Rhodes Chroma

Rhodes Chroma Image

Quite a rare analog synthesizer from the early 1980's (only 3,000 made). The Chroma was originally an ARP project. However Rhodes picked it up after ARP dissolved in 1981. Rhodes, best known for its Electric Pianos released the Chroma (and Chroma Polaris) as their premiere analog synthesizers. The Chroma had 16 voices with 1 oscillator per voice (or 8 voices with 2 osc/voice), a 64-note velocity sensitive weighted keyboard, and a very complicated but powerful synthesis design. Programming was further complexed by a limited implementation of just 2 rows of membrane push-buttons. With few sliders to grab, hands-on control is cut short. However the Chroma is a very stable and elegant synth with complete auto-tuning, split-keyboard mode and the ability to link to a computer!

Rhodes Chroma Image

Although the Chroma came before there was MIDI, all was not lost. Rhodes used ARP's proprietary Digital Access Control which was used in some ARP instruments for inter-connecting them. Midi retro-fits can be purchased these days which convert MIDI to ARP's DAC system. Perhaps its most advanced feature for its time was the ability to interface with an Apple IIe computer for sequence and patch storage using dedicated Chroma software! That may not be very practical today, but historically it was a significant example of how synthesizers and personal-computers could work together. Also on-board you'll find two arpeggiators, a graphic equalizer, pitch/mod and 6 other sliders. A keyboardless expander module of the Chroma was also made available. It has been used by Jethro Tull, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul and Oscar Peterson.

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23 Visitor comments
rogerf
December 11, 2012 @ 6:56 pm
The Chroma is one of the few synths I've yet to experience. I'm pretty sure it's capable of the rather dissapointing video of cheesy electric piano presets posted above??
Randel Osborne
March 6, 2012 @ 1:30 pm
I'm in love with my Chroma, and actually made a 95-knob physical controller for it, which brings programing and performing with the instrument to a whole new level.
Moogbass
January 4, 2011 @ 10:14 am
Also used by Donnie Iris in the early 80s...
dave-t
November 1, 2010 @ 4:25 pm
If I remember correctly if you want to hear the sound of a Chroma one of the albums that really shows it to its best is a little known solo project by Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) called walk into light. I have it and the sounds from the chroma really do step into the digital age way before digital keyboards were invented. Nice one!
GOLSF
September 7, 2010 @ 3:40 pm
Bought a non-working unit for $300 from an SF pawnshop that didn't know what it was selling. Carefully nursed it back to pristine health and spent one year diving into the synth's sound design capabilities. It is an incredibly deep synth with the worst interface I've ever experienced. Need the manual or quick reference at hand when programming to understand what each value relates to. Unique sounding instrument for those seeking that big poly analogue vibe.
 
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  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 16 voices max.
  • Oscillators - 16 VCOs: 0-63 value mix of sawtooth and variable pulse waveforms; 16 modulation sources
  • LFO - 16 LFO waveforms
  • Filter - Switchable hi-pass or low-pass filters
  • VCA - ADSR
  • Keyboard - 64 weighted-keys with velocity (polyphonic aftertouch optional)
  • Memory - 50 patches + external cassette tape interface
  • Control - None (MIDI via retrofit)
  • Date Produced - 1982 - 1984

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