Doepfer Dark Energy: Mainstream Modular Synthesis Has Arrived Annapolis MD
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Doepfer Dark Energy: Mainstream Modular Synthesis Has Arrived
PROSMassive sound. Audio-range LFOs.Snappiest envelopes we’ve ever heard.USB-to-CV conversion for controllingvintage synths via MIDI or from yourDAW. Fully analog knob pots mean noencoding artifacts.
CONSNo preset memory. Configuring andusing arpeggiator and advanced MIDIfunctions is extremely fiddly. LFO waveformsare limited to triangle and square.Mono audio output only.
INFO$625, doepfer.deU.S. dist. by Analogue Haven, analoguehaven.com
- The oscillator blends a square wave with triangleand sawtooth options. To isolate either, turn thePW knob to a 0:100 ratio.
- The 24dB-per-octave filter has a very Moog-likesound at low resonances.
- Classic modular CV ins and outs, including VCOpitch, filter cutoff, pulse width, and LFO, are inthis row of 1/8" mini jacks.
- This 1/8" input lets you pump external audiothrough the filter and VCA. The mono audio outputuses a 1/8" jack as well.
- Dual LFOs work in low, medium, and high ranges,with maximum frequencies in kHz — well into theaudio FM range.
- ADSR envelope includes multiple speeds forsuper-snappy transients.
NEED TO KNOWIs it fully analog?
Every component,from audio signal path to modulation,is completely analog, giving the DarkEnergy a monster sound that virtualsynths still can’t equal.What makes it modular?
CV insand outs let you interface it with otheranalog, voltage-controlled gear.Can I play it from a MIDI keyboard?
Yes. You can also sequence it fromyour computer via USB, and it caneven act as a MIDI-to-CV interface foryour other analog gear!How does it compare to the DaveSmith Mopho? Moog LittlePhatty?
Unlike those, Dark Energycan’t store presets, and has only oneoscillator. On the other hand, itsmodular structure makes for utterlyfresh and unique sounds.Can it process audio?
As an audioprocessing tool, the Dark Energy isextremely deep. In addition to CV insand outs, an external audio input feedsthe filter and VCA sections.
Soft synths with great modulation options often get compared to modularanalog gear: “It’s got tons of LFOs! Moreenvelopes than you can shake a stick at!”But have you ever actually played a realmodular synth? Have you experienced truevoltage control with patch cables and nodigital parameter encoding? Once youhave, you get spoiled. If you haven’t, it’sprobably because modulars can be esotericand expensive: You need multiplemodules to make familiar synth sounds, forone thing. So when Doepfer announcedthe Dark Energy — a self-contained babymodular, with real patch cables, voltagecontrol, USB, and MIDI — we thought itjust might be the box that finally bringsmodular synthesis to the rest of the keyboard-playing world. In fact, it exceededthose expectations.
The Dark Energy’s architecture is deceptivelysimple: A single VCO feeds a24dB-per-octave lowpass filter, which inturn feeds a simple but clean VCA.Throw in one envelope and two LFOs,and to the casual observer, this seemslike a very basic box. Noth...