Review: Applied Acoustics Systems Chromaphone 2.1

The Applied Acoustics Systems Chromaphone 2.1 is an updated virtual-analogue synth with an innovative take on sound creation deriving from a pair of modelled acoustic resonators.

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Applied Acoustics Systems Chromaphone 2.1

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Price $199
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The world of software synthesis promises us sonic adventures at every turn, but there are probably far too many virtual-analogue synths for the good of humankind out there. So it’s always good when we see something a little different – whatever that may be.

Chromaphone, from Applied Acoustics Systems, has actually been around for a while now but has recently been updated to v2.1 (with additions that include new FX and a streamlined interface). While its starting point is the mixture of a couple of noise sources – like so many synths out there – that’s where the similarities to that mountain of virtual analogues ends.

These starters are two acoustic resonators, one a noise-like source and one played with a mallet. These then excite different resonator types and you also get different variations of these, like a string or drum head. The two sources can then be combined in a number of ways including parallel and series and the more interesting Couples mode where energy is transferred from one to another. So, we’re definitely not talking simple oscillators in this instrument.

There are three main pages. Play is more for performance (including arpeggiation, step sequencer and basic effects) and where you choose presets by Bank and Program. Edit view gets you to the guts of the instrument, allowing you to define the aforementioned relationship between resonators and adjust their source parameters (for both noise and mallet); you also get an LFO and envelope parameters to adjust here.

Finally, the Effects page gives you access to up to five effects and their associated parameters in a well laid-out and easy to use configuration. You might think that the results would be a bit metallic and DX-like and, for sure, some of the opening presets demonstrate this side of the instrument well, but explore further and tweak some of the more unusual parameters and then start modulating for some very unpredictable results. The Soundscapes, Effects, Pads and Synths folders demonstrate some of the highlights of doing this, with some beautiful atmospheres that take this instrument well beyond the usual. It’s a real delight.

Key features

  • Acoustic Object Synthesizer
  • 670 presets over 19 categories (including Soundscapes, Plucked, Mallets, Chimes, Basses, Keys and Pads)
  • 35MB download
  • Arpeggiator with various syncing resolutions, playing algorithms and patterns
  • Multi-FX module containing up to five effects (inc comp, EQ, delay, dist, phaser, chorus, flanger, wah wah, notch filters, and reverb)

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