Behringer Solina String Ensemble Sneak Preview

Behringer shared this update/sneak preview of their upcoming Solina String Ensemble – a Eurorack format synth module based on the Eminent/ARP Solina string synth of the mid-70s.

The original Eminent/ARP Solina is a fully-polyphonic/paraphonic keyboard. It uses divide-down oscillators for full polyphony, but pairs them with a single envelope & filter. A BBD (Bucket Brigade Device) chorus delay effect gives the Solina its characteristic lush sound.

The Behringer version follows the pattern of several of their earlier synth knockoffs, closely copying the design of an original synth, but shrinking it down to a Eurorack-compatible module, adding a few patch points and minimal MIDI control. With the Solina, they’ve also incorporated a clone of the EHX Small Stone phaser, a classic pairing with string synths in the 70s.

Details on pricing and availability are to come.

via Andreas Markusen

90 thoughts on “Behringer Solina String Ensemble Sneak Preview

  1. Wish Behringer would offer ‘deluxe’ options for its synths, with improved build quality.

    This sounds fine, but the panel looks like garbage and those controls look like something from a kid’s toy.

    Charge $100 more, hire an actual industrial designer to create a well-designed panel, use decent knobs & switches and call it the ‘Solina Pro’. A lot of people would be willing to pay a little more to get an instrument that doesn’t feel cheap, and it would go a long way to address their ‘knockoff king’ image.

    1. Charge $100 more, hire an actual industrial designer < I dont agree, I think he did a good job and I would consider this Stringer!

    2. Behringer is about building as cheap as possible not as good as possible. You’re betting on the wrong company. This has Behringer from day 1 and that will never change.

      Personally I rather get a Waldorf Streichfett which is way more fun and even cheaper than Mehringer.

      1. I’ve got a Streichfett, it sounds like… well like a cheap digital emulation. It’s OK, but it lacks what’s most important, a pleasing sound. And the knobs on the Streichfett make Behringer look downright fancy by comparison. You know what else had knobs that felt like cheap toys? Most classic string synths. Plastic quality is better than ever. You don’t like the knobs and sliders? Buy new ones.

    3. I continue to be irritated by synthtopia’s disparaging “knockoff” terminology. Something that clones the original hardware circuits and signal paths should be called a “clone” rather than a “knockoff.”

      1. you will not see this on gearnews or synthanatomy that are partnered with thomann or owned by thomann,
        I liked it at first but since behringer are all about controversy it’s possible it is in favor of behringer and not against (even if not intended)

    4. I agree with replaceablehead11. I have two original Solinas, as well as a host of other string synths from that era. The originals are super cheesy looking, VERY poor, industrial design (I studied Industrial Design in school, and still dabble from time to time) and “looked like garbage” as BEO said. And this Behringer clone looks and feels exactly like a rack-mount version, which honestly I wish my originals could be; they are VERY heavy – almost 80 lbs – cumbersome, and clad in a horrible, soft particle board. That said, I ALSO agree with BEO: I’d pay more for something more substantial – but then, Berhinger wouldn’t be Berhinger. Instead, I’ll just by two of these and layer them up in stereo. 🙂

      1. Yes, or maybe Synthtopia could stop showing their obvious bias, and just use neutral reporting (as they claim to do). You don’t really think this is just about ‘knockoffs’, now do you?

        1. Sounds like somebody is triggered. Nowhere did they call this synth a knockoff. What do you think is biased in this article?

          It’s a stone cold fact that many of their other products are knockoffs (Swing, Behringer D).

          With the Solina, it’s not so clear cut, since they must have bought the rights to use the Solina name. Like they registered a trademark for ‘Oberheim’.

          1. > they must have bought the rights to use the Solina name

            No, the trademark expired decades ago, no one owned it, and it was free to take for anyone who wanted to pay the filing fee. Exact same thing happened when Korg re-trademarked ARP with the original logo and everything. Now we’ll have a response that someone says Bat you are mad this Friend fellow surely licensed it to them! No, Friend owned nothing at all and he wasn’t even a principal. Korg pays him as a consultant but mostly to have some connection and that is fine.

            Korg retrademarking ARP is fine. B-word retrademarking Solina is fine. Both actions totally legit. No one owned either trademark when they filed, and they were using the old trademarks in trade, so everything is nice and legal. Also… not a single circuit in any of these machines is still under patent, plus they are crediting in their way the original and no longer extant companies that made them. So there’s nothing wrong with any of this from a legal perspective.

            1. Not sure where anybody said that Behringer’s knockoffs/clones/copies/whatever aren’t legal.

              The whole point of knockoffs is that they are legal ripoffs, right?

              When you see a company making arbitrary changes in their copies – like swapping the button colors around on an 808 copy, or putting four stripes on an Adidas copy – the only reason for the changes is to make the copy a knockoff, so they can’t get sued for making counterfeit products.

              Most people’s beef with Behringer is not that they’re doing something illegal, but just that so much of what they do is sleazy. Things like the Swing knockoff, registering the Oberheim trademark to trick people when Tom Oberheim is still alive, using lawsuits to silence criticism and that sort of thing.

              I got no problem with what they’re doing here – but I won’t support them because of the other sleazy stuff they do.

          2. No, just sounds like I’m better at reading between the lines than you are. I’ve made my point in the Blue/Grey meanie thread, you can look there if you’re interested.

        2. This isn’t a newspaper. It’s a private gear blog. Synthtopia’s authors should always be free to express their honest opinions, otherwise what’s the point? It’s critically important to realize that having a negative opinion of something isn’t a bad thing if it’s justified; one shouldn’t be required to write neutral stories about serial killers or crime bosses simply because it’s somehow “fair.” Behringer’s business practices rub a lot of people the wrong way and it’s quite okay to state that publicly. If we find ourselves living in a world where we’re afraid of writing the truth, something’s wrong.

          1. Biased reporting has nothing to do with truth. That Behringer’s business practices rub a lot of people the wrong way says nothing about where the truth lies. Those ‘lot of people’ might just be whiners that can’t handle the fact the good ol’ synthworld is not what it used to be since Behringer shook it up.

            You might want to have another look at that serial killer comparison. It says a lot about you.

            1. You haven’t pointed out anything ‘biased’ about this post, but you’re posting comment after comment complaining about how biased it is.

              And, if you really thought the site was so biased, why would you keep returning?

              Because your behavior is irrational, your comments come across as astroturfing or something a triggered fanboy would say.

            2. There is no “serial killer comparison.” I simply pointed out that covering *everything* from a neutral position is irrational with an extreme example.

              Behringer’s business model has emphasized affordable knock-offs of popular products for decades. They’ve made devices that echo the design of Mackie mixers, Roland guitar effects, popular headphones and microphones and now they are using the same approach with synthesizers by reverse engineering popular chips made by SSM and Curtis and using them to build small, inexpensive tributes to famous designs. This is not a slur or derogatory observation, it is simple fact.

              1. I liked it at first but now that i’m thinking about it, it may be the other way around.
                maybe behringer like to be called “knockoff” so people will talk about this and get emotional. sounds like a behringer act to me.
                there will always be some in favor or against, and behringer just benefit from all of this discussion.

      2. I don’t see any reason to disparage a synth that clones the original circuits by calling it a “knockoff” rather than a “clone.”

      1. clap clap clap Rabid Bat, hah! The trolls are here.

        I do agree that it would be nice to include a deluxe version with some extra modern features (innovation!), and honestly that would expand their market I think. I for example do not want to buy cheap build clones, since I’m fortunate to have many great high quality built boards. But also, i would like their solina or VP ensemble, since there aren’t any great analog versions of those out by anybody IMO. Id be happy to spend a few more for a freshened instrument with a better build.

        1. There used to be this absolutely brilliant designer named Jan Ostman who posted for free in his blog near functional and soundwise clones of instruments such as the Eminent Solina and others, using modern educational microcomputer platforms like the Arduino. He even posted here. One day he posted his plans for a Solina clone. I built it and it was wonderful. Jan is a genius. People here, a certain poster in particular, badgered and harassed and insulted the guy and called him names. That dude stalked and harassed him. Jan then shut down his blog and deleted all his designs. Jan is a typical example of what happens if someone freely shares using open source. You’re gonna get a bunch of psychos after you and they won’t stop until you’re dead or in hiding. Jan, wherever you are, I miss your blog. It was great.

          1. Rabid Bat

            I think you don’t have all the facts on Jan Ostman. He’s clearly a smart guy, but he’s either really bad at the business of making and shipping things, or he’s deceiving people.

            A lot of people ordered stuff from him that they never received, and then they got the run around.

            He also launched a Kickstarter, raised $7,000 and never delivered:

            https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/732508269/the-tiny-ts-an-open-sourced-diy-touch-synthesizer/comments

            I’d only buy something from this guy if it was through a legitimate retailer.

            1. A lot of people was one person posting under numerous aliases. In fact it was you! Who probably never bought anything from him.

              Kickstarter I’ve sponsored projects so many times. The fine print guarantees nothing. And that’s what I got all of the time except once when my reward arrived… about four years after the promised delivery date. Which was fine. Better than the ones where I got nothing.

              With Jan’s stuff the parts are parts. There’s no reason to buy kits from him. The projects are simple using off the shelf parts. The PCBs if you must have them you can simply order from any of a number of DIY one-off online PCB suppliers.

              With the Solina, I didn’t have to even buy a single part. It was all just random stuff I had laying around in buckets.

              1. Because you where cheated more than once on Kickstarter makes it better from this guy? In the comments it looks like many did not get what they paid for.
                And in case of Solina you are comparing a digital version with an analog clone….

                1. Where was I cheated on Kickstarter, WOK? Can you show me? I signed a legally binding contract saying I understood that I was donating to a project and expect nothing at all in return. There was a non-legally-binding claim that should they complete their doomed project, they hope to send me a “reward”. But it was very clear the reward was not guaranteed and I was not paying for one.

                  That’s how Kickstarter and Indiegogo work.

                  As far as Jan goes he never cheated me and 100% of the people claiming he did are anonymous posters like WOK all saying the same thing with no verification.

                  At least with Kickstarter we can find real people who post they never received their reward. That’s useful so we can mock them for not reading the contract.

                  Like I said, Open Source is shit and you’d have to be out of your mind to contribute to such a project because everyone that hosts one of these projects is crapped on by entitled whiners who are also compulsive liars.

                2. > in case of Solina you are comparing a digital version with an analog clone

                  The Solina is almost 100% digital. There’s a 2MHz clock that is divided down to square wave chromatic frequencies, then digital dividers pull out the octaves. Where is the analog? Where exactly? Solina is digital circuits. FACT. It’s almost crazy people don’t get this and are arguing otherwise. It’s actually a cool product being digital.

                  1. no one cares if a synthesizer incorporates digital technology (midi anyone??). they care if at some point the signal path is converted to bits and sample rates. i’m going to go out on a limb and guess that wasn’t possible on consumer electronics in 1974.

                    if i am wrong, please enlighten me to the bit rate and sample rate of this product from 1974?? 8 bit 11khz?? tell me!

                    1. Wow crall U R dumb. Wait now, synthhead doesn’t like personal attacks and will delete this. They shouldn’t though and that’s a mistake because this is a smart and accurate post just stating facts. crall you don’t know what digital means and you don’t comprehend and haven’t bothered to look at the design of this instrument.

                      Ever hear of the Yamaha DX7? Do you consider it digital or analog?

                      Digital synthesis doesn’t, contrary to your wrong view, mean a CPU is running a virtual plugin.

                      What do you think about the Sequential Prophet VS? Was it digital, analog or hybrid? And if you correctly answer that the oscillator was digital, was that oscillator a general purpose CPU generating samples, or was it discrete digital components generating a digitally sampled waveform directly through digital circuitry without a general purpose CPU generating the samples? Hint: look at the schematics to find out.

                      Likewise the Solina. It uses digital circuitry to generate its oscillator output. The output is directly derived from a 2MHz quartz crystal oscillator through the use of a cascade of digital dividers.

                    1. your pictures is wrong. converters don’t output stepped sines,
                      the diffrence is mainly in distortion and non linearty.

      1. I will be very surprise if they don’t. I also think they will be mainly wright against behringer to bring up the heat. they know there will be always somebody that defend them.

  2. This would make a lot more sense as a 1U rack module. It would be much nicer to control the settings from your keyboard with MIDI control, too.

    1. Yeah Synthtopia, leave the Term ‘Knockoff’ out of your postings….it’s getting old….reminding me of the whole ‘Voter Fraud’ label being over used again and again. One gets numb to it.

  3. Not a Behringer fan, but a big Tangerine Dream fan, so this looks interesting to me.

    This seems to do a pretty good job of copying the sound of the original.

    He had the volume on the Behringer version a little louder, which makes it hard to make a good comparison. But it seems like Behringer copy has a slightly brighter sound. I’ll be interested to hear what others think.

    Definitely close enough for my Krautrock space jam purposes!

    1. I have the Waldorf Streichfett! Unbelievable 70’s and early 80’s String Machine emulator….

      The Behringer Solina sounds very nice ….without the stress of old components dying n the cost of maintenance! High Baby High!!!

      1. True.

        I’ve got a Crumar Orchestrator. IMHO it has a better collection of sounds than the Solina, but mine is, unfortunately, completely knackered. The strings still sound great, but the other sounds are missing in action and all the sliders are a little sketchy. Would love to get it fixed up someday.

  4. What is interesting here is that Uli has built an empire by the rinse and repeat method, and despite his infatuation with industrial design and “high end” design, from architecture to audiophile equipment, he reverts to his instinctual base. I recall reading an article that Uli is always reading a book of some kind, and they generally tend to revolve around “good” design. Clearly the material retention is poor.

    I realise it is difficult to deliver please aesthetics in this price range, yet it needn’t appear as though you built it from spare parts either.

    Good taste is not as subjective as people believe, yet when every creation from this individual is an iteration of someone else’s work, Uli’s ethos is not to improve on proven design, rather rebuild it, with slightly better manufacturing methods, with far inferior materials. Well done.

    1. “with far inferior materials”

      Are the components truly inferior to the originals? Although they’re harder to repair, modern surface-mount circuit boards may be more reliable than classical through-hole boards. The Behringer synths probably have better thermal properties than the originals as well.

      1. Better thermal properties, better engineering methods, and better components to that of the originals may be true with some of their offerings, yet this is not true across the board of the wide range of products. For instance the digital mixers that Behringer produces are well designed and meant to last the rigours of their intended use, however most of the synths that these copies are based upon are still operating nearly 30 to 40 years after their initial release. The majority of which have been repaired extensively over the years, yet I would argue that despite the “improvements”, Behringer’s products will not fare as well. And they are not designed to, there is a disposable factor to much of what Behringer builds.

        Uli is establishing market share with these prices and experience for his engineering team.

  5. So what is full polyphony on a module with no keyboard? Will it play 88 if I have the right midi controller?

    Not really a huge fan of big B, but they are getting into some quirky oddities that are going to be hard to say no to. Who else is making analog string machines besides Behringer?

    1. I read that it would have the same polyphony as the original, which was 49 keys/notes.

      That means that the range will be limited to 49 notes, but you could conceivably play them all at the same time. I haven’t seen them say anywhere what will happen if you play outside that range.

  6. I like the old analog stringers from back in the day. Big Ultravox fan here.

    That being said, the Solina is my least favorite of the old analog stringers from back in the day.

    Behringer, please keep more analog stringers coming.

  7. “Solina” is a preset on a buffet of things now. Its alright if the hardware itself thrills you, but I can build that sound easily in any workstation or 3/4 of most synths. Cherry Audio’s new Polymode is a treasure chest of string synths and more. Make sure you use a *triple* BBD on your Solina patches, because that’s where the classic Jarre effect lives.

  8. this is a good remake of a classic keyboard. but this is for fans only, of course. back in the day, i owned a quite similar logan hohner string orchestra. it was incredibly boring. and yes, you can get this sound easily from plugins. but is this the point? no, it’s not.

  9. I have to say that while I feel conflicted about some of Behringer’s remakes, I did for a while own a Model D and a Neutron, and I can confirm that the build quality felt quite solid on both units. I’m not addressing the moral perspective of what they’re doing; just the feel of the gear that I owned for a time.

    1. I have to concur that the build quality is not at issue. They have managed to make well built synths and equipment over the years, thus why they are able to offer a 3 year warranty on their products. The moral and design issues are another matter entirely.

      1. I have a neutron and about 7 other comparable monos. it’s not the build quality so much as the design and how that affects the user experience. nothing is laid out in a logical way and the sections are barely demarcated. it’s this nebulous blob of knobs that no one really put any thought into. it instantly makes me appreciate how well laid out almost all my other synths are.

        yeah, this is ugly, but it’s just a few buttons, so i don’t see how it could be a ux nightmare.

      2. Not true at all. There are just way better laws in Europe about warranty. Not the entire world is like America where people are being scammed by companies that only offer one year warranty.

        Behringer’s build quality isn’t great. It’s all cheap build to keep cost low. If a unit breaks and sent back they don’t repair, they simply sent a new one. Why? Because it’s cheap junk! I don’t get why people are saying Behringer is quality build. Something at minimum cost CAN’T be build with high standards.

        1. Most people in the USA don’t need our government holding our hand in every basic transaction. I’ll take a freer society in exchange for people who don’t research stuff well being duped.

        2. > If a unit breaks and sent back they don’t repair, they simply sent a new one

          Sent back to a center in Europe from the US at your own great expense, after a complicated and infuriating repair validation process.

    1. Not sure about that. For musos the sound is essential, not who made the instrument. Collectors on the other hand have different preferences. Many of them just collect, making instruments unavailable to people who wants to put them to use. I do not think Behringers stuff affects market prices on vintage gear one bit. Behringer sold more Model-D’s in a year than the total production of minimoogs. Still – you have to pay an arm and a leg for the old original.

  10. The Arp Omni-2 was a better machine than the Solina (with a Solina built in). So – even if I do not care much about who is making what. I’m not opting for this one.

    1. It’s hard to find significant differencies between expensive and cheap PCB’s today due to the fact that they are mostly built by robots. What really separates cheap and expensive is the number of PCB*s, hardware for keyboards, controllers etc, size, weight – and – of course – the number of units produced. The latter is directly connected to price due to developing cost.

  11. IMO ‘knockoffs’ can be called knockoffs, whether it’s Behringer or any other brand. Most of us have owned knockoff products of one sort or another.

  12. When you don’t even know the difference between public and privately owned platforms or the actual definition of free speech then you should have your internet privileges revoked for making your family sound stupid.

  13. I don’t understand (all) of the behringer hate. Many companies make synths that are extremely derivative of/similar to “classic” synths, and don’t bring attention to the originals at all. With behringer you KNOW what their synths are copies of, and it brings attention to the originals. The only exception is the swing…that wasn’t cool, but, also wasn’t illegal. I don’t think many people will proudly display their swing for live use, if they purchase one.

    1. Maybe these are all guys who bought one of the originals for xxxx$, found out that anway their playing doesn’t sound like Keith Emerson or Jean Miche Jarre (but “Hey look – I own a Minimoog!”), and now they even have to realize they could have had it for 1/10 of the price they paid 🙂

      1. I bought a Jupiter 8 for $4000 and sold it some years later for $12000. Even if they clone the JP8 the original will still be huge money. So nobody who owns an original vintage synth has any regrets when a cheap clone comes out. None.

  14. The Solina sometimes reminds me of disco, which can make you want to start cutting yourself. I think it was Frankie Knuckles who said “House is disco’s revenge.”

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