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Applied Acoustic Systems Chromaphone 3 Review at FutureMusic

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Chromaphone gets even deeper and more versatile, expanding its sonic range without taxing the mind.


  • Dual layers hugely expand the sonic depth and versatility.
  • Macros brilliantly linked to groups of parameters.
  • Loads of sounds straight out of the box.


  • Home tab isn't useful

The previous version of Chromaphone was one of the most realistic-sounding - and one of the most downright fun plugins I've ever played with, so what could possibly be added for a new version?

While most of Chromaphone's basic mechanics remain unchanged from version 2, the headline addition for version 3 is the duplication of resonator pairs. Previously, you could mix and match two resonators from a choice of nine (String, Beam, Drumhead, Marimba, Membrane, Plate, Closed Tube, Open Tube and Manual), and couple them acoustically to create a wide variety of instruments. There are no new resonator choices, but doubling this into two layers of acoustic pairs increases the possibilities exponentially.

There's a new Home tab, which presents your two resonator pairs along with a gain control for each and four macros, but not much more. It's presentable, but it doesn't add much functionality, and most people will head immediately for the Browser or Edit page. The Browser lets you explore Chromaphone 3's 421 new presets, as well as 'remastered' Chromaphone 2 patches. All are tagged by Pack, Sound, Category and Creator to make it easier to find what you're looking for.

The sound quality in version 3 is brilliant. While version 2 patches excelled at single sounds — a great marimba or a realistic-sounding drum — version 3's sonic larder is packed with deeper flavours thanks to the additional 'layer': an arpeggiated mallet line on top of a sustained, scraping drone; or a pluck firing off at the same time as a vibraphone 'strum'. It's more complex and tastier than its predecessor.

V3's macro controls are grouped into Modulation, Timbre, Envelope and Effects categories. While the choices of mod targets are the same for all, the separation in the names keeps you focused on what will help you change particular properties of the patch.

The Editor's Synth page gives you practically the same control over the physical modelling properties as Chromaphone 2. The only addition is its duplication into the A and B layers. What's more significant about the dual layers is their impact on Chromaphone's effects offering. There's now an individual effects setup for each layer, plus a third effects chain for the master. It's probably overkill for anyone but the most serious tweaker, but it's hidden enough to go unnoticed if that sounds like a bridge too far for you.

Each effects chain offers five slots, three of which (EQ, compressor, reverb) are fixed. In the two selectable effects panels, you can now select more effects than in v2, including the all-new Guitar Amp effect, which helps treat a lot of those string sounds that weren't necessarily Chromaphone 2's specialist subject. The ability to have three fixed effects and only two selectable seems somewhat arbitrary, especially given the three effects chains the plugin now has available.

When you scrutinise it, Chromaphone 3 hasn't had that many updates, but the things that have changed are fully worthwhile. Extra layers, extra sounds, extra effects and extra modulation truly elevate this 'object synthesiser' above the status of mere object — it's a versatile, top-quality, real instrument.

FM Verdict - 94/100

Original Source: FutureMusic

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