Few instruments have ever crammed as much tasty goodness into one bit of hardware as the rare ARP Quadra. And now Cherry Audio is doing a plug-in version – US$39 intro price.

Our friend, producer Nadia Struiwigh also did a walkthrough. (Nadia’s a great artist with releases on Denovali, Nous’klaer, Central Processing Unit, and others, and has contributed to outlets like the legendary Dutch music tech mag Interface.)

There was only ever one Quadra, a “unicorn” among 70s instruments. The “quad” refers to the four sections, though depending on how you count, it adds up to even more than that. Bass? Lead? Rich pads? Ambient? Even in 2021, the Quadra is kind of an album-in-one-instrument.

The sections:

  • Poly synth, paraphonic
  • Lead synth
  • Bass
  • Strings
  • Extras: phaser, divide-down organ with ADSR envelope
Cherry’s remake; click to embiggen.

The original derived these from ARP’s Omni and Odyssey, adding bits of a string synth reminiscent of the Solina string synthesizer. Cherry just did a lovely rendition of the Polymoog, so the rare poly stuff just keeps hitting your plug-in folder.

This time I’m glad they weren’t overly slavish, though, in that they’ve added a bunch of improvements in each section. The Poly now has an extra octave, and you can turn oscillator drift on and off so you can be more precise or more like a worn-out vintage unit.

Plus, stuff you expect now – like pulse width modulation and velocity sensitivity – is there now. The LFO has tempo sync and multiple waveforms. The BENDER section is new, with independent pitch bend and the ability to route to per-section filter cutoff.

They also expanded the effects section. The Phase Shifter they say is closely modeled on the 14-stage original, but now you get chorus/flanger, echo, and reverb, too, all with convincing ARP-like controls that make you think they were there all along.

It’s also nice that they included those built-in, because there are handy push-buttons for each of the four sections that let you toggle each FX module for each section. As they gush, “imagine strings bathed in reverb, a poly synth slowly phasing and flanging, and a lead synth with a slapback delay, all layered together to create a beautiful swirling pad.” Sorry, what did you say? I couldn’t hear it over this pad.

Best of all, there’s a multi-out version so you can use those layers independently in your host – a feature I wish more plug-in devs had. And they got some really heavyweight sound designers, too, I notice.