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
May 18, 2012 @ 8:24 am
This is the epic synth that Gillian Gilbert (New Order) used in the "Taras Schvenko" concert tape from late 1981. I wish I had the disposal income (well, actually I do, the Mrs. doesn't like how I spend said income..)
Lee W
December 17, 2011 @ 11:43 am
I was being trained at the ARP factory when the Quadra came out! Amazing to learn about it. Had to repair only one. There were some prototypes there that had mods to add more versatility (double ADSR) and expanded memory presets. Got to see and hear the Chroma before it was released. The Quadra with a couple of Odyssey's slaved to it just great!! Miss the analog days.
Mike Kesterson
December 17, 2011 @ 9:18 am
Whenever I think of ARP Quadra, I think of Tony Banks of Genesis. His signature leads on his mid period Genesis tracks were mostly ARP Quadra. He had a beautiful, milly,soaring sound out of that instrument.....great contrast to the Moogs,Oberheims, and Prophets of the day!!
June 11, 2011 @ 4:02 am
I remember seeing one as a spotty 14 year old at Chase Music on Oldham Street in Manchester but it was kind of cordoned off from the public, lol...Years later, got to try one out at a (now sadly defunct) vintage synth shop in Zürich. Half of it wasn't working properly as this old girl is very fragile, but they do indeed have a totally unique sound. This really is one synth from the Golden Age of Synthesizers, which IMHO, is now long gone............
Kevin Crossley
April 28, 2011 @ 12:17 am
Notee to the editor at vintagesynth: Joe Zawinal's keyboard tech, Alan Howarth and I used two Odysseys to do horn overdubs on a Tom Scott album. Alan went on to work with John Carpenter and in fact composed most of the stuff that Carpenter was credited with in those early days of his career. Howarth then became a major supporter of New England Digital's Synclavier while I went off on the Fairlight track with Stevie Wonder. I sold serial #2 Quadra to Stevie and I kept the #4 for myself, later selling it to Geordie Hormel of The Village Recorder. A fantastic instrument for a one-man band.
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.