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Behringer TD-3-DF

Behringer TD-3-DF  ·  Source: Behringer

Behringer posted on Facebook a mockup of what they are calling a “Murdered Out” TD-3 which incorporates the controls and layout from the “Devil Fish” TB-303 modification. Robin Whittle, the person behind Devil Fish, has responded with a heartfelt critique of the idea.

Update: Uli has responded, see below.

TD-3-DF Murdered Out

The Devil Fish modification from Real World Interfaces brings in a whole bunch of enhancements to the classic TB-303. These include additional CV and audio in/out, overdrive, slide control, envelope expansions, manual accent triggering, sweep speed control, FM and pushing the filter into self-oscillation. It also improves the overall sound and pushes this little box of acid into all sorts of different sonic territories.

Real World Interfaces Devil Fish mod

Real World Interfaces Devil Fish mod

Behringer seems to think a TD-3 with all this additional functionality built-in would be a great idea. And who could argue with that? Well, Robin Whittle has made a statement on their website expressing his thoughts about the concept. Initially, he was approached by Uli Behringer with the idea of working together to produce and endorse the TD-3-DF. Robin and his wife Tina who work together on Devil Fish modifications had already expressed their interest in the TD-3 and believe that they would be able to fit their modification boards inside the unit. So they were quite excited at the prospect of designing a completely new version of the TD-3. Over the course of some correspondence it became clear that they had very different ideas about the nature of the relationship and the rewards it would bring. Robin wanted to have a say in quality control and then a royalty for each instrument sold whereas according to the statement:

It emerged that he expected me to help with the design, endorse their product, and effectively license his company to produce it, and any variations, without limit, without royalties and in perpetuity, for a one-off payment of USD$15k.

He turned them down.

Legality

Robin acknowledges that if Behringer wants to proceed then there’s nothing legally they can do to stop him. His proposal, which could have produced an excellent product, would probably have doubled the price of the TD-3 which you can imagine doesn’t resonate with the Behringer game plan.

He’s also not particularly happy with the colour scheme or “Murdered Out” name:

The Devil Fish doesn’t need to prove anything by acting bad-ass.  The sound is enough if you want it that way. The Devil Fish’s contribution to people’s music is far more than thumping bass melodies, chaotic, wrenching blizzards of noise etc.  It can also be coaxed into producing subtle, beguiling and mysterious sounds.  It would be a mistake to typecast it as bad-ass.

Uli Behringer’s side of the story

While Robin paints a convincing picture of a small business being ridden rough-shod over by a large manufacturer it’s only one side of the story. Uli Behringer has shared some details on the Gearslutz forum that show events in a rather different light. He was evidently annoyed that private correspondence was shared online by Robin and so has published the entire conversation where Robin is seen to make some quite remarkable demands for his contribution and the right to use Devil Fish with TD-3.

Robin suggests a couple of options, the first one being $303,000 a year, another being 10%-15% of the retail price on every one sold.

Uli said:

Unfortunately these financial expectations are completely outside of our abilities as we work on very low margins. Our Vision and customer promise is to empower musicians with little money and not the wealthy ones. Our calculations are always based on BOM costs.

Uli then wished him all the best and asked that their conversation remains confidential. Robin had stated that he would be very unhappy if Behringer released something based on the Devil Fish and so I imagine it was the arrival of the TD-3-DF mockup that prompted him to break the confidentiality which is what Uli is complaining about.

Insight

It’s very interesting to get this sort of insight into the industry and the dynamic between a small boutique synth business and a huge manufacturer. I’m impressed that Behringer reached out at all and it’s a shame that there wasn’t a more positive outcome. The Devil Fish modifications would make for an awesome TD-3. Was Robin right to turn it down? Was he right to ask for so much? If Behringer is going to make it anyway then you could argue that maybe he should have taken the money. But Robin raises a lot of good points and has to do what’s right for them. But also you can’t automatically paint Uli as the bad guy because offers were made in good faith and Robin’s response seems strange and unreasonable. Commentary has come down in support of both sides – what do you think?

More information

  • Behringer Facebook post.

Video



18 responses to “Devil Fish hits back at Behringer’s proposed “Murdered Out” TD-3”

  1. daner says:

    It sounds like the two parties could have discussed the deal a little long before cutting all ties.

  2. Dan says:

    Doesn’t look so good when it’s done to the little guys, does it? But we all knew that was coming.

  3. User92838 says:

    Behringer missed a good opportunity to have a legit DevilFish version of their 303 clone – this could have been a limited run and people would probably pay a bit more for these units knowing that Robin and his wife had a say in the design.

  4. Did anybody seriously think that Ulli Behringer is Mother Theresa of the Synthesizer makers? You will all find out when it comes to the lifespan of your piece of Behringer gear….

  5. Just asking says:

    Isn’t the devil fish mod business based on modifying a product from another company? So not their product, no agreements with Roland, not much production cost. But hey, not my business. Modifying existing circuitry isn’t rocket science. He seems pretty sassy between the lines though. Is it the fear of losing credibility? Is he afraid people won’t buy his own “creations” but go for Behringers versions?

  6. JC Dollanb says:

    Behringer should have agreed to the branding, Robin should have agreed to less royalties. Both sides are dumb. I will be buying it though. I am vegan so I do less harm than all of you virtue signallers anyways. Go back to eating your meat and talking about how high your morals are.

  7. Ugo says:

    Well… I think this synth sounds like c.ap anyway, like an old Atari console.
    Also I don’t understand all this hardware synth hype going on… there are hundreeds of software synths available that sound much better and are far more versatile.

  8. Josh says:

    I think he should have asked maybe for like 25-30k or just take the 15k. Dropping their conversation online like Robin did seems manipulative and angry because he didn’t get hundreds of thousands of dollars out if it. Uli didn’t even need to offer him anything. Its Ulis anyhow he ripped off the 303 fair and square 😂

  9. Steve Cain says:

    I think it is just another example of Uli trying to profit from other’s hard work an innovation, without properly compensating them. Oh dear, how terrible of someone to think their creation as a valuable asset, that is worth being paid for in amounts that reflect that. Uli stood to make a lot of money working with him, but instead saw his contribution only worth a years pay working part time at McDonald’s.
    Robin has every right to feel insulted, any professional engineer would be.
    Uli seems to think everyone’s ideas are his to just claim as his own, that their hard work isn’t worth paying for.
    Must have been a real gut punch to his ego to have to deal with an actual designer, who isn’t willing to just give away his creation for a pittance.
    People deserve to be paid decently for their hard work. These things don’t come out of thin air, it takes years of training, studying and experience to make them reality.
    Uli puts their dedication and hard work, monetarily, on the same level with someone who empties deep friers.

    Uli will make his version anyway, and the message there is, if you don’t accept what I want for your vision, if you aren’t willing to accept what I think it is worth, I’ll just steal it anyway. You have no say in what happens to your creation, because I want it, and who cares what you think it is worth.

    That sort of thinking kills innovation, and sometimes, entire industries.

  10. el rey says:

    Christ, they’re both retarded… 15k$ once vs. 303k$/year, one is an insult and the other a joke. Talk it over, meet in the middle, meanwhile I’ll keep getting my 303 on with D16’s Phoscyon which is like 60$.

    • Brian McCalla says:

      Legally, Uli didn’t need to offer Robin anything. That’s not an insult. In the world of real corporations, that’s called being “generous”.

  11. Heinakroon says:

    For those interested, here’s Uli Behringer’s response in full: https://textuploader.com/16l0e

  12. Robin says:

    there are always two sides to any coin. Here is Uli’s response.
    https://textuploader.com/16l0e

  13. Marsz says:

    What? it’s now okay to steal a concept, user interface and fuck up a legend in one go.. Whitout the risk of lawsuits over infringement, which Devi lFish probably won’t be paying.. Seems someone is getting greedy because he used a soldering iron on some else’s invention and then go cry about it in the media…

  14. Dan Moor says:

    I just want to know why Robin expects Behringer to sell “tens of thousands of machines” based on his Radio Shack – level soldering job hack which he himself claims, proudly, has only sold UNDER 400 UNITS SINCE HE STARTED DOING IT YEARS AND YEARS AGO. This miner has no grasp of business, engineering, manufacturing, marketing, law, or even basic economics.

    Here’s the skinny: this guy from the middle of nowhere had a nice little $300 per month revenue stream going for soldering a couple of switches and transistors into an old Roland semi-toy synth that got boosted when the analog synth craze kicked in. A few people, it seems, liked the glitchy circuit – bent sound and floated a few bucks his way for him to apply solder to copper on their little bsss box. Then, Uli releases his version of the original box selling for less than this guy charges for his soldering and sticker label skills. Robin is hopeful that he can hack Uli’s box and maybe start pulling in $600 per month now, but doesn’t even snarf up the $150 to get a box of his own to see if he can mod it or not (with the SMT boards in there, unlikely). Anyway, Robin thinks he’s hit the lottery when Uli calls and offers him $15k. Robin figures if greedy Uli is offering that, then Uli is making 50 times that on just Robin’s celebrity endorsement, so he roughly splits that in half, demands $303k (thinking he’s being clever) and throws veiled threads in a 700 page email to Uli using words that must be big in Australia. Back in the real world, Uli reads this, wonders how they get such good illegal stimulants into the middle of Australia, and then decides to just make the thing himself without any endorsement instead of selling this hack job for more than his DeepMind 12. Robin, in the meantime is looking for new estates near the mine and surfing yacht web sites wondering if it’s odd to own s yacht on a small inland reservoir when he gets Uli’s message. Realizing that he just lost not only his windfall request, but also the $15k that he could have bought two new houses with in his village, Robin becomes angry at himself for having been so greedy. Instead of introspection, though, he blames Uli and decides to smear him using his celebrity on the internet. The rest is (to be) history as the coverage of this story has now drummed up enough interest in the product that Uli likely WILL sell 50,000 of these units using his superior design, and nobody will want to buy one of Robin’s. To add insult to injury, Robin’s town loses their only internet service provider when the mining market drops out due to a reduced demand for arsenic and molybdenum. Robin is never heard from again.

  15. Boy Ratty says:

    I love my TD-3, sounds bloody great 😊 Built very well and the extra mods all for £117 delivered..w😊w
    👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

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