As with various emulations of the Minimoog, there is competition in the attempt to push the ARP 2600 into the age of software-based synthesizers. At the beginning of the year, desktop and laptop musicians were confronted with the appearance of the Arturia ARP 2600 V, now the French product is being followed by an American counterpart to revive the cult of this instrument on the software side as well.
Jim Heintz, an American developer, released an RTAS version of this plugin months ago, so now the Windows XP and MacOSX standalone and VST plugin versions are also available. In order to ensure the authenticity of the manual, Jim Michmerhuizen, who had already written the operating instructions for the original in 1970, was brought on board.
Of course, the TimewARP 2600 was not created as a completely puristic image of its role model, but deviations from the original are very limited. Some modifications in the area of operation that are important for the manufacturer have been implemented in the software. The polyphony can be freely selected by the user with up to 8 voices, while the original was monophonic or duophonic (depending on the series and keyboard used).
Compared to the original, VCOs 1 and 3 each have an additional sine output. With the filter cutoff, the intensity of the control voltage of the keyboard can be adjusted using a slider.
The times of each section, both the AR and ADSR envelopes, have been increased significantly. Thus, the few deviations from the original control panel are already outlined. Of course, extensive MIDI implementation is also guaranteed, but more on that later.
Values of switches, knobs, and sliders are changed with the mouse in the usual way. Patching is also done quickly by moving the mouse from socket A to socket B and letting go. The virtual cable is already plugged in. You can pull it out in the same way by either letting go of the open end in “no man’s land” (the cable then disappears immediately) or selecting another socket as a connection.
Before the wild patching begins, it is important to remember that certain signal flows are already connected, so that some sound shaping is possible even without cables. Plugging in a cable breaks this internal connection.
On the original, for example, the influence of the keyboard control voltage on the cutoff frequency can be switched off with dummy plugs, which is possible here with the additional slider.
The patch management
Here the developer has thought about doing justice to a program change command. A patch is saved by first selecting a bank, then a sub bank, in order to then specify a patch number as well as a name and a few keywords.
As long as the number within a sub-bank does not exceed 128 and the user has made a proper assignment, the corresponding patch within this sub-bank can be selected via MIDI.
Representing all oscillators, the most extensively equipped OSC 2 has the common waveforms sine, triangle, sawtooth and square. Depending on the operating mode as an audio or LF oscillator, it can be adjusted roughly and finely between 10Hz – 20,000Hz/0.03Hz – 30Hz. In addition, the pulse width can be set between 10 and 90%.
5 pre-connected inputs for frequency modulation are available, whereby only the keyboard CV is NOT controllable via a slider, but these can be interrupted at any time by cable connections or assigned to new sources.
The 24 dB lowpass filter also has a coarse and fine-tuning for determining the corner frequency, of course, it is capable of self-oscillation when the resonance behavior is increased.
Connected to the filter area is the mixer, which basically provides the ring modulator output and the desired signal of the noise generator as a basic configuration in addition to the 3 oscillators, from which certain waveforms are available.
Keyboard CV, the ADSR envelope, and the sine output of OSC 2 are switched internally as modulation sources.
In terms of envelopes, the user has both an ADSR and an AR envelope available, so the equipment is not exactly to be rated as lavish in this respect. The control voltage of individual sections such as decay or release is not provided either, but if you read the MIDI section carefully, you will quickly recognize the remedy to the hardware.
There are three different units for generating/influencing control voltages in this functional unit. The upper unit has 4 inputs, two of which can be adjusted in intensity using sliders. The possible sum of all inputs can be inverted and fed to a modulation target.
The middle unit offers two inputs, one with an attenuator, and also an inverted output. The third unit is a lag processor that can cause a glide effect on a pitch control signal, for example.
Is the TimewARP 2600 synth plugin going to stand up to the competition from Arturia, which also has a lot more functionality to offer thanks to the addition of various new and expanded parameters? The French product is of course ahead of the TimewARP 2600 purely in terms of such things, after all a sequencer as an accessory is certainly very welcome.
The innovations, e.g. in the form of delay and chorus units, also offer the user some high-quality components for shaping the sound. And a great playground for experimenting is provided by both. But when it comes to the authenticity of the basic character of an original ARP 2600, the TimewARP 2600 has a few more plus points.
The only downside for me is the excessively high CPU requirement of this softsynth when increasing the number of voices with certain patches. Authenticity has its price! But the monophonic way of playing this instrument is also really authentic.
Store Link: TimewARP 2600