Doepfer releases Dark Energy II analog synthesizer

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Doepfer has announced availability of its new Dark Energy II, a redesigned version of the monophonic analogue synthesizer with USB/MIDI interface and CV connectivity.

So why the need to redesign something so successful so soon? Simple. Needs must. And who better to explain this than company CEO Dieter Doepfer himself: “As the Dark Energy had to be discontinued, because an important electronic component (CEM3394) is no longer available, we decided to do a redesign. The new Dark Energy II looks like the Dark Energy at first glance, but the basic sound of the Dark Energy II is clearly different because of the new circuits for the VCO, VCF, and VCA.”

Doepfer Dark Energy II
Like the Dark Energy, the Dark Energy II is a standalone monophonic analogue synthesizer with inbuilt USB/MIDI interfacing and CV connectivity housed in a rugged black metal case with wooden end cheeks.

Given the absence of that rich-sounding, analogue ‘synthesizer-voice-on-a-chip’ (CEM3394) from Curtis Electromusic Specialities successor OnChip, how does the Dark Energy II sound? Still rich, still analogue — with 20 to 30 minutes tuning time needed for the VCO’s temperature-controlled pure analogue circuitry, but different… mainly because of the completely different filter type.

Notable differences in specification between the two — together with a number of functional additions to the Dark Energy II — are as follows: firstly, the Dark Energy II features a sawtooth-based VCO core (compared to the Dark Energy’s triangle-based one), which, as implied, outputs a sawtooth waveform, with a waveform Shape switch for selecting sawtooth, off, or clipped/inverted sawtooth; meanwhile, that all-important, sounding-defining VCF is centred around a 12dB multimode filter with lowpass, notch, highpass, and bandpass, together with an all-new filter Mode control for continuous transition from lowpass via notch and highpass around to bandpass (as opposed the 24dB lowpass variety with linear frequency modulation (LFM) control found on the Dark Energy); the VCF’s exponential frequency modulation (XFM) control also has a polarization function, whereby the modulation source (LFO2 or ADSR) selected by the Source switch can affect the filter frequency with a positive or negative behaviour (by rotating rightwards or leftwards, respectively); finally, the VCA has an exponential scale (unlike the Dark Energy’s combined linear/exponential scale).

Benefitting those with a modicum of electronics know-how, the Dark Energy II offers much more internal expansion possibilities than its ‘Mk I’ predecessor courtesy of pin header terminals for the following functions: rectangle and sawtooth VCO outputs, linear FM input for VCO, hard sync input for VCO, lowpass/bandpass/highpass VCF output, rectangle and triangle outputs for each LFO, and optional reset/direction features for each LFO — all conspiring to make this already flexible synthesizer even more flexible!

The upshot of those differences is that sounds created on a Dark Energy II of course cannot be replicated on a Dark Energy (and vise versa) — though there is nothing to stop the two distinctive synthesizers from being daisy-chained together to produce an even wider palette of sounds. Indeed, several units can be polyphonically or monophonically cascaded (via internal MIDI out/MIDI in connections) to create an ‘über-synth’ of sorts!

Dark Energy II is available to purchase online within Germany directly from Doepfer for 428 EUR incl. VAT, or from an authorised dealer. An optional Glide control option is also available for self-installation for 10 EUR incl. VAT.

More information: Doepfer

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