The Behringer introduction, earlier this week, of the Swing MIDI controller – a knockoff of the popular Arturia Keystep – struck many readers as sad and even pathetic.
Or, as Glen Darcey, VP of Product Management at Arturia during the development of the original Keystep, says, “To take a product that has been on the market for 5 years and not do anything new, learning from customer complaints or looking at alternate use cases, is just absurd.”
Chicago-based designer Clayton Miller viewed Behringer’s Keystep knockoff as a lost opportunity. He decided to use the Swing controversy as an opportunity to explore some of the other possibilities that Behringer’s approach ignored.
“Everyone’s roasting Behringer right now, and for good reason,” he says. “I tried to take a positive approach and explore what they could have done to actually innovate!”
The article includes 10 design sketches that show some of the possibilities of creating iterations on the Keystep design, rather than simply copying. They include options like adding a row of buttons for step sequencing, shown above, or incorporating a joystick instead of touchstrip controls, right.
“It is a genuine head-scratcher – how a company that clearly has the capability for original product development, given critical successes such as its Neutron semi-modular synthesizer or its Wing mixing console, could veer to such an unimaginative extreme,” adds Miller. “How hard would it have been to think of something – anything – to differentiate the hardware? Could they really not come up with a single idea?”
Check it out and let us know what you think. Would any of these designs make you more interested in buying a Behringer alternative to the Keystep?
Arturia today shared their response to the Behringer Swing, a minikey MIDI controller that appears to be closely based on the design of the Arturia Keystep MIDI controller.
Many musicians have criticized Behringer’s latest introduction, calling the Swing a ‘blatant knockoff’ of the Keystep and noting “Unless you are blind, it’s impossible not to see it’s the same thing!”
But some have suggested that the Swing might be the result of a collaboration between the two companies, or that Behringer might have licensed the Keystep design.
Neither of these are true.
The Behringer Swing Is Not A Collaboration With Arturia
Arturia co-founder and CEO Frédéric Brun shared an official response via Facebook:
“We have been informed on Sunday November the 22nd of the upcoming release of a new product called Swing, by Behringer.
This product is in no way the result of a partnership between Arturia and Behringer.
We have worked hard to create the _Step range. We have invested time and money to imagine, specify, develop, test and market the KeyStep. Along our distributors we have been evangelizing this product, placing it in stores, explaining it, servicing it.
Of course we accept competition, and would absolutely understand that Behinger give their own interpretation of a small and smart controller that would also be a sequencer. Others do, we have no problem with that and see good for the customer, as well as for the industry, in fair competition.
But this is not fair competition here.
Coco Chanel once said: “If you want to be original, be ready to be copied”. So we could in a way consider the Swing as a compliment.
In any case, thank you, everyone who came out and supported us these past 36 hours! It’s been very helpful, very much appreciated.”
The Behringer Swing Is Not A Licensed Version Of The Keystep Design
Some tried to explain the Behringer Swing’s design by suggesting that the company had licensed the Keystep design from Designbox, which is one of the leading musical instrument industrial design companies.
Designbox has created hardware designs for dozens of electronic instruments, including the Waldorf Wave, the Waldorf Blofeld, the Alesis Andromeda, the Virus Polar, the Moog Little Phatty, the Voyager XL, the Schmidt Analog Synthesizer, the Arturia Minibrute and the Keystep.
Designbox co-founder Axel Hartmann shot down the theory that they had licensed a design to Behringer. He shared this statement via Facebook:
“I do feel the need to comment on the many postings I can find here @ Facebook in several places regarding my thoughts, feelings, but also the truth about the blunt Behringer copy of the Arturia key step.
Arturia and myself, aka my company design box are designing instruments, synthesizers, controllers, interfaces since many years. As industrial designer, I contribute mostly my services on the asthetical side of a product. This is true for almost all hardware products that you know from Arturia.
In all cases, Arturia is buying my services – I never licensed any of the designs. Arturia always pays, and naturally owns the output of my work, that – by the way – is always the result of an in-depth cooperation with their internal team of specialists.
Arturia and myself are working together since many years, and we share the deep desire of designing innovative products. I could never share any of the designs, that came out of that cooperation with any body else, legally not, and not from my personal high attitude in that regards. So anything, pointing in that direction is simply fake information. Neither the company Behringer, nor Uli himself have ever approached me with a request like that. And I would also never ever do something like that – I can not license anything that is not in my possession.
Personally, I feel sad, and am also upset about that sheer copy of a design, that I once created for, and together with Arturia, the team around Frederic Brun. These people have spent lots of efforts and great energy in building a brand and all that belongs to a brands assets. It is simply not right, somebody else is taking advantage of that hard work (which is not only true for Arturia, but for all great brands, that must see their most successful products being copied)
I do not understand (Uli) Behringer – with his huge company and the power of many great R&D teams – some of the best and most respected and innovative companies we know in our business, that Uli was able to simply buy in the past with his money. A product like that copy simply cannot represent the core values of the people, he could convince to be part of his company.
It is simply sad, and I cannot understand that move (like many, it seems).”
The first 15 seconds are a quick intro to the PolyBrute in French. Then the video features over a half-hour of musical examples of the Arturia PolyBrute in action.
The Arturia PolyBrute is a 6-voice analog synth, based on Arturia’s ‘Brute’ oscillators and dual filters. The synth features two Brute oscillators per voice, feeding into dual filters, a Steiner filter and a Moog-style filter. The filters can be patched in series, in parallel, or as a mix of both.
The PolyBrute also offers extensive modulation and control options, which Brian demonstrates in the video.
In his latest video, synthesist Anton Anru takes an in-depth look at how to vocode using the Arturia MicroFreak.
The MicroFreak was updated in August with a vocoder, along with new synthesis capabilities.
The tutorial should be helpful for owners of all MicroFreak editions, including the original Original (grey) model or Vocoder (white).
In the video, Anru shares his take on types of microphones you may use, how to connect them, new Vocoder settings in Utility Mode, new synth engine parameters, tips and tricks, patches ideas with different input sources and modulation matrix.
00:00 Introduction 01:06 General information about vocoders and how they work. Carrier and Modulator. 02:10 TRRS splitter to use with non-original Arturia mic. TS and TRS jacks. 05:03 DAW (Ableton Live) settings: Inputs and Outpus, Tracks, Routing. Studio microphone (with XLR) connection. 07:36 Other mics options: phones with mic for mobile phones, cheap computer mic 08:37 Volume levels and Indication. Microfreak Utility settings: Mic Gain, Noise Gate, Mic Detection. 12:53 First steps with voice and beatbox. Sending midi notes from Live to Microfreak. 15:17 Hiss Modes solve the problem: consonants clarity is lost with Vocoder. Off, Switched, and Pass Modes. 19:22 Using other types of signals instead of voice: drums, guitars, samples, etc. Rhythmic effects. Modulators combination: Drum Loop + Voice. 24:00 How to use vocoder, connect a mic or line signal directly to Microfreak without a splitter. 25:37 Carrier part. Wave, Timbre (Formant Shift), Shape (Bandwidth) parameters. 28:41 Modulations with LFO, Envelope, and Cycling Envelope. Dynamic and rhythmic timbres. Envelope retrigger with series of chords/arpeggiator. Interaction of different rates in arp/notes division and LFO rate. Polyrhythm. Different filter types with the current modulations. 40:10 Firmware Update, Carrier and Modulator parts summary. 41:30 My presets for Arturia Microfreak (4 banks/160 presets)
The Arturia PolyBrute is flagship 6-voice analog synthesizer that offers an unusual number of expressive options, ranging from a knob-per-function panel to a morphing patch architecture to a ribbon controller and the three-dimensional sensing Morphée touch controller.
“It’s not a synth made for the cost conscious, but I also don’t feel that it is overpriced,” notes Batt. “There’s a lot to it.”
“It is just so much fun to play and explore,” he adds. “A really impressive instrument that, if you are in the market for a poly, will have just made your decision even harder.”
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