Behringer’s decision to embark on a program of cloning some of the most famous synths in history has certainly been contentious, and now the company finds itself at the centre of another controversy regarding a potential new version of its TD-3 bassline synth.
As you probably know, the TD-3 is a reboot of Roland’s classic TB-303 bassline synth, but it seems that Behringer is also considering creating a ‘Murdered Out’ version, the TD-3-DF, which adds several new features. In fact, the company has posted a mock-up image on Facebook.
The trouble is that these appear to be the same features that modding specialist Devil Fish offers for Roland’s original TB-303, and Robin Whittle, the man behind Devil Fish, isn’t too happy about it. In fact, he's posted a lengthy critique of Behringer's proposed TD-3 variant, summarising his views with the words "it sucks".
According to Whittle, he was contacted by Uli Behringer in November 2019, shortly after the TD-3’s launch, asking if he wanted to discuss the possibility of collaborating on a Devil Fish version of the TD-3. Whittle says that he duly came up with a proposal that involved creating a TD-3 that included all of his Devil Fish modifications, and suggested that this be sold for about twice the price of the standard model.
Significantly, he also wanted the final design and component selection to be subject to his approval, full Devil Fish branding on the product, involvement in the promotion and marketing, and a royalty payment for every unit sold.
Ultimately, it seems that negotiations floundered, and with Whittle and Behringer unable to agree terms, it looks like the German company is now considering going ahead with producing a ‘modded’ TD-3 without Whittle’s involvement, something that the Devil Fish man is far from happy about. He says that he has no legal comeback - he has no patents for his design - and doesn’t like the proposed TD-3-DF’s “dark and foreboding” colour scheme or “Murdered Out” branding.
Where this will end up is anyone’s guess. Cloning old synths is one thing, but cloning the design of something that’s currently available elsewhere is quite another.
MusicRadar has reached out to Behringer for comment.