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NAMM 2015: Korg's ARP Odyssey Hands-On!

NAMM 2015: There's no escaping the hype surrounding Korg's re-imagining of ARP's classic Odyssey synth here in Anaheim, so we've headed straight to the Korg stand and wrestled through the crowd for a hands-on demo.

The three versions - the limited white Rev 1 and black Rev 2, plus 'standard' black/orange model - all maintain the look, feel and heritageof the original versions, with the latter even sporting slight bubbles on the front panel for retro authenticity.

All three also sport mini keys and a build rather diminished from the original full-size version. And the premium pricing for the Rev 1 and Rev 2 models smacks slightly of creative marketing above actual offering.

Smooth and responsive

In use, the sliders and switches on the front are smooth and responsive, although we can't help but feel the build quality (especially the slim keybed) feels a 'plastic-ey' when considering the $999 price point.

As on the original Odyssey, the two oscillators (switchable between either saw or square) are notably bright and buzzy - clearly distinguishable even over the din of NAMM's bustling Hall A - with a richness and warmth that won't disappoint analogue purists.

The three filter types are obviously different; after spending a good few minutes programming a variety of acidic bleeps and squelchy stabs, our favourite is the third mode when used in conjunction with high resonance settings.

The Drive switch provides obvious harmonic distortion, adding extra grunt but also a whole lot of extra level to the synth's output too, so may be slightly misleading. We didn't get time to fully delve into its LFO, envelope settings, PWM features and duophonic modes, but it's definitely a synth made for tweaking.

The Odyssey will no doubt make a big dent on the synth market thanks to its one slider/switch-per-function design and authentic tone, but will its fairly compact size (86% of the original) and relatively high price point (especially considering the mono-synth competition on the market) impact its success? That remains to be seen... All we can say right now though is Korg: Send one. Now.

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