In your search for cheaper alternatives to popular music making gear you’ve most likely stumbled upon the name Behringer.
Behringer is a German based audio equipment company that has been producing controversial audio gear since 1989. Uli Behringer is the Swiss native that founded the company on the premise of replicating popular and legendary music equipment at an affordable price. Over the years, Behringer has gotten a bad wrap from other gear companies for copying patents from popular synths to guitar pedals and for designing their products to look eerily similar to the originals.
One of the many talked about clones by Behringer is their Rhythm Designer RD-8 which is a rendition of the classic Roland TR-808. Late last year, Behringer announced the release of the RD-8 and it is a spiting image of the 1980 TR-808.
Design wise, the RD-8 and the TR-808 are almost indistinguishable. The layout of percussion tracks follow the same formate, dynamic controls are relatively similar, and the iconic white, yellow, orange, and red cue buttons are still present. The Behringer RD-8 is not only a clone to the TR-808 but it can be seen as a second generation version to the original. The RD-8 fixes some issues that old school users experienced and enhances controls of percussion tracks. RD-8 users, for example, can now tune their kick drum to the right key instead of being forced to use a kick stuck in the key of G that was involuntarily standard on the TR-808. A wave designer and analog filter are also features that have been added by Behringer.
Sound wise, it’s a toss up. Arguably, no two TR-808s from the 1980s sounded exactly the same so it is difficult to say what the exact sound of TR-808 is. The TR-808 however, did introduce a distinguishable drum kit to the music making scene and can even be credited for helping create the genre of hip-hop.
Check out this video from BAMTV to determine for yourself:
You may be asking yourself, how does Behringer get away with making clones? Isn’t there some sort of copyright law against that? Well, the answer is simple. Manufacturers like Roland and Moog have let the patents to some of their legendary products expire making Behringers recreation of circuits and designs perfectly legal. Though it’s legal, manufacturers and passionate gear heads worry that Behringers practices might not be ‘right’. Many have called Behringers release of clones a slap in the face to respected gear manufactures and that it undermines their importance and legacy.
Is recreating the classics an ethical practice? Behringer doesn’t seem to worry about whether it’s right or wrong to make clones because despite the backlash and lawsuits, they keep hitting the market with affordable clones that always get the internet and music production scene buzzing.
Watch this video from JHS Pedals that compares Behringer guitar pedals to the originals:
Wether or not Behringer clones are better or worse than the originals will always be up for debate. Sound is subjective and buyers preferences are individual making one product not necessarily better than another. However, affordability is typically king when it comes to any sort of music gear purchase and Behringer currently has that in the bag. The TR-808 will cost you up to $6,000 on Reverb but you can pick up the RD-8 for $398 on Sweetwater. An original Minimoog will set you back $7,000 on eBay but a Behringer Model D clone costs $298 on MusiciansFriend.
Earlier this week in an Instagram post, Behringer teased the release of a TR-909 that’ll be officially announced at 2020 NAMM. It is expected to cause a stir. And today, they announced the release of a System 100 clone.
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