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Cloning HW Synths vs cloning other hardware
Old 29th November 2019
  #1
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markodarko's Avatar
 

Cloning HW Synths vs cloning other hardware

There are always a number of polarising threads and comments about a certain company going around and cloning vintage equipment, but it got me thinking...

Why is it people are so vehemently against The Big B cloning these things at all when it has been going on for years in other places. Les Paul / Fender guitars and basses are the obvious ones to look at. There are literally hundreds of “knockoffs” of those guitars but no one seems to bat an eyelid or care about them.

What’s also weird is that all these vintage synths have already been cloned TO DEATH (and continue to be cloned) in software. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone complain that The Legend, or Monark or Diva or any number of other Model D VSTs should be shunned because of their similarities to the original. In fact, quite the opposite. They’re praised because of the similarities. Yet, that’s exactly what happens with Behr... I mean... a certain German company.

Why is that, d’ya think? Seriously. I’m not trolling here. I think it’s fascinating. The disconnect is weird.

I mean, how many 303 clones have we had in hardware already? 4? More? I don’t remember anyone dissing those makers yet as soon as Behringer (doh!) release one it’s as though they stabbed Roland through the eye. With the blunt end of a wet fish.

Now, here’s the thing. I’m part of this prejudice too. I can’t help but have a bad taste in my mouth about all the recent synth releases and so I’ve been reflecting on why I think that I feel like that.

In all honesty I think a lot of my prejudice is because of all the negativity written on GS about Behringer. I think it slowly drip, drips into my psyche to where I then start to feel negative about releases. But, I’ve never cared if Yamaha copied a telecaster - and Fender still make teles!

So right now I’m going to take a step back from all this hatred and introspect a bit as to what I really feel because it doesn’t really make sense to me.

I’m rambling now. I’ll shut up. There’s a question in there... somewhere.
Old 30th November 2019
  #2
< moderator message - I'm allowing this thread, since cloning old synth designs is a hot topic. But it must not turn into an A vs. B fight. So please keep it polite and informative? Thank you. >
Old 30th November 2019
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reptil View Post
< moderator message - I'm allowing this thread, since cloning old synth designs is a hot topic. But it must not turn into an A vs. B fight. So please keep it polite and informative? Thank you. >
Sorry but from my pov there are differences in the scale, legality, (anti)competitive practices and contribution back to community (e.g. open sourcing) between vendors.. personally I don't see how that *can't* devolve to A vs B (personally I hate A's guts!!), if by that you mean "do not bring vendors into the equation"

I've said my piece, I don't want to be banned so ima gonna spectate..
Old 30th November 2019
  #4
I'd have to lean toward agreeing with marko's general premise. If I felt otherwise, I'd be a hypocrite since I own several of B's products, starting with the humble RX1602 line-mixer I bought 12 years ago for $99. For example, Studio Electronics emulates of ton of signature synths, but no one throws stones at them.

Perhaps it's because it's a couple of guys in a small Southern California office, instead of a billionaire synth-entreprenuer with a worldwide manufacturing network selling synths at market-crushing MAPs. And, Boomstars don't sell for $299. But if B can sell synths for only $299 and still make a profit, well, laissez-faire and all that, and . . . c'est la vie! Of course, in this case, the consumer wins. But at what costs?
Old 30th November 2019
  #5
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the_soulcatcher's Avatar
my 2 cents:

Old 30th November 2019
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studio460 View Post
Perhaps it's because it's a couple of guys in a small Southern California office, instead of a billionaire synth-entreprenuer with a worldwide manufacturing network.
1. Exactly this, also they don't behave in a way that will ever threaten others.
2. SE stuff is rarely exact clones, especially aesthetically. Often there's further innovation, new features there just coz they're cool. Despite being "clones" they definitely have their own vibe.
Old 30th November 2019
  #7
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stixstudios's Avatar
Well, I pose "Why can't it be A+B"? It doesn't have to be one or the other. Surely both can co-exist?
Old 30th November 2019
  #8
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markodarko's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studio460 View Post
But if B can sell synths for only $299 and still make a profit, well, laissez-faire and all that, and . . . c'est la vie!
Oh! That’s an interesting point. Do you think it’s related to purchase price, then?

Hmm. Could be. Although, again, Fender / Gibson “clones” are also usually (but not always) a fraction of the cost of the real thing too.
Old 30th November 2019
  #9
< the key word is "fight" (please don't) you can compare synths in this thread, as long as it's informative and respecting other users' choices. no IP/copyright/lawsuit discussion allowed either (but you should know that by now) thanks >
Old 30th November 2019
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by stixstudios View Post
Well, I pose "Why can't it be A+B"? It doesn't have to be one or the other. Surely both can co-exist?
Well, that's the rub. B's pricing model could put cool companies like Studio Electronics out of business overnight. In this case, we all "lose."

Quote:
Originally Posted by markodarko View Post
Oh! That’s an interesting point. Do you think it’s related to purchase price, then?
Absolutely. That's a key factor in this argument. This situation is unique in the marketplace because we're not talking about Amazon putting brick-and-mortar bookstores out of business. We're talking about similar competing products, some priced substantially lower, and those products flooding the market and potentially pushing out other less viable manufacturers, and eventually pricing them out of the business.
Old 30th November 2019
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stixstudios View Post
Well, I pose "Why can't it be A+B"? It doesn't have to be one or the other. Surely both can co-exist?
Some dude (Bob?) spends time designing A at low scale. People like A. Bob wants to make some money for his effort.

A billionaire dude (Uri Geller?) sees it's successful and manufactures A for themselves at 40% cost because their mission is to bring synths to everyone. Their business model explicitly prices out A, they need to sell at higher volume, lower margin. By cloning A they are looking to compete on price, not features.

People crave cost savings?

GS community now criticise Bob who is too expensive and not innovative enough. (Even if Uri Geller would have no springboard without Bob).

It's not this black and white. Sometimes A+B is possible. Equally, sometimes not, and Uri Geller could clearly be more cognisant of what synths he chooses to make in order not to poop on others' cornflakes. I actually think he likes to do that. I thought he had psychic intuition??
Old 30th November 2019
  #12
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markodarko's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lost_the_peace View Post
they don't behave in a way that will ever threaten others.
But this is the weird part. Companies that make clones / knockoffs / close approximations of guitars by Fender or Gibson are doing so to guitars that are still in production, so I can see the argument there. But to create something based on something that’s no longer in production and hasn’t been for decades, where’s the threat there?
Old 30th November 2019
  #13
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Acid Mitch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studio460 View Post
Studio Electronics emulates of ton of signature IP, but no one throws stones at them. Perhaps it's because it's a couple of guys in a small Southern California office.
So lets talk about se then.
Their Moog based stuff may sound moogish but comes in a completely different package. Your not going to confuse the Se1x for a model d. They use different names, colour, panel layout and give you different features. Same for the Boomstars. They are based on older stuff, but still quite different.
They don’t clone stuff currently in production and they don’t tell you all those other companies are ripping you off while using completely different components and selling at a loss.
They don’t go around threatening to sue people for saying bad things about their products either.
It’s got nothing to do with the size of the company or where they are from.
Old 30th November 2019
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by markodarko View Post
But this is the weird part. Companies that make clones / knockoffs / close approximations of guitars by Fender or Gibson are doing so to guitars that are still in production, so I can see the argument there. But to create something based on something that’s no longer in production and hasn’t been for decades, where’s the threat there?
Yes, that's a wholly valid counter-argument. Nevertheless, the effects of such low pricing can devastate other producers in the market. We really need an economist to chime in here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Acid Mitch View Post
. . . They don’t go around threatening to sue people for saying bad things about their products either.
Agreed. It's a multi-faceted argument with various issues; a few somewhat "sticky." I think it boils down to a matter of personal ethical beliefs vs. consumerism.
Old 30th November 2019
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markodarko View Post
But to create something based on something that’s no longer in production and hasn’t been for decades, where’s the threat there?
1. I agree and don't see the harm in that. VC340 is great in my book. Crave is incredibly poor taste, in my view.

2. Fender guitars in the first place competed with Gibson on price *and* features, by nature it was always pile them high, sell them cheap. They didn't clone Les Pauls. Strat is an iconic guitar for high scale manufacturing. Fender do well because they are ace for price, quality and features, Yamaha don't outclass them on this.

3. Yamaha and Fender can compete with each other because they run similiar models and scales. If Fender or Yamaha cloned mom and pop guitar that would be more difficult. I would label that anti-competitive, perhaps exploitative. Generally they don't.
Old 30th November 2019
  #16
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markodarko's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Acid Mitch View Post
They use different names, colour, panel layout and give you different features.
But what about software VSTs that blatantly copy the UI of the original synth? Why aren’t we bothered about that? Arguably they are even cheaper and probably sell greater quantities too, but this doesn’t bother us.

Do you see my dilemma? I’m confused as to why I feel ok about, for example, Repro-1 (which I love) but feel a little cross / uncomfortable / {insert other negative connotations} about B’s Pro-1. Neither are copying a synth that’s in production yet one fills me with joy and the other fills me with negativity.

I really don’t understand why that is.
Old 30th November 2019
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by markodarko View Post
But what about software VSTs that blatantly copy the UI of the original synth? Why aren’t we bothered about that? Arguably they are even cheaper and probably sell greater quantities too, but this doesn’t bother us.

Do you see my dilemma? I’m confused as to why I feel ok about, for example, Repro-1 (which I love) but feel a little cross / uncomfortable / {insert other negative connotations} about B’s Pro-1. Neither are copying a synth that’s in production yet one fills me with joy and the other fills me with negativity.

I really don’t understand why that is.
That's a different argument. They are not like-products; they're hugely differentiated. One has no physical manufacturing or distribution overhead (and the price-differential reflects this). It's more similar to the Amazon analogy. Clones are more similar to commodities (e.g., corn, oil, etc.). One producer choosing to significantly reduce the price of say, oil, can significantly impact the market as a whole; perhaps, "unfairly." But "fairness" is wholly decided by the consumer in this case (like choosing to buy or not buy conflict-diamonds).
Old 30th November 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studio460 View Post
That's a different argument. They are not like-products; they're hugely differentiated. One has no physical manufacturing or distribution overhead (and the price-differential reflects this). It's more similar to the Amazon analogy. Clones are more similar to commodities (e.g., corn, oil, etc.). One producer choosing to significantly reduce the price of say, oil, can significantly impact the market as a whole; perhaps, "unfairly." But "fairness" is wholly decided by the consumer in this case (like choosing to buy or not buy conflict-diamonds).
I think everything you are saying is bang on.

w.r.t. GS what is great is being mindful that not everyone buys with the same ethical/consumerist mindset.

If consumerist folk can be accepting that ethical folks' feathers will be rustled, and ethical folk can accept some people just want to buy the shiny and don't care, we're in a good place.
Old 30th November 2019
  #19
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stixstudios's Avatar
I think the initial prejudice came from professionals. And rightly so. Cheap clones/copies would annoy any professional in any industry who has invested their lifetime and money on expensive gear.

I've seen a similar thing happen in the pre-press side of the printing industry. Printing was once a noble craft. Now anyone can do/produce it. If you're a pro, these sorts of things make you feel de-valued. The other side is that the amateur/hobbyist now has the opportunity to create something that's not reserved only for the elite.

Someone's loss is someone else's gain. A level playing field it is not though. If those poor wretched souls in those low wage countries that produce these clones got a reasonable wage, then in some way that would make me feel better. I think.
Old 30th November 2019
  #20
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Acid Mitch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by markodarko View Post
But what about software VSTs that blatantly copy the UI of the original synth? Why aren’t we bothered about that?
Go to kvr and you will see people have been complaining for years about emulations instead of “new” stuff and using hardware looking ui instead of something more suitable for the screen.
Plus it’s a different market. Granted, most vst clones are aimed at people wanting the real thing but your still getting a different set of pros and cons compared to hardware devices.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markodarko View Post
Arguably they are even cheaper and probably sell greater quantities too, but this doesn’t bother us.
Why should it ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by markodarko View Post
Do you see my dilemma?
Not really.


Quote:
Originally Posted by markodarko View Post
I’m confused as to why I feel ok about, for example, Repro-1 (which I love) but feel a little cross / uncomfortable / {insert other negative connotations} about B’s Pro-1. Neither are copying a synth that’s in production yet one fills me with joy and the other fills me with negativity.
Would be too funny if Uhe claimed “There’s only £100 worth of code in a minimoog emulation, Behringer is ripping yous off “

I think you are being a bit silly.
If you don’t like something don’t buy or use it. What’s so hard about this ?

In Glasgow there’s a famous market that sells a lot of knocked off clothing, tobacco, pirated video/music/software, etc.
You can walk along the high street looking at goods and then go to the market and get all the same stuff for a fraction of the price,except it’s all copied.
Many people don’t mind this. So long as their jeans and tshirt have the right logo they don’t care about build quality or business practices or anything else that goes with it. Other people that do care about those things don’t shop there.
Old 30th November 2019
  #21
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imo the same shape of a guitar is NOT the same as the same or near same electronics..

but the perface is completely inline with censorship modding that is so prevelant here these days....cant be negative, must be positive about each and every release or youre pronounced a non creative hater..
Old 30th November 2019
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lost_the_peace View Post
Some dude (Bob?) spends time designing A at low scale. People like A. Bob wants to make some money for his effort.

A billionaire dude (Uri Geller?) sees it's successful and manufactures A for themselves at 40% cost because their mission is to bring synths to everyone. Their business model explicitly prices out A, they need to sell at higher volume, lower margin. By cloning A they are looking to compete on price, not features.

People crave cost savings?

GS community now criticise Bob who is too expensive and not innovative enough. (Even if Uri Geller would have no springboard without Bob).

It's not this black and white. Sometimes A+B is possible. Equally, sometimes not, and Uri Geller could clearly be more cognisant of what synths he chooses to make in order not to poop on others' cornflakes. I actually think he likes to do that. I thought he had psychic intuition??
wholey craspsticks
'uri geller'...
"poops in other cornflakes".
an actual lol
brilliant my man.

fact is mr geller wants to be a disrupter but hates disruptive individuals that challenge him in a disruptive way and thats lame as..........faarrkk
Old 30th November 2019
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

I think the problem here is that they managed to create really good clones at a fraction of the price. All those Fender Rip Offs don't come near the build quality and tone of the originals. So they are good entry models for students, that later afford themselves the originals.
Softsynths are vastly different in their lack of a tactile element, they exist in a different domain. Usually, modeled Hardware also injects GAS for the real deal.
But something like the model d gives you enough moog to stop lusting... And that's a problem for the original manufacturer in the end.
Old 30th November 2019
  #24
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oldgearguy's Avatar
 

What about companies like Warm Audio? They have been bringing clones of classic effects and now mics to market at very competitive prices. No attempt to put their own spin, just a clone.

Would anyone be complaining if they brought out an H3000 clone for $500? Eventide is a small innovative company.

Why does this group of synth people here feel so protective about the originals?
Old 30th November 2019
  #25
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What I'd love to see are more collaborations that are win-win for both the large manufacturers and the smaller outfits. There are economies of scale to be had from one end of the industry and innovative ideas from the other. Stuff like the Valkyrie from Exodus Digital evolving into the Waldorf Kyra. In turn, Waldorf has a distributing partership with Korg in North America. Help in getting cool instruments into the hands of people who want to make music. Roland's collaborations with Studio Electronics and Malekko are also great.

Even a co-branding agreement between companies like Roland and Behringer has it's merits. A collaborative clone has the advantage of access to the original manufacturer's design specs and toolings. There's room for both a Roland branded SH-01A ACB and an analog Roland/Behringer SH-101 -- the former has convenience features that are more important for some consumers versus the authenticity required of a perfect analog recreation for others.

I think the real issue is why we want/covet the original instruments in the first place that makes cloning even necessary. I'd say a good 80-90% of the allure of a vintage piece of gear is that it's unavailable to us -- though I think a good many of us also try to justify either consciously or unconsciously that the sound of electrons flowing through old parts is somewhow better. We spend vast amounts of money trying to replicate the toolkits of our heroes and legends yet these many of these same heroes chose to use this gear because it was the only stuff available to them or it was only what they could afford at that stage of their career. It's perhaps sad that we live at time in history where the tools to make art are affordable to the majority of the people who want to create yet it's increasingly difficult to make a living creating said art. At the same time we tend to mistake the tools for the artist. Buying a bunch a gear (vintage or clones) can't replace the hundreds or thousands of hours of practice or someone's innate talent or passion -- but we as consumers fool ourselves into thinking one is equivalent to the other.

Last edited by Rob Ocelot; 30th November 2019 at 02:31 PM..
Old 30th November 2019
  #26
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Coorec's Avatar
I dont think cloning synths is frowned upon per se. It was going on for years.
But it was small manufacturers business who could live well enough from the high profits, despite rather low numbers.

A big part of the emotion comes from the threat that an industry company like Behringer poses to these small businesses.
The hatred on eurorack boards for example is much more intense than it is on other more music and les sound oriented fora.
I assume thats mainly because a lot was invested from users and crafters to achieve certain classic sounds.
Behringer threatens this exclusivity and investements. The exclusivity even on purpose, which for example is the reason why i support Behringers course of action. In the truest meaning of punk, techno and acid .. "Everyone can make music." ... i think thats also why Roland and Korg managed to survive the big 80's purge and PPG, Moog, Oberheim etc. did not.

A second source of anger comes from the worship towards these classic synthesizers. The market was starved and asked ridiculous prices. Lots of mystery was going on. Now these new "clones" leave the originals way behind in features, reliability and service costs. Devalueing them. To some this seems like smearing their faith.

There is also nostalgy as a side argument. Its the privilege of old people to mystify the past and claim that everything was better back in the days with the real deals. They try to posture as mythical figures who were around and therfor know. We have maaaany of these on GS here, but they also fill other boards. These stupid people can not sproud their nonsense as easily if everyone can check for themself for a handfull of coins.

All these sources of anger add up.
Old 30th November 2019
  #27
I think the elephant in the room is the difference between cloning current products, copying the styling and artwork and selling them more cheaply.
Apart from the guitar example (I'm not a guitarist), most of the time clones or reproductions have been made of no longer made gear.
Pultec EQ's, Neve 1073 mic/pres, Buchla 100 and 200 (not 200e!), Roland Jupiter 8, Arp Odyssey etc.

I don't think I own any clones (???), actually thinking about it, a couple of Buchla module designs from the 70's that never made it to proper manufacture.
But I certainly haven't bought a copied and cheaper product that was already available new by the original designer/maker.
Old 30th November 2019
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coorec View Post
A second source of anger comes from the worship towards these classic synthesizers. The market was starved and asked ridiculous prices. Lots of mystery was going on. Now these new "clones" leave the originals way behind in features, reliability and service costs. Devalueing them. To some this seems like smearing their faith.
Dream on
Old 30th November 2019
  #29
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MarcB's Avatar
because a lot of vocal people here are collectors and have spent a hell of a lot of money on their collections. They don't want a modern 99% accurate clone doing the rounds with added functionality like midi/usb etc, when their ebay nest egg investment is at stake. Only the truly crazy is going to spend £3k on a noisy crackly worn out 303 when they can get a brand new £150 modern near exact clone.
Old 30th November 2019
  #30
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i actually have a behringer 'strat' - it's more of a clone of a Squier. saw it (2nd hand), picked it up, nice and light, action ok, wanted a cheap strat copy thing as knockabout house guitar, so yeah ok. you couldn't hold it up to a fender, or even a squier, but it's ok. did mean i passed up a really nice squier telecaster with a cavity, a few months later though. guitars, one in, one out, here; not obsessed with them, like with synths. (my favourite to play is a battered old XP nylon string thing found in the bins, you have to work that one)
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