Behringer Hires Korg Synth Guru To Lead Move Into Original ‘Flagship’ Designs

From left to right: Luigi Scarano, Hiroaki Nishijima & Uli Behringer.

Behringer today announced that it has hired former Korg synth guru Hiroaki Nishijima to help lead a push into original ‘flagship’ electronic music gear.

Nishijima, one of the developers of the classic Korg MS-20 synthesizer, will head a new ‘high-tech innovation center’ in Behringer’s Tokyo headquarters.

Behringer says that its vision is to build a large research and development center and hire Japanese engineers to focus on flagship synthesizers, samplers and other products.

“I am extremely proud to have Nishijima San on our team,” company founder Uli Behringer said in a statement. “This man is a legendary synth icon with decades of experience.”

“These days, it’s difficult for current Japanese companies to create the types of synths that I used to develop,” Nishijima added. “This is why I joined Behringer.”

66 thoughts on “Behringer Hires Korg Synth Guru To Lead Move Into Original ‘Flagship’ Designs

  1. Excellent idea. I like very much the ms-20 line of synthesizers, the philosophy and approach behind it.
    This is a winning team of innovative spirits for the R&D and production of new synth products. Well done!
    I’m just waiting the release of the ds-80. With an engineer of Yamaha in the Behringer-team this job must realy succeed :-))

    1. “These days, it’s difficult for current Japanese companies to create the types of synths that I used to develop,” Nishijima added. “This is why I joined Behringer.” – and that’s why I buy Behringer. Now they make what what I like. It’s as simple as that. Yes, and I have 7 Moog synths, and 14 moogerfoogers.

  2. Yes, the Behringer copies of classic instruments are cheap. Do we really need another industry decimated by cheap Chinese manufacturing, though?

    1. @zaphod – If they never applied cost and efficiency improvements to cars, we’d be paying $200K for an Accord. Same goes for electronics. It’s called progress, and shame on R&Y for not taking full advantage of manufacturing improvements for the consumer, so they end up losing market share. Good, I say.

      1. Yeah, it’s a real shame that some companies try to protect the people, economy and countries from which they emerge. How could they be so backward?!!

      2. What are you talking about? Today you can buy 16 voice analog synthesizers from DSI AND Korg for around 1500 dollars. If no progress had been made those synths would have cost 20000 dollars today! And be less advanced.
        Behringer are cheap because they have the backing of the chinese state and they innovate very little they mostly copy/steal others hard work!.

        1. Behringer lovers seem to think Uli Behringer is some sort of savior, when all the company has done so far is take advantage of poverty-wage laborers in a repressive regime to make cheap knockoffs.

          There is a hidden cost to capitalists using China for cheap labor , and we’re seeing it in the anti-democratic repression happening right now in Hong Kong. It’s crazy, but this sort of shit is holding a billion+ people back.

          There’s nothing noble or clever about it, it’s just the ugly side of capitalism.

              1. He’s just pointing out the potential for double standards here. For all the Chinese-made computers, phones and audio equipment that you own, do you also post on other manufacturer’s sites about Chinese politics and capitalism? Or just Behringer?

          1. every company uses the cheap labor, don’t fool yourself- the components for every synth comes from china and most of the analog osc’s come from behringer factories.

            1. No, Moog has explicitly stated they use a majority of components sourced from within the US.

              Get that garbage and spew it elsewhere.

              1. Facts: Electronics components do not come from the US. Moog is able to be who they are through licensing and automation. The ugly side of capitalism is the person that points a finger at one company but ignores the largest manufacturers, all other goods and services down to the concrete on the road, not realizing they are hating the player and not the game. More facts: Instrument manufacturers contribute to electronic waste much less than the every day electronics you use.
                The entire point is to use cheaper components that last longer by using better design principles. This isn’t the worst of capitalism. It’s just capitalism. By the way, you are welcome to go tour the factories anytime. They are actually one of the better employers in the region so you could probably guess most of the employees would look at you like a moron for those statements… Mr Sad

                  1. If only rationality would have rubbed off…. I mean, look at this political diatribe down here. I think the personal attack on me was more on topic and constructive. This guy talking colonialism on a story about Hiroaki Nishijima getting a job at Behringer. It got derailed by this crazy foray into thinly veiled prejudice. People are happy when that Chinese concrete gets laid on the road and the get to drive their Korean car full of Chinese parts to a place where they will likely buy either A) a Chinese product or B) a product completely comprised of Chinese parts delivered by ships manufactured in either Korea or China fueled by fuel from China to be driven by a truck manufactured in Denton, TX comprised of 100% Chinese materials driven on a road that is either A) Laid with Chinese concrete, B) Flatly owned by China, or C) Both. You realize how many highways China owns in the US???? China is the hive and the queen bee. You dont have to welcome our insect overlords, but you should probably be aware of them. I, for one, welcome them. They just people. We are just citizens. Folks here are being like the Best Buy cashier complaining about a change in GMs despite the fact it will not change one thing about their experience nor anyone around them. Sorry, stuff just isnt made in the US much and when it is there will be Chinese parts all over. If you want to change it, you are welcome to start your own 1.4 billion population country with a GDP purchasing power of 27 Trillion. On the DL, they straight up own this place.

                    1. Admin: Personal attack deleted (name calling, racism, hate speech).

                      Keep comments on topic and constructive.

              2. So only a minority comes from cheap chinese labour then? And do you consider the moog theremin (which it all started btw…) a clone or a copy of the original sound/design by Léon Theremin? 😉

          2. You clearly do not have substantial living experience in Hong Kong, let alone China. First, Hong Kong being a colony under the ruling of UK before 1997 never had any democracy; second, common people there had freedom to do whatever they want until the ongoing street riots and social destruction done by traitors who are anti-China and take orders from the West, especially US. What is happening in Hong Kong is literally a ‘color revolution’ orchestrated by the western powers, led by the US.

            1. The citizens of Hong Kong should be free to rule themselves. If they had democratic rule, there would be no need for “anti-China traitors.”

              1. There are thousands who entire job is to find any comment about Hong Kong or ethnic cleansing in China, and spout party propaganda. They have special search engines.

            2. “traitors who are anti-China and take orders from the West” — why is CCP propaganda allowed in this forum? The protesters are against the so called “communist” party, and are fighting for a better life, not just against political repression. Dictators are despised by everyone who believes in political representation by citizens — which is most Western countries. Take your propaganda elsewhere. No one loves the communist chinese party, outside of the thugs persecuting their own people in mainland China, and the fools paid to spout propaganda.

  3. If Behringer is actually devoting energy to flagship designs rather than just clones, that’s positive news. The DeepMind line and the Neutron make it clear that there is some creativity going on there. Splicing that Germanic take on things with Hiroaki’s Japanese sensibilities is likely to equal some great left-field instruments. People will still trash even the hint of an announcement, but we may all be surprised.

  4. If Behringer wants to do more than knockoffs, wouldn’t it make more sense to hire some people who’ve been doing innovative synth design in this century, rather than doubling down on cloning the 70s?

      1. Except from the interview:
        TORSTEN SCHMIDT (interviewer discussing Nishijima-san’s discovery of schematics for the MS-20 that he worked on on the internet)

        Nishijima-san, where did you find your schematics and where did you learn out about what other people did? Were there other people’s work where you thought, “Oh, that was beautifully done, I want to do something like that”?

        HIROAKI NISHIJIMA
        When I first saw other schematics on the Internet, the old MXR schematic looked very elegant. Not the current MXR, but the old one. And also, the schematic of [Sequential Circuits] Prophet-5 seemed extremely elegant to me. So when I see those beautiful schematics, I can feel the creators’ emotions and their desire to make good instruments. I think that such an excellent instrument will stand the test of time and go down in history.

        You would think a guy like that wouldn’t work at Behringer if he believed all the bull about ‘cloning’ people expose on this blog. This guy is a real engineer.

        1. Actually, if he had a good idea of what Behringer has done over the years, I am certain he would have turned down this offer. He does not come off as someone poring over tech-geek and labor-relations sites. Read carefully what he says in that interview about how he treats people, how he feels about his work, and about he respects the work of other designers – it’s all antithetical to how this company has operated over time.

          Really, nothing they could do short of donating to the poor and ripped off of the world all the money these people have made trading on the work and good name of other companies and designers – while treating their own people like automatons who live to clone in the most shameless way in the business (there is out-of-patent appropriation and there is outright stealing and copyright abuse – in my view, this company traffics in the latter, and always has, and has generally done bad work) for the greater glory of the chief. The prime defense is always that the crap is modestly priced. It could be free and it would still be better avoided, for many reasons.

          It’s a sad thing that Nishijima has made this move. He deserves better. He also deserves better reading than what you have given him – in my open-minded judgment.

          1. I’m skeptical, because if Behringer had any interest in being a legitimate player in the synth world, they could have asked Tom Oberheim to help them design updated Oberheim synths, instead of making knock-offs. Same thing with Dave Smith & other living designers they’ve ripped off.

            It’s cheaper for them to copy somebody else’s successful designs than to risk doing something original that could be mediocre.

            They learned this the hard way with the failure of the Deepmind synth, which is selling for half it’s original price after two years. Their only attempt at real innovation was the misguided 3D patch interface. Did that even get released?

        2. The difference is that Korg engineers were inspired by Moog to create something original, and it resulted in a classic synth.

          The Behringer engineers are tasked with just copying vintage gear. So, yeah, you can make 40 year old designs cheaper with surface mount technology, but the future classics will be synths like the Quantum, the Summit or the Prologue.

  5. First clone all the good’ol analogs. Then use that knowledge and RnD to release next gen electronic instruments with a price that everybody likes. Thanks Uli.

  6. Even more excited for the Behinger MS-20. I could not get down with the Modern Korg MS-20 mni and ms-20m they did not sound as good as the vintage one I sold.

    MonoPoly and Polysix clones please. Monopoly clone in tabletop & polysix in Rack format.

  7. A Behringer investindo desta maneira será maravilhoso , mas lembrem , fabriquem sintetizadores com ritimos , styles , e sampler , e sequencer , aí sim .

  8. First Behringer should buy the whole Ensoniq stuff for Samplers and rebuild an ASR-10 just as it was with fantastic keys and original FX! There was already an emulator working but then the project stopped. One of the very few instruments that don’t need a graphical display and have an incredible intuitive workflow.

  9. I bet its nice to be able to afford the luxury of idealism… And of course all the delightful consequences therein… Hey, did you know that money makes the world go round? And around… And around… And around… Etc…

  10. Some here seem to be really deep into marxism. Capitalism has it’s many faults but, if marxism would be applied worldwide, instead of a multi timbral synth you’d play a hand made flute inherited from your grandfather.
    During communism, a Western synth was as expensive as a car.

    1. Not sure why you’re going on about Marxism. Behringer has a massive Chinese factory staffed by very cheap workers. Companies in the west cannot compete with them. It’s the same story we’ve seen with transistor radios, TV sets, computers and mobile phones. The clone companies rush in to make profits and obliterate companies worldwide.

      Behringer’s modus operandi has been to copy famous designs by other companies at extremely low prices because that way they have a “guaranteed” hit without needing to start the design from scratch or market it. They’ve done that with guitar pedals, mixers and now synthesizers. There’s nothing noble about it — it’s the same ruthless business model used by ZTE, Huawei and Foxconn.

    2. There were synths produced in the USSR that were as cheap as western synths. They had a lot more character too, I’d take a Polivoks over a Pro One any day.

  11. Garbage news.

    Behringer will ruin the industry and monopolize it due to having an entire city of cheap foreign labor dedicated to copying others’ designs and manufacturing components in house, compared to Moog who outright said they source over half their components from within the US.

    Welcome to capitalism, soon all that will exist is the Behringer overlord.

    Sucky sucky, five dolla.

  12. The market decides almost everything, like it or not. If some teen or early-20s person craves a real Moog but can only come up with a middling laptop, a few softsynths (often incl. a bit of freeware) and a DeepMind 6 their family bought them as a group gift, I’d bet good money that they won’t spend much time crying over slave labor or the exchange rate. They’ll be playing. I seek to buy and support carefully, but music is a major part of how I withstand all of the Crap™. I just try to find a decent line between compromise and *being* compromised. The day I come into possession of a magic wand, I’ll be glad to fix all of the ills in the world, but let’s be real: I’m gonna wave it over myself FIRST.:D

  13. FWIW, I actually started my journey into Eurorack with a Behringer Model D. Since then I’ve purchased 8 modules from Instruo, 3 from Intellijel and modules from companies such as Division 6, Hexinverter, WMD, Livewire, Eowave, Make Noise, Roland and Manhattan Analog. On top of this I have purchased 3 TipTop Audio Happy Ending kits. My point being that if there are more cost effective entry level options available, IMHO I believe that will simply bring more people into Eurorack modular. At this point I’m actually considering selling off the Behringer Model D because I actually have gotten pretty close to putting a fully working Eurorack system together. While I’m not considering purchasing any other synths from Behringer at this time, Modules from Instruo, Intellijel, Make Noise, Synthesis Technology Division 6, and Livestock Electronics are in my wishlist. The Behringer Model D simply opened the door for me.

  14. I hate people who hate me for not hating Behringer as much as they do. I only have so much time to allot to hate. I need the rest for music and laundry. Marc’s story is the more common and SANE one here: you start with whatever you first acquire, good or bad and you build on it. No one owns just one synth. If you buy one, you’ll have several within a year. They breed like rabbits, jeez…. I bought a Minilogue in June and the damned thing had 3 Volcas by August.

    1. Agreed. This tiresome prosecution of the economics of Behringer detracts both from the site, it’s contents, and the comments of people with real stories to tell.

      I have a TON of synths. 20% are Moog by vendor – but I love what Behringer is doing so many cool synths to play! I just bought a Minilogue too! Mine has 7 oscillators now 🙂 need to give the SDK a real close look soon. Minilogue is the most innovative synth in ages with open oscillator and effects hooks. This blog sould be about excitement not pseudo-political nonsense.

  15. nah. i love my kronos, fantom g and motif xf. behringer won´t come up with a workstation, that´s for sure imo. so therefore; not interested.

  16. I’m not a fan of the Korg sound, couldn’t they have hired one of the old Roland analog engineers? As far as Behringer and cheap synths the problem is you can’t have cheap goods and high pay for workers. The only way to have cheap goods is to pay as little for labor as possible. If we all want to agree to pay an extra 30% for our synths then I’m sure they could be made in the west instead of china.

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