Back with a little help from Korg, and better than ever, the ARP 2600 is the semi-modular synthesizer that changed the landscape of synthesis when it was released in 1971. Appearing in the music of jazz fusion performers, progressive rock icons, and sound designers, it quickly earned a reputation of being one of the best electronic instruments of all time: a reputation that has remained until this day. Now well into the 21st century, Korg presents a new production run of the 2600, maintaining the original sound and form factor while adding modern niceties such as MIDI control, arpeggiation, sequencing, and more.
The ARP 2600 has a semi-modular architecture which allows you to make sound without having to patch anything. These normalized connections are clearly labeled on the panel and patching into the jacks breaks this normalization and allows for customized signal routing. The use of sliders allows for visualization of levels that knobs just don't provide. The shape of an ADSR envelope, for instance, is much more clear when you can see the individual parameters' time or level amount.
The 2600 features three oscillators that can be used as audio oscillators or LFOs. Each of the oscillators have four normalized FM inputs, allowing for the use of complex combinations of content for frequency modulation. With the change of a couple of sliders you can easily go from zappy laser sounds to sci-fi sample and hold bleep bloops to melodic keyboard lines without having to patch any cables. One particularly interesting normalization is the use of the noise generator to modulate the pulse width of oscillator 2. At audio rates this creates a sound like a mix of a pulse wave and noise, and at low frequencies can result in random gate patterns.
The filter on the 2600 is a resonant lowpass filter that features a mixer with five input channels. This abundance of input signals allows for the filter to get pretty gnarly, distorting and creating otherworldly tones. The filter can also self-oscillate at high resonance settings and tracks 1V/Oct, allowing it to serve as a fourth sine wave oscillator.
The two envelopes, one ADSR and one AR (or ASR), can be used with the keyboard gate/trigger outputs or with the clock output from the sample and hold. Using the clock allows the envelope to function effectively as LFOs, freeing up the oscillators for audio duties. The envelopes are normalized into the VCA's two CV inputs, one of which is linear, while the other is exponential in its response. The output from the ring mod and VCF are normalized into the VCA audio inputs. The VCA has a great deal of gain and can result in a distorted sound at high slider settings.
A sample and hold is also available as a modulation source. It features a clock which can be used as a square wave LFO, a bidirectional switch, and noise normalized into the sample input. The noise source has variable control if noise color, from red and pink noise to white. Other signals can also be sampled by the sample and hold. If an audio signal is fed into the sample input of the sample, it can be used as a pseudo-bit crusher with the clock controlling the sampling rate. The bottom of the 2600 features a utility section that allows signals to be attenuated, inverted, mixed, and slewed.
You can bring in external signals into the 2600 with the preamplifier and envelope follower. The preamplifier has three ranges, 1x, 10x, and 1,000x to allow for a range of different input signals. The envelope follower takes the amplitude of an incoming signal and turns that into a corresponding voltage level. Use a drum machine to open up a filter, mic your voice and use it to control the frequency of an oscillator, the possibilities are open ended and vast. The ring modulator is nestled in with the external input section which lends itself to be used with either internal or external signals and either with AC or DC coupled signals. It can be used as an additionally voltage controlled amplifier which will impart different harmonic character to the input signals. The 2600 also features real physical stereo spring reverb which adds depth to your sound.
The keyboard retains the features found in the original 3620, while adding some additional features that improve its range of functionality. It can act as a duophonic keyboard with both an upper (highest note held down) and lower CV output. It has an integrated portamento with switch and momentary button that can be used to turn on or off the portamento quickly and conveniently. Notes can have pitch bend applied to them with a knob, or an on-board LFO can add vibrato to the notes. The LFO features speed, depth, and delay controls. The vibrato delay control causes the LFO to come in after a set period of time, allowing for the vibrato not be heard immediately and adds a new dimension to your playing. The LFO can also be used as a re-trigger the 2600's envelopes independently of the keyboard or has the option to be logically AND combined with the keyboard so it only triggers when a note is held down.
The new version of the 3620 keyboard adds the option to select between both filter revisions, as well as a 128-note sequencer and arpeggiator, which frees your hands to focus on sliders. Additionally, the 2600 adds MIDI via USB as well as in/out/thru over 5-pin DIN for use with other MIDI-enabled gear. Get your hands on the synthesizer that redefined what we thought a synthesizer could and should be, and provided the architecture for future generations of designers.
ARP 2600 FS FEATURES
Semi-modular synthesizer and keyboard
Three-oscillators that can be used for audio or LFO duties
128-note sequencer / arpeggiator
Monophonic or duophonic keyboard operation
Two selectable flavors of low pass filter with five inputs
Internal stereo speakers
Built-in spring reverb
USB and 5-pin DIN MIDI
Includes rugged road case
Sample and hold
Noise with adjustable color
External preamp input and envelope follower
Two VCAs plus ring mod
Keyboard vibrato with speed, depth, and delay controls
Portamento on/off switch plus momentary button
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