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ARP | 2500
In 1969 ARP Instruments was formed by Alan R. Pearlman, an electronics engineer inspired by what Moog was doing, particularly after hearing the now famous W. Carlos album, “Switched on Bach”. In 1970, ARP introduced its first modular synthesizer, the model 2500. As with almost everything ARP did during its existence, the 2500 was designed in direct competition with the Moog synthesizers that were garnering most of the attention at the time.
The 2500 is a technologically advanced synthesizer following the traditional modular format. There are 15 modules covering all the bases: VCOs, filters, envelope generators, modulators, sample and hold circuits, even a sequencer. The Studio wood cabinet had space for 15 modules, and smaller 8-space Wing cabinets allowed for expanded or portable systems. Like all modular systems of the day, buyers got to custom order their system with any combination of modules, cabinets and keyboard options. This means that existing 2500 systems today could come in any number of possible configurations, from compact portable systems to over-blown multi-cabinet multi-keyboard behemoths.
Unlike other modular synthesizers, the 2500 does not use patch cables to route the signal between its modules. It uses a unique 10x10 matrix switch system to accomplish signal routings. Modules are located in the center row of the cabinet, with the matrix switches located above and below the modules. Module inputs and outputs are represented by vertical switches, and the horizontal busses represent a patch cord. Color-coded pins are positioned horizontally along the matrix to make connections. This matrix system allows for a very flexible and customized signal flow without the mess of patch cables. The only downsides are the potential for crosstalk between the busses, and it may seem less obvious at a glance just exactly what is being patched into what than with traditional patch systems.
The 2500's modules themselves are also a bit overwhelming. The 2500 allows you to create plenty of excellent sounds with its great filters and many other excellent circuits and parameters. However, it is clear that these modules were designed by an engineer and not a musician. The modules are covered in electronic diagrams and offer a ton of controls. The high learning curve the 2500 presents made it a popular addition to the music departments of universities. But it was the easier to navigate ARP 2600 that would provide a much more musician-friendly experience and would prove to become ARP's most popular synthesizer.
Nevertheless, a 2500 is a prized piece of kit for any studio. The 2500s are known to have superior oscillators to the Moog, offering reliable and stable tuning that does not drift. These may not be for the faint of heart, but the results of creating your own sounds on them will be very rewarding. Since only about 100 were sold (give or take), they are also very rare.
Original list prices for modules ranged from $400 to $1,200 with complete systems going for $8,000 to $20,000. Adjusted for inflation, that would be something like $45,000 to $110,000 today!!!
|Engine Detailed||1004p & 1004t: Voltage Controlled Oscillators 1023: Dual Voltage Controlled Oscillator 1016: Dual Noise/Random Voltage Generator|
|Filter (VCF)||1047: Multimode Filter/Resonator 1006: Filter-amp|
|Envelope (VCA)||1003: Dual Exponential Envelope Generator 1046: Quad Envelope 1033 Dual Delayed Exponential Env Generator|
|Sequencer||1027: Ten-position Sequencer 1050: Mix/Sequencer|
|Key type||3604: Portable One Voice Keyboard. 4 Octaves. 3001: One Voice Keyboard. 5 Octaves. 3002: Two Voice Keyboard. 5 Octaves. 3212: Three Voice Split Keyboard. 5 Octaves. 3222: Four Voice Split Keyboard. 5 Octaves. (All keyboards include variable tuning, variable tone interval, and variable portamento controls.)|
|Produced:||1970 - 1970|
|Legend:||Obvious||Y: Yes, N: No, N/A: Not Applicable|
|VCO||Voltage Controlled Oscillator||DCO||Digital Controlled Oscillator|
|LFO||Low Frequency Oscillator||Sub||Sub Oscillator|
|VCF||Voltage Controlled Filter||VCA||Voltage Controlled Amplifier|
|Velocity||As with a piano, the harder you hit a key, the louder the sound, unlike most organs which always produce the same loudness no matter how hard you hit a key.||Aftertouch||Pressing a key after you activated it. Channel Aftertouch, no matter which key, it will send a Channel message. Poly Aftertouch, sends the pressure per key instead of the whole channel.|
|Values for OSC, LFO, Filter, Envelope are per voice unless stated otherwise.|