Rhodes chroma - feedback

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Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby synthlab » Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:16 am

any rhodes chroma users here ? love to know what you think of this machine and any pros and cons you can offer , where it sits in the pack. I wonder how it is from ambient atmospheres and leads ?
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby urgetoplay » Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:42 am

www.rhodeschroma.com

Tons of information as well as sample tracks. That being said its an awesome synth, organic sounding like the CS80. Not my first choice for atmospheric pads though. Quite a few modulation choices, a tad shy of a Matrix twelve. Good for leads, comping and sound design.
There are drop in replacements for the power supply ( a must ) as well as a new modernized CPU board (CC+). You can read about these on the link.
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby I12 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:22 am

Amazing

Can sound beautiful like no other i've heard,
sweet bell pads that have a natural decay
Great modulations, raucous
very musical and organic

Great modern support, like no other, it's needed due to the advanced, in its time, cpu, designs etc!

Features well ahead of it time, weighted, multi tim, dual filters, many lfo waveforms, comp connection

The polyphonic 2600 as it was claimed is not far from the truth!
Dont bother its not worth it!
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby Jinsai » Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:10 pm

I had a Chroma Polaris for a few years in the late 90s. It was a very nice synth, except for the membrane keypad (which made programming difficult and really limits the synth's durability).

Filter was not "rippin'", but the synth overall made really wonderful sounds, and you could actually run it as a multitimbral synth.

Pitch/Mod controls were awful, but at the time I was just sequencing things through it, not using it as a controller.

Heavy. Reliable. Sounded good. I believe Talk Talk used it a ton on their first two records.
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby hfinn » Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:54 pm

Great synth, although for pads I would say the M12 can't be beat.
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby synthlab » Wed Mar 31, 2010 10:40 pm

cheers for the info guys , all interesting.I was more looking for haunting vox like pads and also dark moody pads etc but also intrigued by the lfo waveshapes / sweeps it has which seem a bit more unusual , i a imgining staircase tuned osc;s cascading etc with a touch of poly glide .Its main companion is a 3.3 p5 and i was aftera synth to compliment that really.My other focus instead was possibly a obx ( rare now ?) or obxa ( anyone got an obx for sale ? ) but i am worried that might be to similiar to the p5.I had an xpander which i loved but i didnt get on with it ( temperamental ) and whilst i loved it i kind of went off it .I think its a chroma or obx / a . Decisions... the chroma is a bit of a mystery , even with all the sites and samples i still get the feeling its capable of way more than many analogue polys with though features and lfos etc and filters.I guess i have to buy one and try it !
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby I12 » Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:05 am

I had a chroma next to a ob-x for many years

the ob-x was always a go to for string pads, but its has a lpf only,
which was strange as the vcos are sem, or very close to, but they dropped the state variable part of the filter.

the chroma has 2 filters that can be configured in a number of ways, lp/hp/combined bp

had to chose 1 chroma easily

that said the ob-x is easy to program the chroma not, unless you add the update motherboard/midi and a cc box.
Dont bother its not worth it!
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby mome rath » Thu Apr 01, 2010 5:50 am

Jinsai wrote:I had a Chroma Polaris for a few years in the late 90s. It was a very nice synth, except for the membrane keypad (which made programming difficult and really limits the synth's durability).

Filter was not "rippin'", but the synth overall made really wonderful sounds, and you could actually run it as a multitimbral synth.

Pitch/Mod controls were awful, but at the time I was just sequencing things through it, not using it as a controller.

Heavy. Reliable. Sounded good. I believe Talk Talk used it a ton on their first two records.



The Polaris filter is most definitely "rippin"--very aggressive

Anyway, this was about the Chroma (the most beautiful analog polysynth ever), not the Polaris.
Carry on.
Last edited by mome rath on Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby nvbrkr » Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:23 pm

mome rath wrote:Anyway, this was about the Chroma (the most beautiful analog polysynth ever), not the Polaris.


Well, the Chroma Polaris certainly isn't the most beautiful polysynth ever. :)
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby synthlab » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:07 am

about the choma , looking on the forum for them it seems everyone and his dog has had to renovate these to get them working ? reading into it i see there was a psu issue with the standard one but why were so many trashed ? seems half the chroma world stock was , and are these machines unreliable.I see they do a nice cpu baord upgrade ? cc+ and stuff , i also noticed alot of mention of chromas with voices not working ? is their something highly dubious about the design or something ? you know like xpander chips / encoders . . .juno 106 voices....etc etc.
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby hfinn » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:50 am

The OB-X sounds great, but it's not terribly flexible.
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby I12 » Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:32 am

synthlab wrote:about the choma , looking on the forum for them it seems everyone and his dog has had to renovate these to get them working ? reading into it i see there was a psu issue with the standard one but why were so many trashed ? seems half the chroma world stock was , and are these machines unreliable.I see they do a nice cpu baord upgrade ? cc+ and stuff , i also noticed alot of mention of chromas with voices not working ? is their something highly dubious about the design or something ? you know like xpander chips / encoders . . .juno 106 voices....etc etc.


If you read the story on how it came to be, its amazing it came to be!

Your hearing about a lot of problems because of that forum,
many other synth have plenty to but you dont have one place where
everybody talks about them.

Like all other vintage us synths they require on going maintenance
but as stated no other vintage synth has the support its got
and nothing sounds like it.
Dont bother its not worth it!
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby nvbrkr » Fri Apr 02, 2010 9:28 am

I just have to post this bit from the user comments on the VSE page:

I owned 2 (!) of them, but one of them had more problems than there's room to put here. Not very road-worthy. Loved the sound, that's why I kept getting it fixed! There was a feature on it (Joe Zawinul used to use it) that made the keyboard sound in REVERSE, that is-high C was low E, and low E was high C, etc. The Chroma often auto-switched to this mode, sometimes in the middle of songs, or even while I was on break!


I still want one, I guess. I'll probably have to settle for a Polaris in the end, though.
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby analogholic » Sat Apr 03, 2010 1:07 am

Chroma is very good sounding IMO but unfortunately quite unreliable (stock)
The charachter I would describe as "sweet" sounding, yet cutting if you want it to.
Great modulation options and it can sound like nothing else.
You can do unsusual stuff like PWM on the sawwave which sounds unique and GREAT !!!
Fantastic cutting ringmodulated leads. No so heavy on the bass.
Not very fast envelopes (software)
Sounds VERY different from a P5. I think it´s a good companion to it :)

I have problems with mine (Expander), sometimes 7 voices work, next day 3-4... suddenly totally out of tune etc
Have to get the new PSU for it as the original is CRAP and is one major reason for instability.

But as other have mentioned, the support for this vintage synth is second to NONE !!!
It keeps getting better thanks to the great folks at rhodeschroma.com

Check out some great sounds here: Atmospheric? You got it !

http://bluesynths.com/modules.php?name= ... tent&id=19

Finally a review from a studiomusician:

Ease of Use : 8
Version 1.14
Tedious but logical programming. The Chroma, not to be confused with the Chroma Polaris, was basically a polyphonic Arp 2600 with memory and no patch cords. An advanced knowledge of subtractive synthesis is required otherwise you will be wasting your time.It also had balanced and unbalanced outs.
Manual is superb

Features : 9
In mono mode it has 16 voices, if you use two oscilators per note and double the patch for stereo its a 4 voice machine.
The real star was the action- perhaps the best made for ANY keyboard.
It was wooden and weighted with an unusual range.
No expansion but the Chroma Epander soon came after which was indentical minus the keyboard.
The units used D sub connecotrs to hook up to an Apple 2 or to each other (hey we're talking 1982)
The sequencer had 356 note limit in mono- as soon as you let your finger of the key the sequence was gone.
Two companies made MIDI retrofits for the Chroma; JL Cooper and Syntech. The Syntech was vastly superior giving most of the necesary CC functions at hand.

Expressiveness/Sounds : 10
This is 100% analog. The user needed to "autotune" often due to drift.
The quality of the oscillators is truly "audiofile". Its presence cuts through any track. The sawtooths are second to none.The Chroma had both pressure and velocity sensing that really worked.Controllers were second to none as well: It had two bipolar levers, two brass footswitches and up to 2 more CC pedal inserts- all completley programmable.You could gang MANY control functions to a single lever in bipolar fashion or any permutation you desire accross all of the controllers- a real dream!Real poly glide and portamento. Various unsion modes and the abiltiy to change the algorithmic structure of the unit!When you combined it with an Expander- you had 32 real analog oscillators- in unison mode- split in true stereo this was friggin INCREDIBLE!!Check out Chaka Khans " I Feel For You" LP track "Caught in the Act". It's practicaly all Chroma- vinyl version not the CD!
The Prophet 5, Voyetra, CS80, Matrix 12, Memory Moog, and Jupiter 8 sound like toys next to a Chroma.

Reliability : 2
Dependabilty was not one of Chromas stronger points- otherwise you'd still hear them today. It was WAY ahead of its time (design started in 1979 at ARP) The main problems were: complex switchable power supplies that are a real headache to service. CPU would misenterpret the actions of the voice boards ( 8 real big ones!), the contact leafs for the keyboards contact bus bar would break or bend easily or succomb to dirt. It was very tempermental at first but became stable with software and firmware upgrades- but the keyboard and power supply problems eventualy sunk the unit.

Customer Support : 10
when ARP sold the Chroma( before its real release) to Fender/CBS they opened shop in Waltham, Mass. They invited me often to the shop and asked me to beta test and program future and present product. They worked very hard to satisfy me. When the Chroma was finally yanked from production it was both an end to an era and to a certain degree my joy in synthesis.

Overall Rating : 10
I'd take the "pepsi challenge" with any other poly synth against the Chroma- 'nuff said.
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Re: Rhodes chroma - feedback

Postby WhinyLittleRunt » Sat Apr 03, 2010 3:24 pm

A friend of mine owns one, and it's probably my favorite. But yes, a complete overhaul was necessary to get it up and running including the replacement of nearly all the voice cards (from an Expander that was non-functioning). On top of that, a new power supply was installed as well as the CC+ upgrade which is basically a new CPU and MIDI support. It was definitely worth the effort, because it sounds awesome. It's also more of a player's instrument, because of the weighted keys. And sound-wise, it's different than the others. I won't get technical or anything, but it's smoother sounding than the OB-Xa, for example. Although I wouldn't take one over the other. The Chroma is a lot deeper than something like an OB-Xa, and is cumbersome to edit on-board. But the sounds alone are worth the trouble.
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