Note: I'd like to give score this a 9.5, but that's not an option, so 10 it is (9 would be insulting).
Chromaphone-2 by Applied Acoustics Systems is an extremely versatile and dynamic virtual synth that is capable of an astounding array of timbres. It's the biggest little virtual synth I have ever used.
Chromaphone-2 does not use samples or waveforms, nor does it utilize FM, subtractive, or additive synthesis. It's based on physical modeling whereby algorithms emulate the specific vibration of instruments and other objects. The results yield an unparalleled array of realism and clarity of sound. AAS initially called v1 a "percussive synth," but it soon after proved to be capable of much, much more! As expected, it shined when creating one-shots, plucks, etc., but it easily produced lovely strings, pads, and ambient textures as well. The second version is called an "acoustic object synthesizer," which is more accurate — especially considering all the additions and enhancements. This is by far one of the most versatile virtual instruments ever created. The range of timbers is vast. I mostly used the previous version for ambient wah-wahs to add a hypnotic pulse to my tracks, but I plan to use v2 for just about everything! Be sure to check out the basses, pads, kicks and snares. The overall sound of this synth is fantastic — expressive, crisp, clear, and pleasing to the ear.
The redesigned interface is divided into three sections: Play, Edit, and FX. It's easier than ever to navigate around this lovely beast. There is a streamlined keyboard strip that is excellent for previewing sounds. The multi-effect processor contains all the groovy stuff needed to spice up patches: chorus, delay, distortion, flanger, notch filter, phaser, reverb, and the previously mentioned wah-wah. The filtering section has greatly been improved. It now has pitch bend and a really cool arp! There is also a very useful compressor and EQ on board. The new version contains over 600 patches that sound great as is or serve as an excellent start point for creating new patches.
• Easy purchase, install, and authorization.
• User-friendly, eye-pleasing interface.
• The sound! As nearly every reviewer states,"crystal clear"*.
• I love the compressor, which truly delivers "distortion-free dynamics"
• Excellent collection of presets with a convenient management system.
• Improved resonators.
• V1 presets can be converted.
• Easy to tweak and/or program.
• Fantastic built-in arp.
• Physical modeling = Small footprint (10MB for standalone version)
• Excellent developer — innovative and responsive. They are also great people. I met then in person at NAMM.
• *In general, the sound is crystal clear, but with a little creative processing the possibilities are endless.
• CPU friendly considering the quality of sound. More complex sounds are naturally hungrier. My favorite patches seem to range between 5 to 15 percent.
Chromaphone-2 is a joy to launch. Don't expect synth to be a one-trick-pony bell-like mallet machine; it's capable of just about anything, either straight out of the box or with a touch of processing. A few words that come to mind (besides clarity): Alive! Dynamic! Real! I highly recommend this fine software synth to any electronic musician, producer, sound designer, etc., regardless of genre! Tommy Zai gives this new version of Chromaphone an extra thumb up! Great job Applied Acoustics Systems. You are creating a clear path to the future of sound.