ARP Omni-2 – the classic Joy Division keyboard
“When I was a teenager in the mid-1980s, like many of my teenager friends I was very fascinated by Joy Division, in particular by their album “Closer”. I remember that in those days I used to put Closer on the turntable, turn off the lights in my room, and fall asleep to the music. The music from Closer was very beautiful and hypnotic, and left a big impression on me. In particular I loved the synth strings used in that album. It was the ARP Omni-2, also used in other songs by the band. A great album, a great performance by the band, a masterful production by Martin Hannett, and a big influence for my music since those days..”
The Omni is an analog synth with preset Orchestral String sounds. It has polyphonic Violin and Viola waveforms as well as monophonic Bass and Cello waveforms. It is split into 3 sections: Strings, Synthesizer, and Bass synth – all simultaneously available. It has traditional and simple VCA, VCF, and LFO controls for contouring your sounds as well as a nice chorus that really thickens up the string sound. It has no program memory.
ARP later released the Omni Mk 2. It was basically the same machine as its predecessor, except for a few minor enhancements and a cosmetic Orange & Black color-scheme upgrade. And it did have a much more advanced triggering system for the VCF and VCA for more expressive results.