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Korg’s decision to bring back the legendary ARP Odyssey certainly turned heads and caught a lot of people by surprise.
However, the reaction was nothing short of pure elation. Finally, the chance for everyone to get their hands on the modern day version of the famous 70’s synth.
The original paved the way for all synth designs thereafter and now Korg has masterminded it’s return to the modern day era. The sound has been perfectly replicated and the versatility still shines through.
It’s safe to say that Korg has managed to create one of the greatest comebacks in recent years. The Odyssey is back!
The Return of the ARP
Korg has remained faithful to the original design, keeping true to the look and feel of the vintage synth. They did manage to scale it down slightly, 86% to be exact, and this is a welcome addition due to the limited space we often have in today’s studio environment.
The downsizing is mainly due to the 37-note, Slimkey keybed, the decision for the smaller keys is not going to delight everyone but they are still very much playable. The keys offer no velocity sensitivity and aftertouch showing that they are sticking to the original Odyssey blueprint.
Korg has stuck to the plan and expertly recreated the ARP’s vintage sound. You have two VCO’s that make up the sound engine, these can be used as monophonic or duophonic depending on how many notes you are playing – a huge design feature back in the day!
Each VCO offers square, sawtooth, pulse-width modulation, and a noise generator that offers up pink and white noise options. Add to this the ring modulation, a sync option, high and low-pass filters and a further variety of mod sources like LFO, ADSR, AR, and S/H to modulate the filter.
Korg drafted in ARP design engineer, David Friend, to cast an eye (and ear) over the build of the replica. The original Odyssey went through three different filter designs over its 10-year production life, each filter offered various sonic tones and this is where Korg’s version shines.
The biggest and most exciting feature of this synth is that it gives you the choice of using any of those three classic filter designs of old. With a simple flick of a switch, the sounds and character of the Mk1, Mk2, and Mk3 filter designs are instantly at your disposal – an exciting prospect!
Mk1 was a 2-pole design that excelled in bright sounds, the Mk2 was 4-pole ladder filter design that was perfect for warm and rich bass type sounds, lastly, the Mk3 was also a 4-pole design but was slightly muted and smoother.
A Flexible and Formidable Synth
The return of the Odyssey is something that we have all been waiting a long time for. So when the news first broke that Korg was planning to launch their own version of ARP’s legendary synth, there was naturally a lot of expectation on their shoulders to deliver a high-end product.
Korg crafted the Odyssey by using modern technology to recreate the sound palette of the Odyssey and using some additional features to bring the synth into the modern era.
The synth itself, although slightly smaller, feels strong in your hands and sits comfortably on the desktop. The set of the keyboard has changed slightly with Korg using a built-in recess design, rather than hanging over the edge like the original. A small but welcome change in our books.
The layout of the interface has not changed one bit. Showing its true vintage character, there are no knobs to be seen, only sliders and switches to control the oscillators. There are some doubts over the strength of these sliders – maybe some things are too much like the original.
However, what is great about the Korg ARP Odyssey is that you can choose any one of the three Mk color designs from the 1970s. Choose from the Mk1’s white interface, the Mk2 with its black and gold, or you can go for the striking Mk3 design with its orange and black color design.
Other new features worth a mention include the 16-step arpeggiator, on-board effects including Phaser and Chorus for adding depth and movement, a 3-band EQ for quick frequency adjustments, and they’ve also thrown some Delay and Reverb into the mix as well.
The new Odyssey also comes with a few additional features not found on the original. The Drive effect keeps it in line with some of the modern day synths. This feature instantly makes your sound heavier and more aggressive in the post-filter phase, all at the flick of the switch.
The need for aggressive sounds is common in today’s modern synth market, but let’s face it, as much as it is useful, it’s not going to be the defining reason that leads us to part with our hard-earned cash when buying the Korg ARP Odyssey.
Lastly, a semi-hard case is included to keep your treasured synth safe whilst on the road or for when it’s not in use. A nice bonus for when you are spending a lot of cash on high-end equipment.
The ARP Odyssey from Korg is not cheap and it must have been hard work to redesign the legendary synth and keep the price tag low. However, for those who grew up with the sounds of the original Odyssey and listened to the pioneering artists who used the synth to its full potential, it’s surely a must-have purchase!
It might be the only viable chance you have to test out the power and potential of one of the true greats. Sure, it’ll never be quite the same as the real thing but Korg has done an excellent job in recreating a true synth legend.
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