Archive for June, 2006

Lost in Space: The ARP 2500 & 2600

Among analog synth fans, R.A. Moog invariably reigns supreme. But there was a lesser known American company, ARP, that made modular synths just as revolutionary. ARP was founded Alan R. Pearlman in the late ’60s and introduced its first product, the 2500, in 1970. The 2500 was similar in appearance and sound to Moog’s modular (owing partially to filters copied from Moog), but it introduced matrix patching of modules. Matrix patching means patch cables were not necessary for connecting modules. Instead, modules were hardwired into a sort of mixing devise. The 2500 connection to space was its appearance in Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977 during the UFO landing sequence at Devil’s Tower. The 2600 built on the success of the 2500, but offered a simplified layout and a semi-modular design optimized for portability. The 2600’s connection to space is the lovable R2D2 in the Star Wars films — Ben Burtt used Francis Ford Coppola’s 2600 to make R2D2’s “chatter” (along w/ a number of other sound effects from the series). The 2600 also had a big impact on rock music. The Who’s song “Baba O’Riley” features a Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1 organ (or tape loops, depending on who you talk to) running through the 2600’s sample and hold module. Unfortunately for Pearlman and analog synth fans, poor management led to ARP’s downfall in 1981. And up until the late ’90s, Pearlman was still paying off creditors. But the influence of the ARP still remains and can be seen in the design of many modern modulars.

Baba O’Riley Lowdown?
http://www.analoghell.com

2600
http://www.vintagesynth.com

Close Encounter w/ a 2500
http://www.synthfool.com

1 comment June 21st, 2006


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