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Behringer VC340 review

Behringer brings back a vocoder keyboard classic

  • £489
  • €499
  • $599
Behringer VC340
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

For a fraction of the cost of the original, you get a killer vocoder, string and choir machine that’s compact, well-built and authentic.

Pros

  • • Nails the classic vocoder, string ensemble and choir tones of the ’70s with clear intelligibility and a warm stereo sound
  • • Each section is layered together or split and run through the shimmering analogue BBD ensemble effect
  • • Compact and sturdily built

Cons

  • • No reverb or delay (like the original!)
  • • Some may find three octaves too few
  • • No preset storage, and the pitchshift controls can be initially confusing (but certainly authentic)

What is it?

Behringer is filling the analogue vocoder gap in the market with its latest keyboard vocoder, the VC340. This new board faithfully recreates the circuitry and functionality of the rare, expensive Roland VP-330 vocoder keyboard. 

The VC340 transports you right back to 1979 via the reddish brown side panels, orange livery and pastel-shaded LED buttons.

The unit feels surprisingly heavy and is sturdily built into a solid metal case with sloped front panel, laid out in a similar fashion to the VP-330, with the most obvious difference being that the keybed is one of Behringer’s own 3-octave designs (with velocity) and it feels nicely responsive for fast lines and chord playing (though we'd also love an expanded version with a 4 or 5-octave keybed and aftertouch for controlling vibrato in the future).

The advantage of three octaves is obviously that it makes the vocoder more transportable for gigs and for flying/travelling with, plus it can sit on a desktop more comfortably, too, and the keyboard transmits MIDI, which lets it slot into most rigs.

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Behringer VC340

(Image credit: Future)
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Behringer VC340

(Image credit: Future)
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Behringer VC340

(Image credit: Future)
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Behringer VC340

(Image credit: Future)
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Behringer VC340

(Image credit: Future)

Performance and verdict

Essentially you are getting three classics in one. A tried and tested vocoder, classic string ensemble sounds and unique choirs/human voice.

Use them separately, together or split across the keyboard and it’s hard to not be inspired. As a gigging vocoder, this will really come into its own as you can also cover strings and choirs while simultaneously vocoding, without the need for other keyboards to cover these duties (and we're all about versatility from our gear these days.)

Obviously, if you don’t rate your own playing skills (and Herbie Hancock’s not your next door neighbour!) you can easily fire MIDI note info into the VC340 via the DIN MIDI connectors or the USB port - integration is definitely a big step up from the vocoders of the ’70s! Let’s also not forget the stereo outputs and the pitch shift controls that the left-hand controller provides.

Also consider

(Image credit: Roland)

Roland Boutique VP-03
Electro-Harmonix V256
Roland VT-4

Really, this is a nicely complete package that sounds classic but is built to last and works well in the compact modern studio. We applaud Behringer for making what customers have been asking the original manufacturers to make for years - it’s no small job to do this and nail the sound at the same time either. Digital recreations, while decent, always seem to lack that last 20% of sonic quality/human-ness that we always find with real analogue.

Make no mistake: this is the real deal, and we're genuinely excited about what might be coming in the future from the Behringer labs!

MusicRadar verdict: For a fraction of the cost of the original, you get a killer vocoder, string and choir machine that’s compact, well-built and authentic.

The web says

"I believe this is Behringer’s best work thus far and I think this is one of the best synths near this price range." Keyboard Kraze

Hands-on demos

Sweetwater

G-Storm Electro

GEOSynths

Specifications

  • Authentic analog Vocoder, Human Voice and Strings sounds from the ‘80s
  • Vocoder sounds that wrote musical history and inspired some of the most famous artists and bands
  • Microphone input to modulate any audio signal
  • Multiple-stage Chorus based on legendary BBD (Bucket Brigade Delay) technology
  • 37 semi-weighted full-size keys featuring velocity sensitivity
  • 32 sliders and switches to give you direct and real-time access to all important parameters
  • Comprehensive USB/MIDI implementation for connection to keyboard/sequencers
  • 3-Year Warranty Program*
  • Designed and engineered in the U.K.