Arp Omni-2

Synthesizer

The Arp Omni-2 is an analogue synthesizer used by Prince and his band in the early to mid 1980s. Along with the Oberheim OB series, it dominates the sound of the Dirty Mind, Controversy and 1999 albums. It is a "string sythesizer", meaning it could play preset orchestral sounds (violin, viola, cello and bass) with limited sound-shaping capabilities. Dr Fink played the riff to the song Dirty Mind on the Omni-2 and it was layed with an OB-Xa for the riff to the song 1999.

It was used live by Dr Fink and Lisa Coleman on the Dirty Mind, Controversy and 1999 tours, with Lisa using it on the Purple Rain tour as well. When the Revolution reunited, Lisa bought an Omni-2 out of retirement for their first show.

The Omni was meant to be sort of a hybrid... You could mix in that string vibe with that polyphonic synth vibe and then it became kind of this... original sounding tone unto itself, it just had that... mixture of the two. If you listen to, like I said, the song "1999" or "Dirty Mind", that Omni tone is the main part, and it has that mixture of the ARP String Machine with that polyphonic synth side, which is sort of.... hard to describe, unless you hear it. It's unique, it doesn't sound like anything else, really.
Dr Fink;
This record was so minimalist... I mean, "Dirty Mind": it's just the ARP Omni, a guitar part, the bass is handled by the ARP Omni and the main chords of the rhythm, and then you've got the guitar chunky-part going on, and the drums. And that was the whole song. And the vocals. Real simple layering of music.
Dr Fink;
The only other thing that really sticks out would be the ARP Omni. It had a kind of funny, nasal quality to it. But that’s the Dirty Mind sound. That one was written on the ARP Omni, and played by [Dr] Matt Fink. If you play those chords on that keyboard, you’ll swear you just put the album on. Those were very simple things. There wasn’t a lot of editing going on.
He had a drum set and every keyboard of the day - the Oberheim and the Omni, which [the Omni] was a very integral keyboard used on 1999. He didn't use it much on 'Purple Rain', but was really using the Oberheims quite a bit on the Purple Rain album.
Dr Fink; Prince and the Purple Rain Era
The only other thing that really sticks out would be the ARP Omni. It had a kind of funny, nasal quality to it. But that’s the Dirty Mind sound. That one was written on the ARP Omni, and played by [Dr] Matt Fink. If you play those chords on that keyboard, you’ll swear you just put the album on. Those were very simple things. There wasn’t a lot of editing going on.

Used By

  • Prince, Dr Fink, Lisa Coleman
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