Behringer UB-XA Synthesizer Update (Oberheim OB-Xa Clone)

Behringer head Uli Behringer

Behringer head Uli Behringer has shared an update on the development of their upcoming Oberheim OB-Xa clone, the UB-XA.

Here’s what he has to say about the planned synth:

When I announced the project some time ago, I mentioned that it would take at least a year as it is a “labor of love” and our Midas engineer would do this as a side project since their main priorities are with digital mixing consoles.

Because of their high workload, the development of the UB-Xa had unfortunately stalled for quite some time.

Good news is that the team is working on it again and we have just finished all schematics and the mechanical design, while the team is now focusing on the board layout and firmware.

This is a major job and don’t expect anything soon, however we are confident that we will deliver this project as promised and hopefully at a price which will make everyone happy.

In order to maintain the integrity of the original sound design, we’ve been using 3340 and 3320 VCO’s and VCF’s but replaced the outdated digital section with very powerful Arm Processors.

Here’s the latest rendering of the Behringer UB-XA:

He adds:

Unfortunately we don’t have any time line or price indication at this stage; frankly the project is still far from completion.

As I stated multiple times, many of our synthesizers are not very profitable and at times even loss leaders. Synths are my absolute passion and since we’re a privately owned company, we’re able to pursue these “labor of love” projects. Luckily the team supports me in my mission as they are equally passionate synth nuts 🙂

As you can imagine, we need to ensure our R&D teams primarily focus on products that’ll keep the light on for Midas and our 100 engineers in Manchester. Their main focus is designing highly complex Midas Digital Mixing Consoles. The upside for you is that these are world-class engineers who help with these synth designs.

Behringer also shared a couple of schematics for the project:

67 thoughts on “Behringer UB-XA Synthesizer Update (Oberheim OB-Xa Clone)

    1. how is this any different than another manufacturer copying or “emulating” a guitar body style such as a les paul or strat? it’s not really!

      1. I too am puzzled by the anti-cloning comments on Synthtopia – Fender and Gibson clones abound in the guitar world, and they’re a good thing!!

        And in the synth world, why should it be perfectly OK to to make a *software/digital* recreation of a classic synth whose patents expired years ago – but never a *hardware/analog* version?

        Isn’t there a very good reason as to why patents confer time-limited – rather than perpetual – monopolies?

      2. Here’s the important thing to realize: Cloning another company’s famous products allows you to take advantage of the other product (and company’s) reputation for profit. People aren’t buying the Model D because it’s a Behringer, they’re buying it because they see it as an impossibly cheap Minimoog.

        In legal terms, this is known as passing off. Behringer isn’t selling products on their own merit. It appears that they have deliberately simulated the marks of Roland and Moog (Model D, the 101, 808 and 909 names) and trade dress (the panel designs and control styles/layout of the Model D, 101, 808, 909 and Pro-One).

        There is a huge difference between copying the shape of a chunk of wood and copying an entire electronic device like a Moog Minimoog (control layout, panel markings, voice architecture, look and feel of the panel, ladder filter and the rest of the electronic design).

        1. As their engineering time delay proves there is much more than a simple copy. If you look at any of the reissues by any company, it is updated. The behringer’s are not circuit clones, they are different size, different patch points, midi control, very different from the originals except they deliver the thing people DEMAND: the tone. You can’t trust roland korg and yamaha to release a synth that sounds any good, you haven’t been able to trust it for decades. I say cheers to Uli for responding to the people and making what many of us want. It is also nothing new for companies to emulate products in high demand.

        2. You are wrong. People are buying it entirely because it is behringer. No one else is offering it. The SE-02 did very well too. How come nobodies complaining about that? Or anything else SE make for that matter?

        3. If you decide to buy only from the inventors of something in your daily life, you’re running into serious difficulties. Most of what you are buying nowadays are clones of the originals. So, please don’t revile Behringer for that. I’m sure they will renew the static synth market with their concept.

        4. I can’t afford an original or modern Model D. If Moog had done a cheaper clone I would have bought from them. Since Uli Behringer did it, I bought his version. The D sounds georgous. That’s all that counts.

    2. I have an 8 voice OBxa that I restored 10 years ago and it’s one of my greatest treasures. I’m ALL FOR this great synth to live on in hardware form once again and I’ll buy one too! They have to do rwo things……keep the hifi components out of the output section. It shouldn’t sound like a modern prophet. And don’t stabilize the oscillators too much. The natural drift is what makes these old synths so organic and musical. It needs to be gritty, warm, round with the Curtis chip sizzle. I volunteer to demo a prototype and give feedback to make sure they get it right!

  1. Thank you for teasing about something “far from completion” which makes as much sense as an “absolute passion” for cloning :/

    1. Passion for cloning? Well, many people (and companies) *do* spend a good deal of time and effort creating replicas of classic musical instruments, video game consoles, computers, cars, clothing, buildings, furniture, etc..

      1. There are MANY people passionate about cloning and recreation. Look at the modular world, just to give another example in this same industry. When a company releases a eurorack version of a 303 filter, does it confuse you?

  2. Ok, so crazy thing here. I used to work for a company called Davison Design and Development in Pittsburgh. They are an invention/prototyping company. The CEO George Davison was a micromanaging narcissistic weirdo brought up in a rich family and the company went through multiple patent lawsuits and class action lawsuits tons of their accounts which they were accused of stealing the ideas of the people they represented.

    Uli seems a lot like this guy, building a company on the backs of others ideas, sort of like the Supreme Brand. The only difference between them and a dictator is that they make products and don’t rule territories. So bless him for sticking to making music gear and not running for office. But the more I see these teases of half-made products with photos of him (which is weird in itself) and the comments that are soon to come, you know how much sheep cost, $299.99.

      1. $300 would be great. But why would anyone expect Behringer to price it like their Eurorack synth modules, instead of like their $1,000 DeepMind 12 keyboard?

    1. Geez…. I used to have an OB-8 until it became too expensive to get it repaired – AGAIN. I’m glad to have a much less expensive alternative to add to my project studio. Hope you find some love to fill your void with expensive boat anchors.

    2. Well maybe-handsome Randy, there are a lot of classic designs being recreated in the auto world. ‘68 Mustang, Jaguar E-type, etc. Everything material thing you enjoy in life was made from other people’s ideas. That’s how we get improvements over original designs. Are your clothes totally original ideas? No. Your cars? No. Your electronics and home appliances? No. The synthesizer industry came about starting with the ideas of people like Bob Moog and a few others. But instead of innovating, Uli is giving some of us the chance to relive memories at an affordable cost. So what?

    3. If the original makers were still around making these products that people asks for, there would be much less interest in bringing them back, for a company like Behringer.
      They are catering to an demand.
      There are no copyright issues. Long since expired.
      And if you are going to say that Moog made the Model D again. You first have to understand that the original Moog Music company isn’t around anymore. So it was just as much a clone as if any other company would make it. They do have the rights to put the Moog Music and Minimoog brand on the product, but no other exclusive rights to the Model D. I’m not sure if Gibson still owns the Oberheim brand (there were talks of Behringer buying it), but if they do, and they would make an Oberheim OB-XA, they would be able to put the Brand on it, but they would in no way be the original maker, and the same thing is true for Moog music. It is of no importance that Robert Moog founded both companies, that still doesn’t make them the same company. And Robert Moog made the Voyager series as his interpretation of the Minimoog, the clone was made when he had passed.

      You say dictator, but it seems in this case, it was people at the Midas team that wanted to make this specific product.
      And Uli Behringer and Behringer the company, has in threads and facebook posts, asked people what synths they want to see again. I don’t see other big companies doing the same.
      I have no idea of Uli Behringers background, but typically founders of companies do come from a bit of money. But at this point the company is making money, and probably a lot more than he had when he started the company.

    4. wait so your equating using expired patents to create cheaper versions of this synths with dictators?
      Dude, please let me know what gym you go to because the mind gymnastics you have to do to come up with that are just Pro level.
      Give me a break!

    1. Oberheim and Smith didn’t set out to imitate the OBx, it was more of a SEM thing. They could probably perfectly well imitate the OBx. They don’t seem to be interested. Fine. Enter Behringer.

  3. Ueli serving the China 2025 Agenda by smashing any other Synth manufacturer out of business…ultimately helping exporting our jobs to china…and all of that for a cheap buy…

    1. Wrong, Uli/Behringer is raising the low-end-standard to a higher expectation for the middle companies, which is a good thing for the end-user! The companies need to come up with something new and innovative instead of just making a 303, Minimoog, DX-7 and SH-101 look-alike, which was considered innovative, when they were new.

      Its not only the synthesizer aspect, which is getting touched by Behringer`s cloning projects also recording/mixing, with his sub-brand Klark Teknik, where you can get a 1176, Pultec or LA2A for under 300 us. Here the expectation for innovation is also raising, The companies cannot just expect to live from cloning 60`s schematics, it is too easy 🙂

    2. May be, but then the other synth companies did leave the field open for him, if he can do it by remaking classic synths that people have been asking for, for a long time.
      But for the most part, synth makes today are not the hardware makers. There aren’t that many hardware synths being made, if we are talking the classic type of synth. They have in the passed expressed that they have no interest in making digital synths. That might have changed, as I saw something about them looking for someone experienced with FPGA, but on the other hand, that might be for digital FX products, separate or built in to their mixers and synths. But they don’t seem to be looking for software designers for virtual instruments, so there will still be a lot of synth makers around.

      But if Behringer stays a private company, there would be no difference from them making hardware product in china, and other synth makers doing the same. And since most do, then China has already taken over the synth hardware market in that term.

    3. How does that make them different from Roland, Yamaha, Korg, Arturia who also produce their synths in China? Why aren’t people here only focusing on Behringer?

  4. Nobody seems to be annoyed with the TTSH, Boomstars, Deckards Dream, Intellijel Atlantis, countless 303 clones, thousands of eurorack filter clones etcetera. If you’re annoyed with Behringer, you probably have to be a bit more to the pint (like Peter above).

  5. Once for all, for all those complaining about Plagiarism , I have to bring to your attention that few companies – and way before Behringer – have already cloned very famous synth with cheaper price ,and they have never been put in jail or even sued . Cloning (with love) being their main business model. SO know you know . May the Synth be with you !

  6. If Tom Oberheim is not willing to reissue the OB-Xa than I will buy the Behringer version. I just want an authentic clone. I do not care for the price. There is just no other option…

  7. I lost interest in this project, when it seemed they were listening to those that wanted a strict copy of the original. Not because I have anything against that. But the components in the original wasn’t as interesting as other Oberheim poly synths.
    I checked this article to see if they had changed their minds. But it seem they haven’t.

    Likewise I’m not that interested in a Juno-106 remake, other than the front panel being quite nice, as it is clearly laid out.
    When Behringer made the Deepmind, they however lost the front panel of the Juno-106 that inspired it. And they also lost the Analog Chorus, that was hugely important to that synth.
    But I do think Behringer was on to something with the Deepmind. The panel had typical modulation control on the front panel in addition to the Mod matrix. Unfortunately though, they still requires using menus.
    And having modulatable FX was also a good idea in my opinion. Though I don’t like that they didn’t put a simple Line in on the back, so that users could use the same FX on other instruments in the same mix.
    I don’t think the idea of adding more to a remake and turning it in to a new product is a bad idea, but in my opinion the Deepmind isn’t a great example of the idea. So if Behringer changed their mind, based on the reception of the Deepmind, I think they did not arrive at the right conclusion.
    The OB-XA remake, considering the components used, would have been a great foundation, for a new attempt at going well beyond the original.
    The problem with making remakes, is that a lot of the people that want the exact original will claim the remake doesn’t sound like the original, no matter if they are right, and they will influence other people as well. And in this case I don’t think they can make up for that in pricing. Even the keyboard-less version will not be near 299 dollars. So parts of the market for this product will be people looking for a polyphonic synth in general, and not a Oberheim specifically, and here I’m not convinced the OB-XA offered enough to really make it interesting. A straight clone in my opinion will feel underspeced when judged of its merits as a poly synth, and not a specific remake.
    Had they at least put the SEM filter in there as well, it could have been better at emulating classic Oberheim sounds, as it is, it will not be able to emulate them all. And it would have added the excitement of it being a dual filter synth, and there aren’t that dual filter polys around (although the SEM filter resonance is a bit weak in the original design).

    They will probably sell enough to make up for their aggressive pricing. Not sure they will cover all R&D as much will come from the engineers spare time. But I do think they could have made a product that would sell even better, based on those components, if they added a bit of extra. And did not forget about the front panel.

  8. patents expired = fair game to clone or use designs from original
    both from legal and ethics perspectives is fine

    roland, yamaha and korg are delivering digital pigmy caricatures
    of the originals for the same price that behringer brings to market
    fully realised analog so behringer is willing to step up to market
    demand with superior value for customers at this point.

  9. Has anyone noticed the extreme care by which Uli’s statement was formulated? The entire statement is downplaying time-line expectations initially created (and heavily criticized) by the teasers previously issued by Behringer. Then there’s the phrase: “Synths are my absolute passion and since we’re a privately owned company, we’re able to pursue these “labor of love” projects”. The argument of who owns the company was recently used in the opposite way regarding Moog (employee owned) to motivate why they would be better at putting their passion into the design of their instruments. Personally, I don’t see any direct relation between ownership of the company and passionate design. Such careful formulations always make me wary of being manipulated. Apparently someone at Behringer wants to influence my view on the brand really badly!

    1. You got that all wrong. He said they can loose money on such a project because they are a privately owned company, unlike a publicly listed company who have to generate a profit on everything they do. If they are willing to lose money on a project, I would think this is passion. I salute them for doing what they do.

  10. This is a 50% remake. The old digital parts have been thrown out. The new firmware and a new ARM cpu. This will allow for a much more powerful, fexible and more reliable version of the OB-Xa.

  11. >phew<
    Reading all of that was exhausting — I need another cuppa Joe.
    And no opinions have been changed, each of us shouting into our own echo chamber.
    Oh, Internet, you had such potential…

    1. Ya, it’s like people want to remind you about patent law in every Behringer post. Like they ever read a patent document, I know I haven’t because I’m not a patent lawyer that plays synths on the side. Big ups to them for making such an impact on the synth market but original ideas are preferred in most cases. No one is out there jumping at the opportunity to finally own a a Delorian. It’s just like comedy and Carlos Mencia, the joke thief always loses in the end… unless his shows cost 2.99 then you may just go for the he’ll of it.

  12. I’m fortunate to be living a life that includes the luxury of argument over synthesizer design. Talk about esoterica-o-rama! Oh, the drama! Oh, the passion! Oh, F off! 😀 Look, I like classic synths and I’ve even had a chance to ‘demo’ a few (great fun), but the real things are physically decaying as we speak. Its unrealistic to pine away for those. Buy a clone, go the softsynth route or get over it and buy something modern that covers most of the bases you like best. I can’t help but snicker when people complain because their magic wand is made of oak instead of teak.

  13. i would easily pay 1200€ for this machine, if it had that typical Oberheim filter sound to it. It dosen’t have to be awfully cheap. Pay the guys in UK and China a fair wage and all is ok. I don’t care if people hate clones, because there are no originals anymore you could buy for your hobby. Please make this work Mr. Behringer!

    1. Here’s where things are going to fall apart. The original OB-X used SEM-style filters, while later Obies used Curtis chips. Behringer has only copied one Curtis filter, so they’ll be forced to use it in this design.

      1. Behringer with their semiconductor brand coolaudio have also cloned the 3320 filter chip so they have everything they need to do the OBXa.

  14. I’m torn. On the one hand the copying is kind of gross but on the other it’s like, if the original manufacturers aren’t going to do it and there is a demand, oh well.

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