Cherry Audio and MRB have announce the release of the VM2500 Collection, which they describe as an incredible set of 21 modules for Voltage Modular virtual modular synthesizer platform that painstakingly recreates the coveted, and incredibly rare, vintage ARP 2500 modular synthesizer. Here's the full story in their own words...
An Early Innovator
Tonus Systems was founded in 1968 by engineer and businessman Alan R. Pearlman, with the "ARP" brand taken from his initials. At the time, Moog was the only other company producing voltage-controller analog synthesizers. Using cutting-edge space-race technology, Pearlman set out to improve upon existing Moog designs with the release of the massive 2500 series modular synths in 1970.
Because of their inherent temperature sensitivity, the tuning stability of early Moog oscillators wasn't especially good. ARP was able to greatly increase tuning stability by encasing the oscillator modules in blocks of epoxy (with the added bonus of concealing the design from competitors and making servicing next-to-impossible). ARP also sought to eliminate the maze of panel-concealing patch cables inherent to Moog modulars. They accomplished this via a "matrix-patching" system - all module control and audio connections were internally connected to numerous twenty-position (!) slide switches above and below the single row of modules. Though the matrix switch system succeeded in eliminating cable-clutter, it was subject to crosstalk issues as the number of interconnected module signals increased, as well as additional issues as the switch contact surfaces wore out.
In its day, the 2500 was conceived as an innovative, price-is-no-object technological tour-de-force. Its designers used the very best components available to them, including high-fidelity op-amps for superior sound quality, cutting-edge logic chips for the sequencer modules, and more. As a result, the 2500 remains one of the fattest, punchiest analog synths ever made, but as a result of its sky-high price, only about 100 were produced during its roughly ten-year production run.
A Rarity Lives On
Cherry Audio and MRB have collaborated to deliver the 2500's unique module features, stunning sound quality, and overall user experience to the Voltage Modular platform. All 18 modules originally produced for the ARP 2500 system have been recreated in perfect detail, plus a couple that were planned but never produced (including a full-function oscilloscope and a spring reverb) and a mixer module that never existed, but should have! We've eliminated the matrix-switch I/O scheme and replaced all connections with standard CV jacks, and added bi-polar CV attenuators to all modulation inputs for full compatibility with all Voltage Modular modules. But most importantly, the tremendous analog sound and unique features of the original modules have been retained in their entirety, with a few small tweaks to improve the practicality of these 50-year-old designs.
The recreation of the 2500 modules was a team effort, combining Cherry Audio's extensive design experience with award-winning synth designer Mark Barton's (MRB) DSP coding sorcery. The result is a virtual time machine of fat, impactful early electronic music history for the ears!
An Incredibly Affordable Legend
It has been estimated that there are roughly 50 functional ARP 2500 instruments remaining in the world, and these currently trade in the six-figure area (if you can ever find one for sale). The Cherry Audio/MRB VM2500 Collection for Voltage Modular includes all 21 modules, plus hundreds of presets and variations, for the crazy-affordable price of just $49, and it's available now at the Cherry Audio store! A 7-day free trial for the VM2500 Collection is also available.
If you're not already a Voltage Modular user, the Voltage Modular Nucleus bundle is available free for Windows and macOS, in AU, VST, VST3, AAX, and in standalone formats.
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