NAMM 2020: Korg's full-size ARP 2600 FS could be the synth reissue to rule them all

NAMM 2020: Given the success of Korg’s 2015 ARP Odyssey reissue - and its subsequent module counterpart - it seemed like only a matter of time before the company would turn its attention to ARP’s other big-hitter, the 2600.

 Just as we were beginning to give up hope on that front, Korg has come through with a full-sized reissue of that classic semi-modular analogue synth - and it looks like it's nailed it once again.

As with the Odyssey, Korg has worked with members of the original ARP team to bring this reissue to life, getting former president David Friend on board to consult on the project. The ARP 2600 FS faithfully recreates the signal path of the original, with elements including three oscillators, noise generator, dual envelope generators (AR and ADSR), spring reverb and ring modulator and built-in speakers. 

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Korg ARP 2600 FS

(Image credit: Korg)

Review: Korg ARP 2600 FS
Find out how it compares to the original

As with previous Korg reissues, multiple generations of filter are included here too, meaning the 4-pole VCF here can be switched between modes mimicking the response of both early and later iterations of the original synth.

As with the original 2600, the synth’s semi-modular design combines a pre-wired signal path with a generous crop of 3.5mm patch points, enabling the instrument's elements to be re-routed to achieve complex modulation and advanced synthesis techniques.

There are a few modern touches here too, though. The 2600 FS adds MIDI and USB, both of which can receive note on/off and pitchbend messages. The detachable 3600 keyboard has been given a slight overhaul, too, adding patchable aftertouch to its 49 full-sized keys, along with portamento and pitchbend. 

The keyboard can transmit duophonic (two-note) messages, and can be used with an optional foot pedal. This new version also adds an arpeggiator to the synth’s design, with several playback types including a Seq Play mode, which lets users input sequences of notes and then trigger them up and down the keyboard.

There have been a few updates to the build as well. For one thing, the keyboard now connects to the main synth using an eight-pin DIN cable rather than the original’s Cinch-Jones connectors. The reissue’s inner workings consist of a combination of through-hole circuits along with modern surface-mount technology.

A genuine heavyweight

The reissue is built into a Tolex-covered cabinet, just like the original, and sports the dark grey design of units released between 1971 and 1977. Korg has, however, improved the handles on the chassis, making this 2600 more sturdy to move around. While the 2600 FS is still something of a weighty beast, it does come complete with its own road case and casters, which will no doubt come in handy for touring musicians.

We were lucky enough to get our hands on one early, and have been very impressed with how it compares side-by-side with an original 2600 – you can read our full verdict in our review. This faithful, full-sized recreation comes at a cost, however, with prices set at $3899/£3499. 

As Korg is keen to point out, this is a one-off, limited-run release, so we’d suggest acting fast if you want to secure one for yourself (although the fact that Korg has chosen to label this model ‘FS’ makes us hopefully that a three-quarter-size or desktop version could be on the cards in the future). Find out more at the Korg site.

(Image credit: Korg UK)
Si Truss

I'm Editor-in-Chief of Music Technology, working with Future Music, Computer Music, Electronic Musician and MusicRadar. I've been messing around with music tech in various forms for over two decades. I've also spent the last 10 years forgetting how to play guitar. Find me in the chillout room at raves complaining that it's past my bedtime.

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