Some good points here. Curious about thoughts of my peers?

I read an interesting article from GearNews just a few minutes ago that I wanted to link here, as I think the author makes some good points on both sides of the fence for premium vs. affordably compromised vs. dirt cheap and cloned, and posits some good considerations for the reader to wonder about.

I wanted to share the link to it and get the thoughts of my peers here in the forum. Questions and considerations about value, competition, intellectual property, and reverse engineering, along with the ethics of cloning for a bargain against possible price inflation based on demand from wealthy users regarding manufacturers such as Sequential, Moog, Korg, Roland, and Behringer are examined in an article entitled “What is Your Synth Worth?”

I can certainly see both sides, and I’m honestly not sure where I fall in the spectrum. I don’t ever want to be a part of undercutting some poor small company who falls victim to intellectual property theft, but I also can’t afford to pay for a $5k synth from a giant instrument manufacturer with worldwide brand recognition and distribution, or pay the same or more for the original hardware from the 1970’s on

As such, I will probably be buying the clone of the Mono/Poly when it finally gets to the release date. Let me know what you guys think of this debate and where you stand if you end up reading the article, as I am curious about everyone else’s opinions. Hope you are all having a great weekend! :smiley:


Interesting article. Personally, I don’t feel that Behringer is doing anything unethical in reproducing older designs. While it’s reasonable to expect to profit from your work, intellectual property doesn’t last forever. Do you feel guilty about buying a TV from any company other than RCA? How about a phone from anyone other than Western Electric? We have a patent, copyright and trademark system to provide protection for intellectual property, but patents and copyrights are time limited so that useful knowledge eventually enters the public domain. I’m happy that Behringer makes analog synths that I can afford. If you have the money you can still buy the original if you choose. I doubt that anyone seriously considering a Moog will buy a Behringer instead so I doubt that they are impacting Moog’s sales. On the other hand I’m strongly against stealing other people work whether it’s music, writing or any other form of intellectual property.
I know that my Model D allows me to experience the sound of a classic analog synth at a price that makes it possible for me to own one, which has never been the case for a Moog product. The Neutron is based on a well known chip but is a new design by Behringer. Both products are well made and very good value for money.

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This is exactly why I posted this! Those are some very good points. I don’t have the Model D, but I do have a Neutron, and man oh man, that thing sounds sooooo good! I know a lot of purists hate on Behringer for being sacrilegious or whatever you wanna call it, compared to the real deal, but I had never considered that big name brands may very well be marking up the prices well beyond making a reasonable profit, which is likely based on simple name recognition, and knowing that people will pay for the purity of having that name brand.

I guess if money was not a concern for me, I would get the brand name Moog, Sequential, ARP, etc. but since money is a concern, I may end up buying one or two name brand awesome hardware items like that, but for the rest of my hardware, like the Mono/Poly clone I will be buying, I agree and I am sure glad that Behringer is making the synth equivalent of President’s Choice, Happy Belly, Market Pantry, etc. (whatever label the store’s off brand foods go by when you’re grocery shopping that’s not the brand, but it comes pretty close) :blush:

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I never would have bought a Mini-Moog. Just too expensive for the limited flexibility. The Model D not only provides a similar sound experience but provides some semi-modular flexibility not found in the original. I didn’t need another keyboard and didn’t have the room but I’m happy to be able to reproduce that classic 70s synth sound.

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"What does value mean for synthesizer fans in 2020? Are premium synth brands justified in charging customers top prices?"

I personally think this conversation is misguided in the sense that there’s a bit of conflation between the notions of value and price. With things like premium synthesizers, the only factor dictating the justifiable price of a particular unit is the price which makes both the seller and the buyer happy. So, yes, premium synth brands are well justified in charging customers top prices, just as much as premium car brands are justified in charging top prices. Buying a sizeable Buchla modular today can set you back 40000$. You see that the question here is not whether this is value for money (it clearly isn’t). Chances are that if you’re in the market for one of these, the price is of secondary concern and that you’re not looking specifically for value. It, of course, does not play 20 times “better” than a 2000$ synth. The value of the instrument solely depends on the considerations of the users and the extent to which it allows them to achieve what they might be after. The price is only dictated by the amount of money such users are willing to pay to get that specific experience.

Now, manufacturers can and should make lower cost synthesizers because there is a great demand for them. I don’t think there is much of a legal or ethical problem with some of them copying old designs that are out of production and for which the original patents are expired. But there’s no question that if a large company like Behringer starts putting out blatant clones of 200e modules (while Buchla USA is still in business and owns the IP for Don Buchla’s designs) then there’s cause for concern.

As Curtis Roads puts it, a computer and a loudspeaker is the most general synthesis apparatus in existence. You always get the most “synth per dollar” with the purchase of a modern computer. But making music on a computer is not the idea most musicians, rich or not, have of their ideal instruments and so that is why you must have products on the market that span from the Behringer Neutron to the Moog System 55.

edit: syntax


I think you absolutely right. In a free market, a fair price is one that a seller is willing to accept and a buyer is willing to pay. The cost of production and any potential profit are irrelevant. If another seller is able and willing to produce a similar product and sell it at a lower cost then the original producer can lower their price or accept some loss of sales. As you point out “value” doesn’t really enter into the equation. If the buyer thinks a product is too expensive then they can always look for an alternative. It’s entirely a matter of available funds and personal choice.

This of course assumes a reasonably free market and appropriate protection for intellectual property, both of which are generally the case where synthesizers are concerned IMO. We now have a wide variety of instruments to choose from at all price points. In many ways the synth industry has never been more robust. Eurorack, semi-modular, analog and digital designs offer a huge variety of choices to fit anyone’s budget.

When I first looked at Moog synthesizers in the 60s and 70s, they were pretty much all that was available, and way out of most people’s price range. Now there are many instruments most can afford. I don’t really mind that Moog, Buchla and the other high end producers charge relatively high prices for their products. They are fine instruments, and there are certainly people willing to buy them.

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