22
Dec

I can scarcely believe it but my Chimera Synthesis BC16 has ACTUALLY ARRIVED!  The tiny round synth is here. Take a look at its cute white glowing wondrousness.

A simple BC16 patch

A simple BC16 patch

It’s a portable, monophonic, patchable synthesiser: two oscillators; ADSR and dual-LFO generators; a 24 db/octave filter and arpeggiator and wide MIDI support. It’s battery (as well as mains) powered and has a headphones amplifier so you can tweak & play on the move. The oscillators are linked and detuned relative to one another or one can be used to frequency modulate the other, with a variety of waveforms. The LFOs are similar, with pulse width modulation but no FM. The filter’s basic but controllable by just about everything and has a huge sweep range – the “bite” point for most sounds is only in the middle of the range and past it the self-oscillation is nicely “science fiction”.  Although it can be played over MIDI, you don’t need a MIDI keyboard as the ADSR can be set to auto-repeat, re-triggering the sound every time the release finishes.

So far, I’ve got it to sound bonkers. Like 70s Dr. Who sound effects, or that part in The Ipcress Files where the mad doctor tries to brainwash Michael Caine. It does fantastic, complex “spacey” and “psychedelic” noises with ease, and the oscillators lend as much character to the sound as the filter. It’s not thin like an ARP, nor “phat” like a Moog: a friend suggested it’s more sonically similar to the SidStation, and I can hear where he’s coming from. I’ve not tried to make lead or bass noises with it yet as my midi keyboard is out of the house at the moment. I’ll post up some demos in the new year when I’ve had more of a chance to play with it.

I’ve had my share of frustrations with the manufacturer. It took nearly 18 months to arrive and at one point my order was cancelled without my knowledge, but not refunded. They were evasive and unwilling to commit deadlines; repeatedly telling me it “would arrive soon” and then when questioned 3 months later tell me “these things happen to companies starting up” or that they were out of stock of one or other component. However, I’m very glad I hung in there because it did eventually arrive. It’s a distinctive, entertaining and attractive device, with a unique sound  and a quirky interface that I’m really looking forward to getting to grips with.