MATRIXSYNTH: Latest News from Behringer & A Response From The Curtis Family

Monday, March 20, 2017

Latest News from Behringer & A Response From The Curtis Family

The next chapter in Behringer synth development is in. We already know Uli Behringer announced plans to re-create classic synths. Behringer will be making new innovative synths as well, and we now have some numbers:

“We have 4 synthesizer development teams simultaneously working on 20 synths, drum machines etc..

We’ll be creating both innovative new synths as well as reviving classics.

We’re all in and the teams are on fire.'"

On reproducing vintage chips for the classics:

"We just received the first batch of our 3340 VCO chip.

It is a 100% exact replica of the Curtis CEM3340 which even includes the 40 year old, 8 micron manufacturing process. It was a difficult and expensive undertaking but we are very pleased with the result as this VCO is considered one of the best sounding oscillators.

We are continuing to invest in reviving other legacy Curtis and SSM semiconductors which will allow us to bring back classic synths - all in the most authentic way. We have also reissued the 3320 filter chip which should be arriving in a few months.


It's worth noting the Curtis CEM 3340 has already been re-introduced by OnChip Systems, formerly Curtis Electromusic, and is currently available for makers. Behringer's 3340 appears to bypass Curtis Electromusic and is being manufactured by Behringer (via Coolaudio) directly. SSM chips and the CEM 3320, however, are not yet available. Although the chips will obviously be re-issued for use in Behringer synths, it does appear that some if not all may become available to the Synth DIY community as well. More info on that further below, but first a response on the re-creation of Curtis chips from the Curtis family:

"Many of you who are active on synth forums have recently contacted us regarding another company's claim of producing VCO chips that are the equivalent to the CEM3340 that was used in many legendary synthesizers.

To avoid any confusion, please know that there is only one manufacturer of the authentic CEM3340 designed by my late husband, Doug Curtis. Any claims, use of this product designation, and use of the name Curtis Electromusic by other companies are made without permission from OnChip Systems (our current company name) or the Curtis Family.

As much as Doug would be humbled and so very happy about the legacy his products enjoy, we can assure you that as a person of the highest integrity he would be deeply saddened by the attempt of others to trade on his name and to make unsubstantiated claims of equivalency to his original inventions.

In his loving memory and gratitude for the community of musicians and synthesizer enthusiasts, Doug's family is committed to making his authentic designs available as demand presents itself. Thank you for your continued support of Doug's analog synthesizer legacy.

Mary Curtis and our daughters, Ashley and Julia"

It's worth noting that many Dave Smith Instruments synths use Curtis chips and do so with permission from the Curtis family. Dave Smith was friends with Doug Curtis and has been buying parts from OnChip for over 15 years. OnChip was Doug Curtis' company and is now his wife Mary Curtis's company. These chips were used in the Evolver line, the Prophet '08, MoPho line, and the Prophet 12. The Pro 2, Prophet-6, and OB-6 use discrete designs.

The following is from another thread from Uli in German, translated into Googlish:

"Something clearer. Patent rights are generally 20 years, whereby the technology is freely available for everyone. This allows the inventor, on the one hand, to harvest the fruits of his invention, but also to ensure that no monopoly arises and, after the expiry of the protection, everyone has free access to the technology - without a bad conscience.

In the case of the Curtis or SSM chips, the patent rights of these 40-year-old components have run out for a long time and everyone can reproduce them today. Why this no longer companies do is simply because the mask costs are very high (6-digit USD range per chip) and on the other hand the minimum edition is about 300,000 - 500,000 pieces.

Curtis has registered the name rights for Curtis and CEM, but on the number 3340 etc. there is no protection. Therefore, there are other vendors who have revived these old chips:

Http:// ... er-as3320 /

Or look at how many manufacturers. The 074 Opamp.

Why are these 40 year old chips being rebuilt? Anyone who once belonged to an old Oberheim OB-Xa or a Prophet 5 will agree with me that the sounds of these Curtis and SSM chips are absolutely unsurpassed in their sound qualities. This specific sound is not easy to replicate with discrete technology and since we have an immense passion for analog synthesizers and believe that customers will appreciate these components, we are taking the financial risk of reviving these chips. Coolaudio has just produced the 3340 VCO successfully and the 3320 filter chip is now also under development - further building blocks will follow.

For more than ten years, the company, which is affiliated with us, has specialized in restoring expired components. On the one hand the company produces the coveted BBD chips from the Panasonic times, but also VCA's, OTA's, Optocoupler, etc.

Our intention is to focus on the old Curtis and SSM chips, as we want to use them in our future synthesizers. At the same time, Coolaudio will also offer them for sale, which allows other competitors to build analog instruments as well as help people repair old synths. Many of the Coolaudio chips are already used today by our competitors and we are happy if we can make a contribution to the fact that these analogue components are made of music.

I personally consider VA for eyewash because this is ultimately digital technology. No digital synthesizer will ever be able to reproduce the 'unpredictability' and 'inaccuracy' of an analog synthesizer - no matter how much marketing is operated. Anyone who listens to analogue and digital synthesizers in comparison can easily find out. That is exactly why we will be specializing in analogue synths.

Perhaps our desire for analogue technology is simply that we humans are knitted by themselves analogously and the emotions associated with it determine our existence.



This one spotted and sent in via Soviet Space Child.

Update: And another update just in via Soviet Space Child:

Originally Posted by Uli Behringer:

"Allow me to share a thought.

Dave Smith Instruments (DSI) is using our SSM clones (V2164).
homemade polysynth — A quick tour of the Prophet 6 voice card

Elektron are using Coolaudio parts as well.

Many other leading manufacturers are using Coolaudio chips and by using these parts obviously have no concerns with cloning in general and with using our chips in their products.

If our competitors are not concerned then why should customers be?


The difference of course is currently available vs. not currently available.  The CEM3340 is currently available from Curtis Electromusic, and the Minimoog Model D is currently available from Moog Music.   You be the judge for yourself.

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