The Behringer K-2 – The Budget MS20!
The Behringer K-2 is frequently touted as- and criticized for being- the low cost answer to Korg’s much anticipated MS 20 mini, and with the anticipation before the MS 20’s 2013 release, the K-2 had a huge standard to live up to. Both are semi-modular, pure analogue synths, but what the K-2 misses in precisely replicating the tone of the MS 20, it makes up for in extra specs.
Ultimately, Behringer had a huge challenge when it came to providing a low cost alternative to a much loved synth. Much of the difficulty comes from the fact that what’s often best loved about particular synths- especially vintage analogue synths- is a certain tone or character born of the myriad interactions of the different parts and unique craftsmanship, something which cannot easily be replicated or measured by numbers or precise matching of design. Opinion is relatively divided on Behringer’s emulations of other synths, as although the company has come under some criticism for it, for many beginning musicians they are invaluable tools to access vintage sounds which otherwise might be out of their reach. Behringer is also not without innovation of it’s own, and a unique Behringer tone can be a draw for some players, as well as other functions found across Behringer’s range such as Polychain. In this way, when thought of as an alternative, or an option with some similarities and some differences, the K-2 comes into it’s own providing a different variety of sounds.
Where Can I Buy A Behringer K-2?
One of the most conspicuous absences from the K-2 is the keyboard- unlike the MS 20, with it’s inbuilt keyboard, the K-2 merely has a MIDI interface so although it initially seems like it is lower cost, this relies on the user to already have a MIDI keyboard if they wish to use the synth this way. However, one thing the K-2 does have which no version of the MS 20 could provide is the filter circuit select switch. As the MS 20 had two different models throughout it’s production run, each with a different filter providing subtly different sound and capabilities, the K-2 now replicates both of these in one package.
It is in other specifications as well where the K-2 diverges from the MS 20. Aesthetically, the similarities could be considered a little too close for comfort, but functionally, the K-2 isn’t necessarily trying to compete. Although it’s bare-bones set up replicates the MS 20 and MS 20 mini, with a VCO, VCA, and VCF signal path, it has plenty of options which the MS 20 does not. Much more control is possible over the tone’s fatness with dual VCOs, and it has 4 variable oscillator shapes, variable pulse widths, an analog triangle and square wave LFO, 36 parameter controls, and 2 analog envelope generators. With MIDI and USB capacities the K-2 also fits neatly into the modern music scene. Default routings mean no patching is required and a huge variety of different tones and sounds can be had simply with these, although of course, it invites more exploration. In addition, it has a ring modulator and hi pass/low pass/bandpass filters as well as external audio input and two analogue envelope generators for modulation of the VCA and VCF.
Behringer’s reputation as a manufacturer which replicates the instruments designed by other companies has meant that sometimes differences between Behringer products and the synths they are emulating end up going unnoticed. In the case of the K-2, there is a significant tone difference, which, coupled with the similarities, leaves those with a higher budget two options with simply a matter of choice and personal taste determining whether the buy the K-2, the MS 20, or both. One big advantage the K-2 has over the MS 20 is that it is Eurorack compatible and it’s Polychain function is also a plus. This can be found across a wide range of Behringer products as well and allows users to combine multiple synths (up to sixteen) to play polyphonically on what is otherwise a monophonic synth.
How Much Does A Behringer K-2 Cost?
Whilst it cannot be bought directly from Behringer’s website, the K-2 can be found in many major online music retailers such as Andertons Music and Thomann.de. Furthermore, by navigating to the bottom of the K-2 product paging and clicking ‘buy’ (found in the bottom right hand corner), Behringer provide an online directory of both digital and brick and mortar retailers.
Prices vary between retailers but generally hover around the high 200s. It’s definitely worth looking at a few different options to get the best deal, and depending on where you’re based shipping options may also vary.
Although the K-2 has been criticized for being an MS 20 replica, Behringer is relatively transparent about it’s aims on it’s website, and whilst not mentioning the MS 20 specifically, it does sell the K-2 as an introduction to vintage analogue synthesis at an affordable price. It even claims to be an ‘authentic reproduction of the original circuitry’, although the precise instrument this circuitry is referring to is left to the imagination. This is one of the things which has led to some criticism, but in approaching the K-2 with the view that it is solely a knockoff, some of the differences between the two have been overlooked, preventing an informed decision as to which would work best for any particular musician. The K-2’s Eurorack ability can further save money as there is no need to buy adaptors.
*prices generally seen on auction sites. If you see them cheaper, you may be on to a bargain.
Who Uses Or Used The Behringer K-2?
The Behringer K-2 is generally not as popular in the industry as some other synths, mostly due to it’s low budget reputation, but Behringer’s website lists a variety of MS 20 users, hinting at the similarity between the two instruments. It’s much more likely for a K2 to be found in the hands of amateur synth enthusiasts or independent artists as opposed to touring stars, although this doesn’t detract from it’s benefits in it’s own niche. For an affordable replica of the MS 20, perhaps for a band just starting out, it’s definitely worth investigating as an introduction to classic analogue sounds.
Classic Behringer K-2 Videos, Tutorials & Demos
A playlist of videos showing you how to program a Behringer K2, how to create some famous patterns as well as watching how to make clone patches and other sound design tips. Some great tips in here so be sure to check them out!
Other Classic Synth or Drum Machine Products?
Famous synths, drum machines and effects include: SH 101, MC 202, TB 303, TR 606, TR 707, TR 808, TR 909, Juno 60, RE-201 Space Echo. Behringer Deepmind 12, Behringer Model D, Elektron Machinedrum, Korg MS-20, Moog Model D, Moog Grandmother, Nord Modular G1, Oberheim OB-6, Sequential Prophet 6, Yamaha DX7.
Where Can I Find A Behringer K-2 For Sale?