Applied Acoustic Systems: A Buyer’s Guide

Here at Time+Space we’re happy to announce that we are now selling Applied Acoustic Systems‘ excellent range of professional sound modelling virtual instruments & effects. The company has strong experience in the field as they approach their 20th year of supplying music software to top end producers, composers & musicians and what makes them so unique is their approach to making these plugins; instead of sampled based instruments, AAS focus on using sound modeling to build their instruments. It will become clearer what this all means as you read on so without any further ado, I’m going to jump straight in and give you a run down of AAS’s top selling products to give you an idea of how much there is on offer.

Lounge Lizard EP-4

Applied Acoustic Systems’ versatile electric piano plugin gets it’s 4th update as the company take it to another level of authenticity by expanding it’s features, retaining it’s title as one of the most realistic electric piano plugins available to date. Focusing on the renowned sound of the Rhodes & Wurlitzer, AAS studied the build of the original instruments and modeled the plugin around these components to insure an accurate & pure sound.

The interface consists of 3 pages: Play, Edit & Effects. The Play page essentially groups together the main important parameters from the Edit & Effects pages; find the effect parameters on the top half of the page and the key piano parameters on the bottom half such as hammer noise, fork adjustments & tone character. The Edit page (below) consists of all the the detailed sound modeling controls that will help you optimize your sound. Starting with the Hammer module, this simulates the force of the impact when the piano hammer strikes the fork and you have control over the stiffness of the hammer material, the force of the impact and the amplitude of the resulting noise produced from the impact. The Fork module is the component of the piano that actually produces that luscious sound we all know; you can use the Tine & Tone Bar parameters of this module to adjust fine pitch & amplitude. The Pickup module simulates how the sound of the fork is captured & the damper module gives you control over the noise produced by the damper. Finally you can adjust the tremolo settings,  a feature that is synonymous with the Rhodes & Wurlitzer sound!

The 3rd page is where you can find Lounge Lizard’s built in FX to allow for even more customisation and modulation of sound. Choose from a compressor, equalizer, delay, distortion, phaser, chorus, flanger, wah wah and notch filters, and reverb then mix & match as you please. Of course, you can also find a completely renewed factory library of over 240 presets which range from the cleanest to the most distorted experiemental sounds and everything in between! Head to the T+S website now & download the free demos, you don’t want to miss out!

Chromaphone 2

This unique plugin is labeled by Applied Acoustic Systems as an “acoustic object synthesizer” which immediately sparked my interest when I first discovered it and you may well now be asking yourself what that means.  The basis of the idea is that Chromaphone takes a regular sound and runs it through a set of fully tweakable acoustic resonators and sound modeling functions to shape it into unique metallic, woody & percussive textures. Instruments span from warm and mellow pitched percussions for melodies to punchy one-shots and kits for rhythm tracks. Taking a look at the ‘Play’ GUI above, the controls seem pretty standard with a few effects, unison voicing, vibrato & an arpeggiator, but switch over to the ‘Edit’ page (shown below) and you see where the magic of this versatile instrument really comes in.

The ‘Mallet’ section allows you to play with the attack of the hit; choose the stiffness and level of noise introduced to create a wide variety of impacts. The two resonators on the right of the interface allow you to combine a selection of acoustic objects and using AAS’ intelligent algorithms, Chromaphone will model precisely how objects interact and capture key acoustic behaviours of the materials. Choose between: String, Beam, Marimba, Drumhead, Membrane, Plate, Closed Tube & Open Tube or if you’re feeling adventurous, you’re able to manually select partials and create your own resonator. Also featuring on the Edit page is a flexible LFO, an envelope generator and a noise generator. Similarly to Lizard Lounge, Chromaphone is also packed with handy built in effects units.

Packed with over 600 presets ranging from categories such as mallets & individual hits to full ‘chromakits’ and even soundscapes & synths, there is a huge amount of great content to use here but I’d also highly recommend experimenting with the resonators & mallets in the Edit page and seeing what you can come up with. On top of this AAS also offer an additional 8 Sound Bank Series titles adding up to more than 900 presets, all with a unique focus & sound. These can either be used inside of Chromaphone 2 or in the free AAS Player included with every purchase.

Objeq Delay

Objeq Delay is the only effects plugin in AAS’ collection and consists of an extensive delay unit with unique filtering options. Thanks to the advanced acoustic modeling techniques that AAS are so well known for, they were able to produce a delay plugin that goes well beyond expectations & traditions.

Jumping straight into the interface we have an LFO which is used as a modulation source for the other modules in Objeq Delay; select an itnitial waveform type such as Sine, Square or Random, which sets the amplitude of the waveform randomly at the change of every value. You also have control over phase, pulse width and the destination of the LFO. In addition to the acoustic filtering from the Object module which I will mention in just a moment, you also have control over general High Cut & Low Cut frequencies and their steepness (using the Poles) in the Filter module.

The Object module is a unique module used to filter the input signal through acoustic resonators in order to change their tonal color. Start off by selecting one of the four resonator objects (Beam, Drumhead, Plate & String) then use the four parameters below to explore the characteristics of each resonator & acheive a wide variety of filter based effects. The Delay module offers two different delay lines which can be adjusted independently or linked together; the first is a standard delay line whilst the second is a feedback loop resulting in echoes. Finally the wet/dry output is controlled in the Mixer module along with the master output. Preset categories include echoes, modulations, loop manglers, drum enhancers & even drones so you’ll certainly be getting your moneys worth; this is a very versatile effect and I’d highly recommend it to producers & musicians of all kind!

Modeling Collection

If you can’t make your mind up on which of these excellent plugins to purchase, fear not, here is the option for you! The Applied Acoustic Systems Modeling Collection bundles together all 6 of AAS’ virtual instruments and effect. Products included:

Featuring more than 1800 presets, you’re covered in almost every corner: basses, guitars, synths, electric pianos, organs, clavinets, leads, pads, violins and cellos, ethnic instruments, ambiences, percussions, sound effects, and many other-worldy sounds. The best part is that you’ll be saving over 55% compared to individual purchases, now there’s an offer you can’t say no to.

Strum GS-2

The final instrument we’re going to take a look at is Strum GS-2, a fully equipped library packed with a collection of acoustic & electric guitars and exciting innovating features such as automatic chord recognition & integrated realistic strumming. From the Play page of the interface (shown left) you’re able to play stunning guitar tones straight out the box. As with Chromaphone & Lizard Lounge, you can access some basic effect controls on the top half of the Play page (you can access the full range & controls of effects via the Effecs page). There are 3 options of play modes: Keyboard, Guitar or Loop. In Keyboard mode, notes sound as they are played on the keyboard whilst in Guitar mode, chords played on the keyboard are automatically voiced by Strum GS and special strumming keys are used to strum chords and play individual strings. The Loop mode is similar to the Guitar mode except that the strumming key patterns are played from recorded MIDI files, you can choose from the preset loops and adjust the tempo of these from the Loops module at the far right of the interface. The Chord Display in the centre of the page shows the chord & chosen voicing that Strum GS detects from your playing, this can then be changed using the Voicing module.

Moving onto the Edit page (shown right), here you can find detailed & very specific parameters for Picking such as plectrum type, force of the strum & sharpness of the pick. The String module allows for flexible adjustments to each of the 6 individual strings such as material and natural decay. Precise control of coupling and interactions at the bridge breath life into your tone with beating and organic envelopes. Fine tune your rhythm parts and rifs with palm muting, scratches, and hammer-ons.

Strum GS-2 offers 2 very unique instruments in one great plugin; whether you’re a guitar maestro or have never played in your life, Strum GS has something to offer to anyone looking for guitar tones.

To discover Applied Acoustic Systems full range of products, please click here

Posted by Jamie Farrington

After studying music for 12 years as a tuba and piano player, I was eventually introduced to the studio a few years ago and it opened my eyes to a whole new side of music. Since then I've been producing and recording all sorts of music, with my main interest being in ambient and experimental electronic music. Working at Time+Space has enabled me to work with some great musicians, composers, producers and above all, some amazing software!


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