Cherry Audio Chroma •  A year and a half in the making!
Cherry Audio Chroma •  A year and a half in the making!

Cherry Audio Chroma • A year and a half in the making!

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The long-awaited and often requested Cherry Audio Chroma synthesizer is a virtual instrument that brings back the spirit and sounds of the iconic Rhodes Chroma polyphonic analog synthesizer from 1982 with utmost accuracy. Due to its highly complex nature and the sheer number of parameters, this has been among the most challenging virtual instruments Cherry Audio has ever created. Cherry Audio has painstakingly emulated every aspect with exacting precision, but made the sound programming experience more intuitive with easy-to-use pop-up menus and informative real-time displays built right into the parameter buttons. And to top it off, in addition to the standard single instrument mode, Cherry Audio's Chroma includes the ability to add the Expander, effectively adding an entire second Chroma synthesizer to the mix that can run in layer or split modes.

The Story of Chroma

In 1979, the pioneers at ARP Instruments began researching and developing one of the most ambitious synthesizer designs of that time - the Chroma. The Chroma was a 16-voice polyphonic marvel, controlled by a microprocessor, with aftertouch and advanced signal routing and modulation. Unfortunately, ARP was entering bankruptcy in 1981. Fortunately, the Chroma design was preserved by Rhodes, which produced it from 1982 to 1984, at the dawn of the new digital era. While it was a feat of engineering, the flat panel interface of the Chroma wasn’t up to the task of accessing its immense sound and feature set. Despite its challenges, the Chroma was a monumental final achievement for ARP’s visionary engineering team. 

The Chroma is a rare and exceptional synthesizer, with only around 3,000 produced by Rhodes and as few as 150 keyboardless Expanders. It is highly regarded by synth luminaries and is still cherished for its unique sound. The Chroma was famously used by musicians including Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, Jethro Tull, and Oscar Peterson. It’s also the source of the signature “wah-wah” chords heard throughout Spandau Ballet’s smash 1983 hit, “True.” 

Rhodes introduced the Chroma in 1982 at just over $5,000 and the Expander for $2,500. Today, either of these fetch between $8,000 and $16,000 on the used market!

A Chroma - Expanded! - for Everyone

Cherry Audio’s Chroma synthesizer is a stunning virtual instrument that meticulously revives the essence and sonic capabilities of the legendary original. This endeavor has been one of Cherry Audio’s most ambitious projects, presenting a formidable challenge due to the original’s complexity and the vast array of parameters it comprises. The result is an instrument that not only matches but elevates the original’s experience, offering an unmatched level of innovation and authenticity worthy of the original.

Chroma faithfully reproduces every nuance of the Rhodes Chroma with astonishing accuracy. Remarkably, it allows direct import of SysEx patch data from the original instrument, bridging four decades of sound design into a modern workflow. Cherry Audio has painstakingly recreated each component of the original Chroma hardware, from its 16 oscillators, filters, VCAs, and LFOs to its 32 envelope generators. These highly modular elements can be selected from 16 distinct preconfigured signal paths, ranging from straightforward VCO-VCF-VCA setups to intricate configurations involving oscillator sync, filter FM, ring modulation, and variable or serially connected filters.

Central to the Cherry Audio Chroma’s design is an improved user interface that dramatically simplifies programming. Intuitive pop-up elements and real-time displays integrated directly into parameter buttons make sound design an effortlessly rewarding experience. All of the original Chroma’s unprecedented modulation capabilities have been precisely replicated to create a powerfully flexible modular synthesizer-like programming experience. Modulation paths are configured quickly and easily using comprehensive modulation pop-up menus.

Cherry Audio Chroma is more than just a virtual replica of the original synthesizer's complex structure and expressive depth. It goes beyond that and incorporates Cherry Audio's own characteristic innovation to finally make Chroma's unique sonic qualities accessible to today's musicians and producers.

Chroma Features

  • Exactingly faithful virtual analog emulation of the analog polyphonic synthesizer released by Rhodes in 1982, from its 16 polyphonic voices to its expressive velocity and polyphonic aftertouch capabilities
  • 16 Oscillators, Filters, VCAs, and LFOs, and 32 Envelope Generators
  • 16 distinct preconfigured signal paths, ranging from straightforward VCO-VCF-VCA setups to intricate configurations featuring oscillator sync, filter FM, ring modulation, and variable or serial filter paths
  • Intuitive menus and real-time displays simplify the programming process, making it accessible to novices and seasoned professionals alike
  • All of the original Chroma’s unprecedented modulation capabilities have been precisely replicated to create a powerfully flexible modular synthesizer-like programming experience. Modulation paths are configured quickly and easily using Cherry Audio Chroma’s comprehensive modulation pop-up menus
  • Includes the Chroma Expander module, which adds an entire second Chroma synthesizer to the mix, running in layer or split modes for expanded creative possibilities
  • SysEx Import: Owners of MIDI-retrofitted Chroma or Expander hardware can directly transfer banks and individual patches to Cherry Audio Chroma via SysEx dump. Additionally, users can easily import Chroma SysEx files through drag-and-drop
  • Seven studio-quality onboard effects, including distortion, phaser, flange/chorus, delay, and reverb, as well as a global EQ and limiter
  • 700 extraordinary presets in over a dozen categories: includes the original 250 Chroma factory presets and an additional 450 custom presets crafted by a stellar team of sound designers
  • Standalone virtual instrument and plug-in versions
  • Complete MIDI control and DAW automation for all controls, with easy-to-use MIDI Learn and mapping
  • Cherry Audio’s popular Focus zoom-in feature, as well as standard UI zoom and resize via drag
  • Complete documentation available directly online from the instrument or in downloadable PDF format
  • User-adjustable oversampling control

Chroma is available in AU, VST, VST3, AAX, and standalone formats.

System Requirements

macOS Requirements: MacOS 10.13 or above. 64-bit required. Intel or Apple Silicon processor. 3.4 GHz Quad-Core or Apple Silicon CPU with 8GB of RAM recommended.

Windows Requirements: Windows 7 or above. 64-bit required. 3.4 GHz Quad-Core computer with 8GB of RAM recommended.