Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by nvining » Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:11 am

I had a black and gold Mk II that I bought a few years ago from Analogue Haven - I seem to recall it originally belonged to somebody on these forums.

Never really got into the damn thing, to be honest. I'd like a whiteface, just to see if it's a little more my cup of tea, but in general I just found it wasn't really very inspiring and bothered the heck out of me. The fact that the keyboard action handles like a motorboat wasn't dreadfully thrilling either. In the end I sold it and a bunch of other stuff and got a Minimoog D instead, which has served me much more faithfully.
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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by Steve Jones » Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:28 am

I agree with Goom - I rarely use the resonance slider on my MkIII Odyssey, especially live. It has so much character that I don't feel the need to add filter buzz. It is an awesome synth but you have to be able to drive it, it is a bit more of an "instrument" that your average monophonic synth, you have to get it under your fingers like a guitar and play it. It is also less forgiving and polite than other monos. It is a striking sounding instrument but you have to drive it like a sports car, but if you do it will deliver like no other monophonic. I love the Oddy because it is a demanding synth to play but if you make that commitment is absolutely shreds. I have two Odysseys, (MkII and MkIII) I sold my 2600 and don't miss it much, even though the 2600 is obviously more powerful I find the Odyssey more enjoyable.

I do also wonder whether young folk that have been raised on virtual instruments and keyboard work stations that use stacked sounds with lots of FX are initially disappointed with old analogs the first time that they play them because of their rawness and because they sound so dry?
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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by HUBA » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:17 pm

Steve Jones wrote:I agree with Goom - I rarely use the resonance slider on my MkIII Odyssey, especially live. It has so much character that I don't feel the need to add filter buzz. It is an awesome synth but you have to be able to drive it, it is a bit more of an "instrument" that your average monophonic synth, you have to get it under your fingers like a guitar and play it. It is also less forgiving and polite than other monos. It is a striking sounding instrument but you have to drive it like a sports car, but if you do it will deliver like no other monophonic. I love the Oddy because it is a demanding synth to play but if you make that commitment is absolutely shreds. I have two Odysseys, (MkII and MkIII) I sold my 2600 and don't miss it much, even though the 2600 is obviously more powerful I find the Odyssey more enjoyable.
Awesome post! You'd make a decent synth salesman. :lol: Brought back my interest for the Odyssey anyway. Care to explain what makes it more enjoyable to you than the 2600?

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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by Broadwave » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:43 pm

HUBA wrote:
Steve Jones wrote:Care to explain what makes it more enjoyable to you than the 2600?
I also had a 2600 (MKII) for about 10 years. The Oddy's far more immediate at creating sounds... you just go with the flow. With the 2600, I found myself stopping to "think" what I was patching, and that sort of hindered the workflow, not good when your band mates are tapping their feet waiting for you to recreate that "monster" patch, the Oddy's much easier to control in a live situation ;)

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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by Romannis1972 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:00 pm

I think, and I didn't read the entire thread, you should give it time. I had a pristine white face Odyssey that was semi modular patch modded by CMS and it took a while to find where it would sit in my rig, but I realized trying to forcefully place it was pointless. It can scream, or it can sing like birds. To want it to sound Moog like was my intention too, but quickly realized that wasn't happening hahaha.

They are far out machines, and I think that was the intention. I wish I still had mine witht the knowledge I have now do subtractive synthesis.....

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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by clubbedtodeath » Sat Mar 09, 2013 11:00 pm

Alex E wrote:Well f**k. I'm really starting to like it. I've just been jonesing for a Virus TI for years and I can't afford to have both.
Hi Alex,

Reminds me of when I bought a Korg MS-20. At first I was thinking "My first proper vintage analogue! Woo!", and then as I set down to work and explore the synth, I was a slightly, but most definitely underwhelmed.

A week later, I knew my way around it much more - the immediacy was there, but it required you to work hard. And I loved it; that was 5 years ago.

Cheers

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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by Steve Jones » Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:02 pm

I prefer the Oddy over the 2600 simply because it is so immediate to play as Kronik said in an earlier post. I have to admit that I love PPC, and I find the Oddy just flat-out fun to lean into and hammer. The 2600 was great to sit in front of and get into a different headspace and make some fascinating textures through that boingy spring reverb. To me the Oddy and the Prophet 5 are my favourite synths because they are so in your face and un-forgiving. As a kid I was blown away by Billy Currie's Odyssey playing, I always enjoyed the contrast between what I heard from famous Minimoog soloists and Odyssey artists, I love the classic Minimoog sound but for me nothing beat those Ultravox solos.

The other thing that always surprises me is the Prophet. Yesterday I was playing a bunch of big poly's - an OBxa, JP-8, CS-80, PPG 2.3 and a Rev 3.3 Prophet 5. It's hard to pick a favourite, particularly as the PPG and CS-80 are so much in a left-field world of their own but I have to say that If I could only have one poly it would be the Prophet 5. As for mono's it is harder as there are so many more choices with all of the modulars around now but for a live performance synth the Odyssey 3 is my pick.
Last edited by Steve Jones on Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by Steve Jones » Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:04 pm

clubbedtodeath wrote: Reminds me of when I bought a Korg MS-20. At first I was thinking "My first proper vintage analogue! Woo!", and then as I set down to work and explore the synth, I was a slightly, but most definitely underwhelmed.

A week later, I knew my way around it much more - the immediacy was there, but it required you to work hard. And I loved it; that was 5 years ago.

Cheers
The thing that was missing was a basket full of guitar pedals... :D
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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by Kenneth » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:47 pm

Steve Jones wrote:I do also wonder whether young folk that have been raised on virtual instruments and keyboard work stations that use stacked sounds with lots of FX are initially disappointed with old analogs the first time that they play them because of their rawness and because they sound so dry?
I, as a part of the younger generation of synthesizer freaks, can attest to this. I had been creating electronic music with software and a microKorg for a long time, when I had been introduced to the Moog synthesizer via a few old records from Kraftwerk that I thought were the cat's pajamas. I fell in love with the rich sound, the organic, somewhat unstable nature of the voltage-controlled components. For years I listened to records on which Moogs had been used, read articles and forum threads, and gradually realized I needed to get into this "analog synthesis" thing. I eventually bought my first analog synthesizer: a Moog Little Phatty. I still remember the unboxing process and what it was like to play it for the first time. Underwhelming is a perfect way to put it. I was thrown off by its dryness, the lack of any kind of reverb or delay made it sound so... naked. Obviously this was a result of my ignorance, and coming from a generation who was born in the digital era, it takes some getting used to. Years later, after deciding not to give up on analog synthesizers and to really dig in and find out what all the fuss was about, I have realized that using a tool that does everything is taking the easy way out, and great art never came from being lazy. Great analog synths are great not for their banks of effects and factory loaded drum loops, but for the smooth, organic tone of their oscillators, and the simplicity of being able to produce the sound one desires without leaving their creative headspace for the more mathematical one it takes to operate a computer or digital workstation.
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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by SongJohn » Fri Mar 15, 2013 5:34 pm

These are '70s synths - made back in a time when people were actually playing melodies on them. I know now it's ever so popular so drive these machines for sound effects or minimalist lines, but in the '70s, think Keith Emmerson's Karn Evil 9 (1974).

So keeping that in mind, YOU have to bring character to the table. I have yet to come across ANY SINGLE synthesizer made in the 1970s that didn't blow my mind. Not being blown away by any '70s synth demonstrates a lack of imagination to me.

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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by AnalogKid » Fri Mar 15, 2013 7:02 pm

I love the sound of the Odyssey. There's nothing quite like it.

One synthesist who is associated with the Arp Odyssey is Billy Currie from Ultravox. It was his Odyssey playing that got me hooked on the Odyssey's sound.

For example, when the Odyssey kicks in at 4:36 on this Ultravox song, it just has a great edge to the sound:



Here's another Billy Currie Arp Odyssey solo at 2:56. Not too complicated, but instantly recognizable as the Odyssey:



With a little reverb, the Odyssey can also sound very nice when it's "singing," as it does beginning at 0:12 on this track and following:



Yes, in the right hands, the Odyssey is a great and unique sounding machine. One more Odyssey solo from Billy Currie at 2:36:



I wish that someone would resurrect the Odyssey (Korg Odyssey mini, Roland Odyssey, DSI Odyssey - LOL). Great sounding synth. I wish that they were available as new and reliable real deal analog units.

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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by Steve Jones » Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:32 pm

The solo from the end of Astradyne is one of the best synth solos ever played I think. Not the fastest or most complex but certainly intensely expressive with all of the modulation and portamento and bending. I always assumed that Billy was using PPC for all of the modulation on those solo's, but watching some live concert footage I saw that what he was doing was to only add sine wave modulation to VCO 1 using his left hand on the VCO 1 mod slider - There was no paint left on the front panel around this slider, I would bet that he needed to have the slider replaced regularly back then. I also read that he had some kind of mod done to the portamento on his Odyssey also.

Those solos are what I am referring to when I say that you need to PLAY an Odyssey to get the most out of it, and also how the Oddy has a fantastic "voice" without the need for using filter resonance.
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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by Bitexion » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:52 pm

I've heard many old keyboardists say they never use LFO vibrato modulation via a modwheel, because it sounds too static and not organic. They prefer to hit the pitchbend wheel instead. Or apply manual modulation like Billy Currie does.

Sort of like how lead guitarists wanna use the whammy bar for vibratos, not an automated vibrato pedal.

Stevie Wonder is the other "big" CS-80 player (aside from Vangelis), he used the pitch ribbon for vibratos, so his cs-80 had the ribbon replaced a dozen times because he wore it out. since it was basically just a felt strip with a wire underneath.

I love to set up my Andromeda A6 as a theremin and control the pitch on the ribbon bar. It's super expressive when you assign 1-2 octaves to the pitch ribbon.

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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by Steve Jones » Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:22 am

Bitexion wrote:Stevie Wonder is the other "big" CS-80 player (aside from Vangelis), he used the pitch ribbon for vibratos, so his cs-80 had the ribbon replaced a dozen times because he wore it out. since it was basically just a felt strip with a wire underneath.
The wire is a gold plated steel spring about 10mm in diameter pressed into a channel so that it is distorted sideways slightly. It is mounted above a long carbon resistive track.
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Re: Some thoughts on the Arp Odyssey

Post by CZ Rider » Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:58 am

Hey, those Billy Currie solos sounded great. Did not know that was an Odyssey, thanks for posting!
All this talk of Odyssey and no mention of the duo-phonic keyboard?
Funny story, before I got my first Oddy I had two Avatars. Now you would think the Avatars would sound the same. Same oscillator board and same filter/EG board. So I believed I knew what an Oddy Mk III would sound like since I had basically the same instrument. As luck would have it I found a broken Mk III on Ebay for $350. Needed a little work, but a fun project. First time I tried it, I was blown away with the the way the keyboard could split the oscillators. Something about the way if you play fast legato the notes kind of smear, as the second oscillator is slightly behind. And equally blown away by how subtle the bends could be made with the PPC pads. Ended up putting a 4035 filter in place of the 4075. Sort of took away that nasil sound, but made it really shake the floors with bass. A very unique voice for sure.
A small demo with the duo-phonic keyboard and a little PPC bends and vibrato.

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