ARP 2500

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ARP 2500
ARP 2500
Manufacturer ARP Instruments, Inc.
Dates 1970–81
Price US$7180 - US$19920
Technical specifications
Polyphony Duophonic
Timbrality Monotimbral
Oscillator 1004p
Synthesis type Analog Subtractive
Memory none
Effects none
Keyboard 3002 Two voice. 5 octaves.
3222 Four voice, split. 5 octaves.
3604 One voice, portable. 4 octaves.

The ARP 2500, built from 1970 to 1981, was ARP's first product. It was a monophonic analog modular synthesizer equipped with a set of sliding matrix switches above each module. These were the primary method of interconnecting modules. There were also rows of 1/8" miniphone jacks at the end of each row of matrix switches,[1] to interconnect rows of switches. The main 2500 cabinet could hold 12 modules, and optional wing cabinets could each hold 6. The matrix switch interconnection scheme allowed any module's output to connect to any other module's input, unlike the patch cords of competitive units from Moog and Buchla which could obscure control knobs and associated markings, but it had the disadvantage of greater cross-talk.[2]

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 2500s most popular modules was packaged into a single, non-modular unit as the ARP 2600, leaving out the matrix switching and more esoteric functions.

The 2500's most notable usage was 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.

Today, many ARP 2500s are either non-functioning or in very poor condition. One good condition copy of the ARP 2500 is currently present in the collection of WORM in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Notable users[edit]

It has been used by artists such as Aphex Twin, John Frusciante,[3] Meat Beat Manifesto, The Who, David Bowie, Skinny Puppy, Jean Michel Jarre, Jimmy Page, Paul Davis and Vince Clarke. The composer Eliane Radigue has worked almost exclusively with the 2500.

The ARP 2500 was also extensively used by British producer David Hentschel on recordings such as "Funeral For A Friend" from Elton John's 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Jeff Wayne's 1978 multi-platinum selling album War Of the Worlds also features the ARP 2500, where it was, amongst other things, employed in creating the sound of Martian speech.


  1. ^ "ARP 2500 image at". 
  2. ^ Jenkins, Mark (2007). Analog Synthesizers: Understanding, Performing, Buying- from the legacy of Moog to software synthesis. Focal Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-240-52072-8. 
  3. ^[dead link]

External links[edit]