Behringer CEO Hints at Affordable Minimoog Clone

This post as has been updated as of March 9, 2017. Find pictures of the proposed D Synth at the end of the post.

Behringer is easily one of the most polarizing companies in the music gear industry. Founded by Uli Behringer in 1989, the firm is celebrated for bringing low cost music technology to millions of people who otherwise would not have access and frequently lambasted for its unabashed cloning of designs by companies like Boss and Mackie.

This past weekend, Mr. Behringer weighed in on a discussion on the Gearslutz forum about the potential for Behringer cloning a Minimoog Model D. This turned a thought experiment about such a project into a distinct possibility that the company may be in the early stages of developing a budget–friendly replica of the iconic analog monosynth.

As he stated in his reply:

"In case of the MiniMoog there is no IP (Intellectual Property) involved as the technology is more than 40 years old and all patents have long expired. As a result, the property is now in the public domain, free for everyone to use. Without this principle there would only be one car or synthesizer manufacturer in the world."

Later in the post, he elaborated:

"Perhaps this synth is a great little project to demonstrate how the design process works and I am happy to involve you in the development. Since the development has been done 40 years ago, it is a rather minimal engineering effort and once we have a working prototype and a projected price, we can then decide whether we will bring this product to market or not."

In a later post on the forum, Uli Behringer positioned his company as kin with automotive manufacturers like Kia, saying that he was proud to turn out low cost, reliable music equipment. It wasn’t long before Uli went on the defensive about manufacturing practices and safety regulation compliance concerns often indirectly leveraged against Behringer.

The forum discussion started out with the suggestion that Behringer should create a desktop version of the Model D. One forum member discussed the appeal of Behringer producing the Model D as a Eurorack module.

The Minimoog Model D was recently reissued by Moog itself, with an MSRP of $3,749.

While not a full confirmation of any specific plans, Behringer's post offers a fascinating glimpse into how the music gear juggernaut views the sticky issues intellectual property and design innovation.

Right around the time that Korg announced its reissue of the Arp Odyssey in collaboration with Arp co–founder David Friend, Behringer took to Facebook to tease plans for its own clone of the synth at $500. That synth never came to fruition.

The only analog synthesizer that the company has produced is in fact an original design—the DeepMind 12. The modulation–heavy polysynth has been enjoying rave reviews, likely spurring new synths from the company. Just a couple of weeks go, Behringer posted a video on Facebook where Uli talks about released a $49 analog synth, gunning for a similar market as the Korg Volca series.

Read the full text of Uli Behringer’s statement below:

“Thanks for the great feedback. I certainly respect everyone's opinion and emotions.

Allow me to share my view:

Our loyalty is always with our customers and hence we build what they request. This is what we stand for and this will never change.

The general rule and the law clearly describe that technology is free for everyone to use, provided it is not protected. You may have a different personal view, but that's how our society and every industry works - again why the law has been designed the way it is.

In case of the MiniMoog there is no IP (Intellectual Property) involved as the technology is more than 40 years old and all patents have long expired. As a result, the property is now in the public domain, free for everyone to use. Without this principle there would only be one car or synthesizer manufacturer in the world. For this exact reason you will find many companies who are manufacturing replicas of all sorts, including the MiniMoog - simply google it.

We believe there are two typical types of customers:

The ones who aspire to purchase the original product and provided they can afford the price, they will buy such a high-priced product. It is well known marketing knowledge, that lower cost and competing products do contribute to more awareness and hence stimulate both ends of the market. Many companies such as Tesla, Toyota etc. have now opened their patents to the public domain to allow other manufacturers to enter the same market and actually compete with them.

Open source and open innovation are now trends that you'll find in many industries, simply because the benefit of collaboration outweighs protection of your IP.

https://www.tesla.com/blog/all-our-patent-are-belong-you

Our primary customer is not the well-off doctor or lawyer, but the people with much less income. I was a struggling musician myself when I started my business 30 years ago and I made it my mission in life to enable musicians to pursue their musical dreams without financial obstacles.

This is the reason why we work with extremely slim margins and consequentially our focus must be on achieving high volume production as otherwise we couldn't survive.

When you work with such slim margins, aside from research and development, much effort goes into DFM (Design for Manufacturing), DFC (Design for Cost) and production engineering etc.

We employ over 400 engineers in MUSIC Group and we're hiring 100 more. You will find our engineering facilities in the UK, US, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, China, Philippines etc. If you're interested, feel free to drop by at our offices and meet our fantastic people.

Perhaps this synth is a great little project to demonstrate how the design process works and I am happy to involve you in the development. Since the development has been done 40 years ago, it is a rather minimal engineering effort and once we have a working prototype and a projected price, we can then decide whether we will bring this product to market or not.

Someone here in the forum had a great idea to pack this synth into a compact Eurorack format and this coincides with some of our engineers' ideas. I will have our designers to come up with a quick design draft for you to comment on.

Thanks

Uli”

Update (March 9, 2017): Uli Behringer followed up on the same forum thread with a mock–up of what he is dubbing the Behringer D Synth along with technical specifications. On top of cloning the Model D's original triple VCO circuitry, Behringer's model would be Eurorack ready and capable of being daisy chained via MIDI to lend extra voices. The D Synth would retail for around $400.

This is a first draft of our "D" Synth with a proposed feature set below.

Our goal is to design in a Poly Chain feature that allows combining up to 16 synths through Midi.

Depending on the feedback we will then decide if we move further and build a first prototype.

Our targeted retail price is around US$ 400.

Analog Synthesizer with 3 VCOs, 24 dB Ladder Filter, LFO, 16-Voice Poly Chain and Eurorack Format

  1. Analog synthesizer with triple VCO design
  2. Reproduction of original “D Type” with matched transistors and JFETs
  3. 0.1% Thin Film resistors and Polyphenyline Sulphide capacitors for frequency stability
  4. Analog signal path based on authentic VCO, VCF and VCA designs
  5. 5 variable oscillator shapes with pulse width variation
  6. Classic 24 dB ladder filter with resonance
  7. Fully analog triangle/square wave LFO
  8. Switchable low/high pass filter mode
  9. 16-voice Midi Poly Chain allows combining multiple synthesizers for up to 16-voice polyphony
  10. Overdrive circuit
  11. Noise generator
  12. Complete Eurorack solution – main module can be transferred to a standard Eurorack case
  13. 46 controls for real-time access of all important parameters
  14. External audio input for processing external sound sources
  15. Low and high level outputs
  16. Comprehensive MIDI implementation with MIDI channel and Voice Priority selection
  17. 3-Year Warranty Program

Uli

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