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Review of Chromaphone 3 by AAS


Applied Acoustic Systems (AAS) have introduced Chromaphone 3, an acoustic object synthesiser available as a standalone application and plugin for Windows (VST/AAX) and macOS (AU/VST/AAX) typically priced at $199.  

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This is an incredible synth from AAS.  On the face of it, calling it an acoustic object synthesiser doesn’t really give you a full picture,  it can produce a huge range of sounds from traditional percussion sounds to chimes to completely unexpected ones like arps and organs.

It has an extensive collection of presets that are easy to search and browse and gives you many ready to use sounds as well as loads of inspiration for creating your own sounds.

Sound quality is superb, it’s doing some pretty complex modelling so you will need a well spec’d machine to get the most out of it, the minimum specs are stated as win10 with Intel core i5 / macOS 10.11 with intel core i5.  That said, I tested on an old win7 machine (dual core) and it does work but some of the more complex presets use about 30% of the CPU alone.

Given the complexity of what Chromophone 3 is doing, it’s incredibly easy to learn and use.  The tabs organise the controls and settings neatly and logically, the editor section is really well arranged to break down the complex operations into much simpler and easy to understand sections.


Chromaphone 3 is a physical modelling synthesiser, there are no samples or wavetables.  It is built around the combination of acoustic resonators with the resulting instruments played with a mallet or the signal from a sound source.  It’s a simple concept that can produce a huge range of sounds from percussion, mallets, bells, chimes, organs, plucks, strings and leads as well as arps, rhythmics and effects.

There are a number of resonators – string, open tube, closed tube, plate, drumhead, bar, marimba bar, membrane,  manual mode.   These can be paired in parallel mode or coupled mode, where modelling takes account of complex interactions between the two resonators.

Using Chromophone 3

THe interface comprises of 4 tabs.

Home provides a summary view to audition and play sounds.  You can adjust the output level of each resonator and also have four knobs – modulation, timbre, envelope and effect that can be mapped to specific parameters to allow you to quickly and easily hear changes to the sound.

Browser gives you access to sounds and sound packs and lets you search by category or creator.  You also have a number of management options.

The editor tab contains all the synthesis controls and is split into three sections.  The Modes section shown above is where you can set up the macro controls for the homescreen.  You can also set the keyboard to mono/poly; configure unison settings and set vibrato and arp controls if required.

The synth section lets you choose the resonator type and associated settings.  The resonators are  excited by a noise source and/or a mallet and there are associated controls for these and mix controls.  You also have LFO and envelope controls.

Chromphone 3 has a well featured effects section, you can have up to 5 effects for each layer as well as 5 master effects.  The effects comprise of EQ, Compressor, Reverb, Delay, Distortion, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Wah Wah, Auto Wah, Guitar Amplifier, Tremolo, and a Notch filter.  You can arrange these in any order and each effect can be shaped as required.

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