Since the classic synth has made a resurgence, the entry of low-cost remakes was pretty much a given. And no brand is perhaps more associated with cut-rate gear than Behringer.

So, while the 12-voice Behringer DeepMind 12 has only just arrived on the market, the company is already teasing some kind of sub-$100 synth line a well as the $400-ish (proposed) BEHRINGER D. It’s a clone of the original 1970 Minimoog Model D, in a desktop case (no keyboard).

And, well, it’s … as advertised, at least as far as what they’ve shared. And it puts an analog remake in a price range that approximates the cost of a couple of plug-ins, since Behringer says they’re aiming for “around US$400.”

d_p0cqj_fisheye

There’s nothing here that diverges much from the original Minimoog. The main thing is, this adds MIDI and the ability to bolt the synth into a Eurorack case.

Other than that, it advertises a pretty bog-standard approach to making an analog clone of the Minimoog; most of these specs are just lifted from the original:

Analog synthesizer with triple VCO design
Reproduction of original โ€œD Typeโ€ with matched transistors and JFETs
0.1% Thin Film resistors and Polyphenyline Sulphide capacitors for frequency stability
Analog signal path based on authentic VCO, VCF and VCA designs
5 variable oscillator shapes with pulse width variation
Classic 24 dB ladder filter with resonance
Fully analog triangle/square wave LFO
Switchable low/high pass filter mode
16-voice Midi Poly Chain allows combining multiple synthesizers for up to 16-voice polyphony
Overdrive circuit
Noise generator
Complete Eurorack solution โ€“ main module can be transferred to a standard Eurorack case
46 controls for real-time access of all important parameters
External audio input for processing external sound sources
Low and high level outputs
Comprehensive MIDI implementation with MIDI channel and Voice Priority selection
3-Year Warranty Program

Actually, the thing that’s perhaps most unusual about this is the address from Uli Behringer himself. In a rambling essay on GearSlutz, he points out the obvious – that the model D is no longer protected by intellectual property protections – but then veers well off that message into other territory:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/12480834-post77.html

In what is apparently an emotional defensive reaction to the electronic musician community’s emphasis on originality and authenticity, Uli goes into everything from open source hardware, Tesla, manufacturing expenses, the number of engineers Behringer/MUSIC Group employ, and how the idea for going to Eurorack came from someone on a forum.

Who's afraid of killer clones? The Creamware Minimax, one of the clones that's gone before - and one that skirts infringing on trade dress. (That's look-and-feel that the Moog company could use as basis for legal action, even if the earlier patents have expired.)

Who’s afraid of killer clones? The Creamware Minimax, one of the clones that’s gone before – and one that skirts infringing on trade dress. (That’s look-and-feel that the Moog company could use as basis for legal action, even if the earlier patents have expired.)

The open source rant is a little puzzling, as there seems no implication that Behringer are contributing anything to the open source community. Rather, then seem to want to just rip off any public domain designs available to them. They’re allowed, but then I wouldn’t bring in the open source argument – and I know a little something about this.

And while I don’t quite follow Uli’s ethical argument vis-a-vis the Tesla company, he’s right as far as that goes. There are other Minimoog clones out there, and public domain designs are freely available. (Actually, the weirdest part about this argument is that Behringer are making themselves out to be more of an edge case than they are. Music instruments have long reused particular circuit designs after patents expired, if not always entire synth designs.)

Now, I suspect the target of all of this is the currently available part-for-part exact remake of the Minimoog, which is this:

Moog Music Minimoog Model D

In fact, it’s so clear that this is in Behringer’s sights, that it appears the bullet point list above was partly modeled on the spec sheet from the Moog Website. These specs also suggest that Behringer adopted two modifications from the model D reissue for their BEHRINGER D, as well.

But I think Uli and company are simultaneously both right and wrong about the official Moog reissue. It’s true that Moog Music are asking US$3749 for their keyboard, and I think it’s fair to say that’s out of the reach of a lot of musicians (and something a lot more would find hard to swallow for this particular synth). In fact, if I had four grand burning a hole in my pocket, I’d be inclined to go after some of the offerings from Moog Music’s own line before this.

I just don’t think there’s any comparison necessary. Moog Music’s reissue is a meticulously crafted, American-made instrument complete with keyboard. And Moog’s obsessive compulsive approach to reissues is perhaps partly explained by the contrast with a brand like Behringer. It’s not just about “doctors and lawyers”; it’s also about high-end musicians who want the real thing when they tour. (Yeah, some musicians aren’t starving.) Plus, it’s nice to know the Moog remakes exist just for the sake of them. They’ve gone so far, the originals almost seem slightly inauthentic (just not quite).

No, I think the real competition for the BEHRINGER D is in the new synths now available under $500.

Apart from everything you can pick up on the used market, which is a lot, you’ve got new instruments like the KORG volca series, Minilogue, and Monologue, the Arturia MiniBrute and MicroBrute, and (more modular-friendly) MakeNoise 0-Coast. Significantly, these are new instruments, too – ones with new character and new sounds to bring to your mix, which simply isn’t true of the now 40-year-old Minimoog (even the original).

You can’t pick up a Voyager for $400, but I think it is telling that even Bob Moog thought the Minimoog ought to be reissued with some adaptations and new ideas.

I also think it’s a mistake to assume this will take the Eurorack market by storm. That industry seems to be pretty loyal to boutique makers and credible small brands, which is part of the appeal of the whole area.

But don’t get me wrong: I do think the BEHRINGER D is likely to be a hit, if it makes it to market at anywhere near $400. Provided they get the sound roughly right, it looks like a practical offering.

The trick is if and when it makes it to market. Behringer have so far said this is a prototype, which they’re evaluating for interest.

Personally, this looks like a perfectly reasonable desktop clone of the Minimoog, and one that could be a big seller.

I just wish Uli Behringer would refrain from making the argument that somehow only Behringer can save starving musicians, and only by reproducing existing designs. I don’t believe that’s true – not when Korg, Arturia, Yamaha, Roland, Teenage Engineering, and many others are making loads of affordable electronic instruments using entirely new designs.

And great as the Minimoog was in its day, I think there’s a good argument for looking at the range of synths available.

Gearslutz message forum thread

Via: BEHRINGER D Synth – More Details announced [Synthanatomy]

  • Chris Stack

    Waiting for a $449 Voyager clone ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • HA! Yeah, that… I might actually buy. ๐Ÿ˜€

      With apologies to the Moog folks, of course… I think. Actually, my message to Moog (and the message of a *lot* of people, I’m sure might be — please make a Voyager II.

      Hell, the name even suggests it.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_2

  • “I just wish Uli Behringer would refrain from making the argument that somehow only Behringer can save starving musicians, and only by reproducing existing designs. I donโ€™t believe thatโ€™s true โ€“ not when Korg, Arturia, Yamaha, Roland, Teenage Engineering, and many others are making loads of affordable electronic instruments using entirely new designs.” – This is really the point, a cheap sort of Moog it might be, the only option for a cheap analog synth? It is not. In other news: Lada to release Aston Martin DB5 clone for $14,995 plus on road costs.

  • Rocketpilot

    Dodgy company. That’s all I’ll say.

    • Vaihe

      Remember that the company that sells Model D clone for $3800 is not the same company that made original Model D. Current company is Big Briar who bought/licensed Moog brand that they can use on their products. It’s as much Model D clone as any other. Nothing makes it more ‘real’ than others.

      • Pop

        Its true that Big Briar acquired the Moog brand. But it’s also true that Big Briar was created by Bob Moog himself, which arguably makes their Model D perfectly authentic in my opinion.

      • c0wfunk

        No, this isn’t true anymore.

        “In 2002, after a legal battle with Don Martin who had previously assumed the rights to the name Moog Music, Robert Moog reacquired rights to the Moog Music trademark in the U.S., and immediately changed production of Big Briar products to Moog.[3] Another company, Moog CE, was selling modules for the original 1970s systems, and agreed to change their name to allow Moog to re-enter the market. It was also in 2002 that Moog Music hired Michael Adams as Vice President in charge of business operations.[4][5]”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moog_Music

        When Bob passed, he was working with the company in Asheville that is producing Moog hardware to this day. The Little Phatty was the last synth he had a hand in designing.

      • Ha, I think the trademark response below misses the point —

        It’s “not the same company” in the same way that I would say I’m not the same Peter Kirn you might have met in 1995.

        What makes the Moog Music more “real” than Behringer? Uh, I don’t know, nothing, except:

        – Manufacturing in Asheville, North Carolina in the Moog factory
        – Part-by-part, schematic-by-schematic recreations of the original
        – The physical form factor and controls of the original
        – A keyboard (ahem, I mean, you did say “nothing” makes it more real than the Behringer D, and this is … kind of an obvious example)

        – The involvement of engineers who worked personally with Bob Moog and Bill Hemsath and the rest of the original 1970 team
        – Detailed study of that original undertaken by the Moog company
        – A history of releasing products with the ladder filter and other components of the Minimoog, not to mention new products like the Minimoog Voyager
        – Relationships with all the artists who made the Minimoog culturally relevant

        Other than that, I can’t think of anything.

        Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not buying that replica, and I’m not saying anyone else has. But the point is, it’s not brand, but engineering ingenuity, new ideas, relationships with artists, relationships with engineers – this is what matters. And whatever people may or may not buy, we can’t just pretend that it doesn’t matter.

  • FS

    it is interesting the reaction this is already getting. it seems just in the last several weeks we were celebrating the 808 Eurorack clone being made, but when Behringer makes a clone it’s not quite as well accepted. and i have to be honest, there is something that rubs me the wrong way about a giant company just hammering out a clone and the situation with the 808 clone feels more authentic. why? i’m not quite sure. and why would i be more inclined to look elsewhere for an analog mono synth just so i dont have to have something made by Behringer sitting on my desk? it’s an interesting thought. but i do think the Deep Mind was a bit more well received because it’s original. so maybe that’s an unspoken guideline: major brand originals and boutique clones. but i dont think i would go for this personally, i’d rather save for the real thing or get some other more original modules. but cool.

    • Well, that may really explain it. Uli Behringer’s own argument supports the same – he focused on innovation and the number of engineers he has. But that means then the bar is higher for a company with his resources than it would be for a tiny team – of course.

      Me, I don’t necessarily see much harm in this – I’m just more interested in some of the original stuff that’s coming out.

      • Pop

        “he focused on innovation”

        lol

      • Hans Schnakenhals

        But that has never even once been the Behringer concept to begin with. Cheaply (as in offering it cheaper) copying Mackie (and a whole lot of other companies) is what got Uli his financial success, why would he diverge from that. Everything else is just PR. His “innovation” also lies in that field, he already had moved production for this exact purpose to China in the early 90s.

      • sux

        Well, I would love to see more reports on original stuff ๐Ÿ™‚ maybe you can write up about some of the interesting things that are going on right now

  • lala

    Hardwaremanufactures don’t save starving musicians. ^^
    Freeware from kvr does. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • That may be.. But one of the things that wonderful freeware has taught me is that I should invest in a financially viable mono-synth like the triode.. There is convenience.. and then there is convenience.. I want hardware..

  • Kevin Kennedy

    The major focus on cost of tools and who makes the tools is a necessary evil in today’s world…however, I’ve found in my own career that many of the best pieces of equipment to own and utilize are the ones you have personal access to. The thing that many forget about dance music, especially Techno in the US is that it was started by guys and gals finding discarded technology like Roland’s commercial palindromic failure boxes (303, 808, 606, 909, 202, etc). The great thing about gear and manufacturers attempting to bring us items on the low end of the cost spectrum is that on the used market these items CAN depreciate even more and allow someone to purchase them (possibly for under the cost of manufacture), and create something new or different with what is available to them. I never expect this to happen with Eurorack, but stand-alone modules that have the ‘disposable’ feel to them (like Korg’s Volca series, et al) have the ability to be hacked and modified without the fear of destroying what could be a ‘museum piece,’ like adding MIDI to the case of a Moog. I own a few Behringer products, and sometimes it’s because they are all I can afford, and the items (like my mixer) were serious upgrades to the technology it replaces. I agree that there was not a need for Uli’s ranting about open source or patent infringment (which has been a thorn in the company’s side for many years). However, I applaud them for at the least attempting to put on the market things that will be cost-effective and put a different sound into the hands of those who are not part of the moneyed elite. I say do it, let it fail…and I’ll buy one second hand!

    • nothingnatural

      Liked for the full content of this comment but especially “palindromic failure boxes”

  • itchy

    yay for eurorack!

  • lala

    Hm, a look and feel lawsuit over a over 40 year old industrial design, let the nonsense begin. Just let me get some popcorn first.

    On a sidenote I wonder why the clones copy the unflexibel moog envelopes.
    Why copy that?

  • Vaihe

    If this ever comes out i will by it to be controller for Monark. It looks like perfect midi controller for Minimoog VSTi’s. It will be a bonus if it sounds good itself, but that is not selling point for me.

    $400 mark would allow to make $1600 four voice polyphonic Model D and that is something we have not seen before. For the price of Moog Model D clone, one can get 8 of these and keyboard of choice. I would take that combo over Moog clone anyday. Just think about 8 voice synth that each voice is individually editable with knob per function UI. That is something new.

    • Martin Stimming

      Vermona Perfourmer <- four voices and it's great!

  • Graham Metcalfe

    It really comes down to how good it sounds. That’s really what matters most. It would be weird to buy a specific Minimoog clone if it doesn’t sound like one.

  • Alex Rain

    I guess, when i eat beans for 400 dollars, it sounds better then a moog clone from behringer.

  • Robin Parmar

    Thanks, Peter, for covering this important news. I don’t think it’s important because Behringer are going to bring anything new or even useful to the table. But it’s important for the issues it raises.

    Let’s start with the fact that no two old analogues ever sounded the same, especially after a few months of use. Yes, they were in the same ballpark, depending on the quality and type of filters, oscillators, etc. But never THE SAME. You can get reserved seats to that very same ballpark by buying a software emulation. The cheapest way is to buy Reaktor and get several thousand software emulations, all of which sound like the originals in a mix, in real music, where it counts.

    So, does the argument for “cheap” make sense? I can already get synths at about a buck each with Reaktor and the controller of my choice. OK, so people want “hardware” instead of a “hardware controller”. Why? A lot of the original hardware interfaces could be improved, or at the very least customised, to how YOU want to make music. The original designers had far more constraints. Their necessity has become today’s style accessory.

    So Behringer comes up with a cheap clone that’s way more expensive/restricted than the solution I just outlined. How does this help the starving musician? It doesn’t. How does it help innovation? Don’t make me laugh. How does it help the professional? Price being no object, they will buy the better-made gear. And that’s also the ethical choice, for those in a position to make it.

    P.S. If you do buy something from Behringer, expect it to fall apart if you ever, for any reason, take it outside your pristine studio. “Behringer” and “road-worthy” are antonyms.

  • Nagasaki Nightrider

    Setting aside Behringer’s ongoing lack of originality, there’s hardly a shortage of other good monosynths priced around $500 from more reliable companies at this point.

    In my experience, of all the MIDI controllers I’ve owned over the years, the only one with a knob that snapped off in my hand was a Behringer. Every other Behringer product owned by someone else that I’ve had the misfortune to use has simply sounded bad. If something doesn’t work as it should or breaks too soon, then it isn’t actually more affordable in the end. You pay either way most of the time – up front on something decent or soon after to replace the crap you rolled the dice on.

  • Hans Schnakenhals

    Well written.

  • heinrich zwahlen

    3700 for a synth is an obscene price tag. There is a nice word for it in German: Abzockerei, it’s generally used for Bankers and Pharma companies that charge exorbitant rates.. just because they can.

  • David

    The “rant” as the writer calls it is a company owner fending off a sharp attitude toward his company using premade designs and cloning popular and we’ll regarded products. I guess he feels.like he needs to. Behringer has solidly placed itself into the affordable market and it’s customers know that the stuff is decent value for the money but not the best.

    The Moog buyer will pay the money for a Moog. The behringer buyer will not. I bought a Sub Phatty but sold it because I needed other gear. If I had the money I’d have kept it and bought what I needed as well. The behringer clones will work for people like me. Moog will retain the majority of its customer base, I think. Used prices may go down a little