Behringer Deepmind 12D by andrew caramia
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!