Will the upcoming Behringer UB-Xa be the first truly great knockoff synth?
That’s the question raised by this video demo by Bernd Brüning, aka The Synth King.
Previous demos of the UB-Xa left many unimpressed, with some readers saying it sounded ‘boring‘ and other saying it sounds ‘bland and uninspired‘. But Brüning has been part of the beta tester team for the Behringer UB-Xa, and has had time to understand the capabilities of the synth and create his own custom presets.
Brüning notes that “The sounds were recorded without any effects, dynamic processing or whatsoever straight into the audio interface. For the performances in split mode, I’ve added a slight touch of reverb.”
The results speak for themselves. His video demonstrates an instrument that sounds lush, biting, expressive and capable.
Behringer has pioneered the category of knockoff synths – inexpensive, unofficial copies of popular instruments – and they have gotten very good at it.
With most of their instruments, though, the key selling point is that its a cheap copy of a collectable vintage synth. It’s often obvious where design changes and compromises have been made to make the copies cheaper to manufacturer, whether it’s shrinking the instrument, using tiny controls, chopping an octave of the keybed or forcing the design into a stock form-factor. These changes help make Behringer’s copies really affordable.
The Synth King’s demo suggest that the Behringer UB-Xa is something different.
It’s still obviously a knockoff, copying the Oberheim OB-Xa’s name, architecture, styling and sound.
But, unlike many of Behringer’s synths, the UB-Xa doesn’t have obvious design changes and compromises to make it cheap to manufacture. With an expected price tag of $1,500, many won’t consider it inexpensive. It’s a big instrument, with a full-size keyboard. And it has features that promise to move the UB-Xa design significantly forward, including polyphonic aftertouch and 16-voice polyphony.
Most importantly, based on this demo, the Behringer UB-Xa sounds good and like a capable, powerful instrument.
Does the UB-Xa take Behringer’s knockoffs to the next level? Check out the video demo and share your thoughts in the comments!