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.

Lookup ARP Quadra Prices

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

Related forum topics


Are you looking to buy or sell a ARP Quadra? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

19 Visitor comments
April 22, 2011 @ 4:26 pm
I had one of these some years ago, it is an orchestra and much more! when I played it whit all the "instruments"on I was thinking of the faces of people who did the same back in '76 when it came out!!
huge sound, I better prefer sequential and oberheim but this synth is very interesting and unique! very fragile inide...every time I switched it on I was afraid of bad surprises! and they often comes!
January 15, 2011 @ 12:51 pm
For all I know Joe Zawinul was the first musician to use the Quadra. In october/november 1978 he received the first pre-production unit to use in a Weather report concert in Havana, Cuba. This was several months prior to the Quadra's release to the market (circa march 1979).
November 9, 2010 @ 5:45 am
I bought an Arp Quadra 8 months ago in Milan,Italy, and I paid 1200 euros for it.Cosmetically in mint state and electronically all is ok,with a few sliders that scratch when used,but nothing else.
Honestly,I gotta say it sounds way better than I expected.I bought it because the price was good and it was together in a keys-stock I bought alltogether,but I wasn't very much attracted by it:I was wrong,because it is very very interesting as a sounds source.
It can be an elegant-refined machine,capable of evolving trippy pads and leads.I was thinking to sell it or trade with anything I could be interested in,but I think I'll keep it for now,it's revealing some soul I didn't suspect!
Also,I just noticed that a repair shop techs in Holland are providing the hyperrare membrane-buttons replacements for it;good to keep in mind,even though my Quadra doesn't need that so far.
October 26, 2010 @ 1:11 pm
Lakeside used this on their #1 hit "Fantastic Voyage" as seen in the video.
October 28, 2009 @ 7:55 pm
I remember Kansas using it, and also Styx - especially on the "Pieces Of Eight" tour. Despite all of the technological innovations between way back then and now, I still think this synth has a great sound. I also miss my Odyssey - one of the original white-faced ones - and often regret that I ever sold it.
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.

Errors or Corrections? Send them here.