No one came past the current Behringer discussions about clones, Midifan, forum discussions, lawsuits etc. Here is my opinion about this topic!
For a few days there has been a lot of talk about a topic: Behringer. This time not about certain new upcoming synths but about the way the company sells itself outside. The climax comes with the latest report from Peter Kirn of CDM who has discovered a lawsuit from 2017 between Behringer and Dave Smith Instruments.
I will not bother the whole topic again because I find no reason to do so. CDM has a long article that says the important facts. Since I reported on the Superbooth about Behringer’s new clones or have also tested the Neutron as one of the firsts, it’s important to me to say my opinion on this topic. I will share my opinion in three different topics with you.
Clones, Tributes & The Copy-Cat Discussion
It has long been known that Behringer re-build familiar products and equips them with new functions. This process is described often as reverse engineering. Many people associate the company with the name copy-cats as the company clones products and launched them with another name. If you look at the Model D, reveres engineering is the right word in my opinion. Since the schematics are open, any manufacturer can bring a Minimoog replica on the market. If the company Behringer had brought the MM in the same shape, size, keyboard on the market so you can talk more of the term CC.
But who now say that this is a CC for 100%, should take a look at the Eurorack market. This currently much acclaimed Synthesizer domain is full of replicas of old oscillators, filters etc. from Moog, Oberheim etc. So very probably that many users have one or more CC module in their rack. With this whole discussion, this should not be overlooked.
Personally I do not have the big problems with the Model D Synthesizer by Behringer because this does not have the same optical design as the original. It is smaller, an Eurorack module, features USB MIDI as well as a high-pass filter. From this point of view, this synth is not a one-to-one copy but a tribute with new features built into it. That’s what AJH Synth did a few years ago with the MiniMod Eurorack modules: the Minimoog architecture with new features. Maybe this release was recorded so peacefully because it is not from Behringer. What I did not like about the BMD is that they decided on almost identical colours, buttons and knobs design. I would rather have seen it brought to market in a different design less inspired by Moog’s design language.
Also, you should not forget in the whole discussion is that the software industry created in the past years a big amount of Synthesizer that emulates instruments from the past. Here, too, it’s always quiet and no company has been accused of CC although one specifically recreated a product in detail in software with an inspired GUI.
I’m neither a Behringer fanboy or sponsored by the company but I respect the work of the developers. Even if the clones are not creative or innovative, this is a complete development which should be respected. Anyone who follows the discussion in recent months, notes that there are haters and lovers. That is perfectly normal and understandable. The same applies here in the hardware vs software debate. Also, I can understand that small companies are less enthusiastic about these development practise. Many are afraid that they sell fewer modules. In my opinion the opposite will happen. Buyers of the Model will be happy to expand their setups step by step with new modules from other companies to make the sound more interesting.
To sum up: if the circuits are open, the developer changes the form of the synth, adds new modern features, I don’t have big problems with it. But if a developer completely copied the synth in the same size, design, with keyboard and only changes the name, I will have problems!
Behringer vs. Midifan.com
A few days ago, a Chinese music technology website Midifan published an article announcing that they had been approached by the Behringer/Music group company with a law suit. This is mainly because they used the words “shameless” and “copycat” to describe the Synthesizer clones. Also they reported about employee strikes, health problems etc. Meanwhile, Uli Behringer has responded in a big open letter to CDM to these allegations and explicated them in detail. I don’t want to stir up the topic here again with another possible reasons but want to share my opinion about it. I’m biased on this topic.
On the one hand, it has to be said that the website Midifan has chosen a slightly too aggressive choice of words for an article. You can criticze the products and don’t like them, but you can do that in a less hate-sensing language. Personally, I can not speak Chinese, but as one could learn, the article has a significantly different impact in China than in Europe or the US. The writer attacks also the company’s new factory. To be honest, I think the company communicates better than others. Or do you see already the factory of Roland in China? What do we know about his working conditions? Not to mention where our iPhone, laptops etc come from. The name Foxcon is sufficient here!
On the other hand, I must also defend my counterpart Midifan for his article. Media should inform and report on topics that are important. These should not only find everything good but must be also open for criticism. If writers say the latter, then this criticism should be constructive, well researched with sources, not aggressive or offend anyone. Also, I criticize on my website music tech companies, including Behringer, but this always happens at a professional level and not at a “The Sun” level. So Behringer would probably have less problems if the Midifan article was written with more care. Dear Nan Tang from Midifan, I recommend you to write next time with less emotional feelings the article but with more professional care. Critics are welcome but without breaking the journalistic limits!
Behringer vs. DSI & The Role Of Forums
Also yesterday there was again heavy discussions about the company Behringer. Peter Kirn of Create Digital Music (CDM) has published an article reporting on a lawsuit between Dave Smith Instrument and Behringer.
Uli Behringer wrote about this statement: Some time ago an employee of DSI had posted incorrect and slanderous statements about our company on multiple forums. We put both the employee as well as DSI on notice and received a signed Cease-and-Desist letter from the employee where he assured us that he would refrain from such future comments. I have attached a copy of the undertaking of the employee to stop making such comments. In the reply of DSI, the company stated that it has instructed all employees to stop making any false or derogatory statements against us.
The result was: Behringer has lost the affair in court because they clearly said that people are free to have opinions. This combined with a public forum is the essence of free speech.
In my opinion, companies should basically let out of discussion forums like Gearslutz, KVR Audio… These are like bar similar discussions (german Stammtisch) where users talk more rougher about them. Not to be avoided and what is certainly the case, companies are undercover in such forums on the way to get an idea of how to talk about their products. But blaming people for what they say in these forums is not appropriate in my opinion. It’s clear and important that every human have the freedom to say what they think. Forum should be places where people can write freely and share opinions. The best thing a company can do is to do nothing. This show strength!
What Behringer did was simply wrong and damaged her company’s image. They did not make friends and scared off many Synthesizer friends. If you had quietly watched and run the whole thing, nobody would have talked about it. One should not feed the troll, one can only lose and they calm themselves. Unfortunately, the company did the wrong thing here. Hope that was the last action in this direction because otherwise more and more will turn away.
As you have seen here now, the topic is very large and complex. It was important for me to share my objective sight and opinion on these different opics in this way. I respect the work of Behringer, Dave Smith Instruments and Midifan. All sides have made mistakes that could surely have been solved differently than judicial instances. Hope you understand my point of view on this topic. Cheers Tom.