Following Jean Michel Jarre’s leak last month, the expectation was high that Korg was to reissue the legendary semi-modular Arp 2600. A confirmation has now arrived as the Japanese firm has announced the Arp 2600 is making a return, after 40 years, and being launched at next week’s NAMM show.
Despite JMJ’s leak, there was always an assumption that this might be being planned when Korg released the Odyssey five years ago. As a scaled-down Arp 2600 it always seemed inevitable that the full Arp 2600 would return.
Well now the wait is over, and like all Korg is announcing this year, it doesn’t disappoint. Faithfully restoring the original, to a limited run only, yet combined with some newer features and assembly work, fans both old and new are sure to be delighted. Speculation is that it will set you back £3,200 when it ships in February and as far as we can see it’s the perfect Valentine’s Day present.
From Star Wars to Stevie Wonder
Anyone choosing to revisit the instrument behind the original voice of R2D2 has a huge responsibility on their hands. Having been a central part of everything from Star wars to Stevie Wonder to Depeche mode, it’s captured the hearts and minds of millions of producers and music fans across several generations. When we briefly demoed it at Korg UK in December we were overwhelmed with the incredibly faithful results. It’s a thing of beauty that meant keeping the lid on the news was a challenge.
The new 2600 is heavily armed as you would expect for something that was meant to be a full studio in a box forty years ago. It comes with three oscillators, noise generator, a low-pass filter, dual envelope generators, spring reverb and ring modulator, built-in speakers, Tolex-covered cabinet detachable keyboard with arpeggiator and an additional LFO, MIDI note on/off and pitch-bend transmittable and receivable over MIDI and USB. And breathe. It’s no cheap knock off either as initial A/B tests against a vintage model have shown few discrepancies in sound.
Make it your own
The Arp 2600 is a semi-modular. All the various modules are hardwired meaning you can play and make a sound right out the box (which is huge and heavy). But with it being semi-modular they can all be rewired with a patch cable to create your own combinations. Better still the front panel’s routing graphics guides users in signal flow. The patchable connections can also be used to interact with any modular or Eurorack system.
With it being so close in sound to the original you’d be forgiven for thinking that four decades of development work has been done away with. But no – this is a hybrid that bridges design generations seamlessly.
Korg has enhanced the keyboard, with 49 full-size keys, aftertouch and portamento. The keyboard is duophone with Single or Multiple Triggering available with footswitch options to lock note intervals without returning the oscillator during the performance. Most noticeable is the addition of a flexible Arpeggiator that allows a user-defined pattern to be manually sequenced and played back. Still present are the original Pitch Bend knob and the Two Octave Up / Two Octave Down Transpose switch. Connecting the keyboard to the main unit now uses a secure eight-pin din cable.
All this for £3,200 – what are you waiting for? It’s a limited run after all..