half way and its angry and grimey. Go any further into the higher levels and, depending on the sound source, this guy gets down right unpredictable and nasty. I have to admit I was not ready for such a huge punch in such a small little filter box.
Although i haven’t done so yet, I plan to run some MPC drums thru it and chop ’em up to see what kind of mess I can get myself into. I can surely guarantee you that any of you iOS synths can benefit from this mean bug that we call the Mode Machines MW-01 Wasp Filter. I can’t see a thing that I would change. However I would warn any buyer that you should be sure that this is what you are searching for and that it is exactly what you want to add to your arsenal of effects. It’s so perfect as a sound design tool. It’s very versatile in the levels of wild it exudes.
I almost feel silly scoring the Wasp. It’s a 5 because there is nothing that I can find wrong with it and everything about it is right. But keep in mind I had at least some small idea of what I was getting in the WASP. If you are not ready for this little mean ass controllable noise bug you may find yourself in an odd spot wanting something else. Still my score of 5 assumes that you are looking for a little, rather versatile filter that can lightly sprinkle the source with some character and/or totally screw drive the sound in a grimey unyielding sort of way (good in my opinion). If that’s what you need, then this is the filter for you.