Welcome to another edition of THIS THING RULES! It’s been a little while as I’ve been going back and forth between being sick and busy, sick and busy, sick and busy… But I’ve got 7 of these reviews lined up right now, with 3 that are close enough to finished that I should be able to push them out over the next three weeks… And first up, is this sequel to one of the first products I ever reviewed on THIS THING RULES, Applied Acoustics Systems’ Chromaphone… This is Chromaphone 2!
If you haven’t read my review of the original Chromaphone, you probably should. Chromaphone is a very unique program in the world of synths, and it will give you a great idea of what makes it so different. Once you’re done with that, give a listen to the demo I made entirely with Chromaphone 2. It’s called “Uncertain Visions.”
Sounds pretty sweet right? I gotta say right up front – I love Chromaphone. It’s not the biggest most well known synth, but it’s such an interesting program and I love how it sounds. As a matter of fact, while everyone probably knows by now that Omnisphere, Nexus2 and Kontakt are my most used software, Chromaphone is probably #4. All of us composers have an arsenal of synths and samples at our disposal, but none are as unique as this software and its sound shaping abilities.
Chromaphone 2 brings to the table a huge update, while leaving in place everything that made the original so great. There are plenty of new features and options, a great UI to get to them all, and a greatly expanded factory library to get you started. As with most of my reviews, I’m not going to go too deep into all the new features, but I encourage you to read about them on Applied Acoustic Systems’ website.
In making my demo, “Uncertain Visions,” I decided to go with 100% Chromaphone 2. One of the many new features is a realistic drum head model that allows you to create realistic drum sounds, so I didn’t even have to go elsewhere for the beat. After getting a little bit of a beat going, I found the sound called “Vintage Tubes 1” which is just beautiful. I used it to create the underlying hypnotic melody that runs throughout the entire song.
I created leads out of sounds like the gorgeous, shimmering echo drenched “Frozen In Time” and the “Winters Bone” keyboard (great film by the way). I loaded the track up with bass from a variety of sources all playing together. The deep synth bass is called “Growling B” and the arp bass that comes in during the 2nd half to pick things up is called “Synced Meth.” All of these sounds from the factory library and available expansion packs (including the free Epicycles pack) sound great right out of the box. There is stuff for every style of music and it’s all extremely usable. But with the tools and effects included in Chromaphone 2, you can shape and change them in fun, simple ways that is different from your usual synth editing.
The new interface is split into 3 panels. Play allows you to quickly edit the way the sound sources themselves are being played. Edit lets you tweak the sound itself. Then the FX panel gives you access to many high quality effects for really putting the finishing touch on the instrument you’re playing to make it fit perfectly into your song. In “Visions,” I messed around with a bunch of the presets, while using some as-is.
Obviously my review stays somewhat surface deep, but there is a lot to explore with Chromaphone. AAS already has some great expansion packs to really round out the library (things get really experimental and wild in some of these expansions!), and the ability to edit and create your own sounds with such a unique collection of tools leads to really cool results.
Chromaphone 2 is $199, or just $39 for owners of the original Chromaphone. It’s not cheap, but I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s an awesome piece of software and something unlike anything else in your synth rack.
David Rosen is an award-winning music composer. He composes original music for films, commercials, jingles, video-games and all other kinds of media projects. He has a vast music library of original tracks available for licensing and is also available for custom compositions. Contact him on the ABOUT page for pricing and availability for your next project.