Rhodes Chroma Polaris

Chroma Polaris Image

The Chroma Polaris was the second synthesizer made by Fender/Rhodes after they took over ARP, following their classic Rhodes Chroma. It has a classic analog ARP-like sound, kind-of tinny but also fat. Sounds can be layered up to 6 voices. It has typical analog synth controls including a cool 'sweep' knob for sweeping through the LFO or analog filter cutoff parameters. It also has a simple real-time sequencer and 132 memory patches.

Rhodes Chroma Polaris Image

There's also a nice and colorful layout with sliders similar to Roland Juno synths, membrane push-buttons and a large velocity sensitive 61-note keyboard making the Chroma Polaris a very nice synth. Fully MIDI-equipped, the Polaris will transmit and receive all its edit controls through MIDI as well as the ability to play up to three patches at once. Unfortunately they are rare and usually hard to find. It has been used by Leftfield and Jimmy Edgar.

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25 Visitor comments
Rob Ocelot
October 8, 2011 @ 10:36 pm
Some other cool/interesting things about the Polaris:
*Selective pitch bend with a sustain pedal for crazy pedal steel effects
*Very mature MIDI implementation, accepts aftertouch (both channel and polyphonic) from external controllers and routable to almost any parameter
*Can use a second Polaris or a Chroma Expander for more polyphony via the Chroma interface

*8-Step resonance
*No oscillator mixer (not really a big downside [beep] other have pointed out)
*Pitch bend works opposite to every other synth on the planet
*Heavy as sin!
June 14, 2011 @ 8:25 pm
Excellent sound, features, and easy to use. Compares very well to the super expensive vintage synths. The ribbon cable fix is documented and only a fool would part these out for the chips.

I'm keeping mine and I'm amazed every time I turn it on.
May 17, 2011 @ 6:41 pm
Not too many VCO synths made it into the MIDI era. The Ob-8 and Prophet 600 come to mind so the Polaris is in good company. Never mind what some idiot(s) says in the forums. This is a top caliber synth in control, capability, and sound in every way. Yes, there is some quirks in the lack of Oscillator mix control but I've generally never set my OB-xa's oscillator to 'half' either. What you get is a good synth engine capable of tons of tones and it feels 'sharp' on the attack. It can do warm and mellow like a P5 but can get big and brash like an OB. Bonus points for sweet Hammonds and e-piano's.
March 26, 2011 @ 9:36 am
The Polaris is a seriously under rated piece of gear! Even though it is CEM based, there is a unique voice and seriously good tone lurking under it's hood. Bonus points for slider control for the vast majority of performance options which makes this a hands on synth. It can do warm and mellow to brash and bright. The VCO's are not over controlled and allow the sound to evolve in the 'just right' category. More bonus points for great Midi implementation and stability. The Ribbon issue is an easy fix and most of the chips and 4051 multiplexers are easy to source. An analog lovers dream.
October 28, 2010 @ 3:30 am
I was impressed with the sounds this thing could make once I brought mine back to life. Never heard one before until I got the membranes fixed (which is actually very easy if you know what you are doing). Very aggressive raw sound to it, ring mod and sync both sound great. Two things that I do not like about this synth: The resonance is way too harsh like some SCI synths, and the action and key velocity is crap when on the volume, when you play lightly some notes are way too quiet to hear even after messing with the calibrations you can't fix it. It would be nice if it had a adjustable starting volume instead of 0 for velocity. Otherwise, a pretty awesome sounding synth minus its hideously 80s appearance.
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Rated 3.94 (313 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 6 voices
  • Oscillators - 2 VCO's: sawtooth / pw
  • LFO - Sine or square
  • Filter - 4-pole lowpass VCF: cutoff, resonance, env, keyboard, sweep + Attack, Decay, Sustain, Sustain Decay, Release
  • VCA - ADR
  • Keyboard - 61 keys w/ velocity
  • Memory - 132 patches
  • Control - MIDI (3 to 6 simultaneous patches)
  • Date Produced - 1984
  • Resources & Credits
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