What do the Moogers think of the the Rhodes Chroma?

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latigid on
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What do the Moogers think of the the Rhodes Chroma?

Post by latigid on » Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:04 am

I did some searching through the Moog site, and saw a few people had the experience of owning/playing one of these.

What are they like to play/what kind of sounds do you get? (I am a medium-level synthesist with an AE Voyager.) Do they stay in tune/are they reliable? (I have heard conflicting opinions.)

What do you think? Would I be better off getting an Andromeda?

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till
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Post by till » Sun Jun 04, 2006 1:11 pm

The Chroma got serious problems with his power supply. And getting one with the right voltages and the right needed current is not an easy task. But there are several ggod technicians in the USA and here in Europe able to fix this problem. But if one of the rare type of Curtis chips used is blown, you are in trouble.
An Andromeda is a nice synth. But personally I dislike the way to small and not endless knobs under the display.
keep on turning these Moog knobs

Sequence:
Prodigy * minimoog '79 * Voyager * MF102 * MF103 * MF104z * MP201 * Taurus 3 * Minitaur * Sub Phatty * MF105 * Minimoog 2017+ MUSE * One 16

eric coleridge
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rhodes chroma

Post by eric coleridge » Sun Jun 04, 2006 3:49 pm

I've never owned a Chroma, but I've played on in a music store and can say that it's an incredible synth. It's probably capable of any synthesizer sound you can think of, and may have the most features of nearly any synth ever built. They have multi-mode filters and unlimited modulation capabilities. But I've also read that they can be very unreliable (like most first generation polyphonics, i.e. MemoryMoog, Prophet 5).

Another major downside of the Chroma is the menu editing. A later revision Prophet, or a MemoryMoog Plus might have a better reliability record, and although they don't have as many features, are definitely more fun to play.

One other synth that comes close to the features of a Chroma, but may not have as great a tone, is the Roland Jupiter 6, which also has High Pass, Low Pass, and Band Pass filters. The Jupiter also has great modulation capability and a very good reliability record. You can also get a reasonably priced control board upgrade for it to give it full MIDI capability of most all of it's parameters, arpeggios, LFO sync, etc. It's very expensive to add MIDI to a Prophet or MemoryMoog, and you don't get alot of MIDI capabilities once it's done. It might be impossible to add MIDI to a Chroma. Of course, a Roland isn't gonig to sound like a polyphonic Moog, but to be fair, even a MemoryMoog doesn't sound like a Polyphonic MiniMoog. Polyphonic synths are just inherently different than monos.

There are other polys in this class, but those are the ones I'm familiar with. It all depends on what you're looking for. If you have a great deal lined up on a Chroma, it might be worth trying out.

The Andromeda, I've played in a music store also, and I didn't like it. On paper it looks like the greatest synth ever made, and most people who own them seem to think that they are. But, I thought it had too much to be a very practical performance synth. If you're a sound-track composer or special fx engineer and want to have access to virtually any analog synthesizer sound known to man, I could see how the Andromeda might help you. But if you want to get good "traditional" analog synthesizer sounds and fx quickly and manipulate them quickly in a performative way, Andromedas no good. For one thing, theres all this DSP stereo effects over everything which makes it initially sound like software synth. It you remove all that, and work on it for an hour, you can probably get to what you're after. I didn't get that far before I realized it wasn't right for me.

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latigid on
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Post by latigid on » Sun Jun 04, 2006 5:28 pm

Hi Eric, and thankyou for you reply.

Regarding MIDI, it is actually quite simply added to the Chroma. This is done by adding a break-out box to the d-sub connector on the back. And the one I'm looking at has one of these (I think). Or, a hardware upgrade can be performed for about US$ 350. Of course, I would need someone to do it, or at least ship the parts.

Probably the most important features of a synth, for me, are its sound and functionality. I don't really care for MIDI; if the synth has it, it is a bonus that I may get around to using later. Endless tweaking is what I'm into...

So the Chroma doesn't look too flash in the tweaking department, but there is a possibilty of using editor software (which needs MIDI), or building a "knob-box," (all knobs control a single parameter on the synth).

Most of this info can be found on:

http://www.rhodeschroma.com

I was just wondering about peoples' personal opinions and experiences.

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Post by goldphinga » Mon Jun 05, 2006 6:53 am

ill second what eric said about the andromeda.
Moog Gear: Voyager AE,LP Stage 2+CV outs (Blue LED's/Wheels, MF104SD, MF101 Filter, MF103 Phaser, Source, Memorymoog+, Minitaur.

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Post by dr_floyd » Mon Jun 05, 2006 1:34 pm

I worked in a studio that had a Chroma as the sole synthesizer, and I hated it in every way. The oscillators were lifeless, the filter was weak and pathetic, there was no bass, and I always had to bring in my Prodigy to get organic sounds with balls.
But I've never liked the Arp filter sound, or any filter that can't ruin speakers.
The studio owner loved it, and it did do a passable clavinet and other bright sounds. Even the DX7 sounded more analog to me than the Chroma.
It was a pain to program, and the buttons made a loud, strange audible "thunk" when pressed, like an industrial servo was being used instead of a switch.
Chromas were also as heavy as a Rhodes, and were notorious for failing. I don't know if there is anyone to repair them anymore.
I wouldn't take a Chroma even if it came with a car to move it around in.

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Arp Filters

Post by eric coleridge » Mon Jun 05, 2006 2:05 pm

dr_floyd wrote: But I've never liked the Arp filter sound, or any filter that can't ruin speakers.
Just a side note, I don't think the Chroma has a "typical" Arp sound really.

And futher to the side, I wouldn't neccesarily say there is a particular sound to Arp filters, as Arp used a lot of different filter designs on alot of different synths. On the Odyssey alone, at least 4 different filters were used during production. For instance, my Odyssey's filter sounds pretty dead on the same as an MF101. I had an Avatar once that had the later designed 4075 filter which was totally different than the one in my Odyssey, a 4035. The later one had alot better bass responce (really heavy bass) but cut out almost half of the high end frequencies. Either filter was capable of damaging speakers. Maybe not as much as a Moog, but still...

I dont know if the Chroma uses either of those filters, or any of the other older Arp designs. But I doubt it. There's probably something about it on the website.

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Post by latigid on » Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:19 pm

I think I'm going to pass on the Chroma :)

It seems to be a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none synth. Sure, it can emulate other synths, but not particulally well.

Tweaking: Near zero without a knob box. No CV/gate. Quantised, digital edit parameters (e.g. 0-7 steps for resonance).

Reliability: Near zero. Replacement parts are rare and expensive, a new power supply would have to be made.

Weight: Heavy. No good for gigging. (Bad idea to gig; unreliable/irreplaceable electronics!)

Learning curve: Very steep.


Here are some things that I will miss not having a Chroma:

Modular capabilty.
Muliple filter routings (HP/LP/BP/series/paralell etc.).
Stackable osc. for less voices/more fat.
16 LFO waveforms!
Osc. sync and ringmod.
Multiple modulation sources and 16 destinations.
Abilty to have a different sound on each voice.
Auto-tuning osc. AND filters on startup.
Beautiful weighted keyboard with velocity and optional aftertouch.
Very rare unit (less than 3000 made)


I'll probably go on the lookout for a decent vintage poly.

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Post by ARP » Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:54 pm

I use a Chroma Expander w/midi, I had it for the last 6 years and it's still ticking..Many of the comments posted here are fairly accurate..complicated programming interface..lack of knobs..crappy presets..legendary power supply gremlins...
That said, this is not a synth for the feint heated or intrepid user who is looking for instant gratification..you have to go in and get those sounds/
Once you start digging the sounds that you can extract from this synth are simply breath taking, striking and most of all inspiring. Your efforts will be well rewarded, Don't expect the brutal in your face synth power like the memorymoog (my all time favorite polysynth) this synth excells at vocal and string like pads as well as wild guitar like lead sounds..It's no suprise that many who have make the effort to explore beyond the quirky interface are reluctant to part with their Chroma..
"Although they heard the music..they didn't understand the tune"

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Post by Array » Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:02 am

dr_floyd wrote:I worked in a studio that had a Chroma as the sole synthesizer, and I hated it in every way. The oscillators were lifeless, the filter was weak and pathetic, there was no bass, and I always had to bring in my Prodigy to get organic sounds with balls.
But I've never liked the Arp filter sound, or any filter that can't ruin speakers.
The studio owner loved it, and it did do a passable clavinet and other bright sounds. Even the DX7 sounded more analog to me than the Chroma.
It was a pain to program, and the buttons made a loud, strange audible "thunk" when pressed, like an industrial servo was being used instead of a switch.
Chromas were also as heavy as a Rhodes, and were notorious for failing. I don't know if there is anyone to repair them anymore.
I wouldn't take a Chroma even if it came with a car to move it around in.
I think you need to take a refresher on the Chroma. I think that it's a fantastic sounding piece of kit. Take a listen here:

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

As far as the filter....I believe that the Chroma used a CEM multimode filter. The oscillators were discrete ARP VCO's. It's basically the anti-MemoryMoog.

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Post by dr_floyd » Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:04 pm

Hey, I said that I personally hated it, I did not say it was not a great synthesizer for those who love it.
I don't need a refresher course, I worked with the thing for 4 years and never once enjoyed how it sounded, and I was very excited at first to work with such a powerful synthesizer. There was something about the general timbre (probably the Curtis chips) that always bugged me and I could not program out. All instruments have inherent timbre - Selmer saxophones sound different than Keilworth Saxophones, Selmers I love, Keilworth not at all, and it's just personal observation. One minute with a Moog synthesizer had me hooked forever, years with many other popular synthesizers never made the same sort of personal connection.
I'm glad most people love particular synthesizers I can't seem to connect with, it keeps things interesting. I'm just in no rush to ever see/hear a Chroma again.

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Post by mee3d » Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:44 pm

Up until very recently I owned three Chromas... now I'm back down to just the one but it sits under my memorymoog and Voyager quite nicely and complements both moogs well.

I wouldn't get rid of it as I haven't been able to find another synth, either hardware or software that can replace it (please someone emulate the Chroma in software), and I would go as far as saying I would sell my memorymoog before getting rid of the chroma, in fact over the last 2 years I have sold my JP8a, Matrix12, OB8, CS60, Prophet 5 and Synthex all because in some way the Chroma can fit into this tonal range.

Sure, it has a digital control interface and yes there is just one slider but i have never found it a problem to press a button and then adjust the parameter . . all you new LP owners will get to grips with that idea shortly.

Yes there are problems with Chroma power supplies but no more then a CS80, prophet 5 or memorymoog... this is the nature of machines this cutting edge (for the time) and this old. Have the power supply rebuilt, which is quite cheap to do and the Chroma will power up each and every time and tune all 16 Oscillators in one go . . and it stays in tune! (compare that to an old moog).

There are chips inside a Chroma that can go wrong and some are even hard to find now but this is just the same as a memorymoog, OB-8 or synthex. Nine times out of ten a voice card can be brought back to life by changing all the 4XXX chips on the voicecard, replacement components are readily available at a very small cost.

Basically the Chroma is a polyphonic 2800... it's even got limited modular capabilities as you can change the path of the audio/signal so yes it is diffecult to program but with a MIDI box attached it's possible to upload banks of sounds very easily and there are 100's of great programs freely available on rhodeschroma.com (big thanks to Chris Ryan).

In fact, there is a brand new retro-fitable computer board available right now that allows you to add another 150 patches (200 on board in total), 2 line 40 character LCD, midi mapping of all parameters and extra inbuilt MIDI, which will really add to the ease of programming the damn thing.

As for the sound . . playing the beautiful keyboard is a delight. Other then the SCi T8 (and Synclavier) there isn't a better keyboard on a vintage synth. With pressure sensitivity and on some Chromas, poly aftertouch the sounds just ooze out with such expression... it's a synth for real players.

I personally find the sound detailed, solid, sparkly and organic . . if you want fat squigy basslines then a moog is going to be better but if you are looking for a polysynth capable of great "comping" sounds and expresive "real-world" lead sounds then the Chroma is spot on . . there are a couple of string presets that just sound so much more expresive then any digital ROMpler I have played and the guitar sounds are very close to the real thing. Bell sounds are brilliant and as for Rhodes pianos . . funnily enough it does them extremely well too (probably the keyboard helps!).

Reading through this thread I find it hard to understand some of the comments made . . I do understand personal taste . . if you fundamentaly don't like the sound of something you'll never like it, so fare enough but to dismiss the Chroma without spending some time on a unit is just foolish.

The factory patches, like a lot of great synths are rubbish . . download all the patches of the Chroma website, get yourself a midi box and laptop and spend a few hours goping through them . . you'll find you won't have to do too much programming to get what you want.

Another great thing is that the Chroma sits really nicely in the mix, it's clarity really cuts through - try it before you dismiss it.

Here's the funny thing... it does have an industrial servo making a "thunk". the switches are membranes so on a dark stage it's sometimes hard to know if you have pressed a button, with the servo on you get tactile feedback...you naturally can turn it off!

My 2 that I recently sold will be up on rlmusic.co.uk shortly and just for dr_floyd . . heres a photo!

Mal


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Post by dr_floyd » Tue Jun 06, 2006 8:09 pm

AAAAAAAAHHH! No more, please!

I truly didn't intend to offend anyone, I was just answering the original question about personal experience with the Chroma, of which I had 4 years, and my personal experience obviously was different from absolutely everyone elses! Not the first time (I didn't like Spielberg's films "ET" or "AI" either...).

I stuck with the Chroma for 4 years because it was an impressive bit of engineering and I couldn't believe such a powerful machine wouldn't have something for me. I couldn't find it and don't need to go there anymore.

It is fun to hear from Chroma-knowledgable folks here though, because I never met any in the real world. I hope you can keep those Chromas running and keep enjoying them as much as you obviously do.

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Post by mee3d » Wed Jun 07, 2006 7:48 am

Hey dr_floyd . . . I was only teasing!

In honesty, if all you had access to was the Chroma, I could see how you might want a different sound, I'm lucky to own 3 or 4 moogs and other synths that sit along side my Chroma.

I'm not disrespecting your comments as they are valid . . each to their own I say.

Mal
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3d animation & compositing | multimedia design & production | web design & development | dvd authoring & encoding | audio surround mixing & composition

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Post by latigid on » Wed Jun 07, 2006 6:46 pm

Thanks Mal, I was wondering when you were going to show up! (having seen your Chroma posts before.)

I am going to go and play the Chroma, just to see if it does anything for me. The seller says it is in great condition, but I guess if it craps out in the future it would still be a very nice MIDI keyboard! I guess if bass were needed, you could just hook up the Voyager and double everything. Or whatever.

Probably a good point to note, and I hope I'm not offending anyone here, but wouldn't one use polyphony mainly for treble sounds anyway? I remember taking a music paper, and they said you should space out the bass notes when creating SATB voices so the low end sounds less cluttered. I already have the fattest monosynth (next to the Mini) man has ever heard, so the fact that the Chroma doesn't do great bass shouldn't be a reason to not buy one.

Did anyone ever have trouble using the quantised values for parameters? I.e. were they limiting in any way?

One other interesting point about this synth is that is can do a variable pulsed sawtooth wave. I wonder what that would sound like!

BTW, I ask these questions of the Moog forum because I know they know what good synths sound like...

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