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.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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