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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18 Visitor comments
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.
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!
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  • 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

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