Putting together your own pedalboard is always fun. And adding a new pedal to the signal chain makes things even more fun, giving your guitar sound a whole new life.
Buying that new overdrive, distortion, chorus, compressor, or even a treble booster gives guitar players such joy that they even get inspired to write new music.
But to some, these conventional effects are just not enough. So they turn over to the dark side and get into the world of synth pedals.
We know how nu-metal musicians tried to be as different as possible from the previous generation of metal bands. Aside from basing their music more on down-tuned deep and dark chugging riffs, the new generation began using these other, let’s say, unorthodox methods for creating this new sound.
Just like James “Munky” Shaffer did, one of Korn’s two axemen, who began implementing the amazing Chimera Synthesis bC9 in his signal chain. Knowing how weird and crazy Korn’s music can get, it’s not that much of a surprise to see this effect on his board. So why don’t we dive into the subject of synths and get to know more of bC9?
However, before we begin, there are a few things that you should know of. Firstly, even though synth pedals seem fun, they’re not exactly simple to use.
For those who are not that familiar with synths but want to give them a try, it is recommended that you read up a little bit on them.
Before we get more into this weird piece of gear, you should get to know more of the terms like voltage-controlled oscillator or VCO, low-frequency oscillation or LFO, control voltage or CV, and other musical properties like attack and release. But if you do know what these are, you’ll have no issues reading the review.
Second, it is kind of weird, even difficult, to implement it in conventional music. You don’t want to end up spending money on a pedal that you won’t use at all. And you don’t want to end up forcing it in your music, creating an awkward or just boring situation during your live gigs or jam sessions.
Third, this being a synthesizer unit, it’s mostly used as a non-guitar piece of gear. So Chimera Synthesis bC9 is not exactly a guitar pedal but can be used as one due to its compact form.
Features and performance
When it comes to all the controls and features, Chimera Synthesis bC9 is a pretty colorful pedal.
Or, another way that we can describe it ñ it’s kind of complicated compared to the other effects guitar players are used to. But compared to other synth units out there, it’s fairly simple to use.
The bC9 is an improved version of the older model bC8, with the option to externally modulate all the possible combination of its eight knobs. There’s also a bonus ninth knob which controls external modulation’s depth.
These nine knobs are divided into five groups by color. Two yellow knobs control VCO frequency and VCO and LFO modulation depth. Two blue knobs are for LFO and VCO waveshapes and LFO speed.
Two red knobs are for attack and release. Out of the two green knobs, one is for external CV modulation depth and the other is for patch control. And, finally, the grey knob controls the master volume of the pedal.
But that’s not all. Aside from the on and off switch, there’s also an envelope mode toggle switch with three positions: up is auto-repeat, mid position is single shot with no sustain, and the third one is single shot with sustain allowed.
There are also two buttons, one red that triggers the envelope generator, and a black one that allows you to modify external modulation. There are also two input jacks and one audio out jack.
The unit runs on three AAA batteries, either regular alkaline or rechargeable ones. The stainless steel base of the bC9 needs to be removed for the battery replacement and it’s opened with a hex key which comes along with the pedal. It is kind of an unusual sight to have a pedal powered with AAA batteries instead of the 9-volt ones.
If you do decide to get a Chimera Synthesis bC9, it will, without any doubts, be the first thing everyone will notice on your pedalboard.
This unit’s partially transparent body acts as a diffusor of lights coming from ten LED lights located inside. So essentially, bC9 lights up all around, indicating what processes are actually going on at the moment.
Looking at one of these in action is comparable to an elaborate light show. Considering that Chimera Synthesis bC9 is made of transparent acrylic polymer and is hand-frosted, it looks as if all the colored LED lights are “spilling” all over the casing.
If you do care about the aesthetics and all the fun that comes with it, then this pedal is for you. All this is packed on to a quality stainless steel base with four rubber feet. It’s pretty well-built and can’t be easily damaged.
Let’s get one thing clear ñ synth pedals are not for everyone. As already mentioned above, they aren’t that easy to implement in standard music you hear every day.
However, if you’re really into experimentation and pushing the limits of your playing, then Chimera Synthesis bC9 will be a pretty useful unit. And being a compact little piece of gear, it’s pretty amazing of what this boutique pedal is capable of.
It can be used in separate loops and set on a specific setting that might suit some of the songs in your live set. Or, if you’re really in the mood for it, you can do an extended solo where you play around with all the knobs and switches.
If you’re just getting into the world of synth guitars and want to get a pedal for this, bC9 is definitely a good choice, no matter if you’re into Korn’s Munky or not. Just make sure you’re 100% serious about it and do all the research before you buy one.