Tom Oberheim Sets The Record Straight On Behringer’s Copies, Saying “There Is No Collaboration Between Us”

Pioneering electronic instrument designer Tom Oberheim issued a diplomatic statement today, clarifying that he has no involvement with Behringer and the design of their best-selling UB-XA synthesizer:

“You may have seen the recent stories online where Behringer is claiming that they have my ‘consent’ to make UB-XA, and that I ‘know their plans.’ There is, of course, no collaboration between us and no discussions of their plans for synths or anything else.

They do have limited rights to use the name UB-XA, but not the Oberheim name. So they have permission under certain conditions to release a product using the UB-XA name, but that’s all.

I hope this doesn’t cause any confusion about the real Oberheim products like OB-X8 and TEO-5 and the others we plan to release!”

The Behringer UB-XA was guaranteed to be controversial when it was introduced, because of its unique position as a sort of ‘flagship knockoff’.

We noted at the time that “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.”

It seems clear that Behringer even originally hoped to market the OB-XA as an Oberheim, because they tried to trademark the ‘Behringer Oberheim’ name in the US. The USPTO rejected the registration, noting that it would falsely suggest a connection with Tom Oberheim.

Behringer has responded to the controversy, noting that they’re legally unable to mention Tom Oberheim’s name, and that ” it is unfortunate that this situation has escalated.”

If there’s a silver lining to the conflict between the mega-corporation and the 87-year old synth pioneer, it’s that synthesists have more and better choices than ever. The Behringer UB-XA is a flagship analog synth with a relatively affordable price, and the new Oberheim TEO-5 is a powerful polyphonic synth with modern sound design capabilities.

26 thoughts on “Tom Oberheim Sets The Record Straight On Behringer’s Copies, Saying “There Is No Collaboration Between Us”

  1. Tom Oberheim is a true legend and a class act.

    The fact that he’s 87 and just introduced one of the most interesting synths of his career is a miracle, and a blessing to synthesists everywhere.

  2. Oh, for Pete’s sake. On what planet is Behringer unable to mention Tom Oberheim by name? Outside of Hogwarts and the name Voldemort, I’m not aware of any European law that prevents a person or company from calling someone by their legal name.

    What is clear is that someone at Behringer claimed that Tom had given their synth his consent where no such thing had happened. This “escalation” is all on Behringer.

    1. Behringer didn’t miss a beat, they just switched to making unauthorized use of Oberheim’s likeness to suggest that he’s involved with their knockoffs instead.

  3. It means Behringer are allowed to mention Tom Oberheim’s name in advertising their crappy knockoff OB-Xa.

    It’s not complicated.

  4. Imagine being so devoid of integrity You make a man like Tom Oberheim have to issue a statement like that. There is a world where YoI could have made a product in tribute to him (see tip top, others) but You don’t have something like that in You that would require love for the industry and community. B and Uli You are the creep who won’t give up your seat on the train for an elderly person standing a foot away from You.

    1. Their claim on the Facebook post was that they “discussed the UB-Xa with Tom Oberheim and got his consent.”
      They deleted the post afterwards.

  5. The comments are just pot stirring. Behringer never claimed that Oberheim consulted on the actual product or that he gave the actual product his blessing. They claimed that they had notified Oberheim of their efforts and that Oberheim had not objected to their use of the name UB-XA. ALL TRUE.

    Nothing in this story outlines any misstatement made by Behringer, nor does it attempt to make that claim.

    1. They did exactly that.
      The exact claim on the Facebook post was that they “discussed the UB-Xa with Tom Oberheim and got his consent.” This is false, and I think everyone who follows their ways knows it’s just another act of advertising by creating controversy. As always, they deleted the post right away. This is another example of why many people choose to avoid their products and not support them. It’s not because they are making cheap products, it’s because they are disrespectful and degrading our beloved occupation.

  6. A TEO-5 module sounds like a juicy item to play from your fave controller. (Bleep) the rest. Uli will sell a relative ton of pieces because they’re inexpensive. If they hold up under use, good. If they crap out and lead someone to buy further upscale, also good. If I slapped everyone in the music business who is skeevy, I wouldn’t have time to play my whopping pile of softsynths. HA!

  7. Had the good fortune to meet Mr. Oberheim (and his charming and accomplished wife) at KnobCon a few years ago. A couple of class acts indeed, a quality that is so obvious in the products that Oberheim makes.

    1. Yes – a complete class act and legend.

      At the Knobcon dinner, he gave a speech and he choked up for a minute, because he was genuinely overwhelmed that, after all this time, hundreds of people would come to hear him give a speech.

  8. I will gladly pay the extra bucks for a TEO-5. It will still be working long after I’m gone, and way less likely to burn my house down than a Uli-Xa.


  9. “If there’s a silver lining to the conflict between the mega-corporation and the 87-year old synth pioneer, it’s” to clearly show why we should only give our money to ethical companies, and not reward the opposite..

    1. Cool story

      Tell that to any 17 year old living at home on minimum wage scraping together their first pennies for a synth

      While I agree behringer’s business practices are shady and weird, telling yourself you’re only buying ethical things is horse shit and virtually impossible unless you live in a cave

      I could probably walk around your house now and find mostly products from mostly corrupt and shady multinational corporations

      If you own a car, you are already complicit in a network far more shady than anything behringer could ever come up with. So come down off yer high horse there

      1. Two wrongs don’t make a right. By supporting ethical businesses and avoiding companies like Behringer, we can contribute to a better world. Instead of feeling discouraged by those who do wrong, we should focus on making positive changes, one step at a time.
        The price argument is also flawed. In today’s market, there are numerous budget-friendly electronic instruments from brands like Dreadbox, IK Multimedia, ASM, Arturia, Korg, Novation, Moog, Sequential, elektron, Waldorf, Roland, Yamaha, and many others. These brands offer affordable options that support the development of new technologies and features, rather than just recycling old ones. Additionally, in a world full of remarkable plugins, a hardware synth is not essential, as some plugins even outperform hardware in certain aspects.

        1. A real strat or les paul is usually better than a cheap clone, but clones can be great starter instruments. I’m excited that Oberheim is producing instruments in multiple price brackets. I also have no problem with B making an updated Xa clone with double the polyphony, MIDI, and polyphonic aftertouch.

          If B had been quicker on the draw, they might have been able to license the Sequential and Oberheim names from Yamaha and Gibson.

  10. I enjoy seeing people get so angry about something like this and knowing all their energy is ultimately a complete waste and will change nothing.

    1. Whether it’s anger or gloating, it doesn’t matter, you also playing their game without even realizing it. This type of advertising thrives on evoking emotions.
      It does make a difference, perhaps even more than complaints about not considering those who are color blind.

  11. When the bait is this obvious only the dumbest fish are going to bite, but there is a comment saying that this is a bigger issue than color blindness and that’s one dumb fish

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