A big thank you to Arthur Vanderbilt (http://arthurvanderbilt.org) for this review of the Chimara Synthesis bC6 [Crystal] Review
Construction and Controls
The Chimara Synthesis bC6 is a hand-built (in the U.K.) synthesizer with a built-in 16-step sequencer. My model is encased in clear, CNC-machined acrylic. It has a brushed aluminum top. A distinctive red circuit board is visible through the clear bottom of the case. Controls on the top of the case include six knobs, an LED, a button, and a 1/8″ stereo output jack suitable for headphones or use as a line out. Two hex screws hold the top cover down. Remove them and the cover for access to the three AAA batteries. External power is not available. The bottom of the case has an on-off switch.
The synthesizer has three primary modes: a single-shot mode where each note is triggered by the button, an auto-repeat mode where a single note plays over and over and a sequencer playback mode. Switching between modes is accomplished by turning the volume all the way down and pressing the button. A flashing LED indicates single-shot mode, a pulsing LED indicates auto-repeat mode and a solid LED indicates sequence playback mode.
The sequencer continuously records the last sixteen notes played in single-shot mode. All parameters except volume are recorded. Pressing the button stops playback or starts playback with the settings as recorded. Settings can be changed during playback, affecting the output directly, and then reset by stopping and starting the sequencer. Holding the button down for more than two seconds will put the sequencer into variable speed mode. This will keep the volume knob from affecting the volume and make it instead affect the sequencer’s rate of playback.
The next knob clockwise is a waveform selector for both the LFO and the VCO. The knobs range is divided into quadrants, each quadrant selecting a different LFO waveform. Each of these quadrants is again divided into quadrants, each quadrant selecting a different VCO waveform. This arrangement allows the selection of any combination of LFO/VCL waveforms with a single knob.
The knob to the right of the button controls the envelope. The knob to the left of the button controls the LFO rate. The next knob clockwise controls the amount of either frequency or amplitude modulation affected by the LFO. The final knob, to the left of the jack controls VCO frequency (pitch).
This synthesizer is a jewel. I haven’t been able to keep my hands off of it since I received it in the mail. The variety of sounds and textures that you can create is amazing. Everything from modulated warbles to clear bell tones. It packs a lot of features and capability into a compact and inexpensive package. It’s useful for glitch, drone, noise, improvisation and just about any application that doesn’t need a hard MIDI clock sync or exacting pitch selection and intonation. The construction is top-notch and it’s beautiful to look at. The only gripe I had was that it came with the wrong size hex wrench so I had to go find my set in the garage to get the top off. A small price to pay, because as soon as I got the batteries in, I was hooked.