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In-depth Feature:  Gforce Oddity
A classic synth remodelled for the 21st Century
Bruno writes: .

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At the Frankfurt Musik MESSE in 2002, a meeting of minds between the meticulous designers of Gmedia’s MTRON plug-in and the inventive and adventurous Ohm Force team, led to the development of a software version of one of the classic synths of all time.

Trading under the new Gforce banner, they are now proud to unleash the Oddity, a software tribute to the ARP Odyssey.

In The Beginning..
Firstly, a few details about the original ARP Odyssey should be noted.

Developed in the early 1970’s by Alan R.Pearlman, an engineer with no great musical background but a history of audio module design which included amplifiers for the Apollo and Gemini space programs, the ARP 2800 Odyssey was the kid brother of the more famous, modular, ARP 2600.

Essentially a scaled down 2600, with one less oscillator and extensive internal patching, the Odyssey was capable of some rather extreme sounds, the classic 70’s Sci-Fi films including Star Wars and Star Trek utilized this unusual and often unearthly character.

Its main competitor at the time was the Minimoog, and debates as to which was the superior of the two raged for many years. Although the Odyssey had only two oscillators, compared with the Minimoog’s three, it had some extra features which more than made up for this.

The main difference was polyphony, unlike the monophonic Moog, the Odyssey was switchable to duophonic, in duophonic mode, the two VCOs were assigned a low note and high note priority, allowing very harmonic sounds to be created. In addition, the Odyssey features Pulse Width Modulation, this was usually found only on much larger systems and allowed the Odyssey to sonically outsize its competitors.

A common complaint of the Odyssey was its non-musical interface, designed as it was by an engineer as opposed to a musician; the Odyssey had an interface some people found confusing and perhaps too technical. Despite this, the sonic character of the Odyssey ensured that it became an instant success and one of the hottest synths on the market.

The secret of this character was in its filters and oscillators, the original 2800 white-face Odyssey used a 24db/octave 4012 filter with a reported response of 16Hz to 35Khz, this design however copied much from a Moog patent, so when the black-face ARP 2810 and 2813 were released, ARP had developed a new 4075 filter, unfortunately, someone miscalculated the component values and this new filter offered a cutoff frequency of only 16Khz. In spite of this, the Odyssey filter has become very sought after, as it has a distinctive character that epitomises the sound of this classic synth.

Additionally, ARPs aggressive sounding oscillators were far more stable than their competitors, a fact noted even by Robert Moog, and ensured their common use in live situations.

Often wrongly described as thin, the Odyssey sound is edgy and exciting, the Low pass and High pass filters allow creation of everything from deep sonic basses to sharp percussive drum sounds with many stops in-between.

The Gforce Oddity is a faithful reproduction of this classic, with the addition of some new features, which the designers hope will help turn a vintage classic into a modern master.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • Gforce WWW
  • Arp Odyssey @Synth Site

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