Skip to main content

Behringer’s VCS3 synth clone is now in prototype, and it looks like the real deal

Behringer VCS3
(Image credit: Behringer/Facebook)

Cast your mind back to the carefree pre-pandemic days of 2019 and you might recall that Behringer posted an image of a 16x16 pinboard modulation matrix, indicating that it was planning on recreating the legendary EMS Synthi VCS3 synth. Now, some two and a half years on, the company has confirmed that its clone is now at the prototype stage.

The VCS3 is a three-oscillator synth, 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 are also onboard, the latter based on an unusual array of diodes and lending the VCS3 an instantly recognisable character. There’s a spring reverb, plus a four-stage "trapezoid" envelope generator with knobs for Attack, On, Decay, and Off.

What makes the VCS3 so special is its patching system; a 16x16 matrix into which pins are inserted to connect sources to destinations. The pins themselves have varying tolerances, so there’s a certain amount of unpredictability, leading to plenty of happy accidents.

The partial reveal of Behringer’s clone took place on Facebook, and shows an authentic-looking VCS3 case and a circuit board. It seems that the prototype is currently in the process of being assembled; when we’ll get a look (and listen) at something that actually makes some noise remains to be seen, but Behringer says that we’ll see the complete unit soon.

All-access artist interviews, in-depth gear reviews, essential production tutorials and much more.
Get the latest issue now!