_I offered to build someone an Ambika in trade for a kit of my own. 6 voice poly synth, digital oscillators, Analog Filters & VCAs. Pretty nice sounding synth once you get to understand the character of the wave forms. Mutable already discontinued this synth but I was able to source PCBs & pre programmed Atmel chips from Laurentide Synthworks. I can recommend this project for anyone with mid to advanced level SDIY skills.
Assembling the 12 voice cards & two Mother boards was a task but I had no problems.
_I sourced a pre made case for my friend & I let him get away with not buying one for me. For my own I planned to just fab a front panel as part of a travel rig . Impatient withs gigs looming, I ditched the idea of having a panel laser cut for me. Weekend warrior style I just cut a serge panel down to 11″ my self using a table mounted jig saw & cut the rectangle for the screen with the same saw + a nibler & file.
_Just need it to protect the synth while I take it on gigs.
_Found some old scrap PNP Blue pieces and cooked them onto the panel for a shabby DIY look. Not bad may be I will eventually etch it.
_Had to cut some 1/4″ aluminum U channel & some 1″ Aluminum L channel in some funky ways (using the crazy upside down jig saw mounted to table thing) to make it all mount into my serge travel case. Its all in with room for other modules. + made my own custom Octo ears in the process. Looked up the threading of the ear kit electron sells first & I happened to already have the little mechanical screws.
_Scrap individual serge panels used as break out panels for the Ambika and Octo. Will add more I/O to the break out panels later. This worked as is for a gig over the weekend.
_I dreamed up this rig a while ago , I looked up the over head travel compartment specs of various major airlines & planned a 4 (serge) panel gig case that I could bring as cary on. Paid my friend to build the case to my spec with thin wood & tolex. The lid will eventually have an NCS1 serge panel in it.
_Got these two specific pieces of gear because they would fit in a 7″ tall space/ fit with my serge panels interchangeably. I had to make custom cables (1/4″ & midi) without the barrels & tier the two rows to make it all fit but its all in. The break out panels are there so that the weak barrel-less cables are never used, they just connect to the backs of jacks on the break out panels. zip tied internal. #Sturd. Super shallow too allowing for the case to eventually close with the serge panel in the lid pre patched.
_I was late to the game with Ambika and a review for a discontinued product is kinda sad but its not all sad. Actually MI released this synth under some new style copyright license. I don’t know all the legal specifics but I do know that they have released some gerber files + code, have allowed some builders to sell PCBs + chipsets & sell these things pre assembled.
_This is not a Virtual Analog. The Oscillators are shamelessly digital sounding. You gotta choose the semi pre filtered ones suggested in the manual if you want to nice it up warm style with the fat chords. It doesn’t sound like a Juno 106 nor like a DSI Prophet 8. My first impression is that it can be glassy but really more than anything, its kinda grimy. Pretty sure it was developed with arduino & developed by only one guy which is a pretty huge achievement. Its digital oscillator sound is where the character begins. Each voice has two oscillators that can be mixed in weird ways, XOR mix the two wave forms or ring mod. Then there is a sub oscillator with selectable wave form (SUPER BAD ASS) sounds and works wonderfully. Then there is a Fuzz option! WTF? Yes fuzz on the oscillator. The fuzz has a great range. Totally usable! Then you can bit crush the waves. This is all before the filter btw.
_The filters & VCA are real analog. So its a hybrid. I went with the Multi mode filter. This filter has a gang load of peaky resonance so the Q setting must be used with caution. (in live setting anyway) Though like the 73 serge Filter its a multi mode, the two respond & sound totally differently. The 73 is just instantly warmer but nothing ever beats it. The resonance adds a lot of character to the Ambika SVF. It can make a sound pop out in the mix nicely. I think it would be really cool to build one of these with different kinds of filters on each voice!
_Most of this was written before I really got my head around the modulation matrix & havn’t yet tried sending it any CCs. Havn’t yet tried the onboard sequencer. So the review is a bit too early. I have a feeling that I will really like this synth & may even build a custom midi controller for it.
_With most “kit synths”, You expect things to be a bit clunky. So what if it makes a quick gerp sound when I send it a program change from the Octo? The program change works! I have no complaint. The OS/ firmware is surprisingly well done, feature packed & the UI is elegant. As stated before its been discontinued so MI wont be issuing any new Firmware upgrades but they did release the code to the public & new unofficial versions of the firmware made by users are popping up on the MI forum. Buying a pre assembled Ambika is something I only recommend to someone who can appreciate its unique qualities, features & sound. Kit synths are only “cheap” for people who can do the labor them selves. If you are in the market bargaining for the best deal on a poly, you are better off just buying something mass produced by robots instead of trying to haggle a builder for hand assembly work. If you want it for its unique features, collect synths & absolutely must have one be prepared to pay around $1900- for a 6 voice pre assembled in a metal box. IMO its worth it if you get it form an experienced builder. You can find them assembled for around a grand on ebay but beware! They don’t have all 6 voice cards installed for that price. & Beware many will be assembled by people with no experience.
_If you can’t afford to spend a grand or more on a 6 voice poly synth but have electronics assembly skills, Ambika is a really great option! *Here is a tip: If you already know how to source your own parts / are willing to spend the time searching & don’t need to buy every single part direct from the mouser BOM, its easier on the pocketbook.
_Here it is in action sequenced by the Octotrack. The rig was just this & Elise’s looper + a little mixer.