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!
The Odyssey Mk I (Model 2800) produced was between 1972-75. These used a smooth 2-pole voltage-controlled filter design (model 4023) similar to those used in the Oberheim SEM modules. From 1972 to 74 the Odyssey was produced with a white-faced front panel with black lettering. All Mk I’s can be identified by the rotary knob they use for pitch bending. None had any interface jacks, but a factory modification was available to add interface jacks as well as a PPC pitch bender in place of the rotary knob. This particular whiteface Odyssey has been modded to include trig, cv and gate, which is tremendously rare and useful!
Polyphony – Monophonic / Duo-phonic
Oscillators – 2 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
LFO – Sine / Square; sample-and-hold
Filter – 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
VCA – EG 1: AR; EG 2: ADSR
Keyboard – 37 keys
Arpeg/Seq – None
Control – CV/GATE (models 2810 – 2823)
Memory – None