It's been rumoured for months, and the speculation has been at fever pitch on-line since December, when no less than Jean-Michel Jarre let the cat out of the bag (we suppose because... he could. What are Korg going to do, ban him as an endorsee?). But we can now confirm it. Korg have just launched the i3 budget workstation synth.
Oh no, hang on, that was yesterday. We mean... Korg have finally confirmed that they are issuing a new, limited-edition version of ARP's world-renowned 2600 semi-modular patchable analogue synthesizer. Following the company's acquisition of the ARP name in the mid-2010s and the subsequent release of first a miniaturised reissue of the Odyssey in 2016 (see SOS April 2015) and then an 'FS' (full-sized) version in 2018 (see SOS August 2018), the new ARP 2600 is here. It's being launched as a full-sized reproduction of the original (including a hard-shell flightcase, shown below, and full-sized recreation of the 49-key duophonic 3620 keyboard). It is thus officially known as the Korg ARP 2600 FS.
Like the Odyssey recreation, the new 2600 was created in collaboration with two key members of the original ARP team, David Friend and David Mash, and also sticks fairly closely to the sound, feature-set and capabilities of the original, right down to the built-in spring reverb and speakers. Only aftertouch, XLR outs and MIDI (on five-pin and USB connectors) are included as concessions to modernity (and while there's no news of any stand-alone step sequencer along the lines of ARP's separately sold hardware Sequencer — at least, not yet! — Korg have also built a simple onboard step sequencer and arpeggiator into the keyboard). The 2600 FS sports the ladder filter design featured on early 2600s, which was later withdrawn under alleged threat of a lawsuit from Bob Moog, and also the ARP filter design used on later editions of the original synth (you can select the active filter design with a toggle switch). Unlike the original 2600, which was available in various colour schemes over its original life from 1971 to 1981, the 2600 FS is, for now at least, only available in a white-on-dark-grey colour scheme, like the original 2600s sold in the mid-1970s.
At an anticipated price of around £3200‑£3500$3900 including the flightcase and keyboard, the 2600 FS is a bit of a bargain compared to the current cost of a working original 2600, and seems destined to be very popular. We anticipate that the limited-edition run will sell out pretty fast...!
SOS Features Editor Sam Inglis was lucky enough to get a sneak introduction to the new 2600 FS at Korg UK's HQ before Christmas. See below for a video shot then!