Behringer's use of LEDs to simulate tube glow - fair or foul?
Thank you for this installment of RP, I always enjoy receiving the issues which I find really useful and interesting.
In this instance I really feel that I must write to you regarding the Behringer MC 2200 Tube Mic Pre.
I can understandthat you feel that lighting the tube with LED's is a bit false and may mislead some purchasers.
My view is simple Behringer produce a wide range of budget studio equipment, most of it is usable in semi pro apps, some of it will cut in pro situations especially FOH app's, and some of it is in my opinion is unusable but may still represents value for moneydue to the extremely low pricing that Behringer offer.
I guess that you can call the warm looking LED lit tube effect marketing. Behringer need to sell multiple units in order to sustain their low price structure therefore it is essential to make their products look desirable to purchase, and in fairness that they do extremely well. Ok, I here you say, but that is not good enough for me, I want honesty, well anyone who has spent anytime in the audio profession will know that marketing and product image is part and parcel of our industry and especially lends itself to the areas thatappeal to the aspiring novice producer / engineer who often require effective tools on a diminished budget.
The fact is that you do get a tube in the circuit and it is capable of valve distortion I know I have one. You comment that you suspect that the valve is connected to the circuit but that, "Behringer may have reduced the heater current in order to prolong the life of the valve" and hence may have reduced the warmth. Did you check this, it would be easy to do so!
Would you like to ask Greg Mackie about the bias settings on his mic pre's or suggest that he could have used a little more neggy feedback, no of course not and similarly Behringer have designed their product as they feel fit. Personally I don't feel that the MC 2200 Mic pre is one of my favourite Behringer products, however a dual mic pre that does utilise a tube for £69.00 (I Think that is what I paid)! This brings useable studio equipment to the masses and is a great asset to the student on a budget who needsto get his or her hands on equipment for educational purposes.
I would also like to reinforce my argument here by pointing out that Behringer are not the only company to have simulated tube warmth with LED's. Korg also produced a warm looking vacuum tube in the electribe (and I believe other units) by back lighting them with LED's. I now expect you to research and similarly ridicule Korg with the statement "would you ever buy Korg products again" lol :-)
Behringer make budget products, they need to sell large volumes to make profit, students, novices, and studios on a budget need cheap equipment, Behringer supply such equipment, marketing helps sell their products. Many other manufactures use similar strategies to sell their products. Why have Behringer been singled out andpicked upon by RP?
Ourgate Studios UK
The Music Factory Studios Spain
David Mellor responds...
I think that the above is all fair comment. I specified two of these units for a project and they have worked well for several years. I chose them because they were at the right price point, in the absence of suitable alternatives at the time, and with only one exception (headphones) I have never been disappointed with a Behringer product, taking Behringer's pricing into consideration.
I could have managed very well without the tube. I wanted plain and simple, without surplus 'warmth'. But alternatives were absent so the MIC 2200 it had to be.
Despite the fact that I didn't choose the unit for its tube, when we discovered that LEDs were used to simulate a tube glow, I did not think, "Oh, what brilliant marketing". I didn't immediately feel conned either - we all just had a good laugh at Behringer's cheek.
But to be perfectly honest, I don't see this as progress of any kind in sound engineering technology. Behringer can compete perfectly well on the strength of their designs, quality of production and low prices. That is really all we need.
And what emotion will Behringer employees feel on reading about this? Embarassment at being found out, I would guess.
Further comments are welcome.