The ARP Odyssey is an analog synthesiser, originally produced in 1972 by the American manufacturer ARP Instruments Inc. that quickly garnered a faithful following among musicians.
Alan R. Pearlman(June 7, 1925 – January 6, 2019), founder of ARP Instruments, recently passed away.
Alongside Don Buchla and Bob Moog, Pearlman helped to change the shape of analogue synthesis during the ’70s by being able ton build oscillators that stayed in tune which troubled the other analog synths at that time . ARP 2600 also pioneered the semi-modular synth which is now prevailent every where . ARP’s Odyssey & Minimoog were the primary competitors in the growing portable synthesiser market and was the company’s biggest seller. Well respected for its high value, easy to play and portability, the ARP Odyssey has undergone several improvements during its history and continued to be a long-seller until manufacturing stopped in 1981 due to economic hardships and the digital surge. Loved by a wide range of musicians as a historical classic, its sound can be heard on numerous classic songs.
In 2015, KORG brought back the ARP Odyssey. With the advisory assistance of David Friend, the co-founder of ARP Instruments, KORG has completely reproduced the original circuitry for artists looking to recreate classic sounds and explore new ones. Together the engineers at KORG and Arp were able to nail the sound and feel of the original. Every detail has been carefully considered to stay true to the quality of the original, down to the sophisticated semi-hard case.
The Arp Odyssey (A quick overview)
“With no presets comes bigger responsibility”
Odyssey is an instrument with no presets. This forces you to learn your instruments in & out. Creating that useable patch that sounds pleasant to your ears, requires you to journey from learning the synthesis process as a whole, while at the same time discovering your distinct sound as an artist.
The ARP 2600 was much smaller than the ARP 2500. This mid-range model was designed keeping the sound generator and keyboard as two separate units. It was a three-VCO unit in which the main modules were internally wired, but could be patched with patch cords to create more complex sounds. Some additional characteristics, rarely seen on other models, were a built-in speaker and spring reverb.
The special features and sounds caused the ARP 2600 to be used in many recordings and by musicians such as Stevie Wonder and Joe Zawinul.
“I want orchestral sounds from a synthesizer. The kind of realism beyond imitation. I can make the 2600 sound like Coltrane, just like Coltrane… or change it to soft, haunting flutes,” the quote by none other than legendary keyboardist Joe Zawinul read, in an ARP 2600 advertisement from November of 1976.
The New ARP ODYSSEY
Arp Odyssey gives you a simplified version of the hard-wired ARP 2600 in a much smaller & affordable package. (The ARP 2600 was used by the production of Star Wars in 1977, to create R2D2’s “voice”)
The Odyssey is a 2- oscillator analog synth (with duo-phonic capability) & comes with all the analog goodness you can expect.
B) Three major Filter types
Type I (a 12db/octave filter) produces a sharp, punchy sound.
Type II is a 24db/octave filter with great-sounding lows
Type III is the most stable out of all three even when resonance is increased.
C) Noise Generator
Noise generator to provide two noise types: white & pink
D) Drive Switch
The new drive switch delivers a more powerful analog sound. Turning on this switch makes the VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier) distort, generating a rough & raw sound.
E) Envelope Generators
Two EG ( Envelope generator ) with two types ADSR and AR which can be used to modulate the filter or oscillator apart from the VCA
F) Modulation Source
Sine or square wave LFO can be used as a modulation source for the oscillator or filter & the sample-and-hold function lets you create sounds by using the oscillator or noise generator as a source that is triggered by LFO or keyboard. S/H(Sample & Hold), LFO, ADSR & AR can be used to modulate the filter
G) Ring Modulator
Ring modulator generates metallic sound with rich overtones
The Arp has contributed to legendary sounds in film & music. A ton of great artists have incorporated Arps sounds the likes of ABBA, Eagles, Pink Floyd, and Elton John, just to name a few.
A comprehensive but ever-growing list can be found in the link here:
1. A list of artists and bands that have used or continue to use ARP synthesizers
2. SOUNDS: Music by ARP Odyssey
Information Source: Korg Synthesizers
Compiled by: Sushant Joshi