Archive for March, 2022

Behringer Synthi VCS3 synth clone still Vaporware, but ‘Getting Close’


Behringer originally announced plans to build a version of the Synthi VCS 3 in 2017.


Behringer pins its hopes on its VCS3 synth clone: “we’re getting close with this beauty”



Behringer today shared a sneak preview of their upcoming unofficial copy of the classic Electronic Music Studios VCS 3 from 1969. And Behringer has been banging out the synth announcements at a rate of knots recently, but if you were starting to get the sense that the company might be prioritising quantity over authenticity – see the recent glut of affordable mini synths being launched – these shots of its prototype VCS3 clone might be enough to convince you otherwise.



The images shared today are of the final pre-production model. This one definitely looks suitably ‘vintage’, and Behringer says that the mechanical construction of the familiar pin matrix – plus the rest of the analogue circuitry – was very complex.


UK analogue expert John Price has been working for two years on delivering Putney perfection.


We are told that UK analogue expert John Price has spent two years working on emulating the sound of the VCS3, adding some new functions along the way.


The original VCS3 was one of the first truly portable synth created by EMS (Electronic Music Studios), which was formed when pioneering musician Peter Zinovieff partnered up with electronics boffin David Cockerell and composer Tristram Cary.


The VCS3 is a three-oscillator instrument, with the third oscillator intended as an LFO. Each oscillator produces two waveforms, and other sound sources comprise a noise generator and a pair of audio inputs.


A ring modulator and an 18dB resonant filter are onboard, the latter based on an unusual (but cost-effective) array of diodes and lending the VCS3 an instantly recognisable character.


A spring reverb adds a little ambience (and a lot of noise) to the signal, and there’s a four-stage “trapezoid” envelope generator with knobs for Attack, On, Decay, and Off. Setting Off anywhere less than fully clockwise makes the envelope retrigger.


What makes the VCS3 so special is its patching system. Unlike cable-laden semi-modulars such as the ARP 2600 or Korg MS-20, the VCS3 uses a 16×16 matrix into which pins are inserted to connect sources to destinations. The pins themselves have varying tolerances, making the process beautifully, astonishingly unpredictable.



Features (Preliminary):

  • Analog synthesizer with triple VCO design
  • Reproduction of original “VCS3” circuitry
  • Analog signal path with VCO, VCF and VCA
  • VCOs featuring multi-turn knobs for precise frequency control
  • Variable oscillator shapes with variable pulse widths
  • 24 dB low pass filter with resonance
  • 16 x 16 pin patch bay serves as signal routing matrix by inserting pins into holes
  • Ring modulator adds insane spice and edge to your sounds
  • Dedicated and fully analog triangle/square wave LFO
  • Noise generator dramatically expands waveform generation
  • Two-axis joystick serves as performance controller
  • 42 controls give you direct and real-time access to all important parameters
  • External audio inputs for processing external sound sources
  • MIDI implementation with MIDI channel and Voice Priority selection
  • 3-Year Warranty Program


The back panel image, shared previously, shows connectivity not found on the original, including USB & DIN MIDI:



It probably would not surprise you to learn that, in common with many of its other proposed synths, Behringer’s take on the VCS3 – which we first heard about in 2019 – does not currently have a release date, and we do not know how much it will cost. It’s going out to beta testers now, though, so hopefully would not be too much longer in the pipeline.


The original EMS Synthi VCS3 is still in production, but availability is limited and used prices are now in the 5 digits.



Ableton releases Free Microtuner MIDI device for Live: import, edit and generate microtonal scales



Ableton had introduces Microtuner, a free MIDI device for Live that enables you import, edit, and generate microtonal scales.


With Microtuner, you can find the notes between semitones – the ones that would fall between the keys on a piano, for example – and any scale that you import into Microtuner can be saved for future use.


You can also create your own from scratch using parameters such as number of pitches (up to 128), octave frequency ratio, and pitch distribution randomisation. Lead and Follow modes enable you to sync tuning systems across entire tracks.





  • Tap into a broad range of scales and tuning systems with Microtuner’s import function, or build your own from scratch with a customizable scale generator.
  • Import and sync tuning files – Microtuner supports Scala tuning files, which you can download for free from the Scala archive. Just drag and drop a scale or folder of scales into the device to get started. If using multiple instances of Microtuner, you can sync tunings across instruments with the device’s Lead and Follow modes, or by connecting it to an MTS-ESP client plugin.
  • Edit scales and notes – Any tuning file you import can be customized. Tweak individual notes, transpose entire scales, or modify base frequencies as needed. The Scale Editor’s Follow button allows for incoming MIDI notes to set the pitch you’re working on, so you can play sounds out as you edit them. Finally, a Revert button reloads scales back to their original state.
  • Create new scales – The device’s Generator panel features three parameters for crafting scales: number of pitches, octave frequency ratio, and pitch distribution randomization. Use up to 128 pitches to build nuanced microtonal systems, or play with octave frequency ratios to explore some of the many scales that aren’t tuned to equal temperament.
  • Blend scales and add expression – Two separate scale decks mean you can blend two scales in real time using the device’s dedicated slider knob. Create shapeshifting arpeggios, recasted chords, and morphing melodies as you move between tunings. Combine this with a polyphonic synth that supports MPE to add even more expressive depth to your sound.


Audio Demos:



Microtuner is available now as a free download. Live 11 Standard (version 11.1 or higher) and Max for Live required.





ESI launches Planet 22c Audio Interface


ESI has introduced the Planet 22c, a compact interface box that provides 2 analog input and 2 analog output channels at reference audio quality in a Dante IP audio network.


Dante is a standard for routing audio over IP, making it possible to send multiple channels of high-end audio over standard Ethernet cables.


The Planet 22c is equipped with 24-bit / 96kHz analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters, supporting balanced line audio signals with home (-10dBV) and professional (+4dBu) signal levels. This makes planet 22c ideal to interface any analog equipment such as a traditional mixer, studio monitors or PA speakers, synthesizers or other electronic instruments with the Dante world.


In addition, it can be powered directly from the Ethernet cable as a PoE (Power over Ethernet) device, besides  via the included 12V DC power adapter. This is perfect when using it in a remote location. It can also be integrated into a modern music studio when using the optional Dante Virtual Soundcard (DVS) software for PC or Mac.




  • Dante network audio interface with 2 analog inputs and 2 analog outputs
  • reference level audio quality for professional applications
  • supports -10dBV (consumer) and +4dBu (professional) audio levels for input and output
  • balanced analog inputs (TRS, 6.3mm, 1/4″)
  • BurrBrown PCM1804DB 24-bit stereo ADC with 110dB dynamic range (A-weighted)
  • maximum input level: +6dBV (-10dBV setting), +20dBu (+4dBu setting)
  • input frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz +/- 0.1dB
  • balanced analog outputs (TRS, 6.3mm, 1/4″)
  • BurrBrown PCM1796DB 24-bit stereo DAC with 120dB dynamic range (A-weighted)
  • maximum output level: +6dBV (-10dBV setting), +20dBu (+4dBu setting)
  • output frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz +/- 0.05dB
  • supports 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96 kHz at 24-bit
  • latency based on network configuration, typically around 1ms
  • power supply via network cable (PoE / Power over Ethernet)
  • optional 12V DC power supply included
  • dimensions: around 10.5cm x 11cm x 2.5cm
  • weight: around 236g


The ‎ESI‎ planet 22c Dante audio interface is available now for  $279