There’s been a lot of discussion about the Behringer brand, especially among us professional synth players.
As someone who’s been in the game for over 25 years and has had the pleasure of working with big synth companies like Sequential, Waldorf, and Studio Electronics, I have witnessed a lot of animosity toward this company.
A lot of the fuss comes from accusations that Behringer borrows designs from other companies, tweaks them just enough to bypass trademark laws, and then produces them inexpensively in China.
There’s a bit of truth in there, but it’s not all black and white. I happen to be a fan of Behringer. Despite the affordable price tags, I believe their products do an excellent job of replicating the originals they’re based on.
So, let’s dive in and examine Behringer’s gear to see if it’s a brand worth your time.
Music Tribe, which Uli Behringer owns, has a bunch of brands under its belt that make synths and effects. You’ve probably heard of Behringer and TC-Electronic.
And then there’s TC-Helicon, a spin-off from TC-Electronic, that’s all about vocal effects.
Now, let’s talk about Behringer. They’re kind of a big deal because they make solid and improved remakes of those sought-after vintage synths without burning a hole in your pocket.
Here’s the thing: I’ve bought every model they’ve put out. Granted, I’ve sent back a few that didn’t quite hit the mark compared to the original, many of which I also own.
The way I see it, Behringer’s game plan is to give everyone a taste of those classic, much-loved, but super pricey synths. And you know what? I think they’re doing a pretty good job, even if they’ve had a couple of misses.
So, let’s dive into what’s good and what’s not so good about Behringer synths and instruments.
Behringer is nailing it by hiring the real deal experts and designers behind the original classic synths. They’re giving a makeover to models like the Pro-800, and man, it’s a dead ringer for the Sequential Prophet-600 it’s trying to clone.
I gotta admit, I had my doubts at first. But then I saw an article mentioning the synth software wizard GliGli partnering with Behringer, and I was like, “This is gonna be epic!” GliGli is famous for his software expansion for the Prophet-600, which seriously upped its game, making it almost as cool as its big bro, the Prophet Five.
And guess what, Behringer also roped in AMsynths founder and modular whiz, Rob Keeble, to tweak and supervise the production of the Behringer 2600. This synth is a spot-on copy of the Arp 2600.
It’s this kind of commitment to keeping it real that’s got me sold on Behringer.
They recreated the Roland ensemble chorus on their Vocoder VC 340 rather than just faking it with a digital emulation. And on the 2600 “Blue Marvin”, they went for a genuine mechanical spring reverb instead of a digital one.
These little things make all the difference to us synth players and vintage gear hoarders. When you see companies like Roland popping out the Boutique series, which are DSP-run, plugin versions of their old synths in a hardware case, it’s clear how much Behringer is ahead of the game.
They’re all about delivering the real deal at a super fair price.
For more proof, you gotta check out some of YouTube synth guru Starsky Carr’s side-by-sides of the Behringer versions and the original models. The results, especially with the Model D and Pro 800, are mind-blowing.
While Beringer products are noteworthy, they aren’t flawless. Many are smaller versions of the original, with smaller knobs and keys that don’t provide the same experience.
The fact that they’re made in China sometimes contributes to a quality build that falls short of the vintage feel, or even the remakes of more reputable companies like Sequential and Moog.
Additionally, I’ve noticed that the Model D, despite its close resemblance to the original, sounds slightly thinner, cleaner, and weaker than the original Minimoog.
Pedals and Effects
TC-Electronic has always been at the forefront of producing high-quality pedals and effects. Before discovering that Behringer had acquired the brand, I ordered the June 60 V2 chorus pedal for use with my vintage Roland Jupiter 8.
Their June 60 pedal emulates the chorus on the Roland Juno 106 and Juno 60 lines. I was so impressed by its quality that I ordered a second one for stereo use.
It’s quite astounding that they managed to create such an exceptional analog effect for under $60. This is just one of their many incredible pedal effects.
In addition, the TC-Helicon line continues to produce remarkable voice, harmonizing, and looper effects. They’ve not only updated some of their classics, like the Voicelive, but have also developed smaller, stomp-style boxes like the Duplicator.
Behringer has nailed it with their stompboxes, keeping that good old analog vibe alive and kicking. They’ve even gone back to the drawing board and recreated the original circuits to mimic those cool vintage ones.
Meanwhile, Roland and Boss have taken a different route, going all digital with their DSP chip emulations of the old analog effects. They’re not bad, but to my ears, they just don’t quite hit the mark on that genuine sound.
So, I’ve been exploring various online chats, trying to understand why Behringer’s pedals sound so fantastic yet cost so little. Most people believe it’s primarily due to their manufacturing in China. Their massive production and purchasing power allow them to undercut the competition.
However, it’s impossible to have top-notch quality and rock-bottom prices simultaneously, right? Therefore, Behringer’s gear might not be the most durable or long-lasting.
Appearances can be deceiving – if you open one of their pedals, you might notice a few quality build issues. I’ve observed this with several of their products.
Behringer owns several audio equipment and recording gear companies under its Music Tribe umbrella. The two that stand out to me are the resurgence of the classic Klark Teknik brand and the newer microphone company, Aston Microphones.
Behringer also owns Midas mixers and offers several decent mixers and DJ equipment under its flagship line. The brand that has been making headlines, however, is Klark Teknik, thanks to its recreation of classic pieces like the LA-2A, 1176, Pultec equalizers, and even the one-to-one rack version of the Roland Dimension D chorus.
Another plus is Behringer and Klark Teknik’s approach to recreating tube gear such as the KT-2A, which is an emulation of the Teletronix LA-2A.
They went the extra mile and even recreated or sourced new old-school tubes like the 12X7 and EL84, which were the original tubes that gave this compressor its character.
Like most imitations of high-end audio, these recreations begin to falter at high compression and input levels. In the case of tube compression, they can handle a certain level, but the distortion and harmonics they produce can’t match the warmth and smoothness of the more expensive original versions.
Similarly, certain elements within the circuitry, like the transformers, haven’t been fully replicated. Despite these shortcomings, they did a good job. However, the overall internal design feels cheap, a common theme with Behringer products.
Behringer, good or bad? Well, it’s kind of both. They’re pretty great for making awesome gear affordable for musicians who otherwise wouldn’t have access to the good stuff.
However, on the flip side, their way of doing business is a bit questionable. They’re essentially copying the original companies and using their buying power to squeeze retailers.
But hey, it’s not for us to play judge and jury.
The music industry is shifting, and bedroom producers are the big thing now. It might sound harsh, but it’s survival of the fittest. So don’t let the haters stop you from checking out these cool products.
No doubt about it, some of them are so close, it’ll blow your mind!