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Applied Acoustics Systems update the well-known Chromaphone synth to version 3. We took a closer look at this physical modeling instrument.

Test: AAS Chromaphone 3 - Physical Modeling Drums & Percussion

Published 8:10 am on Thursday 27th May 2021 by Beat Magazine

An Overview

Chromaphone 3 is based on a series of eight different resonator types: Beam, Marimba, Closed Tube, Plate, Drumhead, Membrane, Open Tube and String. These represent different materials that can be struck and edited extensively. This allows you to create sounds of different categories such as drums/percussion, strings and hybrid synth instruments.


The sounds are formed from two layers. Each layer is composed of the three tabs „Modes“, „Synth“ and „Effects“. In the „Modes“ tab you can decide for yourself whether these are made playable together or split on the keyboard. Among other things, four macros can also be defined here, which are displayed in the home view and can be controlled via MIDI controller. This is especially interesting for live applications. Vibrato and arpeggiator can also be found here. In the synth overview, each layer can be separately equipped with up to two resonator types, which can be switched either in parallel or one after the other and have numerous setting options. By the way, in Custom mode, four partial oscillations can be freely mixed together. The resonators are fed via the Mallet and/ or Noise source. A flexibly routable LFO and an envelope are also available here. In the effects section, users can choose from 14 effects, whereby five slots can be used simultaneously. Available here are, for example, EQ, chorus, delay, compressor and reverb. EQ, compressor and reverb are fixed and cannot be exchanged, but their order can be changed. In addition to the effects section, which can be set separately for each layer, there is also a tab for the master effects. Here you can fall back on the same modules.

Sound Browser

The clear browser, which is well sorted, is particularly noteworthy. For example, you can choose whether the available sounds are sorted into „Packs“, „Sounds“, „Categories“ or „Creators“. In addition, the displayed sounds can be favorited by clicking on a star. The basic version comes with over 1,000 sounds, consisting of 421 new sounds and 670 Chromaphone 2 presets. Additionally, sound-hungry users can fall back on 15 sound packs that are available separately or in a slightly more expensive bundle.

Sound and Sound Design

Once trained, sound tweaking with Chromaphone 3 is quite easy. On paper, operation of this synth is very simple. The resonators are fed by noise and/or an impulse and then further processed with the usual tools. The sound characteristics of the resonators and the cooperation of the individual parameters must be learned, which takes some time. Experienced sound designers should find their way around after 1-2 hours of tinkering. Sound-wise, users can look forward to excellent overtone-rich, woody and metallic sounds, among others, which leave no room for criticism in terms of quality. The user‘s computer should, however, have a large supply of processing power.


Chromaphone 3 impressed with its ease of use and well thought-out overall concept in our test. The sound generation is special and allows users to create great sounds that easily play in the Champions League in terms of quality after a short learning period. Whether it’s bell sounds, arpeggios, keyboard instruments or spherical pads, every sound impressed with a high degree of liveliness due to the special way Cromaphone 3 works.

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