Behringer PRO-800 ► 100+ custom sounds
Presets compatible with firmware ver 1.26 or higher.
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What’s in the bundle?:
You will receive all sounds and all sequences from all my demos. This is 99 unique patches (100 in total) plus midi files of the sequences.
What format / import method?:
My soundpack comes as a sysex file. You will have the option to choose the destination bank (you will be able to import my presets into banks B or C or D on your PRO-800). You can use a sysex manager (like the free MIDI-OX for example) or the Behringer SynthTribe app. My sequences come in “.mid” format (Standard MIDI Format) and can be imported to your DAW (just an option).
What genre / style?:
There is no one style, because YOU decide what style these patches will be played in. It’s a wide variety of sounds that are meant to inspire, make you look at the synth in a different light and give you a great choice of directions. Some patches are bread & butter, some offbeat; they’re the result of me trying to find the limits of the instrument. The sounds are ready-to-use in music or can serve as starting points; just pick the textures or dynamics that you like and easily fine-tune them to suit your exact taste or purpose.
What else should I know before buying?:
1.26 is the minimum firmware version you must have to play these sounds. However, I recommend v 1.41 or higher. The set is pretty experimental so some patches are not tuned into “C” note (in other words if you hit C on your midi keyboard, the preset will sound like “D” or “E”, etc. – you can retune the presets via the Master Tune knob or via the Oscillator Freq knobs). I used some EQ-ing on chosen patches. I also used simple external chorus / delay and / or reverb on the majority of patches. You can listen to a wet-dry comparison here: link. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have.
Notes on grades lower than 3/3:
[modern]: it’s a recreation of a simple vintage synth;)
[organic]: nice classic analogue vibe, but a bit too stable / precise
[engine]: no mod matrix, no FX, one filter, etc.
[flex]: not a chameleon, but polymod & envelopes save the score
[ui]: membrane buttons, some important features in menus
[build q]: slow CPU? + ghost editing + loose screw in my unit
[soft / mgmt]: rudimentary app, haphazard updates, no downgrading
DAY 1: DOUBT
The amount of politics, bickering and clickbait drama around this manufacturer has made me really nauseous and unwilling to become a part of this reality in any way. But it would be silly not to visit the controversial Las Vegas and not judge the experience yourself. Is it fun? Is it a real city, or a freak-of-nature kind of town built in the most stupid place possible – the middle of a desert? Even if so, does it make the town not worth visiting or living in? There’s only one way to discover true answers to these questions…
More consequential is the fact that I owned the Prophet-600 a couple of years back so I was curious to check out the Pro-800 from the very moment it was announced. When it finally arrived to my doorstep and I took it out of the box and started to mess with it, my first impressions were… very bad. The quality of the product seemed low – there was a totally loose screw in the panel which I had to fix into its place. The blister buttons were hard to press. Also, it seemed to me like too many of the synth’s features were hidden in the menu – and the menu parameters were only accessible via the questionable membrane buttons (guess what – just like in the original Prophet 600!;) Then some ghost editing started to happen and make the display go crazy with random values.
DAY 2: APPROVAL
However, I made the ghost editing / random screen values go away when I turned the display time to null. If the membrane buttons are hard to press yet this fact prolongs their longevity – then let it be. As far as the screw goes, I’m giving Behringer the benefit of the doubt – probably my unit was simply an unlucky one (my friend who owns several Behringer gear pieces has not reported any problems at all). The significant amount of real-time controls on the Pro-800 made me concentrate on pure sound design and, step by step, I forgot about all these issues. The more I played the thing, the faster my disappointment gave way to enjoyment. The synth sounded cool in its own right and it had a fair share of engine goodies that I needed: filter FM, oscillator FM and random LFO, to name a few. I really dig synths that sound fuzzy & raspy, not too thick and not too clean – warm on the one hand yet a bit metallic on the other. And the Pro-800 has all these qualities in its timbre.
DAY 3: CREATION
Then something quickly became “conspicuous by its absence”, if I may quote a classic. Of course I mean the lack of effects and lack of stereo output. I hooked the synth up to a bunch of stereo effects, which injected a new lifeforce into the otherwise “passive” sound. I’ve had the same kind of feeling with my Microfreak. Some synths just need a companion, an “animator”, if you will – especially if they come with only one LFO and no FX.
Then I pressured myself to read through the (horribly-structured) manual 6 or 7 times until I learned all the button combinations allowing me to quickly reach the envelope curves, lfo shapes, aftertouch values and things of that sort (hint: don’t try to read these calculator-like characters – just cast a quick glance on the display and your brain will decode the words better than you do).
Finally, I dug out my old Prophet-600 sounds from an old drive and tried to recreate them – with an acceptable degree of success. Speaking of recreations – the Pro-800 definitely sounds like a clone of Prophet-600, but does not sound 100% like the real Prophet-600. This is why I say “an acceptable degree of success”. Simple structures sound pretty identical, but the further you go into the wacky territory, the more obvious the nuances become. In the grand scheme of things those differences are negligible, but if you want my nerdy opinion, the Prophet-600 timbre seems brighter while the Pro-800 sounds a bit darker & more stable (less “organic”?) in comparison.
Still, I’ve made my share of cool and unique sounds with the Pro-800 so I’m contented. I’m always interested in the sound itself and its appeal in its own right, regardless of its “recreational” capability. Just bear in mind that both of my Pro-800 demos that I’ve published are the most “FX-ed” demos I’ve ever made. I practically never use any external FX for my patches because a lot of synths come with onboard FX. If I come across a synth that does need FX-ing (like Microfreak or Moog Sub-37), it usually boils down to reverb, or delay, or EQ-ing. However, with Pro-800 I’ve been using delay AND reverb AND chorus AND EQ-ing. Without this treatment the timbres sounded too wishy-washy / predictable in the context of a 10-minute long video. This, of course, may say more about my approach / artistic vision than the synth itself.
If you want to know my view on the downsides of this synth, it seems like the Pro-800 display / interface processor is kinda slow. There’s a noticeable lag during the tweaking process – the LCD screen is not updating values in real time. It feels a little bit like playing a video game on an underpowered computer. But the majority of parameters do not need a display at all – you can just use the dedicated knobs.
The software side of things looks a little bit worse. If you made your sounds on firmware 1.26 (in June), a couple of weeks later you had to re-tweak these sounds to make them sound the same on v 1.27. Then again, in September, version 1.37 was released which meant new re-tweaks, as the behavior of the synth was changed and patches began to sound differently. December is around the corner and I’m still seeing people complaining about some weird changes in new firmware releases. Objectively speaking that’s super-cool when a company makes improvements to their synths. But it should be done wisely and not haphazardly.
What’s more, the user should have the freedom to choose which version they want to stick with, but for whatever reason Behringer does not allow to downgrade your Pro-800 to an earlier OS. If you want to just mess around on your Pro-800, do some “dawless jammin” and stuff – then you’re gonna be fine. But if you want to treat the synth seriously and use it in a concrete project of any kind, then think twice before you push that update button.
(I’m wondering if Behringer is pursuing the strategy of “minimum viable product” – releasing a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development).
PRO vs PROPHETS
I’ve seen this issue / question pop up quite often. Some people have the impression the Pro-800 sounds “better” than Sequential’s contemporary Prophets (like the Prophet-6 for example). While for the riders of high horses this may sound like a travesty or blasphemy, I can understand that point of view and I can relate with that impression, but it’s a tricky thing.
It’s pretty evident and easy to judge in an objective way (as in “with your ears”) that any Sequential synth sounds “fuller”, more “track-ready”, more “pro” or more “3D” – whatever that means. These are just my words I choose to communicate my feelings to you. Once you hear these qualities in a Prophet-6 for example, it’s inevitable that the Pro-800 will sound “worse” or “flat”, no matter how long you’ve been playing it – an hour or a month. It’s not the kind of synth that “grows on you” or turns into a “chameleon” after X months of learning it. It’s just too simple.
Yet the moment we hook up the more “lo-fi” or “basic” sounding Pro-800 to a variety of external FX, oftentimes the vibe is starting to get more “vintage” or “organic”. It’s just a different kind of reality. We’re putting the hi-fi sounding Prophet-6 with its internal effects on one side of the fence, while on the other side we have the more gnarly or primeval-sounding Pro-800 which evolves into various forms after you employ an independent FX unit of your choice.
Of course we’re comparing different filter designs here, which makes the whole comparison idea silly, so the most interesting question is how would our Behringer sound compared to a modern version of the Prophet-600 released by modern-day Sequential. But I don’t see such a thing happening in San Francisco any time soon;)
The fun time that I’ve had with this synth and my effects boxes inspires me to imagine a full size Pro-800 that brings onto the surface all the features hidden in the menus, comes with an additional highpass filter and EQ + analog distortion. And stereo out + voice panning. And a mod matrix where all of it is modulatable. And…;)
I can only wonder how much it would cost. The current price of Pro-800 with its 8 voices, decent vintage sound and knobby interface makes it a serious threat to the competition in a hypothetical price-to-features contest. If we discard all the dwarf synths like Volcas and Airas, then we have the $350 – $450 segment with Arturia Microfreak, Korg Monologue, Sonicware Liven, Yamaha Reface, Waldorf Pulse, Roland Boutique or Dreadbox stuff. However, some of these synths aren’t even poly, or they don’t come with patch memory, or they have miniscule (uncomfortable) controls. Only the Novation Mininova or the Korg Microkorg seem to be in the same weight class, but they have a totally different vibe than the Pro-800.
It’s just too bad our current zeitgeist is that we often have to be unaware & non-paid beta-testers to synth companies. The deeper & deeper reliance of modern synths on “code”, the unfortunate blunders or weak control of said code, the non-reversible firmware “upgrades” – all of that creates a new kind of environment. It makes me wonder about what it means for a synth to be a “hardware synth”. Is hardware still hardware? Of course if you look at the reality in a certain way, you will come to the conclusion there never existed a true “hardware only” synth. But what I mean is this: in the past, buying a hardware synth was the easy way for those of us who don’t have the patience for the antics of the cyberspace or the whims of the coders. Alas, it seems that road is narrowing down with each passing year.
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