The vibrationally assisted electronic (vibronic) transitions of localized centers in crystalline solids provide relevant information regarding the phonon spectra of the host materials. We present the vibronic spectra of some compounds with particular attention to the case of the transition metal ions V2+ and Cr3+ embedded in simple ionic crystals such as MgO or more complex systems such as YAG. The vibronic spectra are interpreted in light of the radiative selection rules and are compared with phonon data obtained with other techniques such as neutron scattering, infrared and Raman spectroscopies. Conclusions regarding the effectiveness of vibronic spectra in uncovering the phonon spectral distributions are presented. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.