David Friend - Oddity

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The following was sent to us after the release of the original Oddity, not Oddity2. It is included here, not as a direct endorsement of Oddity2, but because of David's fascinating recollections of his time at ARP

"Hi guys. My name is David Friend and I was a co-founder and president of ARP Instruments and the lead designer of the original Odyssey.

Dave Mash at Berklee College bought me a copy of your software and we had a lot of fun with it in his office today. You guys did a fantastic job of getting every detail right, including incorporating some features that we couldn't have even dreamed of at the time (like memory).

One little known fact about the Odyssey is that there were actually two very different voltage controlled filters used iin different production years. We started out with the same 24db/octave VCF that Al Pearlman had designed for the ARP 2600, but it was a little on the expensive side. Also, Bob Moog claimed that our filter design infringed on one of his patents. About a year into production, we switched to a 12 db/octave VCF that I had designed a few years prior. It changed the sound of the instrument, making it brighter and more nasal-sounding. I came to really dislike that sound, so we came up with a new and less expensive 24db/octave filter the next year. I would guess that 75% of all the Odysseys built used the 24db/oct filter.

Anyway, a few keyboard players recognized the difference and actually had both versions around. Steely Dan, for one, had both. That is, until one of them crapped out during a recording session. They took it out back and ran over it with a truck then drove a spike through it thus permanently affixing it to the wall of the Record Factory Studios in LA. They called me at 2 in the morning so I could hear them banging the spike through the instrument. Not what you want to hear, especially in the middle of the night. Anyway, until I got your box, it was the thinnest Odyssey in the world.

The very first Odysseys were white and had wood sides. There weren't a lot of those made, maybe a few hundred.

The black one you use on the box was the mainstay production unit for two or three years. Toward the late 70s, we replaced the pitch-bending knob with three pressure sensitive pads for bending sharp, flat, and adding vibrato.

Over its lifetime, the Odyssey outsold the Minimoog by more than 2:1. The first synthesizer to be sold in retail music stores was the ARP 2600, back in 1971, I believe. I think I made the first sales call of a synthesizer manufacturer on a retail music store -- Manny's Music on 46th St. in New York. They threw me out, but later became the biggest ARP dealer in the world.

By the way, the stability of the ARP VCOs was the result of simply brilliant analog design by Al Pearlman. He is the best analog engineer I've ever met. Precisely compensating for the temperature sensitive characteristics of a semiconductor junction is not easy, and Al understood it far better than any of the engineers at Moog who had horrible problems with stability.

Anyway, it certainly seemed strange when I first saw an instrument that I once had on my drawing board turning up in museums. But having one completely emulated in software is the really the ultimate! Thanks for this wonderful labor of love."

David Friend (ARP co-founder and lead designer of the original Odyssey)