ARP Quadra

ARP Quadra Image

The Quadra is pretty much a hybrid version of ARP's Omni II and Solus synths. It's a four-section synthesizer consisting of a Bass synth, Poly synth, Lead synth, and String synth. It is quite good at emulating each of these sounds and can function in any of its four modes at a time with the ability of layering the different sections! Sounds you create in any of the four sections are instantly recalled from memory by the push of a button! There are 16 program patches for storing your sounds. Other major features are the incredible phase shifter, tons of balanced audio outputs for each section, dual portamento controls and a superior arpeggiator...that's pretty good for 1978! On the downside, it has a fragile mylar front panel, very limited programability and a weird feature that autotunes the keys to play weird intervals.

The Bass synth section is monophonic and can be programmed to occupy the lower two octaves of the Quadra's 5-octave 61-note keyboard. The bass sounds pretty good and has 16' and 8' presets each for Electric and String Bass sections.

ARP Quadra Image

The string section is based on the Omni II String synth. It sounds excellent and implements a phase-shift effect that is sort-of like a chorusing effect that thickens its already great string sound. In Polyphonic synth mode there are more effects available such as sample-n-hold and the phase-shifter. String and Poly Synth sections have 8' and 4' Polyphonic Waveform Generators each along with a preset called Hollow Waveform.

In Lead synth mode the Quadra becomes a two voice screamer with aftertouch sensitivity in the upper octaves of the keyboard! It's duophonic (like the Odyssey). Get a bass sequence going, switch over to another section and play along! The Quadra is a synthesizer well suited to live performance use and has been used by 808 State, ELO, Genesis, The Human League, Pink Floyd, New Order, Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Joe Zawinul, and film-maker John Carpenter. The 16 patches of memory aren't true memories, they simply recall which parameter sliders are active (and thus need adjusting!) and which are standards settings.

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19 Visitor comments
Roger R.L Hurtubise
May 15, 2009 @ 12:48 am
Found an ARP Quadra lurking in Kerry Livgren (Kansas Fame)'s Setup on a Video
January 18, 2009 @ 3:57 pm
Absolutely LOVE IT!!! Awesome sounding - if you owned every analog synth in the world, I'd still say that you needed this one because it does what it does so well. Great analog strings - not meant to sound like "real strings." Very trippy, very versatile, phase is incredible...and lots of mod options once you start stacking everything. Enjoy...
Kirk Slinkard
November 16, 2008 @ 11:54 pm
Definitely has a few compromises, but great sound. This was my gigging instrument in the 70s/80s. Had a huge bass amp and a big stereo PA, I played bass and 1 to 2 keyboard parts at the same time. Can get big stereo layered sounds, and a huge variety of classic analog sounds. 16 patches are not much, but few pros use that many sounds even today.
September 21, 2008 @ 2:34 pm
Provided the eclectic string sound on New Order's "Procession." Perhaps the best-sounding analog string synth ever made. Too bad they generally have maintenance issues...
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 3.76 (278 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Mono(Bass) / Duo(Lead) / Polyphonic(String)
  • Sections - Bass synth, Poly synth, Lead synth, and String synth
  • Filter - Model 4075 4-pole, 24dB/oct VCF (different parameters for each mode)
  • VCA - One ADSR VCA
  • Arpeg/Seq - Sequencer (with no external sync)
  • Keyboard - 61 keys
  • Memory - 16 patches
  • Control - CV/GATE inputs and ARP system interface
  • Date Produced - 1978 - 1981
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

    Additional info submitted by William Blakeney.

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