Applied Acoustics Systems

Ten years ago some industry analysts believed that modeling would replace samples as the top dog in the virtual instrument world, perhaps as early as the day we are now living in. Creating instruments based on psycho-acoustic calculations that can compete with recorded sample libraries has proved difficult, however, albeit with some interesting exceptions.

Applied Acoustics Systems (www.applied-acoustics.com), a company based in Montreal, Canada, was founded in 1998 by Marc-Pierre Verge and Philippe Dérogis. Engineers and musicians, the pair were well suited to bringing modeled instruments to the market, and their line- particularly Lounge Lizard EP-3, which many keyboardists feel is the most realistic replication of the Fender Rhodes- and Ultra-Analog VA-1, a personal favorite of mine, has proved popular with both pros and amateurs. AAS released a new product, Chromaphone several weeks ago, so this seemed like a good time to catch up with them.

Eric Thibeault joined AAS immediately after graduating from college. He’d interned at the company and so the transition was smooth. “I was studying electrical engineering here in Montreal,” says Thibeault. “I was able to do two internships prior to graduation. They offered me a job, and I’ve been here ever since, for about ten years.”

I remember liking the voicing characteristic of Strum Guitar. “Right, that’s a nice feature. You can activate a setting that will translate a three note piano triad into a full bar chord, voiced as it would be on the guitar, which makes the performance much more realistic sounding than it would otherwise be.”

So, where are we in the evolution of modeling technology? “Still advancing. Chromaphone is a clear development in this area. In the past we’d send a signal from one resonator to another; a modeled guitar string, for example, would be fed into the model of a physical object, the body of a guitar.

“Now we have an equation that emulates the acoustic energy that’s shared between these two objects. Simply put, in the past one object influenced the other, now the influence is bi-directional. A piano has many of these kinds of couplings going on at all times. To effectively recreate its sound you need to model all of these interactions. Chromaphone bring us one step closer to that goal.”

And how does the market look from the perspective of Applied Acoustics? “There are two ways to look at it. Apple just reduced the price of the Logic Pro 9 Bundle by several hundred dollars. That’s great for the user, and potentially for companies like ours, because the user will have cash left over to purchase products like the ones we make. On the other hand, Logic is packed with features, so they will most likely wade through all of them before looking beyond the boarders of Logic!”

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