Bob Craypoe (also known as R. L. Crepeau) is a musician, writer, webmaster, 3D artist, and creator of the Punksters comic strip series.
Behringer has a reputation for manufacturing low-cost guitar effects pedals. Some people frown upon them because they believe that you get what you pay for and since you don’t pay very much for their pedals, they must be junk. I don’t agree with that assessment though. I feel that many of their pedals offer a good quality sound at a decent, affordable price. But allow me to get into the specifics.
A little background Information About Behringer
Behringer is an audio equipment company founded by a Swiss engineer by the name of Uli Behringer. The company was founded in 1989, in Willich, Germany. Currently, Behringer is among the top twenty manufacturers of music products. Behringer is now comprised of a multinational group of companies that sells their products in over 130 countries. Although it was originally a German manufacturer, the company now makes its many products in China. But, in this day and age, who doesn’t?
Behringer manufactures a variety of musical products. They manufacture the following: guitar effects pedals, rackmount units, PA systems and speakers, monitors, amplifiers, microphones, keyboards, synths, drum machines, wireless microphones and receivers and a whole lot more. It’s actually quite a lengthy list of products and, to me, a bit impressive because there really are not a lot of musical equipment manufacturers that offer the variety of products that they do.
Not all of their products are extremely cheap though. Believe it or not, they do have some products that will cost you more than $1,500. However, they do offer a wide variety of products that are very affordable, or cheap as some would say, and the fact that many of their products are so cheap leads some to think they are low quality products.
My Experience With Various Behringer Products
The very first Behringer product that I ever purchased was the V-Amp. It is a guitar multi-effects unit that costs around $100. It has just about everything. Effects like: distortion, reverb, delay, chorus, flange, phase shifter, amplifier simulation, speaker simulation and much more. You can edit the various patches to your liking and save the settings.
The quality of the sound was much more than satisfactory and I actually used it for both guitar and mandolin. For the mandolin, I just used it mainly as a preamp to boost the volume and I used the tube preamp sound on it to add a bit of warmth, along with some reverb. For the guitar, I used just about everything on it and all of the effects that I used on it sounded fine to me.
The only thing I did not particularly like about the unit was that it was in a plastic housing. I always believed that if I were to drop it, it might not survive the fall. As far as the internal electronics were concerned, I believe that the circuitry was of good quality as is the sound quality and versatility. They also have a V-Amp for the bass guitar and a rackmount version of the bass V-Amp. It would have been nice if they offered a rackmount version of the V-Amp for guitar but they currently do not.
I have performed at some open mics where Behringer powered mixers and speakers were used and the sound quality was fine. My brother uses a Behringer keyboard amplifier for his electronic drums and I also plugged into it with my electric guitar to jam with him and that sounded fine as well. A friend of mine bought a set of Behringer vocal microphones and they sounded fine too. All of the products I just mentioned are available to be purchased at some very low prices, as compared to some of their competitors.
My Experience With Some of Their Guitar Effects Pedals
It really wasn’t until recently that I began to purchase some of Behringer’s individual guitar effects pedals. I currently have: UM300 Ultra Metal Distortion, NR300 Noise Reducer, TO800 Vintage Tube Overdrive, CS400 Compressor/Sustainer and a UT300 Ultra Temolo. So I have a bit of experience with some of their guitar effects pedals.
Many of Behringer’s pedals are clones modeled after products manufactured by other big name manufacturers like Boss, Ibanez, Sans Amp and more. Behringer tries to offer low cost alternatives to those other pedals. Most of the pedals that Behringer manufactures sell for under $25. In the overall scheme of things, that’s pretty good. You could get three or four Behringer pedals for what one pedal from the other manufacturers would cost.
I am most impressed with the Compressor/Sustainer, TO800 Overdrive and the Noise Supressor pedals. The TO800 is modeled after the Ibanez Tube Screamer pedal. Is it exactly like a real Tube screamer? No, but it does come pretty close and at under $25, it’s much cheaper than an Ibanez Tube Screamer, which generally sells for $100 or more, depending on the model you get. I have both a Tube Screamer and the Behringer pedal. I use the Behringer TO800 mainly as a boosting pedal which is what a Tube Screamer is sometimes used for by some musicians. It’s got a good clean boost like the Ibanez pedal. I also like to use it to boost the treble before going into my distortion pedals. It works great for that.
I use the Compressor/Sustainer for the sustain more-so than for the compression. It does what it’s supposed to. The Noise suppressor does what it should has well and is much cheaper than those offered by other manufacturers. The Tremolo pedal is less impressive than the pedals I just mentioned but is a good one for the price. My only complaint with that is that the volume seems to be reduced a bit once the pedal is switched on. The Ultra Medal pedal sounds great while you are playing but produces a lot of hum when you are not. I have noticed that I have to set the threshold on my Noise Supressor higher for the Ultra Metal than I do for the other distortion units I have. That's a bit of an inconvenience.
I used to have the Behringer UO300 Ultra Octaver octave pedal. I was not too impressed with it because when I played the higher notes, the octave below was not very loud at all. A compressor afterwards helped but not enough for my liking. I eventually got a Digitech Drop pedal and it can do the octave things as well as its many other functions, so I no longer had a need for the Behringer Octaver. But most of the units from Behringer, that I have tried, sound and work just fine.
Durability and Other Issues
Okay, here is where most people start to worry, regarding Behringer pedals. They come in a plastic housing and it’s obvious that they could not possibly be as durable as an effects unit with a metal housing. But if you keep the pedals on a pedal board already hooked up, they should technically not be taking a beating as you transport them back and forth to gigs and rehearsals. And unless you really stomp on them or tap dance all over them like Fred Astaire, they should last a while.
One thing you could always do is just buy a bunch of Behringer effects pedals to use for a while and replace them slowly, over time, with more expensive and more durable pedals. This will allow you to have the various effects pedals you want until you get the more durable ones you would eventually want to replace them with. I did that with the octaver pedal.
Another thing that bothers me with Behringer pedals is that the AC power connection is on the side. I prefer it when they are on the top of the unit. But other more expensive brands do the same, so that’s not a deal breaker for me. Replacing the battery is a real nuisance though. You have pins on the sides of where the foot switch is that have to be pushed in in order to open the battery compartment. It’s a bit tricky and I had to look it up online to find out how to open it. In fact, that’s a very common complaint about their pedals.
The Bottom Line
Yes, Behringer guitar effects pedals are very cheap. It often leads many to wonder how good they really must be if they are that cheap. My answer is that they are pretty good and some of their pedals are better than others. Sure, they come in a plastic housing, but that isn’t so bad as long as you have them already hooked up on a pedal board and you transport them carefully. You could get a bunch of pedals for a couple hundred dollars and slowly replace them over time, with more expensive pedals.
They also work fine with other instruments. My brother uses both a Behringer reverb pedal as well as one of their compressor pedals for his electronic drums and they make his drums sound great. I am sure that many of the pedals would work great with keyboards and bass guitar as well. I have a few that I probably will keep until the day they finally die. We’ll see how long that takes but, as long as I don’t beat them around, I figure they should last a while.
© 2019 Bob Craypoe