Dark Energy III from Doepfer announced

Doepfer harnesses dark energy for third time with effectively enhanced monophonic analogue standalone synth namesake
GRAEFELFING, GERMANY: having wowed North American audiences with a preproduction prototype at The 2018 NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA, then turned heads and opened European ears with a must-see showstopper closer to home at SUPERBOOTH18 in Berlin, Germany, esteemed electronic musical device designers Doepfer Musikelektronik is proud to announce availability of the Dark Energy III Analog Synthesizer — a worthy successor to its critically-acclaimed desktop Dark Energy II monophonic analogue standalone synthesizer with wide- reaching CV (Control Voltage)/Gate, MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), and USB (Universal Serial Bus) connectivity that it effectively enhances — as of July 4…
Like its Dark Energy II predecessor, released to widespread critical acclaim back in 2012, Dark Energy III is a desktop monophonic analogue standalone synthesizer with wide-reaching CV/Gate, MIDI, and USB connectivity. Continuing that intriguingly-named lineage, likewise, Dark Energy III’s sound generation and all modulation sources are 100% analogue, with only its inbuilt MIDI/USB components entering the digital arena (as is obviously necessary, naturally). Needless to say, everything is built into a rugged black metal case with wooden side plates, while high-quality potentiometers with metal shafts are used; ultimately, each potentiometer is mounted firmly to the chassis, so no wobbly shafts and knobs — unlike some cheaply-constructed competing (non-Doepfer) designs. Dark Energy III is, indeed, essentially an enhanced version of Doepfer’s desktop standalone synthesizer so central to the company’s product line for so long, but boasts several notable differences.
Notably — not least audibly, although also apparent from the front panel’s waveform Shape switch labelling, a triangle Shape waveform is now central to the VCO (Voltage-Controlled Oscillator) core, which now no longer requires a warmup period for optimal operation over a 10-octave frequency range (with 1V/Oct tracking over at least eight octaves).
On top of that, there are now separate Reset LFO1 and Reset LFO 2 Inputs for the two resettable LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators). These sockets synchronise both LFOs to external gate signals, so when a gate signal of +5V (or higher) is applied at a socket then its positive ramp sets the corresponding LFO wave shape to zero and the LFO restarts with a rising ramp.
All analogue synthesizers use a VCA (Voltage-Controlled Amplifier) to dynamically control loudness (or volume); Doepfer’s Dark Energy III design differs from its predecessor — and also many other analogue synthesizers — by virtue of its VCA having a linear control scale, so lends itself to scaling control voltages.
Several signal routings and functions are additionally available to any adventurous ‘Doepfer DIY’er’ willing and able to modify Dark Energy III’s front panel sockets by removing jumpers and rewiring the pin-headers for the VCO PW, Reset LFO1, Reset LFO2, and VCA Inputs. For example, the VCO PW input can be converted into a linear FM input, or LFO/ADSR signals can be used as outputs instead of one of the resettable LFO inputs. Indeed, (almost) anything is possible, including various VCO outputs (triangle, sawtooth, rectangle); VCO hard sync input; VCO soft sync input; various VCF outputs (lowpass, highpass, bandpass); various LFO outputs (triangle, rectangle); ADSR output; and two inverters with input/output (to invert any signal, such as ADSR or LFO).
Effective enhancements notwithstanding, the favoured filter found in Dark Energy II remains unchanged in Dark Energy III. Indeed, its sound- defining VCF (Voltage-Controlled Filter) is centred around a 12dB multimode filter with lowpass, notch, highpass, and bandpass settings, together with a filter Mode control for continuous transition from lowpass via notch and highpass around to bandpass; its XFM (Exponential Frequency Modulation) 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).
Meanwhile, mounting of two or more Dark Energy — original, II, and III — units is possible, with or without wooden side plates between them. Though there is still not sufficient space to accommodate a dedicated MIDI output socket on the Dark Energy III rear panel, it is still possible for those adventurous ‘Doepfer DIY’ers’ to link two or more Dark Energy — original, II, and III — units via MIDI out/MIDI in using the two pin-headers available at the supply/interface board mounted at the rear panel. (Fortunately for them, Doepfer has helpfully posted a downloadable document with additional technical information here: http://www.doepfer.de/pdf/Dark_Energy_III_technical_information.pdf.)
Put it this way: with Dark Energy III, Doepfer delivers another effective enhancement of a highly-capable monophonic analogue standalone synthesizer, continuing to make its musical mark with a compact desktop design dating back to 2010 (when wowing audiences around the world with its original Dark Energy entry).
Ending on a high note, who better to tender tasty food for thought, then, than Doepfer Musikelektronik CEO Dieter Doepfer, the esteemed electronic musical devices designer who lends his notable name to the renowned company and has been known to look beyond our world for inspiration: “Dark Energy III is not a tool for space research, neither is it suitable for studies in astrophysics. Yet, we find these topics as fascinating as music technology — reason enough to celebrate ‘Hubble & Co.’s amazing discoveries a bit and call our brand-new synthesizer Dark Energy III.”
In Germany, Dark Energy III can be ordered online from Doepfer Musikelektronic GmbH (http://www.doepfer.de/form_e.htm) or via one of its German dealers (https://docs.doepfer.eu/en/dealer-germany/) for €479.00 EUR. (An optional user-installable Glide control kit — containing a prewired potentiometer with two nuts and a Dark Energy-style rotary knob — is available for €10.00 EUR.)
Outside Germany, Dark Energy III can only be ordered from Doepfer dealers in territories listed here: https://docs.doepfer.eu/en/ (That said, residents in countries without representation can order directly from Doepfer Musikelektronic GmbH.)
For more in-depth info, please visit the dedicated Dark Energy III webpage here: http://www.doepfer.de/Dark_Energy_III_e.htm

Analog Solutions announces new desktop Synth

Analogue Solutions spreads synthBlocks series wings with tiny Treadstone true analogue mono synth
KINGSWINFORD, UK: hot on the heels of its inaugural Mr Hyde and Dr Strangelove so-called synthBlocks (launched late last year to widespread critical acclaim), British boutique electronic instruments innovator Analogue Solutions is proud to widen the self-explanatory series’ scope with Treadstone — taking the same smart, small, and affordable desktop design-driven analogue attributes of its similarly superior-sounding signal-processing siblings and applying them to a true analogue mono synth that packs a lot of (patchable) punch into a perfectly-matched, portable package — as of January 19…
Treadstone takes its intriguing name from a fictional highly-classified, heavily-guarded secret program that features in the series of books based on a fictional spy and associated feature films; it is shut down as the thrilling plot thickens, alas. As the latest addition to Analogue Solutions’ synthBlocks series — squarely aimed at laptop and audio plug-ins-focused digital musicians wishing to apply analogue, hands-on hardware sound-sculpting creativity to their sometimes sterile-sounding computer-based creations, the tiny Treadstone true analogue mono synth is far from fictional, however; hearing is believing, but it would, without question, make for a superior-sounding, space-saving desktop addition to any discerning film composer’s creative studio space — or anyone else’s, for that matter!
More meaningfully, maybe, Treadstone treads far from carefully, but boldly goes where few analogue synthesizers dare to win… with an all-analogue audio path and modulation circuits based on superior-sounding designs dating back to the mid-Seventies, so no CPU (Central Processing Unit) stabilised and quantised circuits, no DCOs (Digitally-Controlled Oscillators), and no digital EGs (Envelope Generators), as are often found on other ‘all-analogue’ affairs. Analogue as in really analogue — aside from the MIDI-to-CV circuit (which, by its very nature, must include a digital element) — in other words.
Winning analogue attributes apart (as attested to by its immediately apparent sonic strengths), this pocket-sized powerhouse packs a lot into its 134 x 125 x 52mm diminutive dimensions — including a serious single VCO (Voltage Controlled Oscillator) with square and sawtooth waveforms plus noise and an associated sub-oscillator, a reissue of the classic SSM2044 4-Pole VCF (Voltage Controlled Filter) chip (as used in many classic synths, such as the Korg Polysix and Monopoly, as well as E-mu’s Emulator and SP1200 sampling trailblazers), an analogue echo (REFLECT), and a unique LOOP SEQUENCER (to input, edit, and play up to 16 MIDI notes) — while weighing in at only 420g! Get this, though: Treadstone is designed, built, tested, and assembled in the UK using only high-quality components as is the Analogue Solutions way, with a full rugged steel/aluminium case combined with real ‘analogue’ wood side pieces perfectly reflecting its polished pedigree.
Put it this way: what’s within certainly counts in large amounts, albeit admittedly appearing at odds with those diminutive dimensions. Digging deeper, putting Treadstone through its musical and experimental paces can be as complex or uncomplicated an experience as deemed necessary; needless to say, Analogue Solutions has treated Treadstone to a diversity of creative controls and accompanying patch sockets, surely satisfying even the most ‘battle-hardened’ subtractive synthesists around — hardly surprising since Treadstone was designed by Analogue Solutions founder Tom Carpenter. As a fervent fan of electronic music and also an active electronic musician himself, he naturally knows a thing or two about programming synthesizers. So his latest creation clearly wasn’t the result of engineering design decisions alone — nor driven by a steering committee of men (or woman) in suits. So what else is ‘inside’ this small but perfectly formed box of subtractive synthesis tricks, then?
Thoughtfully, Treadstone is fully compatible with the ever-popular Eurorack small-format modular system and operates on the 1v/oct standard, so, armed with a fistful of 3.5mm mini-jacks, justifiably serious synthesists can interface it with their modular system or have it act as an exceptional external voice for another analogue synthesizer — after all, Oberheim’s Synthesizer Expander Module® (SEM) started life as an add-on synthesizer module for fattening up Minimoogs before becoming a sought-after sound in its own right (with up to eight embedded in Oberheim’s groundbreaking Seventies-vintage polysynths). Reality shows that Treadstone sounds a lot fatter than it looks!
Looks, of course, can be deceiving. Demonstrating design flare and flexibility, Treadstone can capably turn its hand — well… knobs, switches, and patching — to any number of applications. Any time anyone needs analogue sound effects, fat basses, screaming leads, bleeps, blurps, zaps, and all manner of other crazy sounds associated with subtractive synthesis… try Treadstone! Then consider that Treadstone has an AUDIO IN (input) socket, so users can feed external sounds through the onboard analogue filters for analogue processing. Producing electronic percussion sounds — such as kicks, snares, hi-hats, and cymbals — is perfectly possible in the hands of skilled synthesists. Speaking of which, while Treadstone is partially pre-patched, many of these patches can be cancelled using the switches and controls. Indeed, it has such wide-ranging modulation routing possibilities that it is almost as versatile as a full modular system and can create similar sounds — and all without the mess and confusion of cables! Cables, of course, can be used to re-patch Treadstone, thanks to an abundance of carefully chosen patch sockets, or connect externally elsewhere.
Either way, Treadstone makes for a fine addition to Analogue Solutions’ synthBlocks series, and a superior-sounding, space-saving addition to any studio or stage setup. Synth in pocket, indeed… Treadstone’s no pretender! 
UK purchase price for the Treadstone synthBlock is £499.00 GBP (including VAT), via dealers (http://analoguesolutions.com/global-distribution/) and Analogue Solutions directly.
North American availability of the Treadstone synthBlock is being handled via Voltage & Company (http://www.vcousa.com) — full-service reps of high-quality manufacturers from around the world — with a retail price of $599.00 USD, while (most) EU distribution is being handled by Sonic Sales (http://www.sonic-sales.de) — one of the largest full-service MI (Musical Instrument) distribution companies in Europe — priced at €589.00 EUR (including VAT).
For more in-depth info, visit the dedicated Treadstone webpage here: http://analoguesolutions.com/treadstone-synthblock/
Watch Analogue Solutions’ ear-tickling Treadstone teaser video here: https://youtu.be/CmLKV9_Y78g?list=PLq-KgzIcyyGFGRNp2SBlHy3YZdQq-9lb7 

Arturia announces minibrute 2 and more

ARTURIA MINIBRUTE 2 SEMI-MODULARn ANALOG SYNTHESIZER ANNOUNCED

Arturia are thrilled to announce the imminent release of a new synthesizer, one of three new products which will all be available at stores from late february 2018.

MiniBrute 2 is a 25-key analog monosynth with semi-modular architecture, bridging the gap between the traditional synthesizer instruments and the exciting world of modular. MiniBrute 2 shares many of the same iconic features that made its predecessor such a success, including mixable oscillators, the acidic Steiner-Parker filter, and the chaotic Brute Factor. While keeping many of its signature elements, the tone-shaping potential of MiniBrute 2 has been almost exponentially increased.

The reimagined MiniBrute now features semi-modular architecture, adding a comprehensive CV/Gate patch matrix that allows users to both rework its internal signal routing, but also expand into the blossoming world of modular. It also features the same high quality, aftertouch-enabled keybed found in their flagship MatrixBrute synth, making it a joy to play. Truly an instrument designed for musicians by musicians.

Arturia’s latest small-but-mighty monosynth is the successor to their debut analog instrument, the MiniBrute. The first incarnation was released in 2012, and turned the industry on its head, offering a unique, affordable analog synth experience with attitude.

MiniBrute 2 also features exciting new features that greatly expand its potential, both as the focal point of a creative studio, and as a road-ready performance platform. One of these features includes the new Arturia Link, an exciting innovation that will help unify and democratize your creative environment.

More information on the Link system and how it integrates with other devices will be released shortly. Stay tuned for more Arturia product announcements, and all of your questions shall be answered.

To get a good look at MiniBrute 2 in action, and to hear how it sounds, check out the official Arturia MiniBrute 2 announcement video, featuring London-based trip-hop act The Salvador Darlings.

To get hands on with all 3 of the new products, find Arturia at NAMM 2018. They’ll be at booth #11910.
Discover the MiniBrute 2 introduction movie shot in London to hear it in action!

It is not over! Tomorrow we will announce another product. Make sure to check the Arturia website to be part of the first to know!
https://www.arturia.com/minibrute-2-landing

Lab Lounging with the Vermona uniCYCLE VCO

 

The Vermona uniCycle is the new VCO from synth masterminds Vermona. Sharing its core with the ’14 synthesizer the uniCycle adds some tricks for the modular system.

From the vermona site 

Oscillator-circuits are used in our VERMONA synthesizers, we know how to design them. But instead of copy and paste, we reworked many aspects when adapting our circuits for modular purpose. What is great for closed systems might not always be perfect for modular systems.

All that development work resulted in uniCYCLE: compact, high-performant and stable.

Simple interface and quality without compromises

Continue reading

New eurorack oscillator from VERMONA the UniCycle

VERMONA is proud to announce availability of the uniCYCLE voltage controlled oscillator — a six-waveform VCO (Voltage-Controlled Oscillator) module for the popular Eurorack small-format modular system with an outstanding feature set that is all set to help it stand out from the sound of the crowd (to partially paraphrase the early-Eighties British breakthrough hit from synth-pop pioneers The Human League, no strangers to Eurorack today themselves) — as of August 25…

Audio-oscillators are probably the most widespread modules found in Eurorack small-format modular systems today — hardly surprising since they are fundamental for generating synthetic sounds, both tonal as well as percussive. Oscillators, of course, are at the musical heart of VERMONA’s sought-after synthesizers, such as the flagship ’14 ANALOG SYNTHESIZER, so the company clearly knows how to design them. That said, instead of applying a ‘copy and paste’ procedure, it reworked many aspects, adapting its oscillator circuits to Eurorack small-format modular system usage. After all, what works well for closed systems might not necessarily be perfectly suited to modular systems. Such ‘due diligence’ displayed during research and development resulted in the uniCYCLE voltage controlled oscillator, a compact (10 HP-wide), high-performance, and stable oscillator offering all the common features that the discerning Eurorack small-format modular system user might easily expect… and, arguably, much more besides.

Besides classic sawtooth, triangle and square offerings, the uniCYCLE voltage controlled oscillator generates sine, even, and a special sawtooth with doubled frequency for a total of six waveform OUTPUTS. PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) is not only available for that square wave, but also even — a shape that only has even-numbered harmonics — can be transformed into a sine-like wave, while the doubled saw turns into half-pitched triangles. There are also six OUTPUTS, including LIN FM (Linear Frequency Modulation) and EXP FM (Exponential Frequency Modulation) as well as H – SYNC – S (hard and soft sync).

Saving space, one knob allows access to the uniCYCLE voltage controlled oscillator’s frequencies in three different modes. TUNE either controls the low frequency or audio range, respectively adding or subtracting exactly one octave. In this calibrated mode it provides a ‘dead-zone’ around its centre position, making it easy to access all three octaves without needing a centre-click.

Care was taken to make the uniCYCLE voltage controlled oscillator suitable for use in a musical context when VERMONA made its design decisions. Delivering superlative sound quality with rock-solid, stable tuning, the uniCYCLE voltage controlled oscillator obviously fulfils those all-important criteria, handling huge tuning ranges with the greatest of ease while strictly following the 1-volt-per-octave convention.

Clearly, then, the uniCYCLE voltage controlled oscillator makes a strong case for anyone to embrace Eurorack… and at least one such module should be in every Eurorack small-format modular casing!

 

Shipping now, the uniCYCLE voltage controlled oscillator is available to purchase through VERMONA’s growing global network ors (http://www.vermona.com/en/dealer/) with an RRP of €289.00 EUR (Europe) and $339.00 USD (USA).

For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated uniCYCLE voltage controlled oscillator webpage here: http://www.vermona.com/en/products/modules/product/unicycle/

The SynthSummitShow episode 20: Taiho Yamada (MOK) + giveaway

The SynthSummitShow episode 20: Taiho Yamada

 

Mr Yamada has an extensive history in the synthesizer world dating back to early days of the Alesis Rompler synths such as the Quadrasynth and has been instrumental in quite a few key synthesizers of our time. From the Alesis Andromeda, Ion, and Fusion to the M-Audio Venom Taiho Yamada’s career has been steeped in synth gold. Now striking out on his own with company Media OverKill (MOK)  Taiho looks to set the bar with a new form of patent pending synthesis in WaveRazor. Join this show and learn details on how you could win a copy of both WaveForm and WaveRazor! It was a great interview filled with lots of 90’s and 2000’s synth history, very much worth a listen!

Novation Circuit Review

The Novation Circuit portable Groovebox

This Circuit review is one that I specifically requested from Novation. I was quite interested in the idea of a portable groove box that held one of my favorite synth engines in a battery controlled, forward thinking design. I was concerned about the macro control layout as I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the layout. I came away from my time with the circuit gaining a new appreciation for this different take on a portable synth. Instead of focusing on specifics like ADSR settings or complex oscillator set ups, This groove box opts to give you macros that can control 4 parameters on any given patch. While this might be a bit confusing, it also serves as the pathway to inspiration and discovery of new unexpected sounds. This is where Circuit can come into its own… The sequencer is a bit on the basic side being only 16 steps but it does allow for independent note lengths and pattern chaining. You can launch patterns in a similar way to the ableton live clip launching method. Speaking of Ableton Live, a copy is included free with Circuit and Circuit can be used as a controller for live.

The Battery power and the fact that it has a built in speaker was a large draw for me. I’m happy to say that through out this entire review I never once needed to actually plug it into the wall (though the wall adapter is included in the box). The internal speaker is quite adequate to get its sound across in a quiet setting (don’t expect it to be loud enough to get peoples attention in a noisy bus station but it will certainly turn heads if you are sitting in a starbucks.)

I found the over all build quality to be extremely good. The knobs feel VERY nice , smooth with decent resolution. the body didn’t creak or feel hollow and plasticy.  The build felt so nice I let my 2 and a half year old son bash away on it with not so much as a scratch or a worry. I have to say he quite enjoyed it as well.

I was skeptical of the layout but came away impressed with the build quality. The constant updates from novation is a very promising sign and the addition of sample import and “sample flip” is not to be over looked. the rigid 16 step sequencer resolution is probably my biggest gripe but for what this product is, its hardly a deal breaker.

If you are looking for a groove box that you can confidently take with you on the go and is truly stand alone… this might be right up your alley.