Doepfer Dark Energy MkI vs MkIII

Been wanting a semi-modular setup lately… I really like the demos I’ve heard of these online and love how many tonal variations these units give you in such a small space. Anyone have first-hand experience with the different versions of the DE? I like the rounder tone of the MkI but the filter of the MkIII sound get pretty crazy when modulated by the LFOs.

Or maybe just get both?

So just snagged a Mk1 in an eBay deal that I couldn’t pass up… so I guess the question is whether to get him a little MkIII buddy.


With the flood of B*synths the Doepfer Dark Energy seems overprized, but from my memory, the DE mk i has a fantastic sound, and Dieter made some small but well thoughtfull Changes to the Mk3. The VCO is Curtis based again (Triangle core, but not a CoolAudio Chip, rather from the Curtis factory). No Warm-up time needed, plus it tracks stable across 8 octaves! The SVF is able to work as Sine OSC, which can be linear FMed. The VCA has now also a linear control scale, which results in a softer Sound. The two LFOs go into audio range 5kHz…
So, worth to Check it Out.

Dark Energy MK1 has a (beautifully sounding) 24db low pass filter (CEM339), Mk2/Mk3 have 12db multimode filter (low pass/Notch/high pass/band pass).

What i didnt Like…No on/Off Switch, knobs are very Close to each other.

I have had both (really, all three - the Mkii for a while as well). Currently I have the Mkiii version.

I have always acquired them used (and saved quite a bit from new) - and while still more costly than other monosynths out there, I really do enjoy the sounds that come out of the Doepfer unit (any of them) and for me the DE has a place as a no presets, compact, all knobs visible, type synthsezier.

Having said that, I’m happy with the Mkiii at this point - in particular given the multimode filter. You probably know that the internals are different from Mki to Mkiii as well, and with the filter variability I’m very happy with what I am able to get out of it vs. the Mki. And as was also pointed out - no warm up time needed (like the Mkii). The only thing I miss vs. the Mki is there were a couple of patch points on the Mk1 at the bottom (for LFO1 and ADSR IIRC) that changed and I probably preferred what the Mki offered vs. the Mkiii (apparently this can be tweaked via the insides of the Mkiii, but not a big enough deal for me to try it).

Anyway - if I had a Mki and was completely happy with it, would I buy a Mkiii? Probably not - would go for something totally different. But if I was deciding between the two - I think I would go with the latest version.

Lastly - I’m a DE fan - great little boxes.