Behringer K2 Review (Best Semi-Modular Synth For Beginners?)

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Behringer K2 Review (Best Semi-Modular Synth For Beginners?)
VERDICT
A budget-friendly semi-modular synthesizer, the Behringer K2 has something great to offer at a price you’ll love. The K2 can also be your gateway to the wild world of modular synths and hybrid rigs.
Sound Quality
9
Features
9
Playability
7
PROS
Affordable MS-20 tone in a small desktop size
Easy to use
Excellent introduction to modular synthesis
CONS
Lacks keyboard accessibility and the complete customization of a fully modular synth
8.3
OUR SCORE
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Behringer has developed a bit of a reputation for almost exclusively cloning popular effects pedals and units from decades past and recreating them in modern, affordable enclosures.

Tone purists may have their qualms with the budget-friendly German powerhouse, but for deal-seekers and working musicians alike, Behringer dominates when it comes to affordable music gear.

While some big names seem amusingly out of touch with what their customers want, Behringer is quite cunning in this area, delivering on features and cost while remaining surprisingly faithful to the original designs that ‘influenced’ them.

The Behringer K2 synth is no different, taking a stab at recreating the classic Korg MS-20.

Behringer Synthesizer (K-2)
$329.00

With 36 dedicated knobs for hands-on control and the option to Poly Chain up to 16 modules, the Behringer K-2 semi-modular synthesizer represents big creative potential.

Why We Love It:
  • Emulates the sounds of a classic 70s synth
  • 16-voice Poly Chain capability
  • Easy to use layout
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Behringer K2 Review: Our Verdict

It can be overwhelming to dive into the vast world of synthesizers, but the K2 proves to be a great semi-modular synth for beginners because of its killer sound quality, affordability, and simplicity.

Despite not having a built-in keyboard, this desktop module still delivers an enormous bang for your buck regardless of skill level.

Sound Quality (9/10)

The K2 has extremely similar tonal properties to the MS-20 and acts as a semi-authentic soundalike.

It features a 100% analog signal path that mimics the original Korg circuitry. This means that with patch cables, you can get all the same modulated and oscillated sounds of  the famous 70s synth.

Even though the K2 is a semi-modular synthesizer, the patch points make it possible to override almost all the internal connectors.

The given voltage-controlled effects, oscillators, and modulators can be mixed and matched in the patch bay for almost limitless sonic possibilities. 

Though there are plenty of options for tones, the layout lends itself to playing huge, fuzzed-out lead lines and bass lines. If you want anything a little more interesting, you’ll have to start cracking out the patch cables.

This synth responds to external control, meaning you can patch in other synth tones, drum pads, guitars, sequencers, and more. You could even process vocals for pitch tracking and modulated sounds.

This is definitely more of an in-studio synth because modules can be a bit tricky to patch quickly for a live setup. However, it’s still fairly simple to use, so if you need it for a live scenario it can absolutely get the job done.

Features (9/10)

This Behringer desktop module has one key visual difference from the Korg MS-20, and that’s that it doesn’t have a built-in keyboard.

It features all the voltage-controlled effects of a traditional modular synth, as well as MIDI-controlled functions and USB connection in an easy-to-use layout.

Since it’s compatible with MIDI-controlled rigs, it can even act as a MIDI to CV converter. This allows it to receive a MIDI input and send a voltage-controlled output. 

The Behringer K2 models several generations of the Korg MS-20, giving it a variety of features that don’t exist all in one Korg device. For example, it features both filter revisions of the original MS-20, so you get the best of both worlds all in one synth.

For those unfamiliar, the original MS-20 was a dual-oscillator, semi-modular desktop synth. The K2 has followed suit but shed a little weight in the process. Without the keyboard, the K2 is lighter and easier to merge into your own current rig. 

Korg is not an easy brand to replicate, but Behringer managed to capture the vintage charm with a few modern touches.

Since the K2 is a semi-modular synth, it contains all the voltage-controlled parameters in the patching bay for limitless customization, but it also has default routings. That means that you can patch effects as much as you like, but you don’t need to do any immediate patching to play.

(If you’re curious about modular synthesis, read more in Modular Synthesis Basics (How It Works and How to Dive In))

This makes it perfect for synth veterans who love to experiment with different patches, but also usable to those who are new to modular synths. Whether you like plug-and-play simplicity or the painstaking detail of custom tones, there’s plenty to work with here.

The Behringer K2 features 36 controls for quick access to parameters with 4 oscillator shapes, 2 envelope generators, and much more. To put it briefly, there’s a lot packed into this little device, and depending on what you’re looking for in a synth, you may even get more than you bargained for.

Playability (7/10)

If the Behringer K2 synth lacks in any aspect, it’s probably in playability. However, this is not from a faulty interface or hard-to-use layout.

It’s mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t have a built-in keyboard, so users will have to use an external keyboard and put the K2 synth somewhere in their signal path.

This is not a deal-breaker though, as many professional or more experienced players will have an external keyboard and enough effects to make the K2 another piece of their tonal puzzle.

It will be more of an issue for beginner players who may not own much gear or know what to expect from a semi-modular synthesizer. 

However, aside from that, the K2 has a fairly easy-to-use interface and is compact enough for most beginners to learn its layout quickly.

Even the patch bay is more user-friendly than it looks. With MIDI controls and USB connection, it can be plugged into most existing rigs with little hassle. 

If beginner players are willing to get an external keyboard and take the time to learn about semi-modular synthesizers, it can open up a whole new world of sonic possibilities.

Behringer Synthesizer (K-2)
$329.00

With 36 dedicated knobs for hands-on control and the option to Poly Chain up to 16 modules, the Behringer K-2 semi-modular synthesizer represents big creative potential.

Why We Love It:
  • Emulates the sounds of a classic 70s synth
  • 16-voice Poly Chain capability
  • Easy to use layout
View Price On Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

So…Is The Behringer K2 Worth It?

Behringer prides itself on its budget-friendly prices, and this synthesizer is no different. Compared to an original Korg MS-20, the K2 is about one-third of the price. 

Most modern desktop modular synths are at least twice the price of the K2. This means that spanning the time and space of vintage and modern markets, the Behringer K2 is fantastic value.

Even though the K2 is only a semi-modular synth, it’s a great first step for a beginner looking to enter the world of modular synthesizers or just synthesis in general.

The customizable nature of modular synths can be overwhelming, and many first-timers may be afraid of biting off more than they can chew. The K2 is a great middle-ground option, with the simplicity of a traditional synth, but the customizable options of a modular. 

Though it lacks keyboard accessibility and the complete customization of a fully modular synth, the K2 still punches way above its price point.

For beginners and intermediate players looking to add to their rig and become experienced enough for the big time, this is a great stepping stone to the wild world of modular synths and hybrid rigs.

Whether you’re a beginner on a budget or a pro that’s looking for the classic Korg sound, this analog synth has a lot to offer at a price you’ll love.

FAQ

Is the Behringer K2 an authentic soundalike to the Korg MS-20?

In short, yes. The circuitry is a replication of the MS-20 and the parameters are very similar. You should be able to get very similar tones from the K2, though your tone settings may be different on each synthesizer. 

For example, if you set the waveform control to 3 o’clock on the K2, that may not sound the same as 3 o’clock on the MS-20. Of course, some controls will be different entirely, but for most intents and purposes, the K2 is a soundalike to the MS-20.

Where can I find an external keyboard for the K2?

There is no shortage of externally-controlled keyboards available on the market today. They range in size and price, from budget-friendly mini keyboards to full-size professional ones. 

Most keyboards offer MIDI and USB connections, so you should be able to sync up to the K2 without any hassle. Retailers like Guitar Center, Sweetwater Music, and even Amazon have a ton of options to choose from no matter what your budget or intended uses may be.

In order to connect to the Behringer K2, you’ll also need the corresponding MIDI or USB cables. Take this into consideration before buying or installing your rig.

(For ideas on small and compact MIDI keyboards, check out our roundup of the 7 Best Portable MIDI Keyboards!)

Is the Behringer K2 compatible with Eurorack modules?

While it is possible to install a K2 in a modular case, this normally requires some modifications. While something like the Neutron is more readily compatible, the K2 is a desktop synthesizer that is of better use alongside a Eurorack system rather than inside one.

For synthesizers not compatible with other Eurorack modules, Behringer makes a converter. The 961 Interface can be used alongside other Eurorack modules to better interface with your desktop synthesizers. However, you will need a different module if you want to use your Eurorack sequencers to control the pitch of the K2, as it is not 1V/Oct compatible.

Behringer 961 Analog Multi-Channel Trigger Converter Module

Based on a module from a famed 1960s and 70s modular synthesizer system, the Behringer 961 analog multi-channel trigger converter Eurorack module features all-analog discrete circuitry to deliver the authentic tone and behavior of the original unit.

Why We Love It:
  • Offers flexible control
  • Eurorack ready
  • An authentic reproduction
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One of the benefits of having a Eurorack system is that you can have all of your patch points in one area.

For many producers and players, a Eurorack case is the pinnacle of experimental sound. It’s a headfirst dive into the world of modular devices. Ultimately this semi-modular synthesizer is a great choice as a hands-on sound generator to use alongside your other oscillators, generators, and filters.