Behringer’s first foray into the world of synthesis always promised to be interesting, and the results do not disappoint...
Behringer’s reputation in our industry may not have always been the greatest, but in recent years, Uli Behringer’s creation of The Music Group in the Philippines to act as an umbrella organisation for the Behringer brand and other acquired companies (including Klark-Teknik, Lab Gruppen, Lake, Midas, Tannoy, TC and Turbosound) has done much to improve the company’s standing, although there are still products being released that exhibit, um... the sincerest form of flattery with respect to products from elsewhere. In the synthesizer arena, Uli Behringer has long expressed an interest in cloning synths such as the Minimoog, the Prophet 5, the Odyssey and, in particular, the Juno 106. (Google the Phat 108 if you’re unaware of this.) So, when teasers regarding the DeepMind 12 started to appear, it wasn’t surprising to see that it owed much to the Juno. The similarity of graphic design was remarkable, and even the choice of the Juno’s fader caps reinforced the feeling that there was going to be something uncomfortably Roland-esque about it.
When further details emerged — the use of DCOs, the switchable bass boost to emulate the underlying frequency response of the Junos, the filter topology and more — it was clear that the similarities were going to be more than skin deep. But it also became clear that there would be significant differences and, when the DeepMind 12 emerged, it had grown a second oscillator, a dual-mode filter, a modulation matrix, effects and more. So while the inspiration certainly came from across the East China Sea, Behringer’s new synth is not a knock-off of the Juno; in part an homage, maybe, but not a clone.
Much of the design and implementation of the DeepMind 12 comes from the Midas team in the UK, which bodes well since they have decades of experience in the higher end of the audio industry. But as far as I’m aware, this team hasn’t designed a synth before, so I expected some quirks, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Let’s start with the basics. Despite being described widely (and not least by Behringer themselves) as ‘analogue’, the DeepMind 12 is a mono-timbral 12-voice analogue/digital hybrid polysynth with a lightweight but useable 49-note velocity and aftertouch sensitive keyboard. Each voice comprises two DCOs, a switchable 12/24dB/oct VCF, three digitally generated contour generators, two digitally generated LFOs, and a modulation matrix. Voices can be stacked in various ways from 12-note polyphony to single-note detuned monstrosity and, following a global high-pass filter, four configurable digital effects units complete the audio path. Performance controllers are limited to the traditional pitch and modulation wheels, although there are also octave up/down switches and multi-mode, polyphonic portamento. There are 1024 patch memories in eight banks of 128...
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