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Cherry Audio Chroma – ARP’s Last Hurrah Immortalised in Software


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The new Cherry Audio Chroma brings a much-sought-after synth to our sonic arsenals and with it a heap of nostalgia and affection.

The story of the ARP Chroma is one of “what could have been”. Developed at the turn of the 1980s, it never properly saw the light of day under the ARP banner. Sadly, ARP declared bankruptcy in 1981 and the Chroma IP was sold to CBS Musical Instruments and produced as the Rhodes Chroma.

The ARP/Rhodes Chroma

There are numerous stories of shenanigans when it comes to the sale of that IP. And had ARP not lost so much money on the Avatar, it may well have been the instrument that turned their fortunes around. Alas, it was not to be. The Chroma had a short life. It emerged at a crucial time for synthesizer development.

Rhodes Chroma

In some ways, it was ahead of the game, in others some way behind. And like so many of the late-era ARP instruments, they are highly prized and well sought after. Well, seek no more. Cherry Audio have worked their magic yet again and delivered the Cherry Audio Chroma.

The original hardware was truly cutting-edge for its time. Sixteen voices of analog synthesis, multitimbrality and the promise of polyphonic after touch, although few models actually shipped with the polyphonic pressure kit installed.

The Cherry Audio Chroma

So how have Cherry Audio reinterpreted this beast for the 21st century? Well, it certainly looks like a Chroma! The hardware was one of the first synths to use membrane buttons, a good year or so before the DX7. These are “replicated” here but with a much nicer way of using them.

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Click on a button and a contextual menu appears. Or, if the button simply needs a value, click, hold and drag up or down to adjust. You can also just double-click the button and type the value in. The Chroma’s unique configuration system allowed for signals to be routed as if patched like a modular. Very unique at the time!

Cherry Audio Chroma
Cherry Audio Chroma

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Expander Included

To get the biggest possible Chroma experience, Cherry Audio has included an Expander. And when I say big, I mean big. The thing sounds HUGE! Sadly, the near-mythical polyphonic aftertouch hasn’t been included with the plugin. As so few originals had it, I guess it won’t be much of a miss.

The Cherry Audio Chroma comes packed with over 450 presets, including the original presets. It can also import original Chroma Sysex, should you have any lying around!

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Cherry Audio Chroma is available now for just $69 and if bought via the Cherry Audio store, 5% of all proceeds in the month of May with be donated to the fabulous Alan R. Pearlman Foundation.

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Cherry Audio Chroma Download

Cherry Audio Chroma Download

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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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