Top 20 Greatest Synths - Episode 7

The Penultimate Episode On The Countdown      08/05/07

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11:37 mins
Top 20 Greatest Synths - Episode 7

<Top 20 Greatest Synths - Episode 7

So here we are at the penultimate episode of the show which features just one synth – the ARP Odyssey. Although ARP’s modular systems are the stuff of legend, few people have actually owned one, whereas the Odyssey was far more accessible and had many similar features to its huge elder brother the 2600. Hence the large number of votes in our poll, earning this plucky little rascal of a synth the coveted number 2 position on our countdown.

<2. ARP Odyssey
At a time when modular synths were elitist, unobtainable and hideously expensive, the Odyssey offered the perfect alternative. This lightweight portable 37 note duophonic keyboard could be used for studio recording or in live situations. Although racked with tuning problems, many bands and artists took this rival to the Mini Moog out on the road in the early 70’s, where it forged a reputation that lives on to this day.

The Odyssey was produced in 3 models. An off-white version, a black and gold version and the most common, a black version with orange livery. Later versions had good CV/gate interface and the mark 2’s were fitted with XLR outputs.

The model 4035 4-pole VCF filter was a direct steal from the Moog filter and a subsequent law suit from Moog forced ARP to redesign their own 4-pole low pass filters, the model 4075. These were included in many of the other ARP instruments such as the Quadra, Avatar, Axxe, Pro DGX and Omni 1 & 2.

The Odyssey has appeared on a number of recordings by an array of different bands and artists. Tangerine Dream, Yello Magic Orchestra, Klaus Schulze, Devo, the Chemical Brothers, Chick Corea, ELO, Ian Dury & the Blockheads and the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop all used the Odyssey.

As part of Gmedia Music, Dave Spiers helped design and release The Oddity, a soft Odyssey with patch memory, MIDI/tempo sync and velocity sensitivity. In this episode, Dave gives his Odyssey II a full workout and explains why this ‘punk rock’ synth deserves a position as runner up to the greatest synth ever.

People who included the Odyssey in their Top 3 votes include:
jhenneocad, cmcmasters, steve-state-of-the-art, DBW314, j.toman, usefulnoise, jswedlund, PJHK, alan_longhire, kleine, wingo, moretti, lou fashioni, s.aldridge47, arpodyssey, robert80, akai, yammy252, jsaulenson, mario534, johansonleb, jon_waker, turner, AES467, kingsmanjt, andyshane, paulberrisford, krinky_jones, lillo, avatarman, ferguson243, and many, many more.

<Top 20 Weirdest Instruments

In this episode you also get a sneak preview of our upcoming show, the Top 20 Weirdest Instruments.
Yes, it’s another chart rundown as we enter the twilight world of weird instruments and bizarre technology.
In this brand new series there’ll be rare footage, demonstrations and exclusive interviews with musicians and inventors alike as we examine in detail the strange musical devices that inhabit the darkest recesses of the musical universe.
And it’s not just synths. There’s acoustic instruments, outboard effects, software, even toys, in fact anything that makes a noise and is truly bizarre will be considered for the shortlist.
As usual the series will be presented by Professor Marc Norris who will also be treating us to extracts from his vast collection of videos and records from his remote manor house on the Weirdshire Moors.
So come with us on a journey to the uncharted edges of music technology and join in the search for the Top 20 Weirdest Instruments of All Time…Ever!

<Episode 8
That’s it for now; join us again next time as we reveal the synth that’s at the top of the tree. The numero uno. The number one greatest synth of all time. Tune in on 23/05/07 for the final episode of the Top 20 Greatest synths… ever. Don’t miss it!


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13 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
beej    Said...

Aha! So it *was* the ol' Oddysseus of Oddness then! Phew! That one was bugging me...

Wicked - next time, a whole show devoted to the number 1 - which is quite obviously the Casio VL-Tone, with it's hugely sophisticated "ADSR" function and inspirational preset rhythms.

And *why* has no sequencer on the planet adopted the VL-Tone's "One Key Play" function? It's brilliant - play in your notes, without worrying about the timing, then use the one key play buttons to play your entered sequence, getting the timing right, without having to worry about the notes. Genius!

(Not for me because, obviously, I can play my keyboards supremely well... *ahem*).

Great series. If you like synths, it's an absolute must see. Love it! Cheers to the Prof and El Stato del Sonico and where do I put my order in for a full res DVD copy..? (hint hint)

09-May-07 08:27 AM

arclight    Said...

Aha! I should have known better than to guess the Fairlight, since that's probably considered a sampler. The Odyssey is a great choice for second place!

09-May-07 12:52 PM

Cloud    Said...

I'm guessing that the MiniMoog will be Number One.

That means that the Fairlight CMI (or NED Syclavier) won't be on this list. I think that's criminal. The Fairlight CMI was a groundbreaking workstation whose distinctive sound and abilities helped define 80s music. The fact that it has sampling capabilities in no way disqualifies it. The Korg M1, Roland D-50 and the Roland JV-1080 also use sampling to get their sound.


GREAT series BTW. :)

09-May-07 01:41 PM

Simon Power    Said...

Samplers may get their own special series in the future which is why we decided not to feature them in this countdown. Romplers however were included. As for the VL-Tone? You'll have to wait a while, Beej ...That shows up in our new series Top 20 Weirdest Instruments...Da, Da, Da.

09-May-07 04:02 PM

Raven    Said...

Simon Power Said... "Samplers may get their own special series in the future... "


10-May-07 08:11 AM

beej    Said...

Well, the sampler one would most likely feature, in some order, the following:

Akai S-series (612/900/1000) Fairlight (any series) Synclavier Ensoniq Mirage Emulator series Roland S-series (most likely the 760) Casio FZ-series The first home-keyboard samplers such as Yamaha's VSS100 and Casio's SK1.

And a variety of sampling delay machines that producer's used to spin in backing vocals etc before MIDI samplers.

With chartgrazers such as the Kurzweil K-series, Korg DSS1, a variety of sampling drum machines, PPG Waveterm, and some of the arcane Yamaha samplers such as the TX16W and the A-series, and possibly even some software-ish type things such as Samplecell.

After that, sampling got cheap, easy and taken for granted as we all moved into a software/digital audio world...

10-May-07 12:19 PM

Frank    Said...

Tanto misterio y espera !!! si ya se sabe que van a decir que el nro.1 es el Minimoog...

10-May-07 08:41 PM

name    Said...

Episode 7 1/2 ???

10-May-07 09:04 PM

Dom    Said...

This has been a great, fun series. I love both the serious & humorous approach to these old instruments.

Can't wait until the top 20 Samplers.

11-May-07 02:41 AM

digit62    Said...

Cleary Gmedia is a large sponsor here since there is no mention of the equaly good Creamware ASB machines which by accident cover the top 3. You can get a Minimax, Prodyssey and PRO-12 which are in mho better then the soft versions since they also have the actual control surfaces of the originals.

Massively good and addictive series though.

Can't wait for the weirdest instruments (Midi Kazoo?)

bleeps digit62

11-May-07 09:21 AM

Simon Power    Said...

sorry to disappoint, Dig, but this show is 100% pure and free from corporate interference, I can guarentee that! ...Please send more alternatives to anything we mention in the show, we want to give as much info as possible to our viewers.

12-May-07 05:54 AM

redoX    Said...

the number 1 will obviously be... THE COMPUTER.

18-May-07 07:07 AM    Said...

!!!VL-tone without worrying sequencer!Ahahahaha!!:)

Beej you are the best:)

before 3 days i had the same idea about the VL-tone as the number 1,top of the top.Also VL-tone it΄s the only synth in the list,which can play with batterys.(i΄m waiting with impatience for the software version of this amazing synth).Concedely Arp Odyssey is great for numper 2. Numero uno? Minimoog surely..or Synclavier?Fairlight?Studio Electronics Omega 8?Cwejman mk2?Hartmann Neuron?Clavia G2?Macbeth m5?Waldorf Q plus or Wave?(Yamaha VP1 i think is out of list) ..we are waitiiinnggg:)

Filia apo Ellada!

18-May-07 03:37 PM

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