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ARP | Odyssey rev2


While the Minimoog proved to be a runaway success as the first compact studio synthesizer, ARP responded with a compact and user-friendly studio synthesizer of their own with the Odyssey in 1972. An almost equally legendary machine itself, the Odyssey was ARP's highest selling synth back then, and still is to this day in the second-hand market.

The Odyssey essentially gives you a simplified hard-wired ARP 2600 in a much smaller and affordable package. The Odyssey is a 2-oscillator analog synth (with duo-phonic capability) and it sounds really nice; the Minimoog has three oscillators and is capable of thicker sounds. The Odyssey comes well equipped with all the tweakable features and analog goodness you'd expect: a resonant low pass filter, ADSR envelopes, sine or square wave LFO, and a sample-and-hold function.

The Odyssey also added a few new features such as a high pass filter that could be used in series with the low pass, oscillator-sync capability, and pulse-width modulation. It is a very professional and expressive machine that can create nice analog basses, interesting leads, great effects and sweeping sounds straight out of a Tangerine Dream album!

There were many versions of the Odyssey over the years, each a little different. They can be broken down into 8 models spanning 3 Mark "Mk" versions.

Odyssey Mk II (Models 2810-2815)

Then the Odyssey Mk II series came along, featuring 5 models (2810-2815) which were produced between 1975 to 78. Visually, they continued with the black and gold color-scheme seen on the late Mk I's. But under the hood, the Mk II series had several improvements. The VCO design was improved for better tracking. The power supply was improved. The sample+hold memory was improved. The keyboard current source was improved allowing for CV and Gate control to be added. The rotary pitch bend knob was also replaced by ARP's own PPC (Proportional Pitch Controller) - three pressure sensitive buttons, either by factory modification kit on earlier models, or from the factory on later models.

But the biggest change in the Mk II was in its filter. Early versions of the 2810 model still had the 2-pole model 4023 filter used in the Mk I but were soon replaced with a beefier 4-pole VCF (model 4035). This filter used a ladder design that was very similar to the Moog filter. While rumors persist that Moog sued ARP over this, no suit ever occurred. Arp and Moog came to an amicable agreement and a small licensing fee was paid by ARP for units previously manufactured. ARP soon after designed a new 4-pole, low pass filter - the model 4075 filter - which was used in all subsequent Odyssey models. Unfortunately, while the new model 4075 version of the filter was still beefy at low frequencies and very stable, it also had a well known bandwidth limit error around 12 to 14 kHz, resulting in a weak sound at high resonance or when driven into self-oscillation. This has made the rarer black and gold 2810 Odysseys with the model 4035 Moog-like ladder filter the more sought after and pricier models.

Mk II Models

Model Series Year Color Filter Boards Pitch Bend Interface Chassis
Mark II series
2810 mk II 75 - 76 Black+Gold 4035 A-II, B-I or B-II, C-II Rotary knob No interface jacks Wrap around vinyl bottom
2810 mk II 76 - 78 Black+Gold 4075 A-II, B-II, C-II Rotary Knob or PPC CV/Gate+Trig Wrap around vinyl bottom
2811 mk II 76 - 78 Black+Gold 4075 A-II, B-II, C-II Rotary Knob or PPC CV/Gate+Trig Wrap around vinyl bottom
2812 mk II 76 - 78 Black+Gold 4075 A-II, B-II, C-II Rotary Knob or PPC CV/Gate+Trig Wrap around vinyl bottom
2813 mk II 76 - 78 Black+Gold 4075 A-II, B-II, C-II Rotary Knob or PPC CV/Gate+Trig Wrap around vinyl bottom
2815 mk II 76 - 78 Black+Gold 4075 A-II, B-II, C-II Rotary Knob or PPC CV/Gate+Trig Wrap around vinyl bottom
ModelOdyssey rev2
Engine TypeAnalog
Voices (max)1/2
LFOSine / Square; sample-and-hold
Engine Detailed2 VCO's: saw, square, pulse, pwm (can be modulated by: sine LFO or ADSR envelope), white/pink noise; oscillator-sync modulated by: ADSR, square/saw LFO, sample-and-hold
Filter (VCF)Model 4023 (Early models): 2-pole bi-quad design with low pass output. Model 4035 & 4075 (later models): Four-pole resonant 24dB lowpass filter, high pass filter (static); can be modulated by: keybd track, sample-and-hold, sine LFO, ADSR, AR; ring modulator
Envelope (VCA)EG 1: AR; EG 2: ADSR
Key typeKeys
CV-gateCV/GATE (models 2810 - 2823)
Extra info3 versions with various models
Produced:1972 - 1981
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.

Manuals, patches etc.


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