The legendary ARP2600 semi-modular analogue synthesizer was something I always wanted, but could not hope to afford back in the 1970s. Notably used by Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul with Weather Report, Tony Banks with Genesis, Stevie Wonder and Jean-Michel Jarre, the ARP2600, introduced in 1972, was the market leader in analogue synthesizers during the 1970s with about 40 per cent of the market share.
The original 2600 was monophonic and could be operated with or without patch cords - as all the functions were controllable using various front-panel switches and faders. It also featured built-in reverberation. The Arturia ARP2600V has all the features of the original plus lots of new functions such as MIDI control, tracking generators, chorus and stereo delay.
There are three main sections separated into suitcases, similar to the way the original was presented. You can scroll up and down in the interface window to reveal these, with the synthesizer controls in the top suitcase; the LFO, various global controls and the ARP Model 1601 Sequencer in the middle suitcase; and a keyboard at the bottom. Of course, you will normally play the ARP2600V using an external MIDI keyboard and one advantage of the virtual instrument is that all its parameters can be controlled via MIDI.
On the technical front, the ARP2600V has three voltage-controlled oscillators, the second of which can be used as a low-frequency oscillator (LFO) to modulate either of the other two oscillators or the filter. It also features a resonant low-pass filter that can emulate both ARP2600 and ARP2500 filter types; a Sample and Hold section; a Noise Generator; a Ring Modulator; an ADSR Envelope; an AR Envelope and an Envelope follower. The Sequencer can create two simultaneous eight-step melodic lines or one 16-step line and can also be used to modulate any synthesizer parameter. To the left there’s a section for tuning and other settings plus an LFO that can be used for modulation instead of Oscillator 2. You can use the three main oscillators to build your sound or use Oscillator 2 to create a slow modulation on the filter cut-off while using the LFO to create fast vibrato.
The 400 presets provided include all the sounds that I associate with the original, along with loads of excellent new sounds that reveal just how versatile the ARP2600V is. For me, this is one of the most inspirational re-creations of a classic 70s analogue synthesizer and at this price it’s a steal.