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ChromaTalk Archives: June 2009

Price History

Chris Ryan [21030691]

One of the last questions about the Chroma that I have a little bit of difficulty answering is how much they're worth, or at least selling for. So I've compiled a list of historical prices paid for the Chroma, Expander, Polaris, and accessories, based on information in the mailing list archives and owner stories in the instrument registry. Hopefully this list will be of some value when considering for how much to buy or sell a Chroma; where the serial number is known, links to registry entries are provided to give some context to the price beyond date, in terms of cosmetic and working condition.

Before this year, I didn't track winning bids for eBay, or other sales, very carefully; so if you have information on your instrument or others that you would like to include (and there are at least 100 owned by list members that are not yet on the list), email me directly the serial number, price paid, and date of purchase.

Matt Thomas [21010021]

Hi Chris,

My Chroma is 21010021 in the registry – I paid £800 and the date was late 2001.

Re: Access to extra patches in expanded CPU

Go to first message in thread, May 2009

Joe Porter [21030058]

Hi Ken,

Thanks for that. Makes sense now.

ChromaTalk: Ten Years

Chris Ryan [21030691]

OK, call me a sucker for nostalgia. Ten years ago today the ChromaTalk list began: see the June 1999 archive. Amazingly enough, most of those who posted during that month are still on the list: Chris Smalt [21010280], David Clarke [21030085], Dave Bradey [16330135], Tim Siefkes [21030850], Wim Luijsterburg [21010034], Jimmy Moyer [21030184], Don Tillman, and Jerry Leonard [21030100]. I heard from Gabriel Katona last month, while I was putting together the price history; he wrote, "I am still a Chroma owner and user. I did change out the original power supply to Sandro Sfregola's power supply. Although my CPU board works fine, I am concerned about battery leakage and possible acid damage. I may, down the road, upgrade to the new CPU board."

Thanks, everyone, for your continued participation. We have a great community here, and I think we've accomplished a lot in keeping the Chroma alive.

Peter Forrest [21010096]

Congratulations, Chris!

David Clarke [21030085++]

... Ten years ago today the ChromaTalk list began...
... Thanks, everyone, for your continued participation...

Far too often on-line communities get created with a great flourish - but then after a while interest wanes, web sites no longer get updated and data becomes stale and neglected.

It always a disappointment to stumble across on-line data that interests you, only to find out that there's been no updates for years, and no way to contact the people involved in it.

Very big thanks go out to Chris Ryan for continuing to keep the site going, making sure the mailing is active, keeping us together and continuing to be involved.

I'm certainly appreciative of the effort, as I know others are too.

I'm still here, still have my Chromas and hope to be able to continue to contribute going forwards.

Happy Anniversary to the site!

Jesper Ödemark [21010135]

Happy Anniversary to the site!

Is it the 6th or the 7th then? I think I received the mail the 7th but I'm in the old world so it might have been the 6th over in Canada. Also, I wasn't here ten years ago when the list started. If it's the 6th it's easy to remember. It's a national holiday in Sweden. :D

Does anybody know when the first Chroma was shipped? That ought to be celebrated as the official birthday or something.

Chris Ryan [21030691]

Is it the 6th or the 7th then? I think I received the mail the 7th but I'm in the old world so it might have been the 6th over in Canada. Also, I wasn't here ten years ago when the list started. If it's the 6th it's easy to remember. It's a national holiday in Sweden. :D

The first post to the list was from me, on Sun, 6 Jun 1999 16:30:30 -0700; see the archive. It was part of the first major revision to the site; see Site News for June 1999.

The first version of the site, which was just five pages, went live in the early hours of February 21, 1999; I announced it in a post to which, in the Google archive, just changed from 12:00am to 1:00am the second time I looked at it (maybe something to do with daylight savings time—odd). See Five Years and Ten Years.

Does anybody know when the first Chroma was shipped? That ought to be celebrated as the official birthday or something.

I've never heard anything mentioned about first customer shipment. It would have been some time in 1982. The Keyboard Magazine review was published in the August 1982 issue.

Dave Bradley [16330135]

I was just rereading the first posts. Dang, 10 years goes by fast! My equipment rig has completely changed out since then, but my Chroma is still here, along with a replacement Expander I found a few years ago. This community is amazing - I cannot think of another vintage instrument that is supported with new hardware and software the way that this one is.

Ron Joseph [21030042+]

Some of the first 50 were driven personally to various dealers on the east coast; there was some mention of it on site. IIRC in the instrument registry.

Tom Klepacki [21030025]

I have a factory cassette labeled:
"CHROMA PROGRAMS, Sets 1, 2 & 3"
June 17, 1982 - for Chroma Rev 10

Does that help to date the birth of the beast?

And yes, I was told that my Chroma was personally delivered to LaSalle Music in East Hartford, Conn. straight from Woburn.

Chris Ryan [21030691]

Does that help to date the birth of the beast?

It might (this date is displayed on the Factory Patch Names & Descriptions page), but may only indicate the completion or duplication date of the cassettes. It may even be that some instruments were shipped out with only one set of patches. But it seems that "summer 1982" is as close as we're going to get, as it doesn't appear that there was a big unveiling or public handover of the first Chroma to Herbie Hancock or anything like that. The "first fifty" seem to have been dispersed to dealers and reviewers and some of the designers.

Robb Witt

I assume everyone realizes that the "First 50" were the units we hand-built in the facility in Woburn... essentially as a production engineering exercise. I also think that Phil wanted to be sure we could get 50 of the critters to all work... both to convince us, and also convince Fender. ;-) My memory is that we shipped 'em as we built 'em. I thought, but could easily be wrong, that they all went to dealers. Reviewers would have been more likely to get "loaners". After the 50 we had a big time gap until we could get the Hoopeston, Ill. "Gulbransen" factory trained up to produce them as production units.... Which was a challenge for all concerned.

The majority of the Factory Patches were created by Mark Smith [2103-PT-002] (I think that's true, right Mark?)

Mark Smith [2103-PT-002]

As to the factory patches creation, I did most of sets 4,5,and 6.

Mark Smith [2103-PT-002]

Chroma Patches

Come to think of it I did several of the patches in sets 1, 2, and 3.

Chris Ryan [21030691]

As to the factory patches creation, I did most of sets 4,5,and 6.

I have you quoted on the site as saying "I created most of the patches in Factory Sets 4 and 5. (I do not know of a set 6.)" Is this confirmation of the mysterious Set 6?

Jimmy Moyer [21030184]

I still have that cassette as well!

Thanks and congrats to Chris and all the Chroma die hards.

Re: Chroma "For Repair or Parts" on eBay

Go to first message in thread, May 2009.

Chris Ryan [21030691]

Item #170330408730, starting bid US$1200, no bids yet, ends May 16. [...] I've asked the seller for the serial number.

I've heard from the buyer; this is Chroma 21030209 and was sold for USD$900 (see the Price History).

Re: Two Voice Boards on eBay

Go to first message in thread, May 2009

Chris Ryan [21030691]

On 31-May-09, at 8:56 PM, RustyFilter wrote:

Ebay assigned the voice cards new item numbers:

  • 220425800258
  • 220425801333

Sold for USD$150 each.

Re: Dual Footswitch on eBay

Go to previous message in thread, April 2009

Chris Ryan [21030691]

On 7-Apr-09, at 9:35 PM, Chris Ryan wrote:

No takers once again; re-listed as Item #290308323920 with a price of £225.00 (first listing was £150, second £129—maybe the seller thinks a higher price will attract more interest?). No bids yet; ends May 6.

Was again re-listed as item #290316160040, and again failed to sell—at £250.00. No kidding.

Chris Ryan [21030691]

... so why not bump it up another £100? Now listed at the bargain basement price of £350.00. Maybe the pedals are gold plated.

Chris Ryan [21030691]

I don't know why I find this funny, but I emailed the seller asking why, when the auctions were unsuccessful, the price was increased, and received the following response: "We are currently listing the item on behalf of the owner who gave us specific directions as to selling policies. We are sorry not to be able to explain a rationale behind that choice."

David Clarke [21030085++]

I get a kick out of this too.

I've seen this sort of policy work with real estate (e.g., raise the price to entice a different group of ppl, and to impart a place with a sense of worthiness) - but never on something 'mechanical' like this...

The current asking price is more that some ppl have paid for their Chroma, including a Dual Footswitch.

Michael Salmon [21030155]

Does anyone know how to actually repair or build a dual footswitch by the way? My right/sustain pedal broke last year and without it my life is terribly depressing sad and humiliating. oh the horrrrrorororrrrr!#% ok maybe it's not that bad but still

Chris Smalt [21010280+]

There used to be other instruments with a dual footswitch. I have one that came with a Peavey synth (1991) and it works fine with the Chroma. I think it was manufactured in Italy by Crumar.

Jesper Ödemark [21010135]

I snatched one off an electronic piano assembly a few months ago. I haven't tested it with the Chroma since I have a footswitch, but I guess it should work from how it looks inside...

Chris Ryan [21030691]

Try it and/or post some pictures. The Performance Manual Specifications say "Stereo phone jack - Sustain on ring/Latch on tip. Operates on standard TTL (LS) with 10K ohms pull up to +5V."

Go to next message in thread, July 2009

CC+ & Behringer BCR2000

Matt Thomas [21010021]


I've just had the most satisfying day with the Chroma since I bought it about 7 years ago; my CC+ kit arrived last week and I finally had the time to install it. First thing was to remove the existing Kenton interface, which took about half an hour. I was able to remove it intact with the exception of the three MIDI sockets riveted to the back panel which I had to cut thru. (I guess I might stick it on eBay unless anyone here wants to buy it as spares/cheap backup?)

Installing the CC+ was beautifully simple – no soldering and no aptitude for servicing synths required. Then it was MIDI cables in and I was ready to go. My first job was to set-up my Behringer BCR2000 as a knob box. I had a struggle initially with assigning MIDI CC controllers as they didn't agree with the CCs given in the default MCM in the manual – until I found that I'd earlier switched the map to 'cult' instead of 'cust' by accident. After that it was plain sailing and I'm quite pleased with how I've laid out the controls on the BCR, particularly with using the 16 individual push buttons to select sweep waveforms and the little cluster of four buttons to select oscillator waveforms. I'll live with it for a bit to see if it needs any tweaking, then I'd be happy to upload the BCR preset - if anyone wants it?

So, finally, I got to play a Chroma with hands on controls. What a difference! This is such a great instrument, more than you can really tell when editing it one parameter at a time. To have every parameter editable by hand AND automatable over MIDI puts the Chroma in the front rank of great analogue polysynths. So a huge thank you to Sandro & David for designing and building this amazing upgrade

Here's two items for the features wish list -

An option to transmit a snapshot of all parameters via MIDI CC on program change. This would update the endless encoders on the BCR and similar surfaces to reflect the parameters of the current program. I've scoured the net and this seems to be a feasible and relatively simple feature – for example, see below regarding the OP-X softsynth "OP-X sends a complete cc dump on program change which updates all parameters on the BCR to the values of the new preset. This allows for completely jump free operation. When you tweak a control in the software OP-X the dedicated control on the BCR does change accordingly, and of course also vice versa." Maybe this could be implemented with a 'CC dump on program change = on/off' function as P26 in the CC+ programming menu?

Another suggestion for CC+ programming menu - Patch assigning to Instrument for mutitimbral use. As far as I'm aware external MIDI CC messages are the only way to select programs for multi-timbral voices 3 to 8. Presumably it would be feasible to implement a basic patch selector in the programming menu? Instrument = 1 to 8, Program = 1 to 50. It would be nice to audition presets as you select them, but that's just icing on the cake; the key thing would be the onboard patch selection.

Anyway, that's my thoughts after a day's tweaking, maybe more to come.

Michael Salmon [21030155]

Hi Matt, It would be really cool if the preset file were on the website.

Matt Thomas [21010021]

... So a huge thank you to Sandro & David...

Our pleasure. Glad to hear you enjoy it.

Here's two items for the features wish list - ...

Thank you for the suggestions.

Another suggestion for CC+ programming menu - Patch assigning to Instrument for mutitimbral use...

Can you expand upon this a bit? I.e., in what manner would it assist?

... As far as I'm aware external MIDI CC messages are the only way to select programs for multi-timbral voices 3 to 8.

Depending on the configuration parameter P2 ("Mode"), voices 3 to 8 will behave similarly to voices 1 & 2. Specifically - if they're enabled (by the P5 setting, "Instruments Available"), then simply sending a 'program change' on the MIDI channel of interest will select the program for that channel.

If you have the Chroma set up to enable all 8 instruments (for instance), then selecting 8 different programs (via a MIDI program change ) on the 8 different assigned MIDI channels will select a program for each.

Best regards,

David Clarke

CC+ manual in .pdf format

Matt Thomas [21010021]

Another CC+ question/suggestion – is the user manual available in .pdf format? I don't have the internet in my studio to cut down on distraction, and I keep accidentally switching off Safari and losing the manual page. A downloadable copy would be great for reference.

Chris Ryan [21030691]

I'm not sure how to do it in Windows (anyone?), but on Mac OS X just choose "Print..." from the File menu of your browser, then select "Save As PDF..." from the PDF button. There is a print style sheet for the site, so pages are printed without the navigation.

Matt Thomas [21010021]

Thanks Chris

Syntech MIDI Interface For Sale

Chris Ryan [21030691]

Keith Barnhart [21030112] writes, "I was rummaging around and I found a Syntech MIDI interface for the Chroma." Keith has sold both of his Chromas and is looking to sell the interface for USD$100. Contact [email address removed].

Checking Voltages From SPSU?

Paul Tillotson [21030218]

I'm one of many happy installers of Sandro's SPSu kits and have been happy with its performance until today, when powering my Chroma up all voices failed auto tune every time. I assume the voltages going to the analog board are off but I can't recall or figure out from the posted instruction how to check voltages. The instructions say to check +5V analog voltage, between PCB ground (black) wire and the fixing screw of the TO-220 regulator on same PCB; adjust VR101 to read 5.05V.

I cannot figure out what the fixing screw of the TO-220 regulator is though I knew at the time I was installing. My kit is an early one and has only the single LED, for what that's worth. Any advice would be most welcomed.

Luca Sasdelli [21010226]

Hi Paul,

you can check the voltages on SPSU itself (+5V digital, -12V, +12V) simply checking on the terminal block. The +5V analog, related to the single led on PCB, could be checked on the only one fixing screw on the PCB :-) The TO-220 regulator is the component with the little heatsink on the PCB, nearly opposite to the reset button.

P.S.: Sandro did design the regulator and reset circuitry: the SPSU kits are mine :-D

Paul Tillotson [21030218]

I do not think my new power supply is the problem now that I poke around a bit. The voltages seem fine. The front panel works on boot up, the tapper and all panel switches work, but there's no flashing of lights on power up or any reaction when autotune or set switch 50 is used. The display on power up is not "err 1234"... etc, but "01234567". No amount of warming up makes any difference. I've read the Hardware fault and Diagnostic section online and will check voltages at the I/O and remove voice card 3 which has always given me troubles. Any other ideas folks?

Sorry to have assumed that the power supply was the problem, but before the swap out and the adjusting of voltages to the I/O board it always was. I was almost getting used to a dependable Chroma thanks to the new power supply.


Luca Sasdelli [21010226]

Hi Paul,

if your SPSU kit is one of the first made, it's possible that the reset timing is not that accurate. With powered up instrument, please press the tiny reset button on the PCB, just to see is panel leds start flashing.

If this is the case, the capacity connected on the reset button should be increased to 22uF (a 10uF in parallel to existing one will suffice).

Paul Tillotson [21030218]

I've been resetting with the reset button on the power supply PCB as well as set switch 50 and no flashing at all.

Michael Krewitsky [21030504+]

I am having the same exact issue.... all voltages good, but getting "01234567" instead of a tune routine... please let me know what you find!

Greg Montalbano, Analog Synthesizer Service

Having dealt with several faulty Chromas, I thought it might be good to point out that the problem might be other than the power supply.

From the Chroma diagnosis & repair page:

Note that although severe cases will cause "E01234567" to be displayed as soon as the Chroma is switched on, the immediate failure of all voices can also be caused by several other failures, such as:

  • The mother board's zero-crossing detector
  • The mother board's sample and hold decoder
  • The mother board's data strobe decoders
  • The I/O board's pre-set potentiometer R1
  • The I/O board's capacitor C31
  • A voice board not being silent when another board is being tuned

Just thought I'd mention the possibility....

David Clarke [21030085++]

... no flashing of lights on power up or any reaction when autotune or set switch 50 is used. The display on power up is not "err 1234". etc, but "01234567"...

... Any other ideas folks?

Pulling all voice cards but one is a good starting point, just to see if a simpler environment helps.

You can also do a Set Split-31 and see if the voice cards will make any sound (Set Split-31 will perform the tuning - but will not exclude the 'bad' boards.)

If you hear sound (albeit bad) with Set Split-31, then it may just be a matter of an adjustment going bad (e.g., DAC offset).

If no sound results, then I'd quickly check to make sure no cables have come undone (e.g., ribbon cable from channel motherboard to I/O board) and the voltages are good on the channel motherboard. If that all checks out, then it may be something not quite so 'easy.'

Good luck in your investigation.

Paul Tillotson [21030218]

I did pull all voice cards but one today and it made no difference. I also reseated all socketed chips and all cables. I'll try your suggestions.

Paul Tillotson [21030218]

Okay, I see what's wrong after setting my voltage meter to the correct voltage and taking some readings. The SPSU power regulator has failed in some way and the lowest voltage I can adjust to is over 9 volts, it goes up into 12 or more but no matter how much I turn the trimmer it will not drop below 9 volts. I can get a set split 50 to sort of tune one voice after the flashing lights etc which is more normal behavior than I've been seeing. I don't suppose there's any lifetime warranty on these kits:)?

I'll shut up about it now.

Luca Sasdelli [21010226]

Hi Paul,

definitely the voltage readings were NOT okay :-) I'm not sure your regulator has failed: maybe there is something wrong with the trimmer circuitry.

Anyway, please send me the PCB only and I'll fix it for you. The repair will be no-cost of course, while the shipping should be paid in advance. Please contact me at [email address removed] and we'll discuss the details.

Craigslist: Chroma Wanted in Toronto

Chris Ryan [21030691]

"W.T.B rhodes chroma - $4500 (TORONTO). must be in good condition ... if broken i will buy but @ $1000."

[Posting ID 1232738348]

David Gowin [21030611]

Wow! Almost makes me want to sell mine for that kind of money! And I'm in Toronto too! But after searching for 10 years to find one that worked, nope, it's not going anywhere

Tom Hughes [21030251+]

Uh oh, the word's out...

Michael Salmon [21030155]

they're not really worth that much are they? or are you talking canada-bucks?

David Gowin [21030611]

The price is Cdn dollars, but the diff between US and Cdn is minimal these days, approx $4000 US

Chris Ryan [21030691]

Precisely USD$3900.15 at today's exchange rate of 0.8667. That's still pretty steep considering recent selling prices.

novation remote zero sl and chroma

Jeffrey Koepper [21030671]

HI has anyone with the new CC+ chroma cpu set up a novation remote zero sl as an editor? Any help will be appreciated..