Creating great music is impossible without the right music creation equipment, regardless of how good your post-production setup might seem.
If you’ve been guilty of investing money in the wrong items, a high-quality synthesizer should be top of the agenda. Otherwise, you’ll continue to all into the same pitfalls. This honest Behringer Neutron review will show you why it’s one of the best options on the market.
Presenting The Behringer Neutron Paraphonic Analogue And Semi-Modular Synthesizer
The Behringer Neutron paraphonic analogue and semi-modular synthesizer is the second analogue synthesizer offering from the German manufacturer, succeeding the Deepmind 12 to emulate the classic CEM3340 system found in synthesizers that dominated the music scene throughout the 1970s and 1980s. By combining the best features of the traditional synthesizer with a few modern twists, the Neutron is widely considered one of the best semi-modular solutions at an affordable price point.
Behringer is one of the world’s biggest audio equipment manufacturers, producing mixers, keyboards, drum kits, bass amplifiers, speaker systems, and more. Despite being a latecomer to the analogue synthesizer arena, the reputation of the brand has enabled them to find their way to the top table in no time. While the Deepmind 12 was good, the features of the Neutron take their game to a whole new level.
The Neutron is promoted as a fun and flexible synthesizer that can be used by professionals, aspiring musicians, and casual players alike. It’s immediate popularity highlights the revival of the synth while, unlike some of the brand’s products, the Behringer model has its unique appearance and function.
Its many knobs and dials may be daunting at first, but casual users can still create great beats and tracks. Conversely, the plethora of mix settings and features allow for a professional performance that works in the home studio or at gigs.
- Modernizes the classic CEM3340 systems
- Great versatility for causal and professional music producers
- Tone Mod enables you to add harmonically interesting sonics
- No patch cables are included
- Audible bleed from delays
- No linear FM
Features & Benefits
The Behringer Neutron has quickly become one of the most popular affordable semi-modular analogue synthesizers on the market. However, after having my fingers burnt by following the herd on several occasions, I believe that checking the features of any music creation device is vital.
It’s evident that the Neutron has a lot of great features, including but not limited to the following:
Appearances aren’t as important as functional elements. Nonetheless, you cannot ignore the fact that you’ll form opinions on the synthesizer before you’ve even turned it on. When dropping your favorite mixes, there’s no question that looking the part makes you feel the part too.
The Neutron’s iconic red faceplate and black detailing is instantly recognizable by those in the know. It’s a great feature that fills me with confidence when producing music in front of friends or strangers. Meanwhile, all dials are laid out in a very pleasing fashion. Despite the use of 36 knobs and various buttons, the unit is surprisingly compact without causing you to accidentally knock other switches.
Whether you wish to admit it or not, the look of your synthesizer unit will seriously influence your enjoyment – even if it doesn’t influence the output or performance.
While the Neutron is a unique product, Behringer couldn’t design a product without borrowing some ideas from others. The two oscillator chips are included with the Curtis 3340 reissues firmly in mind. This is a great feature as it truly gives you that connection with synths of the golden era.
The triangle-based ICs provide hard sync, soft sync and pwm, linear and exponential frequency control as well as saw and triangle outputs. The 10-octave range from -5 to +5, along with the 32’/16’/8′ settings and the easy blend between the two oscillators put you in great control. While you must blend between the three waveforms, the modulate features allow for the full potential of the two oscillator chips to be utilized in style.
It takes some getting used to, especially if you wish to use the Tone Mod feature, but the rewards for doing so are spectacular.
In addition to boasting two oscillators that replicate the glory of the 3340, the Neutron allows users to control the two OSCs independently. This is a model-defining feature that separates it from virtually all other analogue synthesizers available at this price point. It is the feature that opens the door to a world of new creative opportunities.
The ability to use a monodic architecture, in which one note is played at a time, to emulate the performance of a polyphonic system gives the Behringer model the feel of a far more expensive model. Once you are familiar with playing a second note or voice without triggering a new envelope, it is possible to push creativity to a whole new level.
When supported by the quality of sound and the control provided by 36 nobs and 7 buttons, this is a truly versatile unit that can be used by everyone from novice to professional.
The audio paths are a central focus that grab the initial attention. The auxiliaries are equally crucial to making the modular work, though, and is another area where the Behringer Neutron has a lot to offer. For starters, the sheer volume of auxiliaries on offer enable you to rewire the synth when it’s in its unpatched configuration.
Auxiliary components include two attenuators 9including one that has a CV), two 2-in-1 summers, a patchable slew rate limiter and a hardwired Portamento limited, a sample-and-hold circuit, and a 1-to-2 passive multiple. This complements the ADSR, VCA, and filter envelopes as well as the digital five-waveform LFO that make up the synthesizer modulator components. The ability to configure things to your personal tastes makes this unit special.
The only thing missing is the option of normalling the input to a DC voltage.
Round Warm Sound
If you’ve ever used lower-end equipment in the past, you may have been left with a bland sound that suffers from a noticeable lack of body. This isn’t an issue with the Neutron as the sound is naturally rounded and warm. This is hugely beneficial for new users, allowing for a great sound even before mastering the intricacies of the model.
The triangle-core VCOs, filter, and overdrive all work together to prevent the bottom end thinning out. The heavy bass sounds aren’t the only ones to benefit from this rounded sound. Percussion instrument sounds are equally supported by the rounded warm sounds. Creating lifeless tracks can become a thing of the past, which is a huge help to any user. I love that even laying a simple beat for fun can boast professional production values.
It is still possible to get an acid-style scream or a flat sound if you want to, but it takes a conscious effort. Given that most people rarely need this, it is a winning attribute.
There’s no escaping the need to seek value for money, which is why weighing up the aesthetic and functional features of any synthesizer, analogue or digital, against the cost of the unit is essential. While some users may prefer a basic option or an advanced unit that costs a lot more, the Neutron is the best of its kind.
It is significantly cheaper than many of the alternatives that can match its performance levels. Conversely, it’s minor price increase compared to budget options unlocks a host of extra features. Ultimately, it is a premium quality product at a middle of the line price range. When added to the reliability of the German manufacturer, most would agree that this is the best choice for anyone looking to buy a synth at this price bracket.
Any music production purchase feels better when you have grabbed a bargain. For this reason and the others mentioned above, the Neutron is an ideal choice.
Within minutes of using the Neutron, I knew that this was the best semi-modular analogue synthesizer available at an affordable price. Still, I wanted to discover what others have to say about the product, particularly to see if there is a difference of opinion between casual and professional users.
The overwhelming response of synth users of all experience levels and backgrounds seems very positive. From the quality of sound to the versatility and control, various functional features have been pinpointed by fans. Here are just some of the reviews:
Behringer’s first semi-modular analogue synth was released just 18 months before the Neutron, and has a lot of likeable features including the use of two OSCs and the 8-channel modulation matrix.
However, contrary to what your natural instincts might say, it’s not a cheaper model. Crucially, the period between the two releases allowed the German manufacturer to fine tune several features, which is why the Neutron will be a preference for most.
The Chugan Gakken SX-150 Mk II analogue synthesizer is an option that may be embraced by casual users as it rolls several key functions into one compact device. The mini yet mighty synthesizer allows you to control everything with just seven knobs and a couple of buttons.
It’s a very affordable option that’s particularly suited to novices that are trying to decipher whether a synth is right for their setup. Still, it should be noted that anyone who later wants to unlock the full potential of a synth will subsequently need to upgrade.
Moog’s DFAM semi-modular percussion synth is relatively similar in appearance (excluding the color) while it is capable of producing professional results for serious synth users too. However, the unit is double the price and is arguably no more versatile.
The DFAM still boasts several great features including two OSCs with square and triangle waveforms and a 10 octave frequency range. So, those with a clear preference for Moog may still choose this option.
Ultimately, though, most people will find that the Behringer Neutron is the perfect addition to their setup. For value, function, and aesthetics, it is a truly brilliant semi-modular synth.
Behringer Neutron Conclusion
A synthesizer is a piece of equipment that takes your music production to a whole new level, surpassing anything that can be achieved with standard computer software or your basic musical instruments. I’ve regularly fallen victim to throwing ideas away due to not being able to turn them into the finished article. The Neutron makes this a far less likely outcome.
The Behringer Neutron opens the door to new creative possibilities, especially as the paraphonic OSCs essentially turn it into a premium piece of equipment. Whether creating loops, laying down beats, or transitioning between two sounds, this piece of equipment does it all while also satisfying your need for a stunning sound and equally beautiful aesthetic.
To check out the Behringer Neutron synthesizer in further detail, click here for full information on the ultra-compact speakers.
Things To Consider Before Buying An Analogue Synthesizer
Until you use a synthesizer, your musical creations are likely to remain limited. Meanwhile, opting for an inadequate unit can lead to lifeless beats with poor production values. A high-quality semi-modular synthesizer allows you to create the distinct sounds that you desire.
While opting for an analogue synthesizer that brings an authentic sound that taps into the atmosphere o the glory years is a fantastic option, it’s not for everyone. Depending on your style of music, and age, it may be better to use a digital synthesizer or a drum loop kit. However, if you’re set on an analogue synthesizer to take your creations to the next level, you must consider the following;
- The price of the unit,
- Whether it can be configured to your setup,
- Compatibility with other music production equipment,
- Aesthetic beauty,
- OSC performance,
- Ease of use,
- Its ability to meet your evolving talent and requirements.
For the right type of creator, the Behringer Neutron paraphonic analogue and semi-modular synthesizer is perfectly positioned to satisfy immediate and long-term needs.