Chimera Synthesis bC16
A mighty little modular at an unbeatable price! Yes, it's a real analog modular with real patch points, not some sort of fake connection points like in that controller with the shape of an MS-20 in the Legacy Collection.
The bC16 can be cryptic at first, with no printed layout to describe the functions of the knobs, no description of the 25 patch points and just three blinking lights. But that's the whole of the bC16-experimentation. You can try just about any connection point with one of the ten provided 2mm mini banana patch cords. After a while you get very accustomed to this micro-modular. Lets face it, with 1 ADSR, 1 LFO, 1 VCA, and 1 VCO (actually two linked VCO's) you can't really lose yourself. For its bargain price it's also a very good contender for use with other modular or semi-modular systems to add flexibility to them-need a resettable LFO for your MS-20? You got one here. Want a second ADSR for your Sherman Filterbank? You can find one in the bC16 (although you would have to make your own mini banana adapter). The bC16 is battery powered via six AAA batteries or by an external 9 to 12v source.
The linked oscillator is a very clever way to have two oscillators without another bundle of knobs. One VCO knob can adjust how detuned they are while another knob selects which waveform you want for both, or in some combination. Because the bC16 is battery powered, the VCO responds to a unique 0.586v/octave (5v/8.5 octave=0.586v/octave) control voltage signal. All the other modules respond to a more typical +/- 5v signal. The headphone amp is very noisy, though you can get around that when recording by using a mini-banana adapter to use the direct output of the voltage-controlled amp.
But beware, while it can do some basic synth applications, its main strength is to provide a powerful array of synth-FX sounds. Because of the ability of the synth to run by itself, you don't necessarily need a MIDI connection to make sounds with this tiny modular. And there's a lot of fun to be had with it-keep your sampler handy to sample whatever weird sounds you may find. For its price, it's a great and versatile device, which you can learn from without costing yourself an arm and a leg.
This synth has been used by Depeche Mode on their album "Sounds of the Universe" in the songs: "In Chains", "Little Soul", "Peace", "In Sympathy", "Sun + Moon and Stars".
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Review by Martin Carrières aka "novielo"
Reviewed December 2009