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Arturia ARP2600 V

Arturia revives the Bride of Frankenstein and she?s never looked better By Johnny Rofrano

Whether its the spaced out sound of Edgar Winters Frankenstein or the rhythmic pulse of Pete Townsends  Baba OReilly, the sound of the ARP2600 is unmistakable. In 1971, Alan R. Pearlman, ARP's founder, introduced the world to a semi-modular synthesizer that had prewired modules with patch points for changing the routing -- the ARP2600. It was an ingenious idea that made it easier to play live than a completely modular synthesizer. Finding one of these 30 year old synths in good condition has been difficult at best due to the age of the components. Arturia has changed all that with the introduction of their ARP2600 V virtual instrument for VST, RTAS, HTDM, DXi, and Audio Unit.

When I first fired up the ARP2600 V, my thoughts flashed back 30 years ago to the day when I first encountered one that a close friend of mine had just taken home from the music store. We spent hours in front of that magnificent instrument and Im happy to report that its software counterpart is just as captivating. I just couldnt stop exploring its sonic possibilities until the wee hours of the morning. I always wanted an ARP2600 and thanks to Arturia, I finally have a virtual one of my own.

But enough nostalgia, what is it like? To be quite honest its a lot like I remember it. I did own an ARP Odyssey back in 1972, the original white-faced version so I am very familiar with the ARP sound and programming. The Arturia ARP2600 V did not let me down. Even the reverb has that springy quality to it. It was so realistic, I  wanted to bang the side of my monitor to see if it would ?boing. The sound through my M-Audio Firewire 410 and a pair of M-Audio Studiophile LX4s with the 5.1 Expander System just shook the house.

 The ARP2600 was unique in that it was semi-modular. Unlike the Moog, it contained prewired patch points that could be overridden with patch cables. This means you can make sounds without adding a single patch cable -- this was very handy for live performances and makes the virtual synth easy to program as well. All of the original features are included in Arturias version: three voltage controlled oscillators, noise generator, ring modulator, sample & hold, a voltage controlled filter, two envelope generators, and a voltage controlled amplifier with a stereo output and reverb.

The original ARP2600 was a monophonic synth although there was a duophonic keyboard that was available. Arturias ARP2600 V is a multi voice instrument (up to 32 voices). This allows you to play it in a way the original ARP2600 could not be. What would have taken a lot of multi-tracking to accomplish on the original synth can now be done in one pass playing full rich chords with the ARP2600 V. It also has a Detune feature that will randomly detune the voices for each note that is played. Because the detune amount is random and changes on every key press, it can really produce some interesting and thick results.

Sometimes the little things make the experience special. The ARP2600 comes with three skins. The original blue meanie, which I have never seen in person. The popular gray meanie, which is the one that I remember playing, and the later orange and black ARP screening that the last batch of ARPs had. There are no physical differences in the characteristics of these they are only skins but they complete the illusion.


The ARP 1601 Sequencer

As if having a replica of the ARP2600 wasnt enough, Arturia adds an ARP 1601 sequencer. You might think that today with PCs and MIDI Sequencers who would need a 16 step sequencer but youd be wrong. This sequencer can trigger gates, or filters, or any control voltage in the synth opening up a wide range of dynamic possibilities. My only complaint is having to fine tune the sequencer by hand. It is just as tedious as the original but this is a place where allowing the software version to assign notes as values via keyboard input would have been a nice improvement.

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