The ARP 2600 is a semi-modular analog subtractive audio synthesizer, designed by Alan R. Pearlman with Dennis Colin, and manufactured by his company, ARP Instruments, Inc. as the follow-on version of the ARP 2500. Unlike other modular systems of the time, which required modules to be purchased individually and wired by the user, the 2600 was semi-modular with a fixed selection of basic synthesizer components internally pre-wired. The 2600 was thus ideal for musicians new to synthesis, due to its ability to be operated either with or without patch cords, and was, upon its initial release, heavily marketed to high schools, universities, and other educational facilities.
Three basic versions of the ARP 2600 were built during ARP's lifetime. The first, dubbed the "Blue Marvin", was housed in a light blue/grey metal case with a keyboard that mated to the synthesizer, and was assembled in a small facility on Kenneth Street in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, during ARP's infancy as a company. They were often mistakenly referred to as "Blue Meanies," but "Marvin" is the correct name as named after ARP's then-CEO Marvin Cohen. Later ARP 2600s used vinyl covered wood construction with metal corners for both the synthesizer and keyboard making it a more durable and portable instrument. Early versions contained an imitation of Robert Moog's famous 4-pole "ladder" VCF, later the subject of an infamous, threatened (though ultimately nonexistent) lawsuit. Finally, in order to fit in with the black/orange theme of ARP's other synthesizers, the ARP 2600s were manufactured with orange labels over a black aluminum panel. The mid-production grey 2600 models featured many changes amongst themselves. Changes in circuitry and panel lettering provided at least three different grey panel models.
Alan R. Pearlman was just as innovative as a salesman as a synthesizer designer. He provided synthesizers to well-known musicians, such as Edgar Winter, Pete Townshend, Stevie Wonder, and Herbie Hancock, each in exchange for his endorsement as a professional user.
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The Arp 2600 synthesizer has set a standard against which all synthesizers are measured. No other instrument offers the musician such a balanced combination of studio and live performance options.
Creative artists like Joe Zawinul and Stevie Wonder are just two of the many who have chosen the 2600 as their synthesizer. A major reason for is popularity is its open needed flexibility. The 2600 offers an unlimited range of sound production, modification and processing functions. On concert stages, in recording studios and in the music departments of the world's most prestigious colleges and universities, the 2600 synthesizer performs brilliantly year after year.
A look at the control or "brain" of the 2600, tell you of its awesome music power. The instrument utilized the block diagram concept of electronic sound creation similar to that found on Arp's smaller, less complex variable models. Linear sliders and switches are used throughout for ease of programming, and to provide the user with quick visual record of the signal flow.
The 2600 can me operated with our without patchcords. All of the functions are internally wired and can be controlled via sliders and switched. Female panel jacks provide access to every function on the 2600, so that you may override any prewired internal connection. This give you complete control of the synthesizer process, allowing you to choose the raw signal, then determine the exact sequence of the modification and control requires to create just the sound or effect you desire.
New keyboard electronics have recently added to the 2600 to expand its live performance capability. A compact panel to the left of the keyboard offers two-voice dual memory, a lot frequency oscillator for trills and vibrato, single/multi trigger selects, portamento, pitch bend, and an interval latching divide that lets you memorize, delete and call back selected intervals using a foot switch controller.
Through Arp systems interfacing, the 2600 may also be interconnected with other Arp synthesizers. Headphone jacks, monitor speakers and built-in reverb are also included.
The 2600 has been carefully designed for the discerning professional musician, whether composer, performer, creative audiophile, teacher, student or combination of all. Several book and performance aids are available to further enhance the enjoyment of 2600 ownership. The 2600's Owner's Manual is a text used for electronic music courses in addition to its use as a practical operational guide. The 2600 Patch Book is the collected wisdom of dozens of 2600 owners, featuring 100 control settings for basic and advanced synthesizer patches.
Complete with owner's manual, integrated travel case, interval latch foot switch and patch cords, the Arp 2600 will provide you with years of music rewards.