I want to thank Pete for taking time from his hectic schedule to participate in this interview. Initially, his "SuperBooth 17" Trade Show appearance delayed the interview. None-the-less, Pete persevered and managed to get it done ( -for which we're grateful! ). Pete's interview marks a new era for Behringer. Their entry into the field of Synthesizer manufacturing!
Behringer's ( new ) "Deep Mind 12". The company's first synth. Why has it taken Behringer nearly twenty years to break into the field? And where did that intriguing name come from? These are just a few of the questions we ask Pete in the interview below.
CTN: Can you tell us about yourself and your design background?
Pete Sadler: I'm a software engineer and have been working in professional audio for over ( 20 ) years. A combination of Neve, AMEK, Harman and Midas. In 2003, I was asked to join Midas to help conceive and develop Midas' first line of digital consoles. At the moment, I'm head of software for Midas Mixing consoles.
CTN: I'm curious as to why Behringer ( -after 20 years of making mixing consoles, studio and sound reinforce- ment gear, etc. ) has now decided to add synthesizers to their product inventory. Do you know what lead to the decision to enter the synth market at this time?
Pete Sadler: As you probably know, Uli made a synth when he was sixteen and I'm not sure he ever lost the passion for synths. Uli and I were talking about it some years ago and we finally got a "slot" to have a go.
The "UB-1" Synth. Constructed by Uli Behringer at age sixteen. The synth required thousands of hours worth of patient work to complete. With Behringer's entry into the synth market -it's apparent Uli never gave up his passion for synthesizers!
CTN: As the team leader for Behringer's "Deep Mind 12", can you tell us if there were any important synth design objectives, capabilities or product goals that you were tasked with incorporating and implementing in the "Deep Mind 12"? Or were you simply given a "free hand" to come up with a synth that impressed Mr. Behringer?
Pete Sadler: It would be remiss of me not to mention Rob Belcham who was technical lead. We've worked together for 14 years now. The combination of Rob, Uli and myself was always the driving force. The original concept was to be close to the 106, but as time passed we moved further away from that. My goal was always to make a synth Uli was proud of. I hope we achieved that.
Rob Belcham, Technical Lead on the "Deep Mind 12" project. The "Deep Mind 12" expanded beyond it's original objectives to encompass something a bit more ambitious.
CTN: Can you tell us about some of the design features and capabilities you're most proud of in the "Deep Mind 12"?
Pete Sadler: There are so many. The options Rob put in for unison and parameter variance have a huge effect on the sound.
CTN: Where did the "Deep Mind 12" name come from and what does it refer to?
Pete Sadler: The name came from Uli upon playing with it and commenting it was "very deep and complex".
Uli Behriner ( -pictured right ), Pete Sadler and Rob Belcham were the driving force behind the "Deep Mind 12's" creation. It represents Behringer's first commercial foray into the world of synths. There has been lots of speculation regarding the company's future synths.
CTN: Can you tell us a little about the process of how a synth like your "Deep Mind 12" goes from design concept to fully fleshed-out product ready for the production line? ( i.e: what are the necessary steps required to bring such a concept up to the point of being a tested prototype ready for mass production? ).
Pete Sadler: Every product differs but we usually start off with a list of features and a rough picture and go from there. In the case of the "Deep Mind 12" we had quite a few prototypes before we were happy.
When we get to a good prototype we re-check design for manufacture and start doing a pre-production run. At this stage it would have gone through many hours of testing. With Midas mixing consoles it's a
little different as there is quite a lot more to consider and many more things to test.
Behringer's hotly anticipated " Model D". Many of you have asked if we plan to review the "Model D". We'd love to ( -and have made several requests to the company to get a review unit ). Keep your fingers crossed! If things work out, we hope to post a review of the "Model D" in an upcoming issue.
CTN: As you know, there has been considerable interest regarding Behringer's entry into the synth field ( -and the possibility of a forthcoming "Model D", ARP 2600, Oscar, and similar vintage recreations ). Can you discuss a few of the models that have been confirmed for future production ( -along with their projected price-points and estimated arrival dates -if known? ).
Pete Sadler: At this time I can only confirm the "D" but there are a few others in the pipeline!
CTN: Regarding these vintage recreations, will you be using the same components in key circuits of your design -to accurately emulate the unique sonic characteristics of these old-school synths ( -or will your recreations simply be "in the ballpark" imitations, based more upon the general look and feel of the old instruments ).
Pete Sadler: A mix of both approaches, certainly in the case of the "DM-12" we used both. For future products we are actually recreating out-of-manufacture components. It depends on the case!
The ARP 2600 ( -pictured right ). One of the old-school synths rumored to be on Behringer's "to do list". Remember, I only said "rumored". At the top of my personal list would be the: EMS "VCS3" ( or ) it's portable briefcase version "Synthi-AKS". Then, perhaps the Octave Plateau "CAT SRM" ( or ) Crumar "Stratus".
CTN: Has any thought been given to "updating" and "enhancing" your vintage synth recreations with some added innovations that might not have been available when these machines were originally introduced?
For example, the original Minimoog had no dedicated LFO. You had to task VCO 3 to modulation purposes if you wanted modulation. Has Behringer thought of adding a dedicated LFO to their "Model D" in order to overcome this shortcoming? As well, a built-in arpeggiator or sequencer might be nice!
In short, can we expect to see some "updated refinements" added to Behringer's vintage recreations ( -or will they be pretty much "stock" recreations? ). I think these "refinements" would attract a lot of new customers myself.
Pete Sadler: The "Deep Mind 12" was started as a "106 homage" but ended up going way past the original design. We added a mod matrix, complex effects, unison modes, a second LFO and many more. The "Model D" is a little closer to the original -here there are two clear approaches and I think both are valid.
Already the "Deep Mind 12" has been augmented by portable ( 6-voice ) 3-octave keyboard and desktop versions. These units should be appearing shortly -so watch for them!
CTN: Aside from vintage recreations, will Behringer be producing any groundbreaking synth designs of their own? And if so, can you discuss any that are currently on the drawing-board?
Pete Sadler: Yes, and watch this space!
CTN: In a recent video I saw ( -I think it was from a recent NAMM Show ), Mr. Behringer said that customer feedback would play an important role in deciding what type of synths the company would develop in the future ). How can Behringer customers "weigh-in" on what type of synths they'd like to see?
Pete Sadler: Yes, our Forum is one such place: https://forum.music-group.com/showthread.php?13335-Introduction-to-the-DEEPMIND-12-Forum
The British "Oscar" synth ( -pictured right ). Another one of the synths rumored to be under consideration. If you have a particular synth you'd like to see created -use the Behringer Forum ( -link above ) to pass along your recommendation. If enough people agree with you, perhaps we'll see it manufactured!
CTN: Can you discuss some of the cutting-edge manufacturing processes ( i.e: software, surface-mount technology, synth engine development, etc. ) that Behringer will be employing to produce it's synths?
Pete Sadler: The "DM-12" contained some very recent CPU technologies that allowed us to pack in many features and our SMT allowed us to reduce the size of the synth so it's not such a problem to own.
CTN: A while back I became disillusioned with the lack of "live performance" control and expression I was seeing in today's synth designs ( -especially with regard to front-panel ergonomics and tactile controllers ). As a result, I came up with a new synth ( -front panel ) design of my own that I thought might appeal to lots of "live performance" synthesists and sound-designers. I call it the "Ultimate Analog Performance Synth" ( -or "UAPS" for short ).
I'd be curious to get your "feedback" on it. You can view the "UAPS" design near the bottom of my website's "Small Synth Symposium" webpage at: http://locallegendfilms.jimdo.com/small-synth-symposium
Given the current state of electronics and control surface technology, would the "UAPS" ( -with it's "MHC" and various control surface features ) be technically and economically feasible using today's "off-the-shelf" technology? Or would entirely new technology need to be developed in order to manufacture the "UAPS"?
My "Ultimate Analog Performance Synth" design ( -pictured to the left ) would give live performance synthesists and sound designers realtime access to ( 27 ) differ-ent synth parameters -all from a single hand ( -via it's "Multi-Hand Controller" ), as their other hand plays the keyboard. It also permits 360-degree sound-field panning and control of up to ( 16 ) other parameters ( -via it's "Finger Groove Capacitance Sliders" ).
Pete Sadler: I like the interactivity and it's rather"mixing-console like" generic nature, if you see what I mean. Actually, it reminds me of an RTS-game controller. I think you could do it with "off-the-shelf" technology.
It has always surprised me how many people who like synths don't actually play them. A lot seem to be just interested in the sound or technology. I've often wondered if this is unique in the musical instrument world to the degree it is with synths.
A close-up of the "Deep Mind 12's" control panel sliders and display window. What started out as an "homage" to the 106 ended up with expanded capabilities well beyond those of the 106. It's a synth they designed wanting more for themselves than something they wanted to sell as a "product". All synths should be designed like this!
CTN: Lastly, if you could "sum-up" Behringer's approach to synth design into a concise sentence or two, what would it be?
Pete Sadler: With regard to the "Deep Mind 12":
We designed a synth that we wanted to buy, not something we wanted to sell....
END OF INTERVIEW