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CHROMA


analogholic

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Hello everyone,

 

Wanted your opinion about the ARP/Rhodes Chroma

 

From the specs it seems like propably the most versatile analogue polysynth ever built.

 

But what about the sound ?

 

I grew up with the sounds of Oberheims, Moogs and Prophets etc

 

From the Mp3:s I heard on the net, I can´t really define its character...

 

Some say it sounds something like an Xpander, but more powerful and organic ?!?

 

Any famous records featuring it?

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

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I have owned a Chroma for many years.

It's great. However, it has definitely a sound of its own, which you might like or not. Very thick and big, but not fat and creamy like a moog, or roaring like an Oberheim. I'd describe it as "thick but sweet", maybe. It has *nothing* to do with the Xpander in sonic character, although the two have similar synthesis possibilities. (I still own a Matrix-12, and I have had the two synths side by side for a long time)

Its synthesis channel is unparalleled in other polysynths, and its modulation capabilities are really impressive. I've programmed imitative sounds on it, like oboe, clarinet, or vibraphone, which sounded more like samples than analog synthesis. I mean, samples without the static quality.

 

So why did I sell it? Well, it had several negative sides:

- I hoped for a poly, programmable ARP 2600... but compared to the 2600, the Chroma had a less 'compact' sound - big, but not so punching and powerful.

- It was big, bulky, heavy... and very delicate. It cost me a fortune in repair bills.

- Its envelopes were desperately slow. That got on my nerves after a while.

- As I bought more digital synths and sampler, I noticed that the Chroma didn't blend/layer well with them. The Xpander/Matrix-12, on the other hand, complemented the digital sounds very well. This is not necessarily a defect, but it became a nuisance for me.

 

That said, I regret having sold my Chroma. I tried to sample it, with mediocre results...

If I had the money and the space, I'd love to own a Chroma again someday. It's an instrument you tend to get enamored of.

 

 

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One of my faves. I passed by an opportunity to buy one a couple of years back though, due to the maintenance issues. Primarily, the solenoidal panel, which is almost impossible to fix (as with casio's CZ-series and I think maybe the DX7 as well?).

 

I use a few Chroma emulations when I want a bit of a beefier backing, but do think of it more as a pad machine.

Eugenio Upright, 60th Anniversary P-Bass, USA Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, D'angelico SS Bari, EXL1,

Select Strat, 70th Anniversary Esquire, LP 57, Eastman T486, T64, Ibanez PM2, Hammond XK4, Moog Voyager

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Thanks guys,

 

Hmm...are the envelopes about the XP/M12´s ?

 

Yeah, Xpander/M12 blends really well with digitals...'

From what I heard it sounds more "agressive" than the XP/M12, which I also would describe as "sweet and thick" but not "fat"

 

Well, describing sounds with words is hard, but I think I´m getting the picture...

 

I´d better get my "procession" record back from my friend...

 

regards Attila

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

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Chroma rocks, you can see mine with its Expander in my avatar.

 

The sound can be lush with all the waveform modulation available, but at the same time you can do cutting clavs and leads. Marino already mentioned the imitative synthesis capabilities.

 

The thing that is surprising is the modern community surrounding this instrument. There are hardware mods that engineers in the group have worked out, to address weak points in the original design (the power supply), to give it new features (a modern CPU replacement board adding midi capabilities and much more preset space), and in addition the voice boards and operating system have been reverse engineered.

 

The slow envelopes can be sped up considerably by cutting out or lowering the value of a single capacitor on each envelope on the voice board.

 

It's a real player's instrument with the wonderful velocity sensitive real wood action.

 

You can explore the history and everything else about this wonderful instrument at this amazing website:

 

http://www.rhodeschroma.com

Moe

---

 

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Hmm...are the envelopes about the XP/M12´s ?

They are quite a bit slower on the Chroma than on the Xpander/M12. That's without the mod mentioned by Stubb, which I wasn't aware of at the time.

 

From what I heard it sounds more "agressive" than the XP/M12,

More aggressive, yes. Especially when you use the alternate routings, a Chroma speciality. When you hear real analog filter FM or ring modulation, you feel like throwing all your VAs out of the window. :evil::D

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Yeah, Rhodescroma.com is great.

 

I knew about the new CPU and that you can control the parameters via CC these days, very nice.

 

However, I´ve never heard someone mentioning speeding up the envelopes before on a Chroma...but, as a matter of fact, that´s what I´m gonna do to my SE-1 tomorrow, changing one resistor to have faster envelopes. Then someday soon I´ll try this on the Matrix-12.

 

Are the Chroma envelopes software as well?

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

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When you hear real analog filter FM or ring modulation, you feel like throwing all your VAs out of the window. :evil::D

 

Yeah, I know what you mean :)

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

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You know I have to say something. :)

 

Chroma was my favorite synth, ever, and a great lead synth because of the cutting sound and deep control. Mine went up in flames when the music store my band was practicing in went up in flames. If there was a good analog tech within 200 miles I would buy another but service is my main worry with keyboards that old. In the meantime I still have the original manual and hope someone will eventually develop a true emulation. Even then, I would still want those twin bi-directional levers and multiple pedals I loved on the Chroma. My pro's and con's...

 

Pro:

The sound cuts through on stage.

Best presets ever. (In my own strong opinion.)

Control.

Very deep programming for a poly-analog.

Cuts through on stage.

 

Cons:

It is old and analog, which means upkeep issues.

Not great for percussive sounds.

Not a lot of variety of sounds. (It was from a time when an Arp was an Arp, a Moog, was a Moog, and synths were not expected to sound like all the other synths on the market.)

 

Still, I watch Ebay for listings and someday one may slip though in good shape and under $2500.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.

My Sweetwater Gear Exchange Page

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http://www.rhodeschroma.com/?id=2003&month=10#attacktimes

 

You can improve the minimum attack time from around 4.7 milliseconds to microseconds by removing this cap.

 

This is very interesting

 

Are your Chromas envelopemodded?

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

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http://www.rhodeschroma.com/?id=2003&month=10#attacktimes

 

You can improve the minimum attack time from around 4.7 milliseconds to microseconds by removing this cap.

 

This is very interesting

 

Are your Chromas envelopemodded?

 

No, but they will be. I have to change out a power supply in one of them, and install the CC+ processor board first. That will be third on the list. Instead of completely removing them, I may experiment with smaller cap values and see what sounds good by ear.

 

They don't really have to be THAT much snappier than they are already - I can do fast enough sweeps already to synthesize snare drum cracks.

 

Also on my to-do list is to build the polyphonic pressure sensor and plug it in!

Moe

---

 

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$2500? The one that I passed by was only $500!

 

I found a really good analog repair guy up in Cotati CA (Sonoma County) when I had a small repair a few months ago, and asked him about the Chroma at the time, telling him my concerns, but he said he is experienced with that device and not to worry if I find one used at a good price, but that the parts for the control panel can be quite expensive and elusive, but are still obtainable.

Eugenio Upright, 60th Anniversary P-Bass, USA Geddy Lee J-Bass, Yamaha BBP35, D'angelico SS Bari, EXL1,

Select Strat, 70th Anniversary Esquire, LP 57, Eastman T486, T64, Ibanez PM2, Hammond XK4, Moog Voyager

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... The one that I passed by was only $500!

 

....

 

Oh my. I bid $2000 on a Chroma in very good condition about 6 months ago. I think it went for $2900. Recently one that had not been used in 15 years and no longer makes any sound still sold for $1300 on Ebay.

This post edited for speling.

My Sweetwater Gear Exchange Page

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I also had one for a while. Nice synth, but it's long gone...

 

I shared several of the problems mentioned above by some of the others, but I'd like to add two:

 

I found the instrument to be difficult to program without having the manual with me. The readout provides very cryptic information and some of the interface choices the design team made on the thing left me scratching my head.

 

I had a tough time fitting it into almost any piece of music. I'm not sure why, but I just did. I found that if I started a tune with the Chroma, sometimes I could go somewhere with it...but for the most part, I just kept finding that it wasn't being used.

 

That being said, I really did like playing the thing. Great keybed, wonderful unique sound, very cool engine...just couldn't get it to work into a regular rotation in my studio set, so I set it free (both Marino and RABid almost killed me when I did) so that it could go to a good home where it would get lots of love.

 

dB

:snax:

 

:keys:==> David Bryce Music • Funky Young Monks <==:rawk:

 

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I must be a weirdo. I've always enjoyed programming it. The results are just so musically satisfying. You just set the parameter sheet on a music stand nearby and go.

 

OR, you build a knob box for it:

 

http://www.rhodeschroma.com/content/chromaknob/chromaknob1.jpg

Moe

---

 

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I must be a weirdo. I've always enjoyed programming it. The results are just so musically satisfying. You just set the parameter sheet on a music stand nearby and go.

 

OR, you build a knob box for it:

 

http://www.rhodeschroma.com/content/chromaknob/chromaknob1.jpg

 

Now that looks VERY interesting.

 

Is the box designed for the Chroma?

 

Who designed it?

 

 

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

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