Uli Behringer: Get your questions in


While NAMM is an event usually associated with serious scoops of fresh gear announcements that are usually met with polarised epic fail/WOOT comments from the gear hungry masses, there was one announcement that was missed by many, but for me was as huge as any lump of new shiny. Behringer unveiled a new warranty – a full 3 years on everything that they make.

Given the brand perception that the market has of the German giant, offering such an industry leading warranty started ringing bells in my head. I was asking myself “If their stuff is so allegedly poor, how can they do this with any credibility? What’s the catch?”.

Seems to me that the best approach is to ask the man who started it all off. Uli Behringer is the man at the top and is in a bullish mood, one that sees him positively gagging to answer questions about his company and its market perception. I have my own set of questions to ask, and I for one won’t be shying away from extracting answers designed to make him confront the stickier side of Behringer’s brand perception.

But it seems like an ideal opportunity to get some interaction between Uli and his customers. So I’m opening up the floor to you lot, so that you can ask the questions you always wanted answers to. I’m looking for 10 intelligent questions, ones that you would reasonably expect answers to. But I do stress the word intelligent. If for example you plan to ask “why is your stuff so shit?’ or similar, I won’t even present them. But if you ask “what do you feel leads to the poor perception of Behringer quality?”, then it’s more likely to coax a response, albeit a reluctant one.

This isn’t supposed to be an ego massage for Uli – he’s aware of the shortcomings and wants to address some of those thorny issues, but also wants to show how things are changing for the better. So please get those questions in. You have one week.

On a side note, this is the first of a new series of interviews, where we’ll be getting intimate with the people behind the gear that you crave.  Uli is first – I wonder who I’ll pick on next?

  • GroovinDJ

    I don’t think ALL their stuff has a bad perception…

    The X32 digital mixer for example.

    Lots of their rack mount processors like compressors, FX units, active crossovers etc. are very popular.

    The Europower amps are popular with DJs.

    I think the bulk of the negativity comes from DJs who’ve bought a £70 DJ mixer and found that for some strange reason it’s pants…..

  • LouieV

    as someone who works selling behringer equipment, i would like to know why they got rid of their sales reps, and now only have about 3 (regional) distributers in the US. As someone who really likes Behringer, i am forced to downsell behringer because getting their equipment in stock has been such a hassle (not to mention returning the faulty stuff, which is much less then one may think)

    • http://www.djworx.com Mark Settle

      Would you like me to work that up into a question?

      • LouieV

        Why has Behringer (USA) rid themselves of dealer representatives and moved to a very small amount of regional distributers?

  • http://twitter.com/KLOSELINE KLOSELINE

    Well, I’d guess that especially DJs are too lazy to return something when it’s broken. Would like to know the truth but I’d expect that only about 50% of warranty issues are really claimed by the customer… So I guess its simple marketing mathematics by Behringer.

    • patferdig

      Dear Kloseline,
      My name is Pat Ferdig. I am the VP, Care for MUSIC Group which includes the Behringer Brand. I wanted to respond to your post reagarding the accuracy of warranty claims. While I agree that there will always be individuals that will not report faults that should be covered by warranty, I also believe that the same customer pattern will exist throughout the industry. To compair, Thomann is the largest dealer in Europe and as a matter of transparency, he publishes all manufacturers’ failure rates. You might be surprised to see that Behringer has one of the lowest failure rates in the industry. In the link below you can exchange the manufacturer name in the URL which will give you the failure rate of any other manufacturer. The rate is displayed in the upper right corner. I would strongly encourage you to see it for yourself.

      http://www.thomann.de/gb/behringer.html

  • laz219

    I would like to ask…
    For a company that is making such a huge array of products targeting quite a few different markets, what he would consider to be the key products in their range and in particular, where he see’s the future of DJ products heading. Whether it be MIDI/CD players, straight midi controllers or something else altogether.

    Just curious because we all know there are some huge shifts going on right now, it’d be interesting to hear from someone well placed to give their idea of where it is all heading.

    • http://www.music-group.com Uli Behringer

      Dear Laz219,

      This is a great question.
      While we live very much in the present, our eyes are always on the future. In the past you have seen us be somewhat cautious and even conservative about moving into new technologies and product areas. Our strategy was always to follow consumer demand and offer exceptional value in the best possible products we could make.

      However, if you have been watching our company over the last couple of years you will have noted a major shift in our strategy.
      We have made a major commitment to engineering and developing products that are truly unique such as the DDM4000. Our focus is on the creation and implementation of unique intellectual property and recent products like the revolutionary X32 digital mixer are clear examples of this commitment.

      One other important change in our business has been the realignment of our management team to place a focus on divisions. This means that instead of developing, marketing and supporting one large body of products, we are appointing teams to each business segment that is specific top that market.

      For example, in DJ, we are now setting up a completely separate division dedicated to serving the needs of DJ’s to a far greater extent than we ever have. We are completely committed to the DJ market and have allocated a large part of our 250 world-class engineers to develop the next-generation DJ products.

      As far as future DJ products are concerned, we have made a huge commitment to controllers with the CMD series. This underlies our belief that the market is moving to an ever greater reliance on controllers and software, with diminishing interest in dedicated hardware such as media players.

      Going forward, look for us to build on our technology advantages in MIDI controllers and some really incredible UI tools that are truly revolutionary.

  • GeekGod

    When will the modular controllers receive FCC certification and be available for purchase in USA?

    • http://www.music-group.com Uli Behringer

      Dear GeekGod,

      Your question appears to be framed around the FCC disclaimer on the CMD Controller page of our website. This statement informs people that the product is not yet available for sale in the United States under the regulations of the FCC. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are awaiting FCC approval before the product can be sold in the US.
      It is important to make this clarification because it underscores our strict commitment to proper approvals for all of our products. Unlike many of our competitors, we secure approval under relevant FCC and UL standards for every one of our products.
      In fact, we have invested millions of dollars in our own UL Safety and Radiated Emissions labs, where we confirm performance and reliability throughout the product development process.

      The CMD controller line is a very exciting move for us because it puts us in an immediate leadership position in a segment that we pioneered with our BCF and BCR controllers several years ago. MIDI control is something we understand very well, and when you combine that technical expertise with product definitions built around real DJ-centric workflows, magic happens. This is just the beginning…

      We are looking forward to having the complete CMD line in stores in October of this year.

  • ironstylus

    I never understood the hate for Behringer stuff, they make cheap but feature packed gear, what did people expect? pioneer quality at gemini prices?
    Years ago a mate brought a four channel mixer that was a copy of a pioneer, it would have taken him ages to save enough for a real one and that time would have been spent without a mixer and hence, no dj’ing.
    It was poor quality but it worked and lasted him until he could afford a better one.
    Tell Uli that my mate lard said thanks.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/118277631404426665365/118277631404426665365/posts Pfister

    I want to say thanks to Uli for the BCR2000. Mine is quite a few years old now but still going strong and in my eyes is one of the best controllers out there. FULLY customisable with a huge amount of possibilities. I also found the push encoders to be better than the ones on Native Instruments X1 (which gradually lost their click-travel).
    I’m looking forward to the release of the new MIDI controllers but wished they had more push encoders ala BCR2000 :)
    As for a question… hmmmm, do you need anyone in Berlin to road test new MIDI controllers by any chance?

  • andrecato

    I am really interested in finding out how Behringer has arrived where they are now. From a start where Uli was the master behind every product in the range, it is now so diverse, with products for people of every musical background that he has needed to relinquish some of this power and trust those that he chooses to employ. I think that the DJ market is one such area… So my question is –

    Considering that mistakes are found and parts sometimes don’t always live up to expectation, how does Behringer act on things that do go wrong? If the market complains and needs replacement units or parts, what does Behringer then do to ensure that this mistake is not made again?

    I really want to know what the team does behind the scene to work out what is a real issue and then how the fixes are tested and ultimately chosen.

    I know they must do something as products in every range have certainly gained strength over the years to a point now where Behringer have a lower return rate of many companies with more expensive and glorified products.

    • http://www.music-group.com Uli Behringer

      Dear andrecato,

      Thank you for your questions and please allow me to answer in detail.

      You raise several important topics and I am pleased to respond to each of them in turn. I consider your first comments about the people needed to grow our business to be one of the most important issues and address it first.

      In the 23 years since I started this company, I have learned among other things to be a very careful listener. You never know where the next great idea is coming from so you must be open to discussion and the free exchange of ideas. Of course you must also surround yourself with the best people in order to develop the best ideas, so I have always tried to seek out the best people to join our team.

      Allow me to comment on failure rates.
      You are correct in stating that our return rate is far lower than most of our competitors.
      Thomann is the largest dealer in Europe and as a matter of transparency he publishes all manufacturers’ failure rates. You might be surprised to see that Behringer has one of the lowest failure rates in the industry.

      In the link below you can exchange the manufacturer name in the URL which will give you the failure rate of any other manufacturer. The rate is displayed in the upper right corner.

      http://www.thomann.de/gb/behringer.html

      Behringer’s failure rate is indcated at 0.74% which represents an average over the last three years, and most of those customer returns aren’t even defective! Due to the massive investments in quality systems and people especially last year, the number of returns today is even lower than indicated.

      We are surely not perfect and never will, but we are extremely focused on quality management systems such as ISO9000, DFM, Lean Six Sigma or “Kaizen” which is Japanese and translates to “constant improvement”. Kaizen is a system that involves all employees, from the executives down to the cleaners and all employees are encouraged to come up with little suggestions how to improve their workplace or anything else they feel can be improved. Companies such as GE and Toyota invented those systems, however you can only implement Kaizen in your manufacturing environment when you actually own the factory, which we do.

      The reality of our quality control is that our products are now among the very best and most reliable in the industry.
      Product quality has many facets and any one of those can make or break the outcome. Quality is made up of the right components, solid design, the right manufacturing processes and proper testing. We take quality very seriously because it not only speaks to our brands but it is also incredibly expensive to fix problems in the field. With our small margins, poor quality products would have put us out of business!
      Fundamental to our quality is the fact that we own and manage the factory that builds our products.

      We have been manufacturing in China for over 20 years and know very well that you cannot rely on contract manufacturers to deliver consistent quality. Unless you are prepared to invest in your own factory like we have, you can never guarantee the same level of quality that we have been able to achieve.

      It starts with over 250 engineers in our company delivering the very best and most stable designs possible. These professionals are the heart of our business and continue to push the boundaries of superior product design.
      We also have two research centers in the UK and China, where we develop promising new technologies before incorporating them into new products.

      We have an extremely demanding component qualification process in place at our factory where we test every component before we use it in a design. Automated equipment cycles mechanical components, cable assemblies, switches and faders until we are satisfied that the component will survive in the real world. Once qualified, the component is released for use in a design, but we continue to test every batch of components to ensure that the production parts are every bit as good as the samples.

      Even with great components and design, a product’s quality can be compromised during the manufacturing process. We have made huge investments to ensure that our products are built with a consistency that ensures 100% quality.

      This past year alone we invested over $20 million in new automation that not only reduces costs but also greatly increases manufacturing reliability.
      Our new axial insertion machines place through-hole components with incredible speed and precision. Sophisticated Optical and X-ray inspection machines examine every solder joint to prevent the second-most common cause of product failure; bad solder joints.
      Our speakers are now all made on automated robotic lines that apply adhesives and assemble components with precision that is just not possible with hand-assembly.

      These commitments to quality have led us to introduce a new 3-Year warranty as the ultimate show of confidence in our products. At a time when many of our competitors are slashing their warranty coverage we are investing in the very foundation of what drives product quality.

      At the same time we have made huge changes in our global service team in order to deliver the very best customer care. We just opened state-of-the-art service centers in Las Vegas as well as in Kidderminster, UK.

      And last but not least, I am extremely proud of the amazing people who work in our Company. People who truly care about you, the customer.

  • djsherz

    I am quite fond of a lot of Behringer kit, I personally own a DDM4000 (which I absolutely adore!) as well as various rackmount compressors and bits & bobs. Like any manufacturer, there’s a few things in the range that I personally wouldn’t touch, but on the whole, I think it’s very good value for money. Particularly now that their DJ range seems to be moving away from being a budget version copycat of other brands, and they are developing some interesting new products of their own. Hats off to you.

    I work in a DJ store, and I have to say though that we don’t actually sell much Behringer gear. Not due to cost or quality issues, but because of the returns/spares policy. We tend to carry out our own repairs in house, rather than mess about sending the item back, as we have good working relationships with our suppliers. If an Acme iMove lighting effect breaks down for example, then we are on the phone to Prolight, they send out the required component in a jiffy bag, and more often than not, we can have the unit repaired and back to the customer next day. This is the kind of service that people using this stuff as “tools of the trade” need; they don’t want to hear “well it only needs a new PSU board, but we’ve got to post the whole thing back to Germany, you should get it back in a couple of weeks or so.” For an item that may well have cost less than £200 new, it’s not even economically viable to repair it out of warranty once you’ve factored in Behringer’s parts & labour, and postage to and from Europe. A customer that brings a mixer back 13 months after purchase is not going to be too pleased to be told that it’s not economically viable to put right!

    Ok, that’s sounding more like a general moan than a question, but you see my point. So, any plans for improved after-sales service in the UK, parts availability etc?

    • djsherz

      And yes, the 3 year warranty is a big improvement, but it would make life a lot easier for us dealers to just get the required part sent down rather than having to send the whole unit back!

    • patferdig

      Dear djsherz,

      We have recently invested heavily in our EU operations by opening our new care facility in Kidderminster, UK. This facility houses our state of the art repair center, customer care operations and spare parts distribution. The facilities that were used in Germany were outsourced and to be honest, not the best partners in terms of providing the level of service that we expect. With the implementation of our facility, we are now able to take ownership of our customer experience and have already experienced improvements in response time, time to repair and parts availability. While we are not perfect, we continue to make solid progress toward our goal of industry leading support.

  • simmern

    As a rental company, we often run into tech sheets suggesting “NO” to certain brand names. Most of the time, we are able to convince the client to allow exceptions, depending on the nature of the presentation. Based on my extensive experience with Behringer products (which are mostly power amplifiers, consoles, and DSP’s), when things are plugged in, and working, they tend to stay working. It’s only after we take the gear on the road, and in-between shows that we experience a few minor irregularities. Having said, we purchased the XL3200 mixing console when it was first released in the United States. For several shows, it was great. After about a year of operation, we started having trouble with aux sends dropping out, and oscillation in a few of the channels, hence rendering the console untrustworthy.

    Since we have experienced these exceptions, as customers, it is important for you to understand that we’re nervous about the new X32 digital being road worthy, which brings me to probably your most frequently asked question about this new Behringer innovation. What refinements have been made to Behringers quality control program, and what have Behringer engineers improved on to make the X32 a “tour worthy” console?

    Thanks for your many years in the music business!

    Nick

    • http://www.music-group.com Uli Behringer

      Thank you Nick for your comments and questions.

      I have addressed issues of quality in another post on this forum so will not repeat myself on that point. However I do want to address your comments and concerns about the XL3200 and the upcoming X32 consoles. While these are two very different products I would like to speak to both.

      The XL3200 was an incredible development project for our company when we first designed it. Our product development team is made up of several people who own PA systems and in several cases freelance as audio production engineers.
      The XL series was born out of a desire to build a truly pro-level live production console, with all of the features and performance that a working sound company needs at a breakthrough price.

      Never did we intend to compromise on quality, performance or reliability, and consequently invested thousands of hours of design and development in the XL series. We set a goal to deliver a console that was every bit as good as the best in this class and there was no room for compromise. The results in positive reviews and record sales have proven that we did accomplish what we set out to do.

      It appears that you have had an experience that is not consistent with the product’s overall performance in the marketplace.
      That is disappointing and I would like to learn more about the specifics of this case. I urge you to write to our global head of Customer Care, Pat Ferdig at care@music-group.com and reference this discussion. I promise to follow up personally with Pat.

      The X32 is proving to be our most highly anticipated product ever. Presales are now approaching a staggering 20,000 units and we are scrambling to add the production lines needed to support this volume.

      We have set up a completely new and fully automated factory just to build the X32 and it is equipped with the very latest equipment and run by our very best people. The X32 has already endured hundreds of thousands of hours of testing and we are 100% confident in its reliability.

      Just as important as initial product quality is how we stand behind our products. As mentioned earlier, this past year we have opened major new facilities in Las Vegas, USA and Kidderminster, UK dedicated to service and support. We have changed our service policies and bolstered the availability of parts by a factor of ten! Plus, we now offer a 3-Year warranty program as a further statement of confidence in our products and protection for your investment.

      Thank you for your past support and I hope you enjoy the features and amazing benefits of the new X32.

  • lilysdad

    Behringer have employed a lot of reputable sales and marketing managers, with decades of experience in professional audio and MI circles. None of them seem to stay at your company for the long haul, yet each new person that takes the job claims “this time it’s going to be different”. You recently let go of long time regional manager – who now works for a competitive brand. Many thought he would stick it out – but he also decided to take a different path. To the casual observer, it seems the higher the staff go, the quicker they choose to depart, or are shown the door. Do you think that aside from the market perception of the brand’s quality and technical service policies, does your company also have an image problem for attracting the right staff to take you into the future?

    • http://www.music-group.com Uli Behringer

      Dear Lilysdad,

      Thanks for your question and allowing me an opportunity to address this important perception.

      While I can’t comment on any specific employee, I can say that we have been very fortunate to employ some of the best people in the industry. I have often said that people are our greatest asset and I’m the first to credit our incredibly dedicated employees for 23 years of success.
      I am also proud to point out many employees who have been with us for more than 15 years and enjoyed successful careers as part of our team.

      That said, it is important to understand that we are also a team of over 3,500 people, operating out of 16 different locations across the globe. As such there will always be new people joining, others departing and some changing roles within the company.

      This kind of turnover is inevitable in a business the size of ours and sometimes leads to the perception of a higher than average turnover rate.

      Please don’t get me wrong; our company culture is not for everyone. We are a very different type of company and frankly we want to be different.
      Some people thrive in this high-energy and very organized environment while others find the pace overwhelming. I often say that we are a high-level startup, and that is extremely appealing to a certain type of person.
      However those who are looking for the comfort of a mature and highly matrixed organization don’t always adapt to our way of working.

      Despite being in our 23rd year of business we are growing aggressively and are always looking for great new people.
      I am proud of the fact that we have over 100 openings for qualified people at a time when most companies are not hiring. There is always room for great people here and I guarantee that the right people will do their life’s best work in our environment.
      If you are interested to work for one of the fastest growing companies in the industry, check out our job openings.

      Thanks again for your great question.

  • http://www.music-group.com Uli Behringer

    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 Mark and all of you for welcoming me here in your forum. Some time ago a German forum called http://www.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 an amazing 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 such as http://www.soundforums.net 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.

    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

  • http://www.djworx.com Mark Settle

    And this is why I love what I do. :)

    Welcome Uli. I’m gathering up the questions this week – both submitted and my own for the interview. But that shouldn’t stop you dropping by anyway. We’ve built up a good bunch here – intelligent thinkers who care not just about the gear, but the wider industry too.

    It’s a pleasure to have you aboard!

    • https://www.google.com/profiles/112944238278664730362 Calvin Azzola

      I would be interested to know if Behringer was planning on making a full sized motorized deck controller to compete with the Denon DN-S3700 / Stanton SCS1D type. I would really appreciate it if you were the first to invent one with an actual 12″ platter instead of these almost correct ones. I think the company that invents the full sized one will find alot more acceptance with the turntablist crowd.

      Also, what about lighting effects? I vote for Behringer DJ lighting effects!

      Thanks for your time Uli,
      -Calvin

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  • jrathod@gmail.com

    I would never again purchase a Behringer product because of the service I have received from Behringer and Music Group. I have not been able to get a part for a year now. When I contact Behringer they tell me I have to go through one of their certified repair centers. I did finally just recently got the part I needed and it turns out it wasn’t the right fit. When I tell Music Group this, they just blew me off and said we’ll talk to Brian Hendrix where I purchased the part and try to down play and blame Brian Hendrix for the mix up. And no solution was proposed to me.

    When I call Behringer they tell me they need 24-48 to find out when they’ll be getting parts from China. And that’s the last I’ll hear of they. I will never hear back again from them. I have to call and of course I have to repeat myself all over again to another person, this has been going on for a year now. Now I’m stuck with a $55 part that’s no good to me and a keyboard amp that’s now junk. Never again Behringer!

    • Patrick Ferdig

      Thank you for the comment and I personally apologize for the experience you have encountered. I will take ownership for this issue and will work to get it resolved quickly. I can assure you that this is not the customer experience we want anyone to have.

      I have sent a personal email to the address used to post to get some additional contact information. Please let me know the best way to reach you so we can resolve this. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

      Regards,

      Patrick Ferdig
      VP, Care
      MUSIC Group

      • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

        Wow. It’s good to see this kind of thing happening. Thanks Patrick. Normally I’d have to drop a line to people to highlight issues, but that was entirely unsolicited. Good work!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.riley.5680 Scott Riley

    Uli and Patrick,

    I want to thank both of you for you unbelievably fast, down-to-earth and effective service that I have received from you. I do not know of another company where the CEO and VP take the time to respond to a small customer with a minor issue! I love your products and I will support your vision always.
    I’m also VERY attracted to your company culture!! “Fast paced and startup” is the motto of my life. I have a background as a concert promoter, artist rep, music teacher and administrator so I hope I can find a spot where I can contribute to your mission. I’m in the Seattle area and I would love to increase your presence in this musically vibrant region. I’ll see if I can find an opening posted on your site, or please contact me if anything not posted comes to mind. You can reach me at scottmriley@yahoo.com.
    Thanks!

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