Behringer have the impression of having been around a long time, but they were only founded in Germany in 1989. So, it has not taken them long to establish their name. Known for producing cost-effective options for musicians, they manufacture a wide range of products.
Many of their products are designed in Germany and manufactured in what is affectionately known as “Behringer City” in Guangdong, China. One recent area they have moved into where they now excel is with their synthesizers.
They gave us some great products, including the Deepmind, Odyssey, and Neutron Paraphonic. These captured the spirit and the analog sounds of some of the great synths. Another one of their recreations of all-time classic synths is the Pro 1.
Let’s take a closer look at how good it is and how close it is to the original in our in-depth Behringer Pro 1 Review…
A lot of people will remember the Pro-One from Sequential Circuits. It first came out in 1980, around the same time as Roland’s SH101 and the Moog Prodigy. Sequential wanted to take one of their legendary synths, the Prophet 5, and make it a compact, cost-effective synth.
It didn’t quite work. It was plagued by reliability problems, in need of constant repair, and parts weren’t always available. I suppose they just cut one too many corners. It sounded great when it worked, but that was infrequent.
However, it is the inspiration behind the Pro 1 from Behringer. They have packed this little box with an amazing range of classic synth sounds. Plus, it has a stunning variety of ways to utilize what is inside.
You can use it on its own with no need to patch anything. You can combine PRO-1 modules to create a polysynth or place it in a Eurorack modular environment. Therefore, it’s one of the best stand alone synths on the market.
True to the original…
Behringer has taken a lot of care to ensure that they have stuck with the original analog circuitry. They have stuck with the legendary VCF, VCO, and VCA designs that allow you to create some of those original classic sounds.
Attention to detail…
They ensured that this synth is designed and built with great attention to detail. Creating opportunities for sound shaping huge bass sounds and tones for lead instruments.
And then take you even further into the ethereal and other-worldly effects. We remarked when we looked at another Behringer synth, the only thing holding you back sound-wise is you. That also applies here. Enough of the plaudits; let’s take a closer look…
It is a fairly modestly sized and compact box. Measuring just 5.35 by 16.69 by 3.74 inches and weighing four pounds. It has a solid metal chassis and top with attractive polished wooden ends.
There are four small feet, one on each corner. The control knobs are not the most robust you will come across. However, they will do the job if they are treated carefully.
All analog design…
It has a signal path that is all-analog with a 4-pole analog filter. Also, a built-in Step Sequencer and Arpeggiator. As a result, it’s one of the best analog synthesizers on the market.
The dual Voltage Controlled Oscillator, VCO, gives you all you need to create some fat and warm sounds. Helped along with the original circuitry that included 3320 and 3340 semiconductors. There are Saw and Pulse, and Saw Triangle, and Pulse waveforms. We will look at those further a little later.
There is a ⅛-inch analog input and a ¼ and ⅛-inch analog output. Plus, a ⅛-inch headphone socket. There is MIDI in and out, something the original didn’t have, of course, and a USB-B port. It is compatible with Mac OS 10.8.5 or later and for PCs Windows 7 or later.
All laid out on the top panel; they look quite daunting. There will be a learning curve, as with all things. However, they are grouped and labeled effectively, and it won’t take long to get the functions and actions worked out.
Access to the parameters…
There are 56 controls giving you real-time access to the most important parameters. The tone sculpting and management can be expanded by using the patch bay for further patching options.
There are some sounds in music that we have heard, or should I say ‘experienced,’ which stay with us. We all have different ones, of course. But to some, those synthesized tracks that were created in the 80s and 90s will never be forgotten. Preserved in the history of progressive rock forever.
The Pro 1 is one of the very few instruments that will let you get even close to those sounds. They are all there, and so are others yet to be created by a new generation. The Arpeggiator, with its three patterns, creates the basis of everything you need. But as an instrument, there is so much more to this than meets the eye.
There is often some confusion about Monophonic and Polyphonic. It is quite simple. Monophonic uses only one channel for its transmission. It is a single line of music with nothing else. A bit like playing the piano with one finger. It might sound like it is restrictive but remember, the Minimoog was also monophonic.
Polyphonic, on the other hand, consists of two or more lines of independent melody playing simultaneously. The texture of the sound becomes layered and allows different objectives to be achieved. In some cases, this can increase up to 256 sounds played simultaneously.
Richard Wright of Pink Floyd favored his Kurzweil synth that had such capability.
The best of both worlds…
The Behringer Pro 1 might be Monophonic, but it has Polyphonic capability. This can be achieved by linking together multiple synths to give you up to 16-voice Polyphony. As a result, it’s one of the best monophonic synthesizers on the market.
Will it Drone?
Great synths all can create and apply ambient drone sounds. The Pro 1 has a switchable mode to apply this feature. It becomes an “always-on” sound that does not need an envelope or triggers. The big advantage of the drone capability is that you can layer ethereal, ambient sounds. Then place it under any other sounds and build on them.
We started this section by saying that this will let you reach the sonic capability of those heady 80s and 90s days. This is possible because of the design of this synth. By sticking to the design parameters of the original, Behringer has resurrected a sound that others have only attempted. You may not be surprised to learn that sound is sensational.
At the center of the sound of the PRO 1 is its 4-pole filter. This gives you the freedom to experiment with resonance and the cut-off frequency, envelope, and keyboard. You get the complete set of options for Attack, Sustain, Decay and Release. Using those controls, you can find the sound you are looking for.
The 3340 VCOs…
These Voltage Controlled Oscillators offer you the three waveforms we mentioned earlier. Oscillator A will give you a Sawtooth and Pulse. Oscillator B has a Sawtooth, Triangle, and Pulse. They can be used as simultaneous waveforms and have a range of four octaves for you to choose from.
Additionally, they can be modulated through the LFO, low-frequency oscillator, or envelope. This makes it one of the best sound effects synths available.
These can be complex to understand, but they are important to the articulation of the sound. They let you control what is going on.
As an example, if you didn’t have them, your patch would commence at full volume. It would then just stay there until you took your finger off the keyboard. Envelopes can change the contour of the sound. Long fade-ins and outs are just one of the many ways to use them.
The performance levels are increased even further using the mixer section. You can balance the internal VCO levels and the noise generator. Flexibility like this will allow you to be as creative as you can be.
Reliability was always the biggest problem with its 80s predecessor. As we said earlier, when it worked, it was great, but so often, something went wrong. All that is gone now with the Behringer Pro 1. What we have now is reliability and great sounds reminiscent of a period of creativity. And all at a price point that will make you sit up and take notice.
Behringer Pro 1 Review – Pros and Cons
- A resurrection of a great 80s synth.
- Compact size and weight.
- Nice solid design and build with four small feet.
- They have stayed true to the original analog circuitry.
- All analog with a 4-pole analog filter.
- Step sequencer and Arpeggiator built-in.
- There are 56 controls giving you real-time access.
- Can link up other synths to make up to 16-voice Polyphony.
- Has a switchable ambient drone feature.
- Uses legendary 3340 and 3320 semiconductors.
- Built-in mixer for adjusting sounds and levels.
- Set at a price point that defies its capabilities.
- If you want to rack mount it, you will need to purchase fittings.
- Some of the control knobs are a little weak in build quality.
Looking for Something Else?
We have plenty of keyboards, pianos, and synths. Check out our in-depth Roland F-140R Review, our Roland GO-61K Review, our Joymusic Jk-63M Kit Review, our Korg SP280 Digital Piano Review, and our Alesis Recital Review for awesome items you can buy in 2021.
Also, take a look at our comprehensive Yamaha Clavinova CLP 535 Review, our Korg SV188BK-88 Key Digital Piano Review, our Casio PX350 Review, our Casio SA76 Review, and our Yamaha CP40 Review for even more amazing products currently available.
Behringer Pro 1 Review – Final Thoughts
There is no other way to describe the Pro-1 other than stunning. In recent years Behringer has produced some legendary synths at amazing prices that give this technology to everyone.
A stunning synth that will give you a stack of creative power at your fingertips. Behringer has created another great synth capable of holding its own with others that are more than twice the price.
Based on a respected predecessor, it produces great sounds and effects. To us, at this price point, it is a no-brainer. If you are into synths, just go and get one. If you’re not, get one anyway, and you will soon learn to love them with this.