Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

Bennett Prescott

Just This Guy, You Know?
Staff member
Jan 10, 2011
10,846
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Wallingford, CT
www.bennettprescott.com
Forum goers,

We've just gotten a very exciting opportunity from The Music Group. They have asked if we would be interested in doing a moderated Q&A with Uli Behringer, and of course we said yes. We're going to collect your best questions and submit them to Uli for his answers. This should be a great opportunity to learn a little more about the industry, several of our most beloved brands, and the future of manufacturing for Pro Audio.

The format is thus:
  1. Post your questions here. One question per post, please.
  2. On May 15, or when we have at least 10 good questions, whichever happens first, we will close this thread.
  3. Posts with the most "likes" win. If you can't like a post, ask a friend to like it for you.
  4. Those questions will be forwarded to Uli Behringer and his replies will be posted in another thread for further discussion.
Posts not in the spirit of this community will be deleted. I think that says all I need to say about that.

[Edit: Since Mr. Behringer has decided to reply in somewhat real time, which seems to be working very well, we will abandon this stated format]
 
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Jeff Babcock

Senior
Jan 11, 2011
972
7
18
Ontario, Canada
jeffbabcock.org
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

Q:
Midas and Klark technology/R&D were used in the new X32 digital console, and this console seems to be a significant priority for the Behringer brand. Could you provide some insight into the challenges you faced coordinating and developing this product, as well as a look into the relationship across the Music Group brands in terms of current and future collaborative efforts?
 

Jeff Babcock

Senior
Jan 11, 2011
972
7
18
Ontario, Canada
jeffbabcock.org
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

Q: The Behringer, Bugera, and Eurosound brands have announced MANY new products recently and expanded into new territory. In light of your plans to build a second 4 million square foot manufacturing facility near your current one, are there future plans to scale out Midas and Klark brands with more products as well, or is the intention to keep them as is and leverage their IP while increasing production capacity of the other brands?
 
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Jan 11, 2011
246
0
0
Buffalo NY
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

There is an apparent distrust of behringer products from the pro audio community. What if anything is being done to build or rebuild trust, and how many chances does any company deserve to deliver on their promises?
 

John Roberts

Graduate Student
Jan 12, 2011
2,309
3
38
MS
www.resotune.com
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

Q: Do you feel your corporate philosophy regarding intellectual property has been consistent since day one, or has that philosophy changed over the decades you have been running your business?

JR
 

Jack Arnott

Senior
Jan 29, 2011
737
0
0
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

Hello Uli,

A couple of decades ago I purchase some of your equipment that was manufactured in Germany and is still in use today.
Any units after that, that were not made in Germany were of obviously inferior quality. Not only did they not last, but service was non existent.
It became clear that these embodied a lot of two things that bothered me. Planned obsolescence, and disposable product.
So I stopped buying anything you made, and spent my money with companies who made better products, and had business models that I liked, or at least did not detest.
My dislike goes so far that it is emotional as well a logical. I will not even buy an American wine that only has a name that is similar to your product.
I feel angry even writing this.

I am now old and buy less and less gear, and the money I do spend is on gear of very high quality, so I can do smaller and smaller shows, and make more money.
I also am a frequent contributor and reader of online forums. I have learned a lot about your company simply by reading here.
And I consider forums a good way (if run correctly like I think this place is), to raise a bar in our community, a bar that I consider you to have helped lower.

I have always hated movies where the protagonist has a change of ways and becomes a "good person" overnight, without any work and everyone goes home happy.
It seems to me that you find yourself in a position to now need the professional sound community, after years of selling to ankebiters that have make our business lives hard.

I can feel good about never owning another piece of gear that has your name attached to it.
What can you say that will make me change my mind about not also recommend to my dying day, in online forums such as these, that no-one else ever spend their money with you?

Regards, Jack Arnott
 

TJ Cornish

Graduate
Jan 13, 2011
1,263
0
0
St. Paul, MN
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

Hello Uli,

A couple of decades ago I purchase some of your equipment that was manufactured in Germany and is still in use today.
Any units after that, that were not made in Germany were of obviously inferior quality. Not only did they not last, but service was non existent.
It became clear that these embodied a lot of two things that bothered me. Planned obsolescence, and disposable product.
So I stopped buying anything you made, and spent my money with companies who made better products, and had business models that I liked, or at least did not detest.
My dislike goes so far that it is emotional as well a logical. I will not even buy an American wine that only has a name that is similar to your product.
I feel angry even writing this.

I am now old and buy less and less gear, and the money I do spend is on gear of very high quality, so I can do smaller and smaller shows, and make more money.
I also am a frequent contributor and reader of online forums. I have learned a lot about your company simply by reading here.
And I consider forums a good way (if run correctly like I think this place is), to raise a bar in our community, a bar that I consider you to have helped lower.

I have always hated movies where the protagonist has a change of ways and becomes a "good person" overnight, without any work and everyone goes home happy.
It seems to me that you find yourself in a position to now need the professional sound community, after years of selling to ankebiters that have make our business lives hard.

I can feel good about never owning another piece of gear that has your name attached to it.
What can you say that will make me change my mind about not also recommend to my dying day, in online forums such as these, that no-one else ever spend their money with you?

Regards, Jack Arnott
And here lies the elephant. One way or another, either with these or perhaps slightly less emotional words, this question is the crux of everything: "You seriously pissed me off by the way you did business in the past. Why should I give you another chance?"
 

Greg Cameron

Senior
Jan 11, 2011
615
0
16
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

In recent history, several well known pro audio brands have been purchased by MI level companies such as yourself and little good has come of it for the companies that were acquired in terms of product quality, supply chain, customer service, and the employees themselves. Companies like EAW and Crest Audio come to mind. What are you doing to ensure that the reputation of the brands you have acquired will not suffer the same fate?
 

Phil Graham

Honorary PhD
Mar 10, 2011
651
1
18
Atlanta, GA
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

What is your education, and how did you get started in professional audio. What was the first Behringer product that paid the bills.
 

Uli Behringer

Sophomore
May 1, 2012
166
0
0
Philippines
www.music-group.com
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

Hello everyone,

My name is Uli Behringer, CEO of the Music Group; parent company of Midas, Klark Teknik, Behringer and Bugera.

First of all I would like to thank Bennett and all of you for welcoming me here in your forum. Some time ago a German forum called musiker-board.de reached out to me and asked me whether I am willing to answer questions. I agreed and I have to say it was a great experience. It was a great way for me to learn but also give people insight into our Company. This actually triggered me to reach out to other forums so we can engage more people.

To be perfectly clear I am not here to sell but to listen and answer your questions in an open and honest way. As the Founder and CEO I am the first one to stand up and accept responsibility if we screwed up in any area; but I will also stand up for the Company and our people if I feel criticism is not justified. I will try to answer all questions where I can respond with facts and leave out the ones where I can’t contribute in a meaningful way.

I also understand that some people don’t like us and/or our products and I respect that, too. All I ask is that we engage one another in a polite and respectful manner and make this a useful discussion. In the meantime I will try to better explain who I am, what the Company stands for and what our future direction is.

If I can't respond immediately to your questions it's because I have a very busy schedule and travel quite a bit but I will try to find time.

Thanks again for the opportunity to speak with you all. I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,

Uli
 
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Uli Behringer

Sophomore
May 1, 2012
166
0
0
Philippines
www.music-group.com
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

Dear Jack,

Thank you for your honest comments. While I would argue with some of the assertions, I do respect your point of view and the passion with which you write. Allow me to offer my view.

When I started the company in Germany 23 years ago, I set out to create great product, and do it at a low cost in order to make products available for people who do not have deep pockets. Having been a student with no money myself, I understand the difficulty aspiring musicians have and hence it became my philosophy in life and later the Company philosophy to offer the best possible products at the best possible price.

Admittedly it was easier to maintain low product costs when we were a tiny business literally working out of a barn. Even in those days though we took great care in our designs, board layouts, sought out the best parts and built our products to be reliable and affordable. In those early days I designed everything myself – from the mechanical and circuit design to the PCB layout and I even assembled the products myself. I do understand processes and manufacturing and even today I spend much of my time in our factory as this is where we put a tremendous focus.

20 years ago we moved our manufacturing to Asia in pursuit of lower cost and frankly, better yields. As our volume grew dramatically we discovered that the batch manufacturing we were doing in Germany was no longer able to keep up with demand. So we moved our exact same designs, the exact same parts and the exact same processes to the lower-cost and higher-volume of a contract manufacturer in China.

Obviously there were growing pains as 20 years ago, we were the first audio company to move production to China and no experienced audio manufacturer existed. In order to oversee production I relocated to HK and China and taught those manufacturers how to produce audio products. Ironically today these are the exact same manufacturers who make products for our competitors.

The reality of manufacturing in China is that you must control it or it can wipe you out. We learned that quickly, but those early missteps still haunt us today. In the early years we used 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] party manufacturers such as Kwanasia and others who had little experience with audio products. Also it is common knowledge that those manufacturers substitute parts behind your back in order to maximize profit and your work instructions only last for the time that you are in the factory and are reversed when you leave. Interesting is that Kwanasia whom we abandoned for quality reasons now manufactures for brands such as Avid, Soundcraft, Peavey etc.

Frankly it is a losing battle and this made us decide to open our own manufacturing plant over 10 years ago. Today we are one of the very few companies who own the manufacturing plant and we are proud of our dedicated people and the quality systems. Was it easy? Absolutely not, but it was worth the pain as today it is a huge competitive advantage.

When we acquired Midas, their people made it very clear to me that they would only agree to move manufacturing to China if we would invest in the most sophisticated equipment and they came up with a list that made us spend US$ 20 million last year. We built one of the most high-tech and automated plants in the world with high-precision SMT machines, in-circuit testers, optical inspection systems that automatically check every solder joint and x-ray equipment that can “see” through multilayer boards with fine-pitch and ball-grid parts.

In return however I requested Midas to send their best engineers to be based in China and run the plant. This was the deal and today we have achieved amazing quality and a great teamwork. All our Behringer and Bugera products are now also made on the same equipment and as a result quality is among the best in the business; which is well documented.

Our quality has increased so much that we also introduced a 3-Year Warranty program at the beginning of this year. To be perfectly clear, we do not make disposable products and there is no planned obsolescence. We make great product and because of our scale, in-house manufacturing and purchasing power we can make it at a lower cost. Since the very first day I started the Company, it is our philosophy to share those benefits with our customers and that’s how we achieve great loyalty and a production volume of around 5 million products per year.

As you said your feelings about us are equally emotional as much as logical. The emotional part I cannot address although again, I respect. On the logical side though I want to make it known that we are extremely proud of what we build and how we continue to improve quality and drive down costs to deliver value for our customers.
 
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Eric Cagle

Senior
Jan 20, 2011
678
0
0
Atlanta, GA
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

Hello Uli,
Welcome to the forum and thank you for your time. I bought one of the first Composers sold in the US based solely on the functionality, look, and apparent build quality. It was not an economy product at the time. I had a minor problem with one of the LED meters after a few months, which I had repaired locally, and then used it without problems for the next 10 years. Subsequent purchases were hit and miss as far as reliability and sound were concerned so I eventually stopped buying your products. On the plus side I have always liked the design and feel of your products and the silver owners manuals I used to get with them were absolutely some of the finest and most informative in the industry. As I mentioned in the Behringer line array thread a few months ago, I really want to like your new products. It is the trust factor due to the early problems with the manufactoring in China that got so many of us turned off. It appears that you have taken care of that issue and are backing it up with the 3 year warranty. If that is the case the products will speak for themselves and time is known to heal all wounds. After reading your response to Jack Arnott, which truly addresses some form of what most of us feel, I will consider looking once again at the new Behringer product line as my needs come up, maybe even the line array.
Best of luck!
-Eric
 
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Jason Lavoie

Junior
Jan 13, 2011
459
0
16
Ottawa
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

Uli,

When they were first introduced I bought a pile (30-40) DEQ2496's as they were the cheapest way to give an entry level installation some amount of system tuning.
Of those, we had about a 20-25% failure rate, mostly within the first year. as they were under warranty you guys graciously repaired or replaced all of them, but in the install business, and with our average customer being about 2h away we need something that just doesn't fail in the first place..

I was surprised to see the DEQ2496 still for sale and have to assume that they are no longer failing at the same rate. can you tell us what the MTBF is now vs the first few years? and what specifically you've done with this model to work on that?

I'm trying to be specific here because it's really easy to throw out blanket statements saying that everything is better now, but I want some real numbers that relate to something that I have first-hand knowledge of
Just because I bought a new table saw doesn't automatically mean that every speaker I build will sound better..

FWIW the DEQ still looks like the cheapest way for me to add some password protected EQ to a simple system, but its really hard to even consider given the history.

Jason
 

Grant Johnson

Freshman
May 8, 2012
1
0
0
California
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

Uli,

Now that Behringer has shown that it can compete with high quality products at much lower costs on just about every pro audio item on the market, what are the new horizons out there for Behringer? Surely there are new ways of accessing music that will supplant some of the norms, and it seems Behringer is poised to create some of that. Will Behringer become a software company too, and create musical products in the virtual realm? Bridging the gap between professional and consumer, much like Apple Computer is doing?

Grant
 

Jeff Babcock

Senior
Jan 11, 2011
972
7
18
Ontario, Canada
jeffbabcock.org
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

The reality of manufacturing in China is that you must control it or it can wipe you out. We learned that quickly, but those early missteps still haunt us today.

this made us decide to open our own manufacturing plant over 10 years ago. Today we are one of the very few companies who own the manufacturing plant and we are proud of our dedicated people and the quality systems. Was it easy? Absolutely not, but it was worth the pain as today it is a huge competitive advantage.


When we acquired Midas, their people made it very clear to me that they would only agree to move manufacturing to China if we would invest in the most sophisticated equipment and they came up with a list that made us spend US$ 20 million last year. We built one of the most high-tech and automated plants in the world with high-precision SMT machines, in-circuit testers, optical inspection systems that automatically check every solder joint and x-ray equipment that can “see” through multilayer boards with fine-pitch and ball-grid parts.
I requested Midas to send their best engineers to be based in China and run the plant. This was the deal and today we have achieved amazing quality and a great teamwork. All our Behringer and Bugera products are now also made on the same equipment and as a result quality is among the best in the business; which is well documented.

Thank you for this insight, it appears that the early days of Chinese manufacturing were significantly harmful to product quality and contributed to some of the perceptions that many professionals have regarding Behringer. Do you have any numbers you could share (failure rates w/Kwanasia vs your newly renovated Midas-integrated plant?)
 

Uli Behringer

Sophomore
May 1, 2012
166
0
0
Philippines
www.music-group.com
Re: Uli Behringer of The Music Group Q&A

Dear Greg, this is a very good comment.

There are two key differences between those acquisitions and our partnering with Midas Klark Teknik.

First, if you want to retain the integrity of a brand you must maintain the substance of that brand. In our view, the substance is much more than the technology, or the product models or the name. It is the people who make a brand and from what we have seen this is where many have gone astray. Acquiring companies often install their own managers and soon destroy the very substance of the acquired brands.


The other way we differ is in the strict financial arrangement of our acquisition of Midas and Klark Teknik. While most acquiring companies look at their acquisitions as an opportunity to reduce cost and increase profit, we are very different.

We have invested more than $20 million in Midas and will continue to invest because we are in this for the long term. Our interest isn't in pulling profits out of the business but rather building it to its potential. We're not buying businesses to resell them; we're buying to build them.


We just acquired a large building in Manchester to allow Midas to expand seven fold versus current size. We hired over 20 new engineers last year and are adding around 30 more high-caliber PHD’s, DSP and FPGA engineers plus technology visionaries to establish the most sophisticated Research center in our industry in order to get the whole Group to a new level.

I have ultimate respect for the Midas people as these are the most brilliant engineers I have ever met in my life. In fact I am very excited to see how much the Behringer organization has been able to learn from Midas to the extent that I can honestly say that Midas has actually transformed Behringer.
The new X32 digital mixing console is proof of it as it is the direct result of this fantastic collaboration.


Furthermore we just hired Mark Harman Powell who is a legendary industrial designer and who worked for BMW, Jaguar, JBL etc. Mark is in charge of building a cutting-edge Design Center of Excellence to provide designs for the whole Music Group.

The Midas acquisition has been a true step change both on the technology and design side as well when it comes to manufacturing quality standards. In return the Music Group has been able to help the Midas team with additional resources through our shared service center to allow them to focus even more on technology and great products.

I have reached out to Richard Ferriday, Midas brand manager, to share his experience and view. He is currently traveling and will respond when he is back.
 
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