ARP retaliated with the Odyssey in 1972.
The Odyssey was clearly derived from the 2600 and had
two audio oscillators, a white/pink noise generator, a ring modulator,
a resonant lowpass filter, a (non-resonant) highpass filter, an
AR and an ADSR envelope, an LFO and a very flexible sample+hold
unit which, more than anything, proved the Odyssey's modular heritage.
Already, you can see that the specs on paper alone are superior
to the MiniMoog's.
But there were other, more subtle functions on the Odyssey
that were lacking on the MiniMoog.... pulse width modulation (PWM),
oscillator sync, envelope 'repeat' (triggered from the LFO) and
comprehensive modulation facilities where (almost) anything could
be routed to (almost) anything with (almost) the same flexibility
as a true modular synth. The Odyssey was also a lot more stable
- in fact, the whole ARP range was famed for better oscillators
- and you could guarantee that, once warmed up, the thing would
stay in tune for your gig, a feat that filled MiniMoog owners with
The Odyssey had another trick up its sleeve however....
it was 'duophonic'.... sort of! It was possible to play each of
the two oscillators independently allowing you to play two notes
at a time. Two notes!!!? This was unheard of and was a revolutionary
new feature! Of course, because both oscillators shared a single
filter and envelope, the results were compromised but at the time,
this was quite a unique selling point and many used it to good effect
in performance. On paper then, the feature set of the Odyssey left
the poor old MiniMoog standing... more 'modules', more sound shaping
facilities than you could shake a stick at, 'duophony', stability
and more.... the MiniMoog didn't have a chance..... or so you would
What the Odyssey lacked, however, were the MiniMoog's
unique pitchbend and mod wheels. Instead, it had this crappy little
rotary knob for pitchbend and you had to use the modulation sliders
below the oscillators to introduce vibrato - quite a tricky manoeuvre!
The pitchbend knob wasn't totally unusable - it had a 'dead area'
at its centre position so that bend could be controlled with more
subtlety - and many such as George Duke mastered it to good effect.
However, it just didn't work as well or as intuitively as Moog's
And then there was 'the sound'.
Many say that the MiniMoog had a 'fatter' sound because
of its third oscillator. This is largely tosh - Oscillator 3 on
the MiniMoog was mostly used as an LFO for vibrato in 99% of its
sounds rendering it essentially a two oscillator synth just like
the Odyssey most of the time. No - the difference in sound between
the two lay in their filters. Whereas the Mini had the famous 24dB/Octave
Moog 'ladder' filter, the Odyssey had a more 'polite' 12dB/Octave
lowpass filter of ARP's own design. But it is here that the story
gets blurred as some claim that the original white Odysseys shipped
with a beefy 24dB/Octave 'Moog' filter clone.
You see, ARP had pretty much copied the famous Moog 'ladder'
filter in their ARP4035 filter design and this was used in early
versions of the the company's 2600 modular synth. Robert Moog was
understandably less than happy about this copyright infringement
and so pursued ARP to cease using his patented design. ARP were
forced to concede and so designed a new, proprietary filter. This
was the ARP4023, a 2-pole, 12dB/Octave lowpass filter and it was
this that was was used in the original white Odysseys, not
ARP's Moog clone. However, the story doesn't quite end there....
In 1974, the Odyssey had a face-lift in the form of the
new black and gold Mk2. Between 1974 and 1975, the new Mk2 used
the same 2-pole 4023 filter from the white Odyssey but between 1975
and 1976, the Mk2 Odyssey was mysteriously shipped with the ARP4035
Moog filter clone inside! Quite how or why this happened is unknown
but it is possibly this that gives rise to the confusion (and rumours)
regarding the relationship between the Odyssey and the Moog filter.
If the early Odysseys had a weakness, it was the 4023
12dB/Octave filter. Being 2-pole, it lacked the 'punch' of the Moog's
4-pole filter. Also, the 4023 was quite noisy. On the positive side,
however, high resonance settings on this filter didn't attenuate
low frequencies as was the case on the Moog and and this made it
ideal for synth bass sounds. Also, with a shallower cutoff slope,
it could be argued that the Odyssey had a brighter sound overall.
Quite why ARP chose to go with a 2-pole design, however, is anyone's
guess - perhaps it was to give the Odyssey a different sonic identity
to the MiniMoog... perhaps it was to distance themselves even further
from the Moog filter debacle. Who knows!
But the story of ARP, the Odyssey and their filters doesn't
ARP had developed their own 4-pole 24dB/Octave filter,
the ARP4072, that was intended for the Mk2 Odysseys (and other ARP
products). But there was a bit of a problem....
Someone at ARP had miscalculated the component values
in this new filter and, as a result, its frequency response only
extended to a mere 12kHz!! It seems that this filter made its way
into some production runs of the 2600 before the problem was spotted.
The problem wasn't insurmountable - owners of those synths could
have this limitation fixed by having four resistors changed - but
it must have been extremely embarrassing for this eminent synth
The problem was finally rectified once and for all in
yet another filter design, the ARP4075, and it was this filter that
was used on all subsequent Odysseys (and other ARP products) after