Behringer drops major hint about recreating a vintage analogue classic. Is it just market research, or is a battle with Korg on the cards?

Behringer ARP Odyssey

Following Uli Behringer’s announcement last month that his eponymous company was set to enter the analogue synth market, we’ve been speculating about what kind of synth (or synths) might be on the way from the budget hardware powerhouse.

A post on Behringer’s Facebook page has revealed the first hint of a specific concept, with a rendering of an ARP Odyssey clone accompanied by a straight-to-the-point message: “How would you feel if we build an authentic ARP Odyssey synthesizer, but with a unique 3-mode VCF circuitry (that replicates all MK I to III versions) plus full Midi/USB implementation? Price around US$ 500. Shoot…”

Whether this is simply preliminary market research or something more substantial is hard to tell, but some of Behringer’s responses hint that thought has gone into the concept as well as the front panel rendering.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 18.35.37

If it does eventually go into production, the Odyssey clone is also unlikely to be the only synth Behringer release; Uli Behringer specifically mentioned polyphonic synths in his original statement, and the Odyssey is, at best, paraphonic (the two oscillators share a single filter, like the Moog Sub 37).

What’s perhaps most interesting is that Korg are set to release their own faithful reissue of the Odyssey in 2015. While Korg’s own offering is likely to be a faithful recreation of the original (presumably with minor upgrades such as built-in MIDI), Behringer’s concept looks to include additional features such as MIDI, built-in effects and possibly patch memory along with the three-mode VCF option.

The release of such a similar product would be a clear statement of intent from Behringer, setting up a direct battle with Korg. The price of the Korg Odyssey is yet to be confirmed, but the mooted $500 price of the Behringer Odyssey would also make it very competitive, undercutting the RRPs of potential rivals like the MS-20 Mini ($600) and Arturia MiniBrute ($549).

It was already obvious that Behringer’s move into manufacturing analogue synths would shake up the market, but such a direct shot at a rival company is a surprisingly bold move even by Behringer’s standards. We can’t help thinking this is only the first sign of things to come.

24th December, 2014

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