Top 10 Vintage Synths (Under $10,000)
Rhodes Chroma (1982)
The Chroma began as a design and development project at ARP Instruments in 1979. When ARP went bust and liquidated their assets in 1981, they sold the design to CBS Instruments, which at that point already owned Fender and Rhodes. CBS promptly hired everyone who had been working on it. The following year, the Rhodes Chroma rose from the ashes. It weighs 71 pounds, in part because of 61 weighted, wooden keys that respond to velocity. (A polyphonic aftertouch kit was available as an option.) Instead of wheels, two programmable bipolar levers typically handle pitch bend and modulation.
The Chroma is a 16-voice instrument that’s also 16-part multitimbral, with eight 2-voice synth boards connected to a central microprocessor that handles all control signals. Each voice has an analog oscillator, waveshaper, highpass or lowpass filter, and amplifier. It also has two digital envelopes and a digital LFO called a sweep generator. The Chroma’s proprietary, pre-MIDI computer port originally connected to an Apple II running a patch librarian and 8-channel sequencer or to another Chroma or keyboard-less Chroma Expander for 32-voice operation. A third-party MIDI retrofit is available.
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