Behringer has announced an onslaught of new products recently, many of which you can purchase right now! We’re also taking pre-orders on most of the latest, including the Crave, and the Pro-1. But which one is right for you?
Nostalgia is more in than ever. If you’re looking for a compact update on a Minimoog, MS-20, TR-808, SH-101, or TB-303, then we and Behringer have you covered. All of Behringer’s recreations also feature some new functions, and perhaps most impressively, they’re all analog and priced to sell.
These machines sound beautiful and feel professional. All of the knobs, jacks, and switches are satisfying to use and have musically relevant ranges. It’s clear that Behringer takes their synths quite seriously. Picking is difficult, because the truth is that most synths fulfill the same basic functions and fall into only a few mainstream categories. While any proper synth can make a bassline, it’s the differences in overall timbre, filtering, routing flexibility, and UI that can tip the scales toward one or the other.
Aside from the venerable Deepmind series, all of Behringer’s lineup are monophonic, except for the paraphonic Neutron. If you hook a keyboard to the Model D or the K2, you’ll only be able to play one note at a time. This is an important thing to consider when trying to decide on any synth: do you want something capable of producing lush chords, pads, and layered arps? Go polyphonic. Do you want something optimized for thick basslines and snappy leads which is likely a lot cheaper? Go monophonic. Even though having access to only one note at a time might seem like a disadvantage, it allows for different sound design and compositional schemes: the most obvious would be tying notes together (otherwise called a slide) in a bassline, a necessary component in classic acid patches and numerous squiggly leads. Sliding from chord to chord will quickly turn muddy and indistinct, but a monosynth will make quick work of all those twisty melodies you’re just dying to get out.
The K2 is a recreation of the wonderful Korg MS-20, a vintage 2 oscillator, semi-modular monosynth. MIDI is present here as well, along with an attractive recreation of the MS-20 patchbay which presents a serious degree of routing flexibility. This also costs a fraction of the original’s going used price. The most important part of any Korg MS-10/20 is the filter. Behringer have done a respectable job of reproducing the characterful response of the MS series, it really screams when you pump the resonance. If you’re looking for a synth that can do white-hot noise, huge bass and leads, and plenty of chaotic self-patched goodness in between then this is the one for you. At first blush it presents a harsher character than the Model D, making it a favorite of dance-punks and noise jockeys, but a little practice will get you pleasingly smooth tones. This is a great synth for getting into modular principles (although pitch is controlled, like the original, with a Hz/V standard! Beware if you’re looking to sequence from a Eurorack setup!) and experimenting with unconventional modulation paths.
The latest addition to the family is the TD-3, a recreation of the famous Roland TB-303. The 303 is the acid sound. Deep, squelchy, and distorted, it sets the standard for many techno-adjacent basslines. The TD-3 is near identical in terms of circuitry to its original. The most significant difference is a new analog distortion based on the classic Boss DS-1. The onboard sequencer is crucial to the 303 experience, allowing for on the fly composition. The TB-303 has a reputation for being difficult to program, but the sequencer does allow for a great deal of flexibility and unrivaled bassline expressiveness once you grock how to work it. The TD-3 preserves the sequencer’s basic usage. This is Behringer’s cheapest offering, rivaling Korg’s popular Volca line. The sound is right, and the price is more than right considering an original TB-303 will run you about $2000.
Also coming soon is the Crave, an original all analog production from Behringer with an oscillator designed to mimic the Prophet 5. Crave’s 24db ladder filter lends it the Moog butteriness we all love. Crave also features a 32 step sequencer with 64 preset slots for easy performance control and iteration. On the surface this synth is your typical entry level subtractive voice, but it also includes an extensive patchbay. Patching is a simple UI experience that promotes wildly complex, precise, or chaotic results. We recommend Crave to anyone seeking an introduction to synthesis at its most basic and effective who also wants to get their hands dirty rearranging circuitry with patch cables. This one is also extremely compact, if you want a bass or lead synth you can carry in your backpack, you’d be hard pressed to find anything more capable and affordable than Crave or the TD-3. Between the two it’s really a matter of whether you’re devoted to acid squelch or if you prefer a more open-ended sound design experience with some patching.
Last but not least (for this post) is the now-mythical Pro-1. Behringer has been teasing this recreation of the classic Sequential synth for years now. This is personally the synth we’re most excited for from this new round of pre-releases, and we’re happy to finally be taking pre-orders! Behringer’s Pro-1, like all of their recreated synths, ditches the keyboard while retaining all of the original functionality and more. The Pro-1 was feature packed when it was released decades ago, and it still is a very complete synthesis package. The modulation matrix from the original is fully intact, and the sequencer has been expanded from 40 to 64 steps.. Behringer also provides a meaty selection of CV/gate patch points for integration into modular systems. The modulation setup on this synth is a lot of fun. The switches and pots are a good compromise between more traditional patch-cable systems and fixed modulation paths. 2 op FM and pulse-width modulation are supported without any patching at all! The Pro-1 is perhaps the most obscure of the new Behringer releases, but it’s a wicked monosynth with a peculiar charm that is hard to replicate. This is definitely a case where timbre, UI, and features come together almost perfectly. It should be noted that a keyboard with a mod wheel or an external CV source will complete the experience of using this synth.