MUSIC Tribe/BEHRINGER is one of the largest manufacturer of loudspeakers, amplifiers, powered mixers, synthesizers, computer-based recording and DJ products, microphones, headphones, wireless systems, musical instruments and professional lighting systems.
Behringer is an audio equipment company founded by the Swiss engineer Uli Behringer in 1989, in Willich, Germany. Behringer was listed as the 14th largest manufacturer of music products in 2007. This compamy is a multinational group of companies, with direct marketing presence in 10 countries or territories and a sales network in over 130 countries around the world. Though originally a German manufacturer, the company now makes its products in China.
The company is owned by Music Group, a holding company chaired by Uli Behringer, which also owns other audio companies such as Midas, Klark Teknik and Bugera, as well as Electronic Manufacturing Services company Eurotec. In June 2012, Music Group also acquired Turbosound company, which designs and manufactures professional loudspeaker systems and was formerly owned by Harman.
1989–2001: Foundation and early development
Uli Behringer, the company’s founder, was committed to music and technology from a very early age, and had constructed a synthesizer (the UB-1) by the age of 16.
While studying sound engineering and classical piano at the Robert Schumann conservatory in Düsseldorf, Brand found the university had limited equipment for student use, so he started to build his own products. His fellow students requested equipment from him too, and soon he was receiving more orders than he could handle himself, leading to the creation of Behringer Inc. In the early days, Behringer focused on studio audio processors such as noise reduction systems and compressors, but the product line soon included guitar amps, PA amplifiers and loudspeakers, mixing boards, stompboxes, recording interfaces, microphones, digital pianos, guitars, lighting equipment, etc. The appeal of Behringer’s products was the package of performance and low price.
While company`s products were manufactured in Willich, Germany, many of the individual components were imported from mainland China. In 1990, to lower production costs, Brand shifted production from West Germany to mainland China. Initially, subcontractors were engaged to produce the equipment. By 1997, Uli Behringer had relocated to Hong Kong in an effort to supervise manufacturing quality and to better understand Chinese culture.
In May 2000, They acquired the rights to the entire CoolAudio technology from Intersil Corporation, a US-based semi-conductor manufacturer. CoolAudio is a high-power Class-D amplification technology with power ratings up to 4,000 Watts and efficiencies up to 90%, which has been rated as high audio quality. The acquisition included an extensive intellectual property portfolio and licensees such as Alpine and Rowe, among others.
2002–2007: Behringer City
In 2002, They completed its own factory, Behringer City, in Zhongshan of China’s Guangdong province after it consolidated more than ten separate production locations into one vertically integrated plant. Comprising eight buildings that produces electronics, speakers, guitars and digital pianos and also hosts an onsite health clinic. This strategy was different than that taken by other musical instrument companies who used third party manufacturers. Choosing to run a self-contained plant allowed Behringer a greater level of quality control. The 1,200,000-square-foot (110,000 m2) manufacturing complex in Zhongshan ships more than 2.5 million products per year to markets around the globe. The plant turns out over 50,000 mixers per month with a failure rate that is less than 0.1%.
Inspired by lean manufacturing, and driven by the Kaizen philosophy of continual improvement, Behringer makes efforts to help its employees to improve. “Behringer University” supplies employees with training resources and E-learning courses to hone their career skills within the company. This project includes classes for management, career planning, health, language, and general knowledge.
In February 2006, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined $1M, issuing a Notice of Apparent Liability against Behringer, claiming that 50 of the company’s products had not been tested for conducted and radiated emissions limits as required by US law, and noting that Behringer continued to sell the products for a year after being notified. Behringer had believed that since the units had passed stringent European CE standards, they would also comply with FCC verification requirements. According to compamy, it had overlooked the differences in testing standards and procedures under FCC and European requirements and has since implemented a complete UL certified safety and EMC testing laboratory under the UL certified witness program, including an in-house audit and global regulatory review system.
In June 1997, Mackie accused Behringer of trademark and trade dress infringement, and brought suit seeking $327M in damages but such claims were later rejected by the court. In their suit, Mackie said that Behringer had a history of copying products by other manufacturers and selling them as their own. The Mackie suit detailed an instance, in which Behringer was sued by Aphex Systems for copying the Aural Exciter Type F—in that case Aphex Systems won 690,000 Deutsche Mark. The Mackie suit also mentioned similar cases filed by BBE, dbx and Drawmer. On 30 November 1999, the U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington, dismissed Mackie claims that Behringer had infringed on Mackie copyrights with its MX 8000 mixer, noting that circuit schematics are not covered by copyright laws.
In 2005, Roland Corporation sued to enforce Roland’s trade dress, trademark, and other intellectual property rights with regard to Behringer’s recently released guitar pedals. The two companies came to a confidential settlement in 2006 after Behringer changed their designs.
In 2009 Peavey Electronics Corp. filed two lawsuits against various companies under Music Group umbrella for patent infringement, federal and common law trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution and unfair competition. In 2011 The Music Group filed a lawsuit against Peavey for “false advertising, false patent marking and unfair competition”.
In 2018, Behringer/Music Tribe attempted to file a libel suit against Dave Smith Instruments (now Sequential) and 20 anonymous forum users for making what it referred to as “false, defamatory and libelous” remarks about its recent line of synthesizers based on previous historic gear such as the Minimoog, Oberheim’s OB-Xa and Sequential’s own Pro-One. Although the lawsuit was directed mainly at the forum users, DSI was involved because an engineer who worked for them was a participant in the discussions. The lawsuits were dismissed.