This site has from the beginning been dedicated to the original Chroma, not the Polaris. I don't own a Polaris; I've never even played one! However, with a lack of resources on the web and the obvious "family relationship," I've received a steady stream of questions and requests, and there are occasional Polaris-related posts to the ChromaTalk mailing list (see below for some highlights). Dare I get into another instrument as I have the original Chroma? Is this the beginning of a new site? In the meantime, here's some of what I have collected over the years. Send me more information and I'll post it here.
Follow @chromapolaris In addition to the information on this page, see Patches & Sequences; Advertisements; and the Polaris Instrument Registry (send me info on your instrument, and I'll add it). For the technically minded, there is Polaris Sysex, EPROM Code and RAM IC Types. See the Price History page for known Polaris prices.
The ChromaTalk list is dedicated to the original Chroma; posts related to both instruments are acceptable. There is a Polaris mailing list that has been going since 2002. It's not terribly active, but it exists. Also, you might want to join Analogue Heaven.
See Chroma Manuals: Sources for a few potential places to order Polaris manuals in print. I've only listed sources that also have Chroma manuals there; do a web search to find other sources.
- Owner's Manual (8.8mb PDF file). Thanks to Antonio Tuzzi [100036+].
- Service Manual in hypertext, including large format schematics in PDF. Transcribed by Chris Ryan .
- MIDI Implementation Manual (916K). Thanks to David Gowin .
- The Chroma Interface Manual contains information on the Polaris; see in particular Polaris Structure and Polaris Objects and Streams.
There is also a different version of the Owner's Manual on the Polaris mailing list page: Chroma_Polaris_Owners_Manual.pdf (4.3mb). It is not clear which is more recent.
Service & Technical
Try the Chroma Service Centres page; many techs should be able to repair the Polaris as well as the Chroma.
Mario Faelli writes: "I found the Casale Bauer near Bologna city, that was the Italian seller/repair. I get to that company and contact Mr. Reatti, who is the master in repairing Chroma, and Polaris synthesizer. I also contacted the Lemi company in Turin (Torino city) , they are the best in Italy on repairing vintage Synthesizer!" E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org [January 2001]
- Polaris Panel Button Wiring Matrix (16K PDF file).
The article Chroma to Chroma Interface Lead contains wiring information for connecting Chromas, including the Polaris.
Questions that seem to come up from time to time.
See answer from Tony Williams of ARP/Fender (ChromaTalk, August 2001).
The Keyboard Magazine article The Synth That Survived ARP's Fall has a photo and brief blurb on the Polaris. There are a number of mentions of the Polaris in the interview I conducted with Philip Dodds (Chroma product manager, who left CBS/Fender before the Polaris was begun) and Tony Williams (one of the main designers of the Chroma, who did some early work on the Polaris).
David Gowin  led the Polaris User Group in the 1980s, and provided a couple of interesting documents.
- Sales Primer (544K PDF file). Intended to provide "the needed background in preparation for selling the Polaris," this document is a good overview of the instrument's capabilities and specs, including competitive analysis.
- Letter from Steve Grom (152K PDF file). Steve Grom was Director of Marketing at Fender. This letter to Dave includes an interesting short history of the Chroma and Polaris at CBS/Fender.
The Polaris is mentioned from time to time on ChromaTalk. You may find some useful or interesting information in these threads:
- David Clarke's mention of Polaris volume parameter values over the Chroma (and, perhaps, Triad) computer interface (August 2000)
- Brief discussion of the service manual and serial numbers (December 2000)
- Sysex for Chroma Polaris (January 2001)
- Chroma and Polaris spotting (November 2001)
- Polaris, OS revisions and more (April 2002)
- Battery Reminder - how to check your Polaris (and Chroma) backup battery (August 2003)
- "Red Chroma's" - origins of the orange "earth tone" theme used on prototype Polaris units (November 2003)
- Polaris as Chroma-to-MIDI? - inability of Polaris to output as MIDI performance information received over the Chroma interface (February 2004)
- ARP Digital Access Control - gets into some of the details of the enigmatic "Triad" interface that was, maybe, implemented on the Polaris (August 2004)
- chroma polaris membrane switches - plea for help with a broken part (May 2006)
- Music Machines: Rhodes Polaris - Specs, technical info, and samples.
- Sonic State: Fender Polaris - a small picture, reviews, and specs.
- Vintage Synth Explorer: Chroma Polaris - Basic info and specs.
- retrosynth: Fender Chroma Polaris - small pic, bit of info
- Harmony Central: Fender Chroma Polaris - A few user reviews.
Thanks to Ben Kuris [301383++], David Clarke [21030085++], David Gowin , and Paul Hackett-Evans  for providing information on the Polaris. Polaris keyboard images from Choke Slam Media, and from chez.com circa 2003.