Arturia today shared their response to the Behringer Swing, a minikey MIDI controller that appears to be closely based on the design of the Arturia Keystep MIDI controller.
Many musicians have criticized Behringer’s latest introduction, calling the Swing a ‘blatant knockoff’ of the Keystep and noting “Unless you are blind, it’s impossible not to see it’s the same thing!”
But some have suggested that the Swing might be the result of a collaboration between the two companies, or that Behringer might have licensed the Keystep design.
Neither of these are true.
The Behringer Swing Is Not A Collaboration With Arturia
Arturia co-founder and CEO Frédéric Brun shared an official response via Facebook:
“We have been informed on Sunday November the 22nd of the upcoming release of a new product called Swing, by Behringer.
This product is in no way the result of a partnership between Arturia and Behringer.
We have worked hard to create the _Step range. We have invested time and money to imagine, specify, develop, test and market the KeyStep. Along our distributors we have been evangelizing this product, placing it in stores, explaining it, servicing it.
Of course we accept competition, and would absolutely understand that Behinger give their own interpretation of a small and smart controller that would also be a sequencer. Others do, we have no problem with that and see good for the customer, as well as for the industry, in fair competition.
But this is not fair competition here.
Coco Chanel once said: “If you want to be original, be ready to be copied”. So we could in a way consider the Swing as a compliment.
In any case, thank you, everyone who came out and supported us these past 36 hours! It’s been very helpful, very much appreciated.”
The Behringer Swing Is Not A Licensed Version Of The Keystep Design
Some tried to explain the Behringer Swing’s design by suggesting that the company had licensed the Keystep design from Designbox, which is one of the leading musical instrument industrial design companies.
Designbox has created hardware designs for dozens of electronic instruments, including the Waldorf Wave, the Waldorf Blofeld, the Alesis Andromeda, the Virus Polar, the Moog Little Phatty, the Voyager XL, the Schmidt Analog Synthesizer, the Arturia Minibrute and the Keystep.
Designbox co-founder Axel Hartmann shot down the theory that they had licensed a design to Behringer. He shared this statement via Facebook:
“I do feel the need to comment on the many postings I can find here @ Facebook in several places regarding my thoughts, feelings, but also the truth about the blunt Behringer copy of the Arturia key step.
Arturia and myself, aka my company design box are designing instruments, synthesizers, controllers, interfaces since many years. As industrial designer, I contribute mostly my services on the asthetical side of a product. This is true for almost all hardware products that you know from Arturia.
In all cases, Arturia is buying my services – I never licensed any of the designs. Arturia always pays, and naturally owns the output of my work, that – by the way – is always the result of an in-depth cooperation with their internal team of specialists.
Arturia and myself are working together since many years, and we share the deep desire of designing innovative products. I could never share any of the designs, that came out of that cooperation with any body else, legally not, and not from my personal high attitude in that regards. So anything, pointing in that direction is simply fake information. Neither the company Behringer, nor Uli himself have ever approached me with a request like that. And I would also never ever do something like that – I can not license anything that is not in my possession.
Personally, I feel sad, and am also upset about that sheer copy of a design, that I once created for, and together with Arturia, the team around Frederic Brun. These people have spent lots of efforts and great energy in building a brand and all that belongs to a brands assets. It is simply not right, somebody else is taking advantage of that hard work (which is not only true for Arturia, but for all great brands, that must see their most successful products being copied)
I do not understand (Uli) Behringer – with his huge company and the power of many great R&D teams – some of the best and most respected and innovative companies we know in our business, that Uli was able to simply buy in the past with his money. A product like that copy simply cannot represent the core values of the people, he could convince to be part of his company.
It is simply sad, and I cannot understand that move (like many, it seems).”
Copying A Competitor’s Product And Not Trying To Improve On It ‘Is Just Absurd’
Glen Darcey, VP Product Development at Ashun Sound Machines & former VP of Product Management at Arturia, shared his thoughts on the Swing via the comments.
He suggests that Behringer’s copying represents a lost opportunity to be innovative and make improvements:
“When I did the first designs of the Keystep back in Dec 2014, I made about 10 variations over about 3 months. I started off with many different directions and we whittled it into what the Keystep became.
It takes so little effort to do something original, even if it is derivative, that it makes no sense to me why they would take this approach to making products.
To take a product that has been on the market for 5 years and not do anything new, learning from customer complaints or looking at alternate use cases, is just absurd.”