G2500: an authentic virtual ARP 2500 in all its impossible glory

While away the hours trying to get sound out of this authentically challenging virtual recreation of the ARP 2500 modular synthesizer.

G2500

While we’re waiting for our Behringer 2500 modules to arrive why not introduce yourself to the extraordinary instrument behind the legend. John Niclasen of NicomSoft has created a completely awesome software version of the ARP 2500. You can stare at the detail in full screen pondering how on earth this authentic matrix switching system works. There’s sound in here somewhere if only I can work out how to operate it.

Thankfully there are a couple of presets hidden away that give a few clues and at the very least some sound. Press “Ctrl O” to open the preset folder and load up one of the 4 included patches. Hopefully, that should get you started. If you’re not getting any sound or MIDI then “Ctrl ,” will open the settings page. There are a lot of keyboard shortcuts so I’d highly recommend opening up the manual which is in the Docs folder.

I look at this thing and laugh. It’s so beautiful and so incomprehensible that I am reminded why synthesizers evolved and how sometimes looking backwards isn’t always the treasure trove we believe it to be. Not that this doesn’t sound awesome, because it most certainly does, and not that it doesn’t reward your patience and meticulous study, because it does, it’s more about whether I have the time for this.

It replicates 12 of the original modules:

  • 1002 Power Control
  • 1004-P Oscillator
  • 1004-T Oscillator
  • 1005 Modulator Amplifier
  • 1006 Filter Amplifier
  • 1016 Dual Noise / Random
  • 1027 Ten-Position Sequencer
  • 1033 Dual Exponential Envelope Generator
  • 1036 Sample & Hold / Random Voltage
  • 1046 Quad Exponential Envelope Generator
  • 1047 Multimode Filter / Resonator
  • 1050 Sequential Mixer
G2500 Modules

G2500 Modules

A quick tip is that the oscillators have “Enable” buttons, so make sure you turn them on. Then the matrix works by being connected horizontally so every pin you move down will connect to any other pin on that row across the whole machine. To get sound out, which is the first hurdle, enable an oscillator and drag the pin from one of the waveform outputs at the bottom of the module to horizontal line 20. This connects the oscillator output to the speaker and you get sound! For the rest, you are on your own.

G2500 is a brilliant piece of work and is the closest many of us will get to the awesomeness and frustration of dealing with such a cerebral machine. While the Matrix system has the ability to make an extraordinary amount of connections I’m very happy that the Behringer 2500 modules that I’ll probably get to play with have Eurorack style patching.

G2500 is available now for €140 and there’s a free demo version which everyone should have a go with.

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