by Robin Vincent | Approximate reading time: 4 Minutes
Behringer platform and synths

Behringer platform and synths  ·  Source: Behringer

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With their mission to flood the world with regenerated  Behringer clone vintage synths in full flow, it’s easy to miss what might be its most important contribution.

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All the Vintage synths

All the synths for everyone” is that rallying cry of the Behringer fanbase. They eagerly await the next glimpse of a synth that looks a bit but not entirely unlike a vintage synthesizer they once wanted to own. The amount of Behringer clone synths in production is dizzying.

We have the big brands like Moog, Roland and Yamaha in both large recreations and mini pocket-sized abominations (I’m joking, it’s just the first word that sprung to mind). No corner is left unturned; no brand is safe from the exploratory fingers of Behringer’s engineering reach. We should probably be alarmed, but honestly, the synth market has become a fascinating Aladins cave built into a Poundstretcher shop.

Authentic Artefacts

While they are fun to think about and even possibly exciting to own, I’m not sure that I really want all the synths. I would love to have a Prophet-5, it’s the synth I dreamed about as a kid, but I would want a Prophet-5, not a copy of a Prophet-5. Same with a Minimoog, I’d love to own one, but that’s because it would be a Minimoog sitting in my shed.

It’s not really the sound that interests me; it’s the instrument. I’m not pinning for the sound of a Cat, Wasp or VCS Putney; I’d rather have the thrill of owning a classic synthesizer even though I’m unlikely ever to do so. If it was just about the sound, then there are plenty of synths that can make those sounds, plenty of virtual emulations that have nailed those circuits, at least in my view. Although, of course, synths are nice and we should have all the synths!

Behringer Kobol Expander

Behringer Kobol Expander

Buying in

I bought the MS-101, a Behringer clone of the SH-101 when it first came out. I loved the SH-101, and this seemed to be a way I could actually own one. It’s a cool little synth, but it’s not an SH-101. It makes that sound but it hasn’t become a distinct part of my setup. I don’t love it as an object; it’s just a synth. I find more exciting sounds in other synths, modern synths and in the exploration of modular, where pandering to vintage forms is only one path in a much larger adventure.

So, while the Behringer clone fairground ride is fun and exciting, it’s also over pretty quick and can end up turning your stomach. There are, I believe, better things afoot.

Behringer’s Big Break?

In an understated post on Facebook, Behringer mentioned a new synth platform. The company had alluded to this in the past when there was talk about developing a way to run many different synths on one synth. This idea has been fleshed out in what many people assumed was a photo of some kind of FM synth in production.

You can’t blame people really because Behringer does tend to bombard us with so many works in progress. It’s easy to make assumptions about which synth they are copying next. So, while there is what appears to be an FM configuration on the display, the board has nothing to do with DX7s.

Behringer Hybrid platform

Behringer Hybrid platform

Behringer says that the above image is a photo of the new Behringer synth platform. It is capable of running complex algorithms, which amount to being able to support multiple synthesizer engines running in parallel. This will be the beginning of a series of powerful hybrid synthesizers. The post goes on to talk about the “Digital Twin” simulation system they use to test complete systems down to individual components before they actually build it in hardware.

Behringer mentioned a key bed, although I’m not entirely sure what it’s referring to. Maybe there’s a faint impression of it on the PCB in the photo? Anyway, it uses a proprietary capacitive sense technology, making it much more sensitive and playable than you usually find.

Disruptive Innovation

All of this is part of a plan to release “disruptive synthesis products”. Now, that sounds really interesting to me. Far more alluring than a big blue PPG clone, more enticing than UB-Xa and probably more programmable than the DS-80.

This could be the stuff that builds deeply interesting and innovative synthesizers that take us forward. The Deep Mind is proof that Behringer is capable of trading on more than just the past. This new synth platform gives me lots of hope for the future.

Behringer DeepMind 12

Behringer DeepMind 12

Customer rating:
(242)
Behringer Poly D

Behringer Poly D

Customer rating:
(181)

What do you think?

Do you agree or disagree? Please throw your thoughts into the comments section below. Would you prefer a continuous line of resurrected old synths or a peek into the future of sounds we haven’t discovered yet?

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Image Sources:
  • Behringer Kobol Expander: Behringer
  • Behringer Hybrid platform: Behringer
Behringer platform and synths

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48 responses to “Beyond The Behringer Clone Fetish – Innovation on The Horizon?”

    Christopher L says:
    0

    Hey,

    Very good points. I can only speak of my personal opinion. Branding matters as much as the product created. At this point, Behringer could release the next synth masterpiece and it wouldn’t matter much to me simply because it is a Behringer. The brand is synonymous with cheap quality and very little will shake that reputation.

    Joe B says:
    0

    Well said Robin. I still own half of my keyboards I purchased in the 80’s. If I want to replace the ones I sold, it would be with an original. That said, for a live rig these days the options are fantastic. I like hardware synths and all in one sounds interesting. What caught my attention most was the key bed mention. I hope the industry one day understands how important that is. For the players it’s where all the magic starts!

    reteP says:
    1

    I think the TD-3 is a great clone at a great price with a big following.

    Would I like to see more original stuff from Behringer like the DeepMind, absofreakinglutely. I’m surprised they haven’t done something already after the success of the DeepMind. Analog ,digital, effects, various filters both digital and analog. Come on behringer, kitchen sink me.

    iixorb says:
    1

    I guess I accepted long ago that I’ll never own a real 808, 909, OBXa, Jupiter 8 or whatever, so I’m all for Behringer’s cut-price clones.

    I own all their RD’s, their Minimoog thing whose name escapes me right now, and their TD-3. They all feel pretty special and I’m eternally grateful to Behringer for giving me the essence of the original instrument, in a package I can afford.

    That said, I also own the DeepMind 12 and that orange thing (brain fog again !), so I’m also all for Behringer’s own unique instruments, as well as their clones.

      Paul hilton says:
      1

      I completely agree with your comments. I own a Deepmind 6, a Poly D, an Oddesy, a TD-3, aCat and a Wasp.bI love Behringer and cant wait for the release of the New synths which I will be more than happy to add to my collection.Keep up the good work, Behringer, so those who cant afford to pay for classic synths to have the next best thing.

    Matthew Janovic says:
    0

    Well said. The problem, however, is that this is technology and not purely a “fetish” item. They’re being looked upon as tools that make a specific sound and have a specific sound quality–aesthetics, not “fetishes.” That being said, Vangelis appears to have been photographed using a DeepMind 12 in his studio, a keyboard that’s got so much usability it could be called “innovative.” Is any analog synthesis “innovative”? I don’t think that matters when we’re talking about most of the music making world. Most of the future innovation will certainly be with digital synthesis in all its forms. I don’t think innovation has any singular importance beyond usability as well as accessibility. Innovation will always tend towards the professionals and quasi-aristocratic people like Zinovieff and Buchla, their clients, and other fans of Horatio Alger novels and Thomas Edison…
    What you can expect is a whole lot of innovation of various kinds at Behringer, I’m excited.

    Fred Manteghian says:
    0

    I applaud Behringer for making history come alive and bringing cloned technology to people who could not afford it when it was new and certainly can’t afford what collectors are willing to pay today. I have a little Behringer Moog and it’s a brilliant learning tool. I have their Deepmind 12 as well and that was an attempt at cloning but not cloning and the ergonomics aren’t the greatest. It reminds me more of a radio shack calculator attempting to mimic a TI.

    Their new promise? We will see.

    Richard Lawler says:
    0

    I’m kind of baffled by the Behringer parade of prototypes. At this point I really don’t know what’s real and what’s a trial balloon. And nothing in me seems to care very much.

    Behringer is not trying very hard to create products that solve any of my perceived music production problems. Behringer doesn’t even seem to be crafting problems for me to solve, then revealing magical Behringer solutions to those problems. They seem to be producing an endless parade of reproductions for which I don’t really have any nostalgia even though I’m old that I should.

    I have to admit their recent Buchla Easel homage peaked my interest. (I grew up a few miles from Buchla’s headquarters in the 70s.) But then I saw Behringer’s announcement was just a tease about something they might make someday. In the meantime I’ve got a 168HP of Eurorack I’m filling with Tiptop Buchla modules two at a time along with a few other modules derived from Buchla’s designs. I downloaded a wonderful iPad app called Ripplemaker which goes a long way to an Easel. And I just discovered Nsithi has a whole set of Buchla Easel-inpired modules for VCV Rack.. free. So that has spoken for 100% of my nostalgia for the foreseeable future.

    Sorry Behringer! I guess it doesn’t matter how cheap your Easel is if I can’t buy it and my rack and closet are already full.

    Timko says:
    2

    Most guys don’t realise one simple thing. There is not a single person that would actually buy a vintage synth or a remake of a Prophet or Moog etc, and would choose a Behringer clone instead. Behringer clients would never buy anything else anyway! There is zero harm done to the sales of other brands! In fact they may be positively affected since behringer acts as a gateway for many, including myself.

      Robin Vincent says:
      0

      There’s a lot of truth in that except that I am a person that would buy a vintage synth and has chosen a Behringer instead. But then found that owning a copy of the synth for purely sound reasons wasn’t actually what I was after. But on the whole, I agree with you.

        Matthew Janovic says:
        1

        Because of the well-known issues with repairs (either be an electrical engineer, or hire one) on vintage synths, I would NEVER want to own one, they’re clunky. They’re clunky because they were the first of their kind and it’s not a secret that they can be a huge pain. Behringer has actually improved upon the original platforms since manufacturing technology has moved forward in the last fifty years. Also, this is mass production vs. small scale proprietary businesses–nothing noble about either model, it’s business, not charity. I’ve touched and played the vintage ones and there’s nothing especially wrong with the Behringer models that wasn’t with the originals. They were also hideously noisy in a way that wasn’t useful. I could go on for hours. Most vintage lovers know all of this but won’t cop to it. Old technology, expired patents and copyrights–or is someone, some flakes having a monopoly on artificially-scarce platforms and technology a good thing? No significant numbers of people believe this nowadays.

          Bram says:
          -1

          “Because of the well-known issues with repairs”
          Behringer’s repair policy is so infamous, that I honestly thought you started your sentence with them in mind.

          The comparison shouldn’t only be between vintage synths or Behringer. There are plenty modern affordable synths from “vintage” brands.

      iixorb says:
      1

      I think you’re right – my ‘gateway synth’ was a cheap and cheerful Casio CZ230S in 1986 and had this low end space not been occupied by gap-bridging products like this, I might never have moved beyond Bontempi! Roland, Korg, Yamaha and others have certainly taken plenty of money off me in the 35 years or so, since!

      That said, owning all three Behringer RD drum machines, largely satisfies my lust for an 808/909/606. The 606 would be the most realistic attainable option for me but now that I have the RD6, I’m not really that interested in the OG anymore and I own enough old gear to know that faults can and will occur; I have neither the time, patience nor the skills to maintain old stuff myself.

      If any ‘sale’ is affected, it will more likely be in the second hand market where people who think the same as I do, will no longer be all that interested in the OG, thanks to having that itch scratched by Behringer. There will always be people out there who can afford to buy – and maintain – the original legendary gear, anyway.

      So yes I think what Behringer are doing (at least with synths and drum machines) is unlikely to harm ‘new sales’ for other manufacturers, and will quite possibly lead people towards discovering those manufacturers’ products in time anyway – people who might never have been infected by the gear-lust bug in the first place, were it not for what Behringer are doing.

    WON says:
    0

    At that size with the amount of knobs…maybe an OP-1 alternative?

    Tekno Andy says:
    0

    I like it when they come up with new stuff like the Neutron and forthcoming Proton so this looks interesting

    The EMS Sythi clone looks fun, i have the iPad app which is really cool if almost totally unfathomable to me, so the idea of having an actual physical clone of the original appeals just cause i can touch and interact with it in a hands on way
    I don’t know if i would ever aspire to want to own an original, even if i ever got rich enough to.. though if i ever dig the clone enough that might set me on the path..

    hooleydooleydoo says:
    -1

    Things like the 909, 303, 808 are famous because of misuse, specifically because whatever the studio tech of the time wasn’t attainable and the ‘street fount a use’ for those products. The quantity over innovation spirit of Behringer is a lazy, greasy way of making a buck off of people who worship that old gear, but both forget that for much of the old gear that has become cult, it isn’t cult gear because it was used as intended, and flooding the market with this type of stuff discourages experimentation. It’s a money grab aimed at people who think that having a pice of gear that emulates a now archetypal sound from the past is going to help make them creative, but it encourages monotony the same way that constant recreations of PAFs or Les Paul/Strat copies do in the guitar world.

    When you combine all the bad things about Behringer- awful quality, at least on the earlier stuff, Chinese manufacturing, and as close to theft as they can get away with (remember the getting sued by Boss thing w/those pedals) there’s not much to like.

    Stringer says:
    0

    If it were the case that creativity is limited by the tools used Picasso would be unknown. A new, creative spirit may at anytime use a vintage synth and create something new. Guitarists do not seem to have any problem using the limited sound palettes afforded by just Strat or Les Paul into clean or distorted amp, in creating new sounds, arrangements, and songs before ever adding effects. In fact, they have great success in discovering every nuance and technique they can squeeze out of their instruments…without ever complaining that they are not new enough to allow them to be creative.

      HooleyDooleyDoo says:
      -1

      Are you kidding me? Guitar based music has largely vanished from popular culture because of how safe and boring it has become. The Les Paul & Strat are cliche now, and the spirit of innovation outside of metal is pretty much dead.

      Re: the Picasso analogy. These aren’t brushes. These -especially the devilfish rip-off 303- are designed to ape old tones. Could someone misuse it to create something cool? Sure. But if that can be said of any piece of gear, then there is even less reason for these to exist and NO reason to steal the livery of the originals.

        Jesus Christ says:
        1

        If you need someone to make you new technology to come up with new sounds then you suck and I kindly ask you to retreat back to the safety of your Taylor Swift fan club.

        I can make an entire track out of a single fart.

          Robin Vincent says:
          0

          Gentle people, let’s keep things civil, please.

          HooleyDooleyDoo says:
          -1

          Thank you for agreeing with me. if you can make an entire song out of farts, you definitely don’t need a surrogate faux-vintage synth. That’s similar to my point, and I’m glad you feel the same way.

          Sorry for your Taylor Swift jealousy issues, though. I guess the haters gonna hate hate hate, right?

            Jesus Christ says:
            1

            We didn’t agree at all. You missed the point completely.

            You are clearly hyperfocused on gear.
            You think everything old is cliche. Like a strat apparently.

            But the instrument isn’t cliche. Just like a pen isn’t cliche. It’s how the instruments are used that can be cliche (looking at you… and Taylor Swift).

          Bram says:
          0

          “If you need someone to make you new technology to come up with new sounds then you suck ”
          That’s not at all what he said.
          Nuance is lost on you.

    Vincent Vice says:
    1

    Okay my essence taken form both the article and the comments:
    1) the author has an object fetish
    2) Richard L is on a buying spree and can’t be arsed to wait respective plan for products that are announced early
    3) hooleydooleydoo likes to live in the past and thus keeps bringing up those typical, cliche Behringer and China tropes ad nauseum

      Matthew Janovic says:
      1

      I’m waiting for one of them to state loudly, “Make China British Again!” Arf-‘a-mo.

      HooleyDooleyDoo says:
      -1

      Wouldn’t ‘living in the past’ be making a living by grave robbing all the old synth companies? If you have a problem with those living in the past, don’t buy a poor emulation of a 40+ year old product, meaning 95% of Behringer’s crap, else you are a hypocrite. I have no use for any of that stuff, I’m not particularly interested in synth cliches.

        Jesus Christ says:
        1

        That’s because you are so original. Where can I buy your music I’m sure it will change the way I see everything.

    matilda says:
    -1

    I’m generally speaking anti-behringer for two reasons:

    Firstly because of the way the company has treated other manufacturers, online critics, and even their own employees.

    Secondly because the behringer equipment I have bought has simply not sounded very good and been cheaply made. The most recent behringer item I bought (after many years of being repulsed by them) was a TD3. It sounds thin and brittle. I recently compared it to a friend’s original 303 and they don’t sound remotely similar – the TD3 is just crap.

    Ultimately I don’t think behringer care about making good instruments on the whole – all they appear to care about is dominating and saturating the market.

    Everyone is different – people have different perceptions of quality and get inspired by different things. Behringer doesn’t and almost certainly never will inspire me.

      Matthew Janovic says:
      0

      You’ve just described almost all production done in the modern world today, congratulations, quasi-moralist ballerina. Don’t buy anything, especially from China, and good luck with that…

        matilda says:
        0

        Lol the behringer troll monkey…

          Matthew Janovic says:
          1

          That’s rich considering that’s what you’re doing. I’m not affiliated with anybody and am not overly concerned with your aesthetics.

        Bram says:
        -1

        “You’ve just described almost all production done in the modern world today, ”
        you picked out one aspect, ignored the rest. Yes, Korg, Roland, Apple, Digidesign manufacture their designs in China.

        However, they are their designs.
        Plus, there are other ethics at play, other than copying. You can find examples of Behringer conduct yourself. I suggest Benn Jordan’s video “Behringer: edgelords”

    Intruder says:
    1

    Well I owned a lot vintage machines and sold them one by one and replaced themy with the Behringer clones . Why ? Because I use them and I must tired from always working on them . Years ago I bought a brand new Andromeda and it was more in service than playable . So for me no i don’t want the old things anymore.

    Intruder says:
    0

    What I gonna do is stopping reading this Gearnews page and reading uncoloured gear updates .

    Sblackt says:
    1

    I’ve been thinking that Behringer is going to run out of things to clone that people will buy. This would solve that problem for them for sure! For me, I care about sound and interface only. So any usable mono synth is almost the same as any other. I’ve got no reason to buy a Cat and a Wasp and a D etc. Like the Arp is a thing of beauty but synth tech has come so far that it seems ridiculous to buy a mono synth like that now, even at Behringer prices.
    I’ve actually held off on many purchases now because I’ll be waiting for Behringers chips to come in. You can’t argue with those prices, and anyone who says Behringer is low quality hasn’t used something they’ve made recently. This new platform might enable them to leap-frog competition in this area. No other company can actually create this many products in this time, for such low cost.
    The strange vibes around the morality of Behringer confuses me, why does the synth community feel so self-righteous? Most of us likely have corporate jobs and understand capitalism, this is pretty simple – if Behringer thinks it will make money they will produce it. You don’t have to buy it or take it personally.
    We’ve got a hobby besides criticism right? Go make some music!

      Dongleboob says:
      1

      Best comment on this whole comments section.
      You win, absolutely nothing but the slight respect of an internet stranger.
      Well played Sir.

      Bram says:
      -1

      “The strange vibes around the morality of Behringer confuses me, why does the synth community feel so self-righteous? ”
      some of us have been around long enough to know the history of Behringer. Recent years have not been better, if you care to see it. It’s not about copying.

    Nick taylor says:
    0

    I agree totally with the stuff at the top of this article. I love vintage synths. But it’s not just about the sound, it’s about owning the object. I have a Behringer k2 and, in fact, I love it and use it all the time. I’d still love a real MS20. I had a Behringer Pro-one and it was also good and useful. Made some good music with it. Then swapped it for the K2. I love old synths, and so does Behringer and so do we all. But just remaking classic synths is dull and they will run out of things to clone. With all that skill and all those resources, I’d love Behringer to pioneer some new approaches to synthesis.

    Ongaku says:
    1

    All the people here that love and use behringer products, hey im with you. Everything thing they make are tools to be made affordable to those who cannot afford the more expensive even sometimes better option. If you can afford the branded option that is awesome.

    i see the discussion got heated towards the end so i stopped reading haha..

    I just want to say, I only own a couple things from behringer, though most of yall are calling them cheap, my Behringer B2 Condensor mic is proving the test of time and that cheap part to be wrong (not saying that is true for all their products).

    I have been using this same mic since 2005… Soo yeah drops, multiple environments, and everything.. still works and sounds mostly the same as when i opened it…

    and it was only $150..

    maybe that is on the low end of mic prices and possibilities, but i have done great things with it, though low cost it has beyond served my purposes which was as my first mic to learn recording,

    though it was low cost, i would say it was well built

    You hear us, we buy synths... says:
    1

    Deepmind, yep, best synth they’ve made. The Odyssey was better than Arp’s. Model D is great, as near as you’ll get. Don’t want ALL the clones but glad they’re being made anyway. Deepmind 2, 3 osc with more shapes, 12/16 note poly, same FX, better screen, audio in, 64 step note sequencer, 4 control sequencers with reverse, random and loop options, and an arp that can load 32 step MIDI sequences with 303 glide. For under a grand sterling. Get on with it Uli!

    Throx says:
    0

    Hi leute
    Das mit den Oldies ist echt so eine Sache. Hatte mal ein schönen korg synth workstation. Das Teil fand ich richtig toll.
    Leider sind ein paar Kondensatoren ausgelaufen und haben das Mainboard zerstört, absolut nicht mehr zu reparieren.
    Und ich bin elektroniker!
    Ich selbst habe Den behringer crave und bin begeistert. Von billig keine Spur. Fühlt sich gut an und klingt gut.
    Ich werde mir auf jeden Fall weitere synths von b kaufen.
    Warte schon gespannt auf den ob-xa.
    Ausserdem kann man die b synth in moderne Setups einbinden.
    Ich liebe natürlich vintage synths aber Preis und technische Ausfälle und nicht mehr verfügbare elektronische Teile halten mich davon ab.
    Einen vintage synth habe ich noch den habe ich restauriert und gemodded: korg ex800 super teil.

    Ausserdem ist es egal was für ein Zeug man hat. Es muss zu einem passen und Kreativität kommt ja von einem selbst und nicht von hardware.

    Pietro says:
    0

    Behringer, have you completed the firmaware of the Pro16?

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