The Behringer UB-Xa Synthesizer Is ‘Ready To Be Unleashed’, At $1,499

Behringer today shared an official intro video for the UB-Xa, its flagship knockoff of the classic Oberheim OB-Xa.

The Behringer UB-Xa is a 16-voice, bi-timbral analog polysynth, featuring a 61-note keyboard with velocity and polyphonic aftertouch.

The long-awaited uber-synth may make some heads explode, because of the fact that it’s designed and marketed as an inexpensive copy of the OB-Xa, but also priced and positioned as Behringer’s first flagship synthesizer.

Behringer’s First Flagship Synthesizer

The UB-Xa is priced and positioned to compete with professional analog synths from Korg, Dave Smith, Oberheim and others.

It’s a chonky boy, with a 61-note keyboard, a big, knobby front panel and 16-voices of retro-inspired analog polyphony. Other features typical of flagship synths include support for splits and layering, an arpeggiator, a step sequencer, three full-size MIDI connections and five pedal inputs.

And the audio demos show that the UB-Xa is capable of being a great-sounding synth.

The icing on the cake is polyphonic aftertouch, putting the UB-Xa into the company of the limited number of synths that have ever been made that support poly aftertouch.

It’s Also A $1,499 Knockoff

Unlike the other flagship synths on the market, though, the Behringer UB-Xa is also clearly a knockoff design:

  • The UB-Xa copies the Oberheim OB-Xa’s name, swapping one letter;
  • The UB-Xa copies the look of the OB-Xa, from the typefaces, to the logo, to the color scheme;
  • The UB-Xa copies the synth engine of the OB-Xa, even including recreations of the OB-Xa’s original patches; and
  • The UB-Xa is explicitly marketed as an inexpensive copy of the OB-Xa, described as an ‘amazing value’ for an ‘incomparable classic recreation’.

The UB-Xa also compete’s against Tom Oberheim’s own vision for modern Oberheim synths. His Oberheim OB-6 is an updated take on Oberheim’s SEM synth voice, with modern performance features and dual effects engines. And his OB-X8 is designed to be an evolution of his classic polysynths, building on the OB-X, OB-SX, OB-Xa, and OB-8.

Competing Goals Resulted In Some Unusual Design Choices

The competing goals of creating a flagship synth and creating a knockoff of a vintage design mean that there are some unusual design choices in the UB-Xa.

On the positive side, increasing the polyphony to 16 voices and adding a keyboard with polyphonic aftertouch gives the UB-Xa synthesis options and expressive capabilities that the original didn’t have. As a result, the Behringer UB-Xa looks like it will be one of the most capable analog polysynths ever created.

On the other hand, the UB-Xa does not have many of the features that you’d expect to find in a modern flagship synth.

The Korg Prologue 16, for example, is similarly priced, but has 50% more oscillators, a more flexible hybrid synth engine, analog distortion and compression, dual multi-effects engines and more. The Yamaha MODX6+ is priced the same as the UB-Xa, but offers 16 times as much polyphony, deep performance options, a powerful effects engine, a vocoder, the ability to process external inputs and more.

Behringer’s own Deepmind 12 costs about half as much, but offers a more flexible synth architecture, four effects engines, and modern features like tablet control and WiFi support.

Behringer’s design choices mean that the UB-Xa has the limitations of ‘flagship reissue’ synths like the Sequential Prophet 5 rev 4 and Oberheim’s own OB-X8x, but without the reputation.

Buyers of those instruments are willing to pay a lot for a keyboard with relatively limited synth engines, because the synths deliver classic analog sound, they were developed by the original designers, they’re made by companies with established reputations for making high end gear and they give people the chance to own a synth that they may have been dreaming about for decades.

Behringer can’t do some of these things, so they’re limited to competing as the budget take on the ‘flagship reissue’ idea.

What Do You Think Of The Behringer UB-Xa?

The Behringer UB-Xa looks like it will be another hit for Behringer, because it takes their successful business strategy into new market territory.

Behringer has described their business strategy as being a ‘Market Follower’, with this definition:

“The market follower effectively rides on the market leader’s coattails, while positioning its brand just far enough away from the market leader to be different.”

With the UB-Xa, Behringer is doing exactly that. They’re riding on the coattails of Tom Oberheim, copying his work to the extent that is legally possible. (The US Patent and Trademark office wouldn’t let Behringer register an Oberheim trademark in the US). This strategy will continue to rub a lot of people the wrong way.

But Behringer’s also making a nice-sounding synth. And they’re glomming on interesting features – especially the polyphonic aftertouch – that will make this ‘flagship knockoff’ interesting to a lot of buyers. So, with the UB-Xa, Behringer is being divisive as ever, but their fans will probably love it.

What do you think of the new Behringer UB-Xa? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

86 thoughts on “The Behringer UB-Xa Synthesizer Is ‘Ready To Be Unleashed’, At $1,499

  1. A lot depends on how good the voice really is (does more than just “Jump”) and whether or not springs start popping out of it after 6-12 months’ steady use. Surely a viable PAT mechanism has to be tougher than a dollar store Kasio. Stay tuned.

    1. Behringer does as good a job as anybody at copying old circuitry. So I don’t have any doubt that this will sound decent.

      Where they suck is cutting corners that don’t need to be cut. The build on their synths is on par with things like the Korg Volcas.

      Behringer’s synths are cheap, but I’d rather have one good synth than two that have built-in obsolescence.

      1. I have a Deepmind 6, a Poly-D, a Bodyssey, a MS-1, a TD-3 Modded, an RD-6, and Neutron in my studio; speaking from experience here, Behringer’s synth build is sturdy, and far from “volca quality”–like very far.

        1. My Behringer D arrived completely out of scaling, so it was literally impossible to play it in tune.

          This is unheard of for a new synth, but it’s a common problem with the Behringer D – they just don’t have any quality control.

          Fixing this issue requires completely unassembling your brand new synth and takes about a half an hour. This process is documented on Youtube.

          Behringer could have easily made the synth’s tuning controls accessible via the front panel, so this could be a 5 minute tweak. Moog does this, because they have experience making synthesizers.

          From there, the front panel was copied by simply scaling down the original, so it would look more like the Minimoog front panel, instead of intelligently resizing things, so the controls you tweak while playing are more prominent.

          When you open it up, anybody with much experience with synths can see more places where they cut corners. The pots are absolutely bottom of the line. As people have mentioned elsewhere, no washers, so all the jacks and controls wiggle around, making the synth feel cheap and ensuring that they’ll fail over time.

          I bought mine used for about $200, and I think it’s an OK value for that price, even with the stupid design choices. Anybody can see where they’ve cheaped out with their manufacturing, though, which makes me thing the fanboy raving comments have to either be astroturfing, or from people that just don’t have very much experience with analog synth hardware.

          If you think knockoffs are the pinnacle of synth value, though, great! Enjoy your synths and make interesting music!

          1. Hmmm? Let’s see? $300 vs $5,000. I wonder why one costs significantly less.
            I have a Behringer Model D and have had it for years and use it often and have had zero problems with it from day one right out of the box.
            If anyone thinks that the $300 Model D doesn’t sound like a Minimoog (with more features than the original), they are lying to themselves:

      2. It depends on the model.

        To say that the build of the B Odyssey and 2600 is “on par with Volcas” is simply untrue. They are extremely well-built machines.

        I bet that’s true of this synth too.

  2. $1500 for a Behringer synth is flushing a lot of money down the toilet.

    I’ve bought the D and a couple of their synth modules, and they’re like everything else Behringer, junk quality that ruins the deal.

    1. Have several synths and must call out the BS on this. Behringer build quality is on par with my Moog’s for example. I have had four Behringer synths over 3 years and they work perfectly. Solid cases and circuit quality. This brand snobbery is misleading and getting old. Are VST’s not copies of the original?

      1. Name one Behringer Euro module where they have installed panel washers and nuts to secure the sockets and knobs, which keeps solder joints from failing over time.

        I can wait.

        Just because you’re not knowledgeable enough to see where Behringer cuts corners doesn’t mean that they aren’t cutting corners.

        1. You mean like the fake panel washers and nuts on my Korg MS-20 mini?
          I have had my MS-20 mini for years, since shortly after Korg released them. I use it often and have had zero problems with it.
          I also have a Behringer Model D, Neutron, and Odyssey and have had them all for years. I use them often and have also had zero problems with any of them. I have a Behringer Wasp too that I like and use a lot and have had zero problems with it as well.

          1. $1500 is a too much to spend on a synth with shitty parts!

            I’ll drop a hundred bucks on some of Behringer’s Euro module knockoffs and be happy, even with the obvious cut corners.

            I wouldn’t be happy with a $1500 synth if they cut corners the same way, and they’ve given us no reason to think that they’ve done things differently. .

        2. screwing pots and jacks to the front panel is something modular synth designers do, primarily because it allows them to mount a PCB behind the front panel without standoffs. It’s not the way you design for mass-market manufacture, which typically involves a standoff mounted on the front panel to screw the PCB into place. You then specify high-quality metal shaft potentiometers. The only time I mount an encoder or pot to a front panel with washer or nut is when I want it to feel really high end and it’s the primary input device.

          1. The point of screwing pots and jacks to the front panel is not to avoid using standoffs. That would be an time-consuming and more costly solution.

            The point is so that when you use knobs, patch points and I/O, there’s something to actually keep the pressure of these movements from flexing the solder joints where the pots and jacks are attached to the PCB.

            Not fixing pots and jacks in place WILL result in the solder joints cracking over time, which will render your cheap knockoff useless.

            That may be acceptable in a cheap consumer electronics device, and is probably one of the reasons they don’t last. But this type of thing is unusual in the synth world, where people are used to instruments being designed to handle being gigged and still last for decades.

            A great example of this flaw in action is the huge number of failures of the USB power connector on the Beatstep Pro. It’s not fixed to the case, so the USB connector solder joints get destroyed over time.

            1. I’m a hardware engineer for a manufacturer. USB jacks are a pain. They’re rarely attached to the case, instead we make sure we specify jacks with through-hole pins from specific vendors. The surface mount versions make a mess when ripped off a board. Through-hole jack (with proper mechanical support from the case) are surprisingly reliable for USB Type-C. Type-B and micro jacks are a nightmare because they can be severely damaged by impact.

              As far as attaching pots to panels goes, it depends on money and how much room we have on the panel. Sometimes it’s not possible to hide a nut under a small knob. Sometimes we don’t have the budget. You would be surprised at how robust a high quality through-hole pot or encoder is, especially with a well-engineered metal shaft.

    2. Shame your experience was so bad. I was surprised by the excellent build quality of their 2600 clone and I’ve had no issues after around 3 years of consistent use.

    1. Your comment makes no sense.

      The Deepmind 12 is about $750 and is 12 voices. And the MODX is 16-voice multitimbral, which – by your logic – is like getting a 16-voice synths for $80.

      Behringer realizes that people are dumb enough to pay more for a cheap synth if it’s painted to look like an expensive synth.

  3. ….friggin’ finally¿i mean how long was this one hyped, preemptively by these copiously conspicuous clone clowns! what a travesty; more like a sick joke folks¡

  4. Why doesn’t the demo show any playing that takes advantage of velocity or aftertouch?

    Isn’t that the biggest selling point for this?

    1. It does, the 2nd to last demo and the one the video ends on is filled with velocity sensitive filter cutoff routing and aftertouch.

  5. It would probably have more life if a digital display was used instead of an LCD. Sure sounds good though. Curious if they’ll do a desktop.

  6. that’s a very good analysis; this is 1500 eurodollars synth; for this price I can get a summit or a rev2 used; or a take 5. The summit is not analog but has many more functionalities; the two others don’t have bitimbrality/16 voices but they also are actual modern synth with a deep mod matrix. It would have been a better idea to make an actual modern take inspired by the obhereim; that means getting rid of weird og choices like the one lfo with two depths system and opt for two full LFOs at least; one more envelope; full matrix; and basic fm capability. But no what they want is for people to feel “like they have a real oberheim but they don’t”. So really besides ethics concern it’s not even very appealing.

  7. Hard to please all of these ^^^^ people eh Behringer?

    Glad to see it’s released now, even if it’s not possible for me own one still

  8. Glad to see this released finally, even if it’s not possible to own
    Smashing job to everyone involved in remaking this for the current and future generations to get their grip and enjoy

    Hard to please all of these people eh Behringer?
    All good though, keep making waves

    Half of this magical gear wasn’t available not so long ago so major quarters to the arcade machine to you

  9. Synthtopia calling this a ‘knock off’ suggests its shit when clearly it’s the opposite! Derogratory shaming is just aweful and this site is terrible for it!

    1. How is stating the facts ‘Derogratory shaming’? And where do you think Synthtopia says anything is ‘shit’?

      Did you miss where they say this is a great sounding synth, a ‘flagship synth’, one of the few synths ever with polyphonic aftertouch, etc?

      It’s funny how Behringer fanboys get so hung up on Synthtopia stating the fact that this is a knockoff that they lose the ability to think rationally.

      1. Super expensive Fender, Les Paul, Martin guitars, Gretsch, Ludwig drum kits and more have been copied and sold (at budget prices) to cash strapped beginners, for decades. VST vintage synth alternatives also. A generation of players have learned how to play on these cheaper alternatives but they didn’t get ‘hung up’ about it and many end up graduating to the real thing they are fan boys of. Only a argumentative snob would complain about this process.

        1. Sad that you have to resort to name-calling, stonepoem!

          You mention that “Super expensive Fender, Les Paul, Martin guitars, Gretsch, Ludwig drum kits and more have been copied and sold (at budget prices) to cash strapped beginners, for decades.”

          That’s called making knockoffs! It’s what Behringer does. It’s what the UB-Xa is.

          It’s strange to me that you recognize this fact, but you get hung up on anyone stating that fact.

          1. I always marvel at how people think it is so easy to make a knockoff. This instrument obviously took an enormous amount of engineering to make. Then to figure out how to manufacture it less expensively and with more features is pretty amazing. A previous poster mentioned low quality potentiometers. Seems an easy fix to get good ones and solder them in yourself or if all they are missing is the retention nut, that shouldn’t be hard to fix. All my Behringer kit seems built like a tank.

            1. Sounds like you’re making a straw man argument. Where did anybody say making knockoffs was easy, Bloater?

              Making knockoffs is obviously easier than making something original, though.

              Behringer synths are cheap in part because they’re a huge company and make instruments in huge volumes. That’s a good thing.

              And Behringer synths are cheap in part because they cut corners that reputable synth makers won’t cut – like using bottom-of-the-barrel pots, not panel-mounting components, and skipping quality control. That sucks, and would keep me from buying any of Behringers more expensive synths.

    2. I don’t think a fair faith read of the intent of this post could suggest that this synth is “shit”, the post is fair and explains where there are similarities to the original and where it differs, and Behringer’s own philosophy towards. Can you explain the parts that lead you to say it’s “shit”?

  10. I wonder how much the original manufacturer would build this for in 2023 or if a boutique manufacturer decided to clone the original how much would it cost?
    Would it be affordable?
    In my opinion looks like Behringer priced it about right.
    Great job although I want a desktop version 😀

  11. It’s a shame none of these polyphonic clones are fully multitimbral with seperate outs, that would be the bees’ knees, but c’est la vie.

  12. The UB-Xa copies the Oberheim OB-Xa’s name, swapping one letter;

    So automatically excludes it as a knockoff as there’s clearly no intention to deceive a potential purchaser they are buying an existing product.

    The UB-Xa copies the look of the OB-Xa, from the typefaces, to the logo, to the color scheme;

    Of course it does, it’s a clone of the original they originally announced years ago, the one out of copyright where any company is free to copy and sell, or develop the old design to create something new, adding improved functionality and or features, just like on the ubxa, which therefore automatically excludes it as a knockoff.

    The UB-Xa copies the synth engine of the OB-Xa, even including recreations of the OB-Xa’s original patches; and
    The UB-Xa is explicitly marketed as an inexpensive copy of the OB-Xa, described as an ‘amazing value’ for an ‘incomparable classic recreation’.

    Good, and it does look and sound they may have done quite the job on it. It should fly out the doors when in stock. I’m hoping all their hard work in the long development phase leads to the speedy release of the other known ‘framework’ polys and they get me a memorymoog.

      1. Knockoff is used when ‘clone’ or ‘inspired by’ doesn’t carry enough vitriol for the poster. Now Behringer has brought some of this on themselves by various missteps or bad behavior, but it’s still an obvious dig.

        Tom Oberheim (much respect) has no rights to the thing he designed 40 years ago. That ship sailed long past. Just like Leo Fender isn’t able to squash Strat or Tele clones, etc. Their design language has entered into the public domain.

        1. “Knockoff is used when ‘clone’ or ‘inspired by’ doesn’t carry enough vitriol for the poster.”

          No – it’s just what normal people call a product that’s a cheap copy of something.

          Why does this vex you so?

  13. i have many synths and i buy only the ones that I LIKE (the sound, the functionality, etc)
    i have moogs, korgs, rolands, dave smiths, novations, many small companies boutique synths… and guess what? i have behringers too… because some of them does sound really good. and i don’t give a sh!t about the brands name at all… and i don’t give a sh!t if it’s original or a clone… i just want to have good sounding synths with functionalities that i like to make the music that i want to make. that’s all i care about. but sure, y’all just take your time fud’ing each other;) much love, cheers;p)

    1. So you’re literally like all of us? In real life, most people don’t care about a brand’s reputation. These flame wars are just an internet phenomenon.

  14. i would like to personally thank synthhead for promoting Behringer synths on the site, as a owner of a smaller music instrument shop we see a huge interest in the brand, as a matter fact they sell like hot cakes. If only more sites would support the same endorsement as Synthtopia id strongly believe we could reach more people with these wonderful synths.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Sonic, but we don’t ‘promote’ or ‘shame’ Behringer, as some suggest – we just cover news that is of interest to synthesists.

      Why don’t share the name of the smaller music instrument shop you own? People would be interested, since Behringer publicly promotes the idea that their instruments are only available through its ‘super partners’.

      1. Yes where is this Super Partner shop? Uli would certainly love to see your mom and pop music store succeed in a world where ruthless cooperations reign supreme.

      2. I was not aware that advertising my shop in the comments was allowed ? Especially a shop that isnt in english or deliver outside its own country. if thats the case? ill gladly link it in future posts.

  15. People can have their own opinions and assumptions about Behringer, but I think it’s a good sounding synth, with modern improvements, at a fraction of the price of the original. It seems like a lot of time, money, and love went into it’s production. Not my synth style, but I can still appreciate the effort and it’s results.

    Plus, it’s still cheaper than a table from Teenage Engineering 🙂

    1. Or you can get an OB-X8 module for around $3k and also get a re-released OB-8 and OB-X (that’s also built to last). Trade-offs.

      There’s not a lot of reason now to buy an ancient OB-X, OB-8, or OB-Xa as soon as the OB-X8 was released.

    2. Behringer has successfully hypnotized you, TIm, if you’re comparing the price of an instrument that’s valuable because it’s rare to the price of a knockoff.

      “Abandon hope all ye who enter here!”

    3. At least it can BE repaired, though. Those things will last lifetimes if they are handled with care. That can’t be said for almost literally any new synth at all given tiny, tiny components and proprietary code.

  16. My thirst for an Oberheim – real or clone – has been stilled ever since Gforce released the OB-X plugin. It sounds amazingly good, and with the new Soundforce custom controller, it feels like using hardware. The Behringer looks and sounds great too, but for now I’m all Oberheimed out.

  17. OB-6 is my favorite synth. Six voices is usually enough, 16 voices or 2×8 voices is nuts!

    Great to see a filter expression jack.

    Is the filter multi-mode? Is there Bandpass.

    MPE sounds great, but will watch for the full midi implementation and for a desktop module.

    1. > digital oscillators

      No thanks. Control panel is too busy and it doesn’t “sound” analog. There’s no substitute for the real thing.

  18. Even if Behringer does the best job they can, if this instrument is worth much more of the 1500 Dollars, the voices about “trash” and “dont buy” will never stop.
    You will read about owners that don’t like it, and you will not read about owners who like it, cause the likers never write.

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