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
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.