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andrew caramia 12th August 2018 01:12 AM

Behringer Deepmind 12D
the behringer deepmind 12D has been in my studio for a couple of weeks now. while I usually keep my area a behringer free zone, I thought id give the deepmind a chance.
I have quite a few modern and vintage analog synths to compare it to. im not a great programmer, nor can I say im an amazing player. but, ive been fiddling around with synths for 30 years now, and I have a good ear.

first ill start with what I don't like...
1- the internal fan. very surprising for a modern synth, even if its analog. from what ive heard, its fine to turn it off in the menu. according to midas its there if you plan to use it in a live situation where theres a lot of heat present. I prefer to keep it on its lowest setting just in case. its audible, but not too annoying.
2- even after the latest firmware update and a couple of calibrations, many presets (about 80%) have an annoying 'crackle'... this isn't an isolated problem, many users have reported the same. HOWEVER lowering the VCA level fixes this. I find it very surprising behringer released the unit so quickly without thoroughly checking the many programmers presets to make sure this wasnt present in its release. behringer have stated a new firmware update should fix this and I hope it happens soon. its easy just to lower the VCA and press 'save', but c'mon man!
3- the noise floor (hiss) from the line outs are much higher than all my modern analog synths, even with balanced outs and correct cables direct into my RME UFX pres. some patches are worse than others, so i suspect it might be the FX section (I haven't switched the FX fully off to test this yet). but in fairness, it is less noisy than my JUNO 60 with the chorus turned off. considering its all surface mount its a real head scratcher- and its the only reason why it lost 1 star for sound quality (EDIT- I have bypassed the FX section and found it to be a considerable improvement when turned off. keep in mind the unit is still great with FX on and a big part of its sound).

now the good stuff!
1- the sound engine is fantastic! instead of sounding like my other modern polys where playing more than one note sounds like a bunch of monos plonked together, it has wonderful 'glue'. it does not sound like my vintage rolands, it has the familiar feel but its own identity- and yes, distinctly analog. like all analogs, modern or vintage, no plugin can touch it. it sits really well with the rest of my collection as nothing else sounds like it! blends into a mix perfectly.
2- the programmers did a wonderful job showing off what this beast can do with its 1000+ presets. I find it really excels at soundtrack, dark german electronica and retro. if EBM, tangerine dream, john carpenter and Vangelis (bladerunner) are your thing (like me) this is your dream machine! none of my other synths flaunt this area so effectively. it covers other genres just as easy, but I found it the the best area to explore (for me). the behringer deepmind kind of sounds like a waldorf if they actually grew some balls and released a fully analog 12 voice poly.
3- build quality is first rate, and I like the screen. its not OLED, but its does what its supposed to do and you can see exactly whats happening. solid metal, wooden cheeks, comes with rack ears and not one wobbly knob or slider.
4- free software editor is snappy and flawless, and very comprehensive without being too busy. firmware updates are pain free and easy on my win7 pc.
5- FX section is great, as you would expect from TC. very high quality, as good as any plugin and suitable for pro recording. and yes, easy to turn off/bypass if youd rather use it with your juicy lexicon PCM.

so there it is. slightly clunky in a charming vintage way, but makes up for it in character alone. this is a very nod worthy synth debut from behringer and im really looking forward to what they come up with in the future, especially when they start getting better at it. and the price doesnt hurt either!

Chromalord 11th September 2018 06:38 PM

To qualify myself, as hard as that is to do, I have owned ( or still own) these poly analogs: (3) Chromas, Oberheim Xpander, 6R, and 1,000. Jupiter-6,8. Juno- 6,106, 60. Memory Moog, (2) Modal 002s, Korg Z-1, Korg Prologue-16. SE- Omega-8 and CODE, Prophet-5. I have made 100% of my income from music for over 30 years.

I thought Id never buy a Behringer product, I deemed them to be the K-mart of gear, much like Alesis, Peavey, ART or Ross. Yes, Im a gear slut AND a gear snob, and damned proud of it. I also strongly believe, that in MOST cases, you get what you pay for yet that simultaneously that assumes the product was priced correctly to begin with. When Lexus first emerged, they were sued by other car companies, spear-headed by Mercedes-Benz, because they were accused of violating ethics codes when it came to under-pricing their cars based on materials and manufacturing guidelines/standards, to gain sales.

So, the fact that Behringer has released a product for $600 is THEIR choice and is of little consequence to me in one regard when reviewing, they could have charged $2,000 for and it would mostly get the same review.

Build: The unit seems story enough, nice wood end-nocks, sturdy feet, all of the controls feel firm, jacks are well seated, stencil is easy to read.The screen is large for a unit of this size, and the graphics, while a little low-rent, are easy to ready.
The DM12 in no way looks cheap.

Usage: The DM12 Is mostly very easy to navigate, there are a lot of sub-pages, cursor driven entry, and repeated depressions of the same button to call up other pages.
All of the standard stuff is here along with a nice modulation matrix, and very nice built-in FX from TC Electronics and Klark Teknik, I was editing and storing in no time. The voices seem steadily controlled, well-calibrated, little drift or phase-issues.

Application: There is also a computer APP, that allows storage and complete editing from the screen in easy to read graphics, that you DL from their site but there is little explanation I could find on how it sets up. I had to find a forum for an explanation as to how I could get DM12 and computer to talk to to each other. While at their site, I joined their forum (which is still pending) and thumbed thru the complaints of which there are many, mainly for their editing app. Mine has crashed every time I have used it, and I have the latest firmware updates.

Sound: To iterate, I mention it was THEIR CHOICE in presenting this unit at such a low cost. I bought it because of reduced risk to me as a consumer. I bought a fully loaded Muse Receptor Quatro only to see the company go belly-up within months of my purchase. I made the horrible mistake of buying the Modal analogs because Modal never revealed or admitted the units had flaws and quirks, their lead engineer left the company,the president had a heart-attack, and now they are trying to raise money on kickstarter. The Modals were $5K each, so this isn't about money, folks.
At any cost, I find the DM12 to be very thin and cheap sounding. Kind of like the DSI Prophet 12 but less edgy. A lot of the factory patches overdrive the signal path. (I saw that on the 1st-gen Supernova-II racks too). It was when I scaled things down and removed the audio enhancements was the true lame fidelity of the DM12 revealed. If you turn off the boost, the FX, and not layer all of the oscillators, you will hear the true nature of this instrument. Adding all of those things to "beef" up the sound only serves to muddy it up and it loses its snappiness. Furthermore, only a square-wave (and its duty cycle adjustment) is available on VCO #2 for reasons I cannot fathom.

All of that being said, did I waste $600? I don't know. If I keep it I see its usage limited and almost certainly layered with something else. I hope they get the app bugs worked out.