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Acoustic & Electronic Instruments, Musicians, News, Tutorials, Videos & Interesting Finds

PWM Mantis hybrid analogue synth to launch as Chris Huggett’s legacy

PWM has announced that a new synth is to launch in the summer, and it comes with a bittersweet backstory.

The Mantis, based on the legendary WASP synth, was a collaboration between Chris Huggett and Paul Whittington, founder of PWM. Chris passed away in 2020 after battling cancer, but he passed on all the designs and other documents he and Paul had been working on in the hope the instrument could be finished and released to the synth community.

Part of Chris’s career was spent at Electronic Dream Plant, where he designed the Wasp synth in the late 1970s. Now iconic, the Wasp was distinctive in its design, featuring a bright yellow plastic casing, 37-note touch-sensitive keyboard, and a series of touch-sensitive buttons arranged in a honeycomb-like pattern. Monophonic, it used analogue oscillators able to produce various waveforms such as sawtooth, square and pulse waves, along with a unique filter with adjustable cutoff frequency and resonance control. Pushing to extremes, a distinctive “buzzing” sound became synonymous with the synth. Other features included two envelope generators, LFO, and built-in speaker.

The Mantis is a modern synth utilising vintage and current technologies. Described as a “duophonic hybrid-analogue synthesiser with dual filter patches and full USB-MIDI control”, it has heritage sound thanks to a modernised design architecture based on the Wasp with an Oscar style filter designed by Huggett.

It has two independent voices, dual filters, and a 37-note semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch, plus a joystick input.

We don’t yet have any official product shots of the new device, but we’ll be sure to bring them to you when we find them.

The full specifications are as follows:

Duophonic Hybrid-Analogue Synthesiser Specifications

  • 200 Patches
  • All patches in RAM so can be overwritten
  • Bank A: 100 Factory presets
  • Bank B: 100 User presets (all set to initial patch)
  • Compare function
  • Initialise patch function
  • Duophonic with 2 analogue signal paths
    • Mathematically generated oscillators designed by Chris Huggett
    • Analogue signal path designed by Chris Huggett
  • 2 Oscillators plus sub-oscillator per voice
    • Sine / Triangle / Saw / Pulse plus additional wave types
    • Shape control and shape modulation input: Will create pulse width modulation on the pulse waveform with perfect square at the centre
    • Pitch modulation control
    • Octave selects per oscillator
    • OSC 1 SUB follows oscillator 1 parameters
  • Oscillator Drift
    • Creates random pitch variations between oscillators
  • Multi-mode state variable VCA filters with overdrive
    • 2 Analogue filters – 1 per signal path
    • Low Pass / Band Pass / High Pass in 12dB and 24dB configurations
    • Additional WBAND (series) and WSTOP (parallel) types
    • Filter Cutoff
    • Filter Cutoff Modulation
    • Filter Resonance
    • Filter Width
    • Filter Width Modulation
    • Filter Keytrack
  • LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator)
    • 2 LFOs
    • 4 waveshapes per oscillator
    • Fade In / Fade Out parameter
    • SYNCable
    • Rate control
  • Envelopes
    • 2 Independent envelopes
    • ENV 1 normalised to amplitude
    • ADSR
    • + Sustain Fall parameter for shaping during key-down
    • + Repeat which can be used to create looping envelopes
    • Velocity positive and negative control
  • Ring modulation
  • Mixer
    • First mix: OSC1 and OSC2
    • Second mix: OSCillators and noise
    • Third mix: OSCillators + noise and Ring modulator
  • VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier)
    • All amplification is done in the analogue domain in multi-stage VCAs
  • Modulation Routes
    • Control – 6 choices of modulation parameters
    • Source – 6 choices of effectors from envelopes and LFOs
    • Scale – choices of controls used to scale the effect of the modulation
  • Glide
    • Glide amount
    • Auto-glide mode
  • Indicator LEDs
    • Two LEDs for Voice
    • LED for Keyboard activity
  • Master tune
  • Master volume
  • Triggering
    • ENV 1 Legato
    • ENV 2 Legato
    • LFO Keytrig
    • LFO Keytrig
    • Master power switch
    • DC 9V input
    • USBC
    • MIDI IN / OUT / THRU
    • Sustain pedal input (switch)
    • Pedal input (continuous)
    • Stereo 1/4” line Outs: L/Mono and R
    • Stereo 1/4” headphone out
  • Multi-function Joystick control
    • Left / right for pitch bend
    • Performable vibrato
    • Latching hold mode
  • Arpeggiator
    • 6 arpeggiator types: Up, Down, Up/Down 1, Up/Down 2, Played & Random
    • Sync rates control from 2nds to 32nds
    • Tap tempo button
    • Swing including positive and negative swing
    • Auto clock sync: Detects MIDI or USB-MIDI clock and synchronises the arpeggiator automatically
    • Latch via joystick HOLD
    • 6 Octave range
  • Dedicated tempo control
  • Duophonic mode control
    • Duo mode
    • Duo mode with simple filter
    • Pan control for duophonic voicing
  • Digital Effects
    • Reverb time
    • Reverb level
    • Reverb High Pass Filter
    • Reverb Low Pass Filter
    • Chorus level
    • Chorus type
  • Keyboard Control
    • 37 Full-size semi-weighted velocity-sensitive keys
    • Channel aftertouch
    • Octave shift
  • Weights and Dimensions (product unboxed)
    • 620 x 320 x 110 mm
    • 5.3 kg
  • Includes:
    • Power Supply (9V 600mA)
    • USB C lead
    • Getting Started Guide
  • Pricing MSRP:
    • US: $1,499
    • EUR: €1,599 inc. VAT
    • UK: £1,349 inc. VAT

    Availability is expected to be this summer.

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