A Legacy of Innovation

  • Cherry Audio Chroma UI - 01
    $69.00 $89.00 MSRP
  • Cherry Audio Chroma UI - 02
  • Cherry Audio Chroma UI - 03
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  • Cherry Audio Chroma UI - 07

A year and a half in the making! 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 the utmost accuracy. Due to its highly complex nature and sheer number of parameters, this has been among the most challenging virtual instruments Cherry Audio has ever created. We’ve painstakingly emulated every aspect with exacting precision while making the sound programming experience more intuitive with easy-to-use pop-up menus and informative real-time display directly built into the parameter buttons.

Topping it off, switching the standard single instrument mode to double mode adds a Chroma Expander - an entire additional Chroma Synthesizer 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. Explore the heritage of the Chroma synthesizer in our video documentary The Story of Chroma, featuring exclusive interviews and insights through the firsthand accounts of those who stood at the forefront of its creation.

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!

Cherry Audio's Dan Goldstein demonstrates the original 1982 Rhodes Chroma programming method with its notorious
Cherry Audio's Dan Goldstein demonstrates the original 1982 Rhodes Chroma programming method with its notorious "tapper" and simple digital display.

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 and even WAV-format cassette tape data, 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.

A glimpse at what was: a small portion of Chris Ryan's complex Parameter Chart that allowed users of the original Chroma to translate the hardware's numeric values into synthesizer parameters. Cherry Audio's Chroma interface dramatically simplifies programming by making all of this data considerably more accessible.
A glimpse at what was: a small portion of Chris Ryan's complex Parameter Chart that allowed users of the original Chroma to translate the hardware's numeric values into synthesizer parameters. Cherry Audio's Chroma interface dramatically simplifies programming by making all of this data considerably more accessible.

The original Chroma was renowned for its expressive capabilities, including velocity sensitivity and aftertouch, and keyboard assignments for six monophonic modes (including unison), four polyphonic modes (including poly unison), and six arpeggiator modes. Cherry Audio Chroma captures these features and enhances them significantly by including an emulation of the Expander, effectively doubling the possibilities with layers and splits and 16 polyphonic voices across all modes.

Loaded with the original 250 factory presets and enriched by an additional 450 custom presets crafted by our sound design virtuosos, the Chroma synthesizer offers an expansive library that caters to every musical genre and production style. Chroma also includes seven studio-quality integrated effects, including distortion, phaser, flange/chorus, delay, and reverb, and a global EQ and limiter.

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.

To get users up and running with Chroma, lead designer Mitchell Sigman has created an introductory tutorial video that walks users through the features of this iconic virtual synthesizer and offers tips on how to get the most from it quickly.

Producers will find immediate inspiration in Chroma's extensive preset library, created by talented sound artists led by veteran sound designer James Terris. And make sure to check out the Chroma Classics Preset Pack (sold separately), featuring 100 more phenomenal presets that blend vintage tones with a contemporary feel.

James Terris

James Terris

James is Director of Sound Design, responsible for preset programming and curation at Cherry Audio. He is a long-established sound designer and musician based in the San Francisco Bay Area who has worked with Dave Smith Instruments/Sequential, Pioneer DJ, Apple, and Han Zimmer’s Remote Control.

Michael Oakley

Michael Oakley

Michael Oakley is a Scottish producer and singer whose moody, melancholic synthwave/retrowave sound is a love letter to 1980s synthpop. His albums California (2017), Introspect (2019), and Odyssey (2021) have gained huge critical acclaim from The Huffington Post and NewRetroWave.

Matia Simovich (INHALT)

Matia Simovich (INHALT)

Matia (INHALT) Simovich has shared his unique sound design skills with various leading musical instrument manufacturers such as Sequential/Dave Smith Instruments, Akai Professional, Elektron, and more. He has collaborated with Peter Baumann (Tangerine Dream), and produced Body of Light’s Billboard charting LP “Time to Kill."

James Dyson

James Dyson

James is a freelance sound designer and musician based in the UK, and creates third-party preset packs as JD Soundsets. He draws inspiration and influence from Tangerine Dream and 80s film scores, and has designed sounds for Modal and IK Multimedia.

Drew Schlesinger

Drew Schlesinger

Drew Schlesinger began developing third-party sounds for Casio CZ synths in 1986, leading to a career designing presets for over 200 products from 30 companies including Roland, Korg, Kurzweil, Alesis, E-mu, Ensoniq, TC, Lexicon, Eventide, and others. After a 20-year hiatus in the corporate world, he has recently returned to music and sound design.

Mark Wilcox

Mark Wilcox

Mark Wilcox is an avowed synth geek, writer, and artist who’s been programming synths since before he was old enough to drive. Mark has contributed sounds and product designs for synths and software/hardware from Sequential, Avid, Digidesign, and Groove Synthesis. His obsession with making sonic mischief has only grown with time and technology.

The Sounds of Chroma Synthesizer

Title of Song

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

  • Tape Data Import: Cherry Audio Chroma can import 50-program cassette tape data backups made with the original Rhodes Chroma (uncompressed .wav files, mono/stereo, any sample rate or bit depth)

  • 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

  • Also available: Chroma Classics Preset Pack (sold separately), featuring 100 more phenomenal presets that blend vintage tones with a contemporary feel.

Cherry Audio gives back to the music community! The company will donate 5% of profits from its May website sales of Chroma to the ARP Foundation, supporting Alan R. Pearlman's legacy of innovation that ARP and the Chroma represented.

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

A free 30-day demo is available. This demo will play white noise periodically, but is otherwise unlimited.

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.

Hard disk space: 74 MB

NOTE: Internet connection required for product activation

Rhodes® is a registered trademark of Rhodes Music Ltd. There is no association, affiliation or endorsement of Cherry Audio or its products by Rhodes Music.