Building a patch in ARP ODYSSEi
1. Start by initializing the instrument so that you are beginning from scratch rather than modifying one of the existing presets. The presets are great, but we’re looking at making your own. Go to the preset menu and swipe to the top, choosing 001 : Init program. This resets the instrument to its most basic setup. You will need to be in the wave window to start making your sound, so tap on the Wave button at the top right hand corner.
2. At the heart of sound generation is how many voices can be played at the same time. The original Odyssey was duophonic and here in the Voices area on the left you get mono, legato and duo mode options but also a polyphonic option for more expressive playing of chords. The mode can be switched at any time so even if your sound turns out to work better as a pad than a bass line, you have the option of playing it in any fashion you want. Up to 8 notes of polyphony are available on more recent iPad models.
3. There are two Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO) sections and both have the same set of controls. Go to the first VCO and use your finger to dial in some FM modulation, using the switches underneath the sliders to choose what the source of that modulation should be: LFO, Sample & Hold or ADSR. In the Frequency area at the top of the column you can use both coarse and fine tuning sliders to detune either VCO. Detuning in larger steps creates a sound with harmonics, and detining in very small amounts creates a chorus-like unison effect. Experiment with both VCOs to get a pitch and effect you like.
4. Returning to the Voices section, if you press and hold on the Unison display and drag your finger upwards you will find that you can add a Unison effect to the sound. The more voices you add, the wider the sound becomes and you can then use the Detune and Spread sliders to vary the intensity of the unison effect. It’s a good way to get a fat sound quite quickly without using effect plugins. If you’re using monophonic mode, try also dialling in some portamento so the notes glide when pressed.
5. Moving rightwards to the largest section, locate the waveform selection buttons under the VCO sliders and select Pulse or Sawtooth for either one, and use the sliders to mix the levels of the VCOs. The other controls are important too: you can select sources for the modulation of the voltage controlled filters, HPF and VCA, as well as their relative levels. Use the Noise slider to dial in a little noise, and the filter options and Drive slider at the top of this area to filter and also modify the filter effect. You will find that changes you make in this part of the synth have a big effect on the nature of the sound. They are also easier to work with than they may first appear, since you’re really just selecting a mod source and then setting a level for the various parts of the signal.
6. What I have so far is a cool lead sound with some movement and width thanks to modulation, detune and unison. But the synth has a whole different programmer section which you can find by tapping the mixer button at the top right of the app. Turn the arpeggiator on with its On button and then choose a direction from the Mode switch. You can also select a resolution from the Freq slider (a finer resolution means a faster sequence) and choose step length.
7. The values that you set using the 16 sliders on the right can apply to many different parts of the synth. If you tap on one of the three Parameter text fields you will see a popup menu that lets you assign sequencing to almost any area of the instrument from VCOs and the audio mixer through to effects and LFO settings. This is a very powerful way to add movement and interest to any patch by essentially adding pattern-based automation to lots of different combinations of settings.
8. Below the sequencer is a row of six effects, each with an on / off switch and their own controls. Have a play with these and use them to add depth and shaping to your patch. One nice touch can be to add a little distortion, tempo synced delay and reverb to add space and interest to the sound. There’s chorus and phasing as well as EQ too, in case you feel your patch needs even more going on.
9. ARP ODYSSEi has one more trick up its sleeve and that’s a couple of X/Y pads for realtime performance. Tap on the Pad button to reveal them and you will find the pads can have their function switched using the square buttons and there’s also a Hold button to freeze the setting whenever you remove your finger. The pad on the right can be used to modify pitch and variation parameters in realtime. You can’t use the virtual keyboard at the same time as the pads due to space constraints but you can latch the arpeggiator on, or alternatively use an external MIDI input device to trigger the instrument. It also works inside Korg’s Gadget iOS app.
Here is a video of the example patch I made in just a couple of minutes.
10. When you’re done, tap the Save button and assign your patch a name, whereupon it will be stored under your User category in the browser. It’s also possible to save any preset under a new name using the Save As command, so you can retain the original presets while modifying them and saving them out as your own.