First Look: Doepfer Dark Energy Synthesizer

MusikMesse 2009: Doepfer has introduced Dark Energy, a monophonic stand-alone Synthesizer with USB and Midi interface. The sound generation and all modulation sources are 100% analog, only the USB and Midi interface contains digital components.

Description:

Dark Energy is built into a rugged black metal case with wooden side plates. High quality potentiometers with metal shafts are used and each potentiometers is fixed to the case (no wobbly shafts and knobs). The distance between the controls is a bit wider compared to A-100 modules and knobs with vintage look are used.

Dark Energy is also available as module A-111-5 for usage within the the modular system A-100. The only differences are the missing power supply and USB/Midi interface and the module uses the standard distances between the controls. The VCO frequency CV input (1V/octave) and the Gate input are normalled to the corresponding signals of the A-100 bus via jumpers. The jumpers can be used to interrupt the internal bus connections.

Dark Energy: Euro 400.00

Release date: June 2009

Technical specifications

Dark Energy is made of these components:
– VCO
Triangle based VCO core
manual tune control (by means of an internal jumper the range can be set to ~ +/-1 half an octave or ~ +/-2.5 octaves)
range switch -1 / 0 / +1 octave
frequency range about 10Hz … 12kHz
FM (frequency modulation) control with modulation source switch (LFO1 / off / ADSR)
manual pulsewidth control for rectangle waveform
PWM control with modulation source switch (LFO2 / off / ADSR)
waveform switch (sawtooth / off / triangle)
the sum of the waveform chosen by this switch and the rectangle is fed into the VCF (to turn the rectangle off the PW control has to be set fully CCW)
external CV input for VCO frequency (1V/octave), normalled to the CV output of the internal USB/Midi interface
external CV input for pulsewidth of the rectangle

– VCF
24 dB low pass
~ 12 octaves frequency range
manual frequency control
tracking switch half – off – full (internally connected to the frequency CV input of the VCO, i.e. the VCF tracks to the VCO if the switch is set to “half” or “full” position)
XM: exponential FM (frequency modulation) control with modulation source switch (LFO2 / off / ADSR)
LM: linear FM (frequency modulation) control to modulate the VCF by the triangle of the VCO in a linear (!) manner
manual resonance control (up to self oscillation)
external audio input (this signal is added to the VCO signal)
external CV input for filter frequency, normalled to the auxiliary CV output of the internal USB/Midi interface
1V/octave tracking for usage of the VCF as a sine wave oscillator (not as precise as the VCO but much better than most of the other filters)

– VCA
manual amplitude control
AM (amplitude modulation) control with modulation source switch (LFO1 / off / ADSR)
external CV input for VCA amplitude
special control scale: exponential scale in the range from about -20dB to -80/90dB, linear scale from about -20dB to 0dB
Remark: this special control scale results in a loudness behaviour that is a bit different from pure linear or exponential VCAs

– LFO1 and LFO2
manual frequency control
waveform switch (triangle / off / rectangle)
range switch: low (up to several minutes period) / audio (up to ~ 5 kHz) / medium (usual LFO range)
LED display (dual yellow/red color for positive/negative share of the signal)
the LFO1 signal is available as an additional socket (to use the LFO1 signal for external modules)
an internal jumper can be used to select between the LFO1 signal or the inverted LFO1 signal

– ADSR
manual controls for Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
range switch (long, short, medium)
blue LED display
ADSR signal is available as an additional socket (to use the ADSR signal for external modules)
External Gate input (normalled to the Gate output of the internal USB/Midi interface)

– Remarks:
As the LFO frequencies include the audio range even audio FM effects of VCO (pitch and pulsewidth), VCF and VCA are possible !
If the VCO is turned off (waveform switch = center position, pulsewidth control = fully CCW) and the VCF resonance is set to maximum the module can be used as a sine oscillator. The sine can be modulated in a linear manner from the triangle wave of the VCO and by LFO2 in an exponential manner at the same time !
from the factory the socket labelled “LFO1” outputs the inverted LFO1 signal. But as the module has several internal pin headers available even another signal may appear at this socket by changing the internal module patch. These six pin headers are available: LFO1 output, LFO2 output, ADSR output, inverter input, inverter output, output socket. The internal default patch is LFO1 -> inverter input, inverter output -> output socket (i.e. socket = inverted LFO1). But even another signal can be patched to this socket (e.g. inverted ADSR, non-inverted LFO1, inverted or non-inverted LFO2).

via GearJunkies

33 thoughts on “First Look: Doepfer Dark Energy Synthesizer

  1. @Georg: You must be joking. With Mini-Moog Model D’s going for over $2k (w/o MIDI of course), I can’t imagine what “much more powerful vintage synth” (analog) you could buy for 400 Euros.

  2. Doug – a better comparison might be a synth like the Pro-One, which is a lot more powerful, or a synth module like the BassStation.

  3. presets? on an analog, patch cable based synth, you must be joking. people need to stop looking for shortcuts and actually do things on their own. Oh BTW you can totally save and load patches on this bad mama-jamma it will just cost you a sheet of paper and a few micrograms of graphite in the form of a pencil

  4. this is a stand-alone module for a larger doepher system that happens to have every thing you really need in one box so you can use it by its self, but its true purpose is realized when patched into a real modular system. this just helps people who cant afford a $40,000 system move into the Doepher sound

  5. @Doug
    Who said anything about a Minimoog? This is a single VCO machine, I’ve seen synths with more sonic potential and control go on ebay for less than this (Yamaha CS’s up to CS30, Moog Prodigy and Micro, various Roland SH’s). It’s a nice unit, but overpriced, I’d have one if it was nearer half that cost.

    @Computer Controlled
    True people do often charge silly money for Pro Ones, but Ive found good working examples for about £500 on multiple occasions, even on Ebay and even in euros, so not unrealistic.

  6. @Doug
    Who said anything about a Minimoog? This is a single VCO machine, I've seen synths with more sonic potential and control go on ebay for less than this (Yamaha CS's up to CS30, Moog Prodigy and Micro, various Roland SH's). It's a nice unit, but overpriced, I'd have one if it was nearer half that cost.

    @Computer Controlled
    True people do often charge silly money for Pro Ones, but Ive found good working examples for about £500 on multiple occasions, even on Ebay and even in euros, so not unrealistic.

  7. @Doug
    Who said anything about a Minimoog? This is a single VCO machine, I've seen synths with more sonic potential and control go on ebay for less than this (Yamaha CS's up to CS30, Moog Prodigy and Micro, various Roland SH's). It's a nice unit, but overpriced, I'd have one if it was nearer half that cost.

    @Computer Controlled
    True people do often charge silly money for Pro Ones, but Ive found good working examples for about £500 on multiple occasions, even on Ebay and even in euros, so not unrealistic.

  8. the dark energy is the tool for sound scientists who needs to reach sounds were no one has heard before…
    It’s a great fun to turn the knobs and to connect the patch cords to get always new sounds. Even without a keyboard connected you have the impression to use a time warp machine while you diving into the endless space of sonic teasers.
    No mouse, no press button, no numbers displayed, no onion menu, this unit is very boring for digital freaks who only can understand the world by fractures of number 10.

  9. I am definately getting this synth this year (2010). It is going to sit in place of my SH101 which needs attention and I am investigating building or buying a variable high pass filter to run it through when i need that type of sound. If i like the Dark Energy I will be adding 2 more for playing triad chords – yummy. I like this synths zappiness btw.

    Davidous

    P.S. Presets and a proper analogue synth = take a photo of it with a note stuck to it with blu tak telling you the song it was used in etc. – the lazy man's version.

  10. I am definately getting this synth this year (2010). It is going to sit in place of my SH101 which needs attention and I am investigating building or buying a variable high pass filter to run it through when i need that type of sound. If i like the Dark Energy I will be adding 2 more for playing triad chords – yummy. I like this synths zappiness btw.

    Davidous

    P.S. Presets and a proper analogue synth = take a photo of it with a note stuck to it with blu tak telling you the song it was used in etc. – the lazy man's version.

  11. Doepfer call their Dark Energy a synth, but with only ***one*** oscillator that’s a joke!

    I would be interested if it had 3 oscillators like a Minimoog…

  12. I agree with the negative opinions here. Granted; this thing is cheaper than your average synths but at that same time way limited.

    In fact; the whole setup is IMO horribly amateurish. Just look at the website of this critter: http://www.doepfer.de/Dark_Energy_e.htm

    Note how the link to the sound samples *doesn't work* because it points to (I kid you not; check your status bars): "file:///C:/Dokumente%20und%20Einstellungen/internet/Eigene%20Dateien/Homepage/A1115.htm" ? You call THAT semi-professional ? Give me a fscking break here.

    That's not even touching the obvious comment that they're not giving you direct sound examples of this model, but send you off to those of another model.

    Amazing to see how some people in this thread obviously have no problem to buy a synth without even knowing how it sounds.

  13. I agree with the negative opinions here. Granted; this thing is cheaper than your average synths but at that same time way limited.

    In fact; the whole setup is IMO horribly amateurish. Just look at the website of this critter: http://www.doepfer.de/Dark_Energy_e.htm

    Note how the link to the sound samples *doesn't work* because it points to (I kid you not; check your status bars): "file:///C:/Dokumente%20und%20Einstellungen/internet/Eigene%20Dateien/Homepage/A1115.htm" ? You call THAT semi-professional ? Give me a fscking break here.

    That's not even touching the obvious comment that they're not giving you direct sound examples of this model, but send you off to those of another model.

    Amazing to see how some people in this thread obviously have no problem to buy a synth without even knowing how it sounds.

  14. You DO realize that the A-111-5 IS the same thing, but in Eurorack format? Also, it's only a synth if it has more than 1 osc? Get over the MInimoog, it's horribly over rated. I guess the 101 isn't a synth, or the MicroMoog isn't a synth correct?

    Dumb.

  15. You DO realize that the A-111-5 IS the same thing, but in Eurorack format? Also, it's only a synth if it has more than 1 osc? Get over the MInimoog, it's horribly over rated. I guess the 101 isn't a synth, or the MicroMoog isn't a synth correct?

    Dumb.

  16. @Computer Controlled: your arguments seem to apply to more people. I never said it wasn't a synth, I merely said its way underpowered and that the whole setup is amateurish.

    I just realized that this article is almost one year old. If those guys didn't fix their shit in a YEAR's time then my god.. Either no one bothered to try and listen to a sound sample or the company never bothered to put it online.

    Either way; you can't call this even semi-professional, the whole presentation is just plain out amateurish. And in the niche market which they're trying to address such an approach is in my very humble opinion pathetic.

    AT least get your shit fixed after almost a whole year.

  17. @Computer Controlled: your arguments seem to apply to more people. I never said it wasn't a synth, I merely said its way underpowered and that the whole setup is amateurish.

    I just realized that this article is almost one year old. If those guys didn't fix their shit in a YEAR's time then my god.. Either no one bothered to try and listen to a sound sample or the company never bothered to put it online.

    Either way; you can't call this even semi-professional, the whole presentation is just plain out amateurish. And in the niche market which they're trying to address such an approach is in my very humble opinion pathetic.

    AT least get your shit fixed after almost a whole year.

  18. Sorry for 2 posts quickly after one other but since I couldn't edit my post…

    Just in case someone here thinks I start raising my voice without any proper investigation I suggest you check out this review which I should have posted with my previous comment (sorry, sorry). Bottom line: this critter is limited in more that one way, which is all I'm saying. You may consider this dumb, well… I don't 😛

    [youtube QLs6XQxO6uE

    youtube]

  19. Sorry for 2 posts quickly after one other but since I couldn't edit my post…

    Just in case someone here thinks I start raising my voice without any proper investigation I suggest you check out this review which I should have posted with my previous comment (sorry, sorry). Bottom line: this critter is limited in more that one way, which is all I'm saying. You may consider this dumb, well… I don't 😛

    [youtube QLs6XQxO6uE

    youtube]

  20. Of course it's limited. It's only around $500. You don't expect it to be a fully modular synth for that cheap do you? Look into the Kraftzwerg if you want that. Find me one new fully analogue synth that has this many features for the price. You won't. It's features fully open up when integrated with a modular system.

  21. Of course it's limited. It's only around $500. You don't expect it to be a fully modular synth for that cheap do you? Look into the Kraftzwerg if you want that. Find me one new fully analogue synth that has this many features for the price. You won't. It's features fully open up when integrated with a modular system.

  22. I wouldn't say this is a limited synth, it has what you see, you can carry on saying synths are limited until you end up with a horrid Korg Oasis or something (ugh!) I often make single ocillator sounds on a multi-oscillator synth for the in-yer-face power that gives and the oscillator in this synth sounds like it will do just fine. The resonance of my sh101 and sh09 etc is something I used to take for granted but now I realise that no digital or soft synth can do the same things and a lot of analogue(ish?) synths such as the Roland mks-70 and mks-50 and Novation Super Bass Station just arn't the same. The dark energy sounds like it will be good in this area. The only thing that does worry me is the comment in the main article about the VCA loudness behaviour. I'm about to scour videos and sound clips to try to hear it…… I finished scouring, it seems to be ok/nice so I'm just as much gettin one of these as I was in my first post.

  23. I wouldn't say this is a limited synth, it has what you see, you can carry on saying synths are limited until you end up with a horrid Korg Oasis or something (ugh!) I often make single ocillator sounds on a multi-oscillator synth for the in-yer-face power that gives and the oscillator in this synth sounds like it will do just fine. The resonance of my sh101 and sh09 etc is something I used to take for granted but now I realise that no digital or soft synth can do the same things and a lot of analogue(ish?) synths such as the Roland mks-70 and mks-50 and Novation Super Bass Station just arn't the same. The dark energy sounds like it will be good in this area. The only thing that does worry me is the comment in the main article about the VCA loudness behaviour. I'm about to scour videos and sound clips to try to hear it…… I finished scouring, it seems to be ok/nice so I'm just as much gettin one of these as I was in my first post.

  24. I wouldn't say this is a limited synth, it has what you see, you can carry on saying synths are limited until you end up with a horrid Korg Oasis or something (ugh!) I often make single ocillator sounds on a multi-oscillator synth for the in-yer-face power that gives and the oscillator in this synth sounds like it will do just fine. The resonance of my sh101 and sh09 etc is something I used to take for granted but now I realise that no digital or soft synth can do the same things and a lot of analogue(ish?) synths such as the Roland mks-70 and mks-50 and Novation Super Bass Station just arn't the same. The dark energy sounds like it will be good in this area. The only thing that does worry me is the comment in the main article about the VCA loudness behaviour. I'm about to scour videos and sound clips to try to hear it…… I finished scouring, it seems to be ok/nice so I'm just as much gettin one of these as I was in my first post.

  25. I've just got one of these and it's amazing. I have about 10 good hardware synths (5 analogue) and i can truly say that this is a different beast to all of them. It is great for crazy noises. What attracted me to it is the sonic sound of it and the simplicity. You can get so much out of it by, say running a midi sequence just turning the 16 knobs. Then patching up cv with the supplied jacks opens up more posibilities. If I hadn't tested one and had just seen it on the internet, I don't think I would have been interested due to the small size of the thing (and price). Don't be fooled though, the size is actually a plus and it sounds massive. It'll incorporate into a modular set up too which is where i go with my set up next. Honestly, give it a try and you will see what I am talking about.

  26. i think this machine is badass, i was gona buy a XoXBoX for the same price, and my friend turned me on to the Dark Energy, i can get the same acid sounds i wanted from the xoxbox and more, way more, this thing is sweeet, dont believe the hype, it will be sought after in years to come……

  27. I have mine now, it's a very useful synth. I've used it on every tune multiple times since I got it, It cant totally replace a Roland SH-101 but then, the SH-101 can't totally replace the Dark Energy. As far as getting more to link together…I don't think the sound would really suit being polyphonic – for me anyway. It is one of my better recent purchases.

  28. Hello Industialcentral, I should think it will connect nicely in various ways with the kraftzwerg, I have a Analogue Solutions Red Square and the two connect happily using audio or control signals.
    Just for the record, I use this a LOT more than the Red Square but i have been known to borrow the noise from the Red Square to make a snare drum because the Dark energy has a much faster envelope.

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