Friday, April 17, 2020

New Equipment: Behringer Model D

Like them or loathe them, Behringer are making waves recreating synthesizers from the past so that people such as myself, who missed owning the originals, can own brand new iterations of rare classics. The Model D, for the uninitiated, is based on the Moog Minimoog Model D - quite possibly the most famous synthesizer ever made. Most of the musicians who have influenced me used a Minimoog at some time or other. It's appeared on more classic records than you can shake a stick at. So it's no exaggeration to say I've coveted one all my life. The Behringer version promises the same circuit design with some new twists (note the CV input jacks along the top of the unit) at an affordable price. Not having access to an original Minimoog, I can't comment on the authenticity of the sound; suffice to say that it sounds very close to me, and that's what matters.

One of the first things I noticed is that the tuning drifts and is not especially stable. This is what's called a feature, for you can't have the original Minimoog circuitry without the original foibles. The tuning knob provides four semitones of wiggle room. I'm using it strictly in the studio, so tuning it between takes and letting it warm up is not a huge deal to me. It might be an issue in a live setting.

I've owned software emulations of the Minimoog, but never fully understood the architecture until I was able to spend a half hour in front of the hardware. It's all starting to make sense to me now, and it hasn't taken long for certain controls and functions to become second nature.

One thing I still find difficult to get to grips with is what they call legato. In this case, when you play two (or more) notes in a row without lifting your fingers, the amplitude envelope doesn't retrigger. Instead, the first note sounds strong, but the second and subsequent notes sound weak: depending on how your envelope is set. Arturia and Moog's software emulations had a switch to overcome this, but apparently the Behringer D does not. So one has to play the notes with more care in order to retrigger the envelope. That said, the legato nature of the notes can be a desirable effect. The MS-20 also does this, but not as extreme as the Model D.

I'll have to spend some time with the emulations to discover what else is different, control-wise. The CV (Control Voltage) jacks along the top give you patch-points for plugging into modular synths or routing certain functions back to the unit (LFO to filter cutoff, for example). There's also a 440Hz test-tone available at the flip of a switch - handy for tuning - and three separate outputs: line out (1/4"), headphones (1/8"), and main (1/8"). The latter can be routed to Ext-in for the famous Moog overdrive sound.

You'll be hearing this a lot in coming productions. It already features on the first new piece for Music of the Lake II.