"KORG ARP ODYSSEY Module (ODYSSEY-M)" is an analog synthesizer module released by KORG in 2016. "KORG ARP ODYSSEY" with mini-keyboard was released in 2015. "KORG ARP ODYSSEY Module" without keyboard was released in 2016. "KORG ARP ODYSSEY FS" with full-size keyboard was released in 2017. "KORG ARP ODYSSEY FSQ" including ODYSSEY FS and step sequencer SQ-1 was released in 2018. As of 2021, all are discontinued. However, ARP ODYSSEY in "KORG Collection" software synthesizers is on sale.

The first mini-keyboard ODYSSEY couldn't receive pitch bend information via MIDI, but ODYSSEY-M and ODYSSEY FS can. However, neither hardware can receive control change No. 1 (cc#1, modulation).

There are differences between the original ARP ODYSSEY and its reprinted version, the KORG ARP ODYSSEY. The original had 3 revisions, Revs 1, 2, and 3. Without details, Rev 1 has a white body with a cap-type slider, Rev 2 has a gray body with a cap-type slider, and Rev 3 has a black and orange body. Rev 3's sliders have horizontally long knobs.

The low-pass filter, which is the key to sound creation of analog synthesizers, also differs depending on the revision. KORG explains that "TYPE I (Rev1) is a 12 dB/octave filter with a sharp and punchy sound, TYPE II (Rev2) is a 24 dB/octave filter that's great for thick low sounds, and TYPE III (Rev3) features excellent stability even when the resonance is increased." The original Rev3 has a XLR output, but it doesn't seem to be a balanced connection. The controller to change the pitch was a knob in Rev1 and some Rev2. Later a pad called PPC (Proportional Pitch Control) was introduced.

For KORG ARP ODYSSEY, all coloring of Rev 1, 2 and 3 have been commercialized. However, Odyssey-M has only 1 and 3 coloring, and the photo above is Rev 1. XLR audio output is balanced. MIDI and USB are also included. Pitch bender is a PPC. You can select one of the three types of low-pass filter with a switch.

The original ARP ODYSSEY that works properly is rare. I bought the original Rev1 before, but it got sick and I sold it to synthesizer shop. I think Korg's ODYSSEY reprint was meaningful because it was easy to get a stable ODYSSEY.

ARP ODYSSEY is a pioneer of combo synthesizers along with the minimoog. However, the choice of functions for creating sounds is very different. The minimoog had a pitch bend wheel and a modulation wheel, but the ODYSSEY had a knob or PPC. So, with ODYSSEY, it is difficult to play a moog-like performance that adds vibrato on long tones. The minimoog has a rotary switch for octave switching, but ODYSSEY has a continuous slider, so changing the octave requires careful tuning. I wonder if I can do it on stage.

The minimoog is monophonic, but ODYSSEY has VCO1 with low note priority and VCO2 with high note priority, so you can play two different keys. It called "duophonic". This function enables us to make unique sound. But on the other hand, depending on how you play, the pitch changes and the envelope triggering may not match and cause noise. ODYSSEY has features such as pulse width modulation with an LFO or envelope generator, oscillator sync, ring modulator, high pass filter, noise switching between white and pink, sample and hold, pitch modulation with an envelope generator, and repeating trigger the envelope generator. The minimoog does not have those features.

Comparing these features, I would like to say ARP ODYSSEY is more suitable for creating elaborate tones in the recording studio. With the KORG ARP ODYSSEY, you can choose one from three types of low-pass filters, so the range of sound creation is even wider. On the other hand, the minimoog (or a synthesizer with a auto-return pitch bender with spring) is superior to ODYSSEY in terms of ease of pitch bending and vibrato. If you want to play minimoog-type solo with ODYSSEY, you should consider preparing a MIDI / CV converter and shaking the CV to ODYSSEY. The "Pulse Lead with Pro Solo mkII and Eclipse" below is an example.

Weather Report keyboard player Joe(Josef) Zawinul loved ARP's 2600 and ODYSSEY. He probably didn't use Moog's synths at all. Joe didn't play the minimoog-like performance of adding vibrato when stretching the sound. He sometimes set constant slow vibrato on the lead tones of the 2600 and ODYSSEY. Even with the KORG ARP ODYSSEY-M, the slow rate vibrato sounds beautifully. If you have a chance to play ODYSSEY, please give it a try.



VCO1 only

A sound of a square wave from VCO1. I slightly squeezed the low-pass filter to raised the resonance a little. The reverb was t.c. electronic's Reverb 4000. Vibrato was played with PPC. The keyboard I used to play notes was Yamaha MONTAGE 6, and I tried using all five octave keyboards. I think ODYSSEY is stable over a wide range. The low range is quite powerful. There's a high-pass filter that you can use for better control the amount of low range.

VCO1 and VCO2 Unison or Duophonic

ODYSSEY's VCO1 plays the lowest note you play, and VCO2 plays the highest note. With same settings on VCO 1 and 2, you can play two notes simultaniously (duophonic). If you play a single note and press the key before releasing the previous key, the transition of the sound makes a little noise. Speaking of other analog duophonic synths, there are Korg 800DV and Yamaha CS40M. They have 2 independent signal paths for 2 voices(2 oscillators, 2 filters, 2 amplifiers), so they have no ODYSSEY-like problem. I think moog's Sub 37 tribute edition has duophonic mode. I have no precise information. Sorry.

Pulse Lead with Pro Solo mkII and Eclipse

I brought Kenton Electronics' MIDI / CV converter "Pro Solo mkII" in order to send CV / GATE to ODYSSEY. This makes ODYSSEY completely monophonic. I applied vibrato with aftertouch (cc#1 is also possible). However, ODYSSEY's portamento, PPC pitch bend, and octave switching lever cannot be used in this connection. I used one pulse. The envelope of the amplifier was AR type. It was single triggering, so I tried not to legato too much.


Back To School(Hell?)

KORG ARP ODYSSEY-M solo. I recorded MIDI information on Cakewalk at free tempo, and while playing the sequence with the recorder MR-2000S in the recording state, I moved the FM slider of VCO2 with my left hand and the FREQ slider of LFO with my right hand to adjust the vibrato. I added the Roland MX-1 built-in delay. The sound has taste of wind intrument. It may come from the 12dB / octave Rev1 filter.

Dance Music for Monophonic Synthesizer and Delay Machine

KORG ARP ODYSSEY-M solo. I found theme A at my desk, without musical instrument. When I wrote the melody on notebook, I noticed that the time signature was partially changed. At ODYSSEY-M rear panel I connected "TRG OUT" and "GATE IN" with a patch cable, and made ADSR EG a single trigger mode. Then I can't use the LFO, but this time it's okay. The delay was Roland MX-1's MFX "2 Pan Delay" and the time setting was a quarter note. When Cakewalk and MX-1 were synchronized, the clock fluctuated slightly, and it appeared as a funny delay sound, which made me sick, so I stopped synchronizing. The note data was stored in Cakewalk. The "VCO-2" level (set one octave lower) and "VCF FREQ" of ODYSSEY-M were moved by fingers while playing the sequence after turning the recorder KORG MR-2000S on.

For Duophonic Synthesizer

KORG ARP ODYSSEY-M solo. ODYSSEY is a duophonic analog synthesizer. Because the standard state is that VCO1 is low note priority oscillator, and VCO2 is high note priority oscillator. There is only one filter and one amplifier. If you play only one key, both VCO1 and VCO2 will sound on the same key (not necessarily the same pitch), and if you play two keys, two oscillators will sound with different keys. This is really unusual for keyboard players. With piano, organ and polyphonic synths, if you play two keys, the sound is louder than playing one key. But with ODYSSEY, two keys may sound a little quieter than one key because of no unison power.

I tried to use ODYSSEY's duophonic. I tuned the VCO2 at two octaves below VCO1. When I play two keys, the upper key makes lower tone. This is quite unusual. With piano, organ or polyphonic synth, the highest key stands out when you play some keys. In my case of ODYSSEY duophonic, the lowest key produces the highest sound and it stands out. During playing this tune, I had quite strange feeling.

Also, when I played two keys and the timings of releasing the keys are not the same, the one which was released earlier tried to change the pitch to the other. It produced odd sound. I had to adjust the length of the notes on the Cakewalk's piano roll screen. The release time of the amp envelope had to be shortened, too.

I added Roland MX-1 internal "Delay 7: Hall". MX-1's delay includes reverb programs. Please refer Roland - The Ultimate Guide To The AIRA MX-1 Mix Performer.

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©Hideo Harada 2010-2021 updated on 2021/10/22 22:09:30