Released over seven years ago now, GForce’s Oddity came, it synthetized and it conquered. So convincing was this emulation that there hasn’t been another commercial effort since (or at least none that I am aware of).
In a market where we have at least 3 Minimoog emulations, two Arp 2600 emulations and a half dozen TB 303 emulations (‘cuz it’s so hard to emulate dude), the Oddity cleared the field and remains the undisputed Arp Odyssey in software to date.
What we have here is a duophonic two oscillator saw/square synth with a wicked ring mod, phase sync, PWM, white and pink noise, and the piece de resistance: sample and hold!
Have a look at that interface with its block diagrams and signal flow. Did I hear the words semi and modular? It definitely thinks its a modular, and approaching it that way actually makes a lot of sense.
So I’m going to do just that:
Module 1: Performance Section which includes Mono/Duophonic modes and portamento, among others. Duophonic mode works a treat with the Ring Mod.
Modules 2 & 3: Oscillator 1 and Osc 2. The pink ‘tic tacs’ govern Frequency Modulation introduced by either Square (trill) or Sine wave (vibrato).
The yellow tic tacs let you modulate the frequency by choosing either Sample and Hold (more on this later) or the more conventional ADSR envelope.
Finally, you have nice and easy Pulse Width Modulation (sweepable by the ADSR or LFO) and sweet sweet Phase Sync.
Module 4 : Sample & Hold Mixer and LFO. Sample & Hold is what made the Odyssey (and by association, its virtual brother) ‘punk’, and the de facto weapon of choice for the more experimental synth fiend.
Its essentially a controller that can be used to modulate either the frequency (the yellow tic tacs from Modules 2 & 3), or the filter (select S/H and turn up the yellow tic tac in Module 4-brilliant)!
You have the option of mixing in either a saw wave or a square wave via the blue slider and then adding another square wave, or choosing noise. The results are like no other synth out there.
Anything from warbling computerized burbles to groovy generative gurgles (and everything in between) are possible with this beast.
Keep in mind that these ‘waves’ are just modulators akin to an LFO; they do not produce sound but take the oscillators on a wild journey back and forth, up and down, based on the speed dictated by the LFO. The Output Lag slider can be used to tame the effect and delay its onset.
Module 5 : Actually four little modules in one. The Audio mixer takes the two oscillators (this is actually where you pick between saw and square…goofy innit?), and your choice of ring mod or noise, and spits it into the filter section.
The filter section is fed a tasty diet of the following:
a) Choice of either KYBD CV (keyboard tracking in simple English) or S/H (Sample & Hold) Mixer. Now this had me a touched befuddled at first, because the very next tic tac said S/H. So what’s the point of having two?
Well, after having a go at it, I realized it did some basic FM style sounds, especially when used in conjunction with the yellow FM slider. This further opens up the sound canvass, allowing for richer and more complex sounds. So confusing, and yet ultimately rewarding.
Reminds me of someone I dated once…
b) Choice of LFO or S/H. Filter modulation by either the LFO or Sample and Hold (note that the blue/white sliders must be opened up for the S/H setting to do anything).
c) Choice of ADSR or AR. Your basic filter envelope. Choose between the full or the half. I personally just leave it at the ADSR. Nice and simple.
All three of the above make up the filter output which is then regurgitated into the handy high pass filter followed by its final destination: the VCA which, like the filter envelope, can be the full ADSR or just Attack and Release (AR). Convenient little red volume slider underneath.
It all starts to make sense now.
Module 6: Envelopes. I usually set it to ADSR and forget, but experimenting with the AR generator can lead to some rather pleasant surprises, especially when assigned to the filter. The purple tic tacs allow the player to add varying degrees of touch sensitivity to the filter and dynamics. Great for adding some real energy to live and/or sequenced lines.
And that’s your Oddity. True to its roots, a little unpredictable, edgy and charismatic, with depth and sounds for days. Be prepared to get lost in a phantasmagoria of phat. I certainly did.
And this is what I came up with:
Sound ‘analog’ enough for you?
All sounds programmed, written and performed by Phatso Brown. 100% raw Oddity with no FX, no presets.
For more Synth Odyssey:
Next up, the Rebirth of Rebirth? Thanks for reading!