Create Your Own 8-Bit Music with a Pocket Sized Synth

Craft & Design Music Technology
Create Your Own 8-Bit Music with a Pocket Sized Synth
The Obscura is available in two different versions. SMD (left) and MNCS2 (right).
The Obscura is available in two different versions. SMD (left) and MNCS2 (right).

Our NES synth music composing dreams are easier than ever. Games like Earthbound and Super Mario produced music that’s now iconic, and it was all done in 8-bit. If you want to recreate your favorite soundtrack or create your own chiptunes you’re gonna need the right equipment. Florida based tech company Arcano Systems loves 8-bit music so much, they created an NES Chiptune Synthesizer last year. This time, they created the Obscura 8-bit Chiptune Synth 2, a MIDI synthesizer, which emulates sounds found in games from the NES, Famicom, and Commodore 64 era.

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Very little time left… go go go. See their kickstarter now!

It looks like a circuit board is attached to a piece of wood. The Obscura is a new and improved version of their previous chiptune emulator and sports new hardware and features. The monophonic synthesizer features more waveforms and patches, improved volume envelop system, better vibrato, and faster arpeggio frequency. What does that all mean? It allows users to create better music more efficiently. And you don’t need to be a tech wiz to use it. No programming is required and there’s no software. The device connects to a MIDI controller to create chiptunes.

The Obscura is currently available in two different hardware versions. There’s an SMD version based on the original Obscura MIDI 8-bit NES and Commodore 64 synthesizer design. This one comes with a handcrafted wooden base. The other version is based on the Arcano MNCS2 hardware design and is available with or without the wooden base. The circuit board also comes in a cool purple, if that’s your thing.


If you want to see what the Obscura can do, you can check out the cute 8-bit video game inspired video for it. It shows the user creating music with different tones and sounds. The Obscura is a cool, pocket sized device for anyone interested making chiptunes. With a starting price of $80, it may not be for everyone. If you have a passing fancy for playing around with synth, then maybe it’s best to wait. But if you’re a musician whose serious about creating chiptunes the Obscura is something to look into. Keep in mind, it does require a MIDI controller, so if you don’t already have one you’ll shell out some extra bucks to pick one up.

Arcano’s previous device, the MIDI NES Chiptune Synth II, quickly sold out on both their Kickstarter campaign page and on The company is hoping to get more in stock and sell on the latter site in September 2016. Judging how successful their previous synth devices are, Arcano could be on to something. You can find more information on their website.

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