Will all Behringer’s grand clone plans come true?


We have all seen Behringer’s recurrent announcements on new upcoming synth clones, but how many will de facto materialize. Recent information suggests that Behringer are struggling with their Minimoog clone and that delays are to be expected. This message came recently:

“Please allow me to clarify that the first batch of Model D’s had arrived at our German retailer Music Store right before year end, which you can easily verify with them. The next batch will hopefully leave the factory by end of coming week with some units being air-shipped to the US. The production is still relatively slow due to the fact that each unit takes over 30 minutes to warm up followed by a meticulous one-hour calibration and quality assurance procedure.”

This message actually raises some concerns. Perhaps Behringer are taking the cloning one step too far. Remember that there are reasons other than cost that synthesizer engineers largely moved away from pure analog oscillators, opting for digital oscillators or digital-controlled analog oscilllators. A “modern” clone that takes thirty minutes to warm up and an hour to calibrate?

So far we do not know of anyone actually having the Behringer Model D, but hopefully we will see it live soon enough. Now the company is apparently heading for the classic Oberheim OB-Xa.

The OB-Xa was available in four, six or eight voice polyphonic models. They all featured patch memories, also in varying degrees. A minimum of 32 patches were available on early models (4 banks of 8). The maximum amount of patch memory storage found on many OB-Xa’s is 120 patch memories. All models of OB-Xa, however, featured the new Curtis chips which offered great stability for an analog synth and they are attributed to its great filters and sounds.

But looking at various forums one can discern some doubts on the status of this announcements as well.

In a message they’re asking for help. Not a bad thing but it gives an indication that they are taking on more than they can accomplish. According to a statement released by Behringer, the UB-Xa is being worked on by engineers in Behringer’s Manchester team in their free time. This is the same group of engineers that developed Behringer’s $999 analog DeepMind 12 synth, which has had a generally positive reception since it launched last year. However, that synth took over three years to develop, and Behringer doesn’t expect the UB-Xa to be ready for another 12 months at least.  Here’s what they say:

Today I officially announce that we have decided that we will develop and produce an authentic OB-Xa clone which we call the UB-Xa. As you can imagine, this is a very complex and time-consuming project and at this stage we won’t be able to tell you when the instrument will be available in the market or what it will cost.

Since this is more a labor of love than a commercially viable project, our engineers can’t work fulltime on this synth and will use some of their free time, hence the project will likely take more than 12 months. Most importantly, our goal is to make it an absolute authentic sounding instrument and offer it at a truly affordable price – but you know this already.”

Full letter can be found here >>

Coming to the more promising news we do of course look forward to this little beauty, when it eventually will materialize. The team has  kicked off 2018 by revealing yet more clones of vintage gear like the Roland’s VP-330 Vocoder Plus synth.  The Vocoder and String Ensemble VC340 bears a striking resemblance to a Roland VP-330.

As mentioned Behringer divided the synth community last year with its Behringer D, an unofficial $299 clone of Moog’s Minimoog Model D, which, while technically legal due to expired patents, still received criticism from some quarters. The latest models to be released – the Behringer Vocoder and String Ensemble VC340 and UB-Xa – look even closer to the originals than the Behringer D, right down to details like color and font selection.

Behringer hasn’t revealed a price or release date for either synth yet, but images show that both have MIDI and USB connections, with the UB-Xa boasting footswitch and pedal jacks with the VC340 including vocoder control jacks and XLR input for a microphone. Company owner Uli Behringer has indicated it could be a while before they reach the shelves.

How the Behringer clone story will end is, as of right, written in the stars. Thus, the reveal of these new synths is just the latest in a long running Behringer story that we need to read with caution. In December 2017, the company posted product specifications for 11 synth and drum machine clones, ranging from new versions of the ARP 2600 to more obscure instruments like the EDP Wasp. However, several of these – including Roland’s TR-909 and VP-330 – are already available as official reissues from their original manufacturers.

At the beginning of 2018 Behringer released a teaser image of a Eurorack module that’s speculated to be a clone of the EMS VCS3.

So, here’s the current status:

DeepMind 12: shipping now. ($999 with 49-key keyboard, 12D without $899)
DeepMind 6: shipping now. ($699 with 37-key keyboard, six voices)
Model D: limited quantities, still a preorder. ($299)
Vocoder Plus: unconfirmed; status unknown.
OB-Xa clone: confirmed, 12+ months out, pricing unknown.