Although it comes as no surprise my goodness doesn’t it look awesome!? Korg has revealed their much-anticipated recreation of the ARP 2600 semi-modular synthesizer.
ARP 2600 FS
It’s handcrafted in Japan, supervised by the co-founder of ARP Instruments David Friend, as a single run, limited edition reproduction of the original ARP 2600. It even comes in a custom-branded hardshell case running on casters. Wow, what an iconic synthesizer.
The ARP 2600 is seen as a bridge between modular synthesis and performance synthesizers. It somehow combines the complexity and sound design of modular with the immediacy of a playable instrument. Korg has completely honoured the original instrument even down to the built-in speakers while adding a couple of enhancements of their own. There’s MIDI of course with both DIN connectors and USB; there are XLR audio outputs; an improved ARP 3620 Duophonic keyboard and an added arpeggiator and sequencer.
Otherwise, it’s absolutely the fabulous sounding synthesizer that you imagine it should be. Check out the video below for a good overview from Luke of Korg UK.
The ARP 2600 FS features 3 oscillators with very stable tuning and can be used for audio or as LFOs. You can feed one oscillator into the other for a bit of FM. All of the sawtooth, square, triangle, sine and pulse waves are available simultaneously. Oscillators 2 and 3 have manual pulse width control and oscillator 2 also has a modulation input.
The filter is a 4-pole -24dB per octave with a fine-tuning control and ability to self resonate. You have mix controls over each oscillator, the noise generator and the ring modulator before entering the filter. Korg has included a switch to change the filter type to replicate the filters of earlier and later models.
There are two envelopes, one a full ADSR the other just an AR. They have both gate and trigger outputs and can be manually triggered without having to use the keyboard.
The VCA does the job of amplification with both Linear and Exponential control inputs. Then the signal goes through a stereo mixer section, the internal spring reverb tank and onto the headphones, speakers and line outputs.
But that’s just the semi-modular, regularly normalised stuff. It gets even more interesting once you start patching. It has multiples for splitting signals to multiple destinations. There are three Voltage Processors to provide scalable CV or act as attenuators. A Lag Generator can delay the start of a CV signal. The Noise Generator is tunable between pink, white and low-frequency noise. Three Inverters can reverse the polarity of any signal and a switch can be synced to internal or external clock along with the Sample & Hold. And then there’s the dedicated preamp and Envelope Follower for processing an external input. So, there’s plenty to play with beyond the regular subtractive synthesis.
This is faithful to the original while having a few things improved or sorted out. It has 49 keys with aftertouch, portamento and has single or multiple triggering. In Duophonic mode you can use a foot pedal to lock an interval between any two notes without retuning. Vibrato can be added with aftertouch or with the onboard three waveform LFO. You’ll also find the arpeggiator/sequencer here along with pitch bend and octave up/down.
The Total Package
They’ve called it the “Total Package” and by golly have they put this thing together well. I don’t think anyone could have imagined a better reproduction of the ARP 2600. The limited run and the price will disappoint a lot of people but the people who will be preordering this synthesizer will have no such doubts as to its value. Which inevitably brings us to Behringer and their forthcoming 2600 clone. Korg is smart to have announced this before NAMM next week as I imagine Behringer will be wanting to reveal their version at their parallel not-actually-at-NAMM party. And the internet will descend into fevered discussions over why one is better than the other. For me, I can’t afford the Korg so to have something similar at a price I can reach would be excellent – but I’d always wish I had this one.
The price is €3,999 and Thomann have them available to order (see link below). Shipping should be underway by the end of the month or early February.