The ARP 2500 modular synthesizer, built from 1970 through the mid-70’s, was ARP’s response to the Moog modular synthesizer.
The ARP 2500 is a monophonic analog modular synthesizer, equipped with a set of matrix switches to connect modules, in addition to the more common patch cords. It used cords with 1/8″ miniphone connectors rather than the 1/4′ cords used by the Moog synthesizers of the time.
The main ARP 2500 cabinet could hold 12 modules, and the optional wing cabinets could hold 6.
Although the 2500 proved to be a reliable and user-friendly machine, it was not commercially successful, selling approximately 100 units. A collection of the 2500’s most popular modules was packaged into a single, non-modular unit as the ARP 2600, leaving out the matrix switching and more esoteric modules.
The ARP 2500’s most notable usage was when it was employed in the motion picture Close Encounters of the Third Kind to communicate with aliens. The ARP technician sent to install the unit, Phil Dodds, was cast as the musician. The unit featured in the film consisted of a fully loaded main unit, two fully loaded wing cabinets and dual keyboards in a custom case.
The ARP 2500 has been used by artists such as Meat Beat Manifesto, The Who, David Bowie, Skinny Puppy, Jean Michel Jarre, and Vince Clarke. In the classical world, electronic composer Elaine Radigue has worked almost exclusively with the ARP 2500.
If you’ve used the ARP 2500 modular synthesizer, leave a comment with your thoughts!