Behringer, maker of price range gear for musicians, has outdone itself with a slew of sub-$100 gadgets which may appeal to new individuals to music-making, or severely annoy seasoned musicians.
Germany-based Behringer has been making audio merchandise for the reason that 80s, however lately it has change into recognized for its engaging knockoffs of well-known synthesizers. It appears to fortunately skirt copyrights, promoting variations of classics from Moog, Oberheim, Sequential, and extra, at costs that rival the software program plugin variations. And sometimes, Behringer’s variations supply options unavailable within the originals, like MIDI, or preset saving. However is this sort of copying moral? And might these ultra-cheap gadgets assist create a brand new wave of younger musicians?
“49 USD? I swear Behringer goes to launch analog synthesizer keychains subsequent. Seems like a variety of enjoyable […] No battery energy is a wierd alternative although,” digital musician Norb feedback on the Elektronauts discussion board.
An official reissue of Moog’s Minimoog Mannequin D synthesizer, which you’ve gotten virtually definitely heard on a report, goes to price you at the very least $8,000, used. Behringer’s Poly D reproduction is below $700, and the keyboard-less, MIDI-capable Mannequin D is below $300 new and sounds just about precisely the identical.
Over the previous week, Behringer’s has introduced an entire vary of miniature synths at stocking stuffer costs, from its $99 model of the Sequential Prophet VS (used, virtually $7000), to the little $49 Behringer UB-1, a tiny gadget impressed by the Oberheim Matrix 6 ($1,300 used) and Matrix 1000 ($1000 used), to the $199 Toro bass synth, primarily based shamelessly on Moog’s Taurus, proper right down to the Bull brand.
A budget construct high quality of those little gadgets is apparent from simply wanting on the photos. The place Moog’s originals are lovely musical devices with massive heavy knobs and built-to-last wood circumstances, these little synths look extra like Nineteen Eighties residence computer systems and even toys. However that is not likely the purpose. Whereas there could also be loads of individuals who need the originals, there are much more who solely care concerning the value and the truth that they’re getting a style of “analog authenticity” for the worth of a software program plugin.
Behringer’s knockoff technique is way from universally beloved. Virtually each on-line dialogue a couple of new Behringer product devolves into an argument concerning the morality of copying different corporations’ gadgets, particularly when these gadgets are from small independents, and never from massive firms.
“All of the cashing in on clones of different individuals’s classic designs, although does not sit effectively with me,” mentioned musician Darenager mentioned on a music discussion board frequented by Lifewire. “Not far more than counterfeit, actually.”
And people corporations themselves usually get entangled within the battle. In 2020, Behringer created the Swing, a MIDI keyboard that was an virtually precise clone of the Arturia Keystep, which might be the most well-liked keyboard for digital musicians who aren’t skilled pianists.
Behringer, for its half, does not all the time assist its personal trigger. Just a few years in the past, it publicly ridiculed a music journalist who is usually crucial of its merchandise.
However, the corporate usually resurrects beloved gadgets from the previous that can by no means be made once more, and that may solely be had by paying absurd costs for used originals. That is a superb end result for everybody.
However greater than anything, these gadgets appear like enjoyable. You should buy them, commerce them, and promote them, and all of the whereas, you get to play with some possibly-inspiring new toys. These designs would possibly characteristic the synthesized guts of traditional musical devices, however the interfaces are something however traditional. They solely have just a few knobs, making changes simple as an alternative of demanding and concerned.
And people touch-sensitive keyboards, that are a mainstay of ultra-cheap music toys, are literally fairly nice. There is not any expressiveness from how exhausting you hit them, however they’re very delicate, fast-reacting, and provides a direct really feel to the instrument.
In a music world the place issues are getting ever extra advanced and computerized, and discussion board threads usually tend to talk about “workflow” than precise music-making, these little packing containers appear like an actual breath of recent air.