Behringer shows us the final version of the VCS3 clone pulled into the playful AKS Mini minisynth. It suggests a summer release date for $99; here’s what we know.
We don’t really know anything. The non-appearance of the huge lorry load of minisynths that Behringer was touting this time last year has made us a lot more cautious. Still, we’ve all suffered from supply chain issues and the chip shortage, so perhaps we can cut them a bit of slack.
Anyway, what we have here is a scaled-down version of the EMS VCS3. Behringer has been working on a full-sized clone for some time. We were told it was ready to go last March, but we’ve no further news on that. The AKS Mini sucks in the same three analogue oscillators, filters and other bits and pieces and dresses them in a Volca-style interface. An arpeggiator and motion sequencer is added along with the touch-plate keyboard. The idea is that it captures the sound of the VCS3 in a much more affordable and fun package.
Front Panel musings
Looking at the front panel we can see that emphasis is given to the detuning of the oscillators. That’s controlled by the rather nice-looking larger knob. Then we have some wave shaping and waveform level controls for saw and square waveforms. It isn’t easy to know exactly how the oscillators work together and whether the third VCO is actually the LFO, but I’m sure the details will be along in time. The filter seems a little under-served, and then we have the overly complex trapezoid envelope, which is certainly authentic. It’s good to see a reverb in there, and I wonder how the polyphony works out. The big thumb joystick is intriguing, and it will be interesting to see what functionality hides behind it.
All in all, these Behringer minisynths are still concepts and possibilities until they actually land into someone’s hands. So while Behringer says they are on target for a summer release, it’s really difficult to summon up any pre-release enthusiasm. We’re happy to get excited about cool new synths, but we’ve learned that you’ve got to wait for them to arrive first. For $99 this does look like a lot of fun.