Spectral Audio Neptune 2 Vs Doepfer Dark Energy

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Spectral Audio Neptune 2 Vs Doepfer Dark Energy

Postby andyjingram » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:08 pm

I'm just looking to ask opinions on these two. I would like to have a fully analogue (singal path) monosynth to hand, and both these come in at about the same price. My main criteria are sound quality, features, and build quality, and bearing in mind that this would be my first real analogue synth. So far I have been using a Proteus 2000, which has some good analogue synth sounds, however I would like to start learning to program the sounds myself from scratch, so would like a good starting point for feeling my way around the synthesis process.

I realise that the natural limitations of a monosynth would leave me with just basses, leads, and sound effects, and that neither model stores patches, but this is all cool with me. I will also just be using MIDI control.

Aside from all this, I prefer the rack mounting of the Neptune, but just have a bit of a thing for the dark energy :roll:. I'm sure I'm kind of splitting hairs really, but any advise would be much appreciated in making a good decision!

Cheers, Andy
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Re: Spectral Audio Neptune 2 Vs Doepfer Dark Energy

Postby Hair » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:26 pm

I'd say the biggest things are that the Neptune has two oscillators (and I believe an LFO that can be used as a third), while the Dark Energy only has one, and that the Dark Energy has a few readily available patch points to have fun with, while the Neptune doesn't have any stock (I believe the Neptune manual tells you how you can add them as well as other mods though)

Not to make the choice more complicated, but the new Vermona Mono Lancet seems like it's in the same class and is sort of a half-way between the two. Desktop, 2 osc, no factory patch points, but there's an (announced if not yet released) patch-point breakout box if you want to later dive into that.

Also, the Dark Energy and Lancet only have one envelope generator, while the Neptune has seperate Amp and Filter EGs, for me this would put it over the top as the winner.
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Re: Spectral Audio Neptune 2 Vs Doepfer Dark Energy

Postby 101 Force » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:55 am

Videos and MP3 clips I've heard between the Doepfer Dark Energy and Vermona Mono Lancet put the Vermona in a much better light, in my opinion. I haven't played with a Neptune myself but I've often heard its sound compared to the Roland MC-202.
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Re: Spectral Audio Neptune 2 Vs Doepfer Dark Energy

Postby andyjingram » Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:52 pm

Thanks guys, I'll tentatively add the Vermona to the list and have a youtube session when I get a chance.

Perhaps to put a finer point on this, do you reckon that multiple oscillators are genarally more useful than the PWM available on the Dark Energy?
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Re: Spectral Audio Neptune 2 Vs Doepfer Dark Energy

Postby Hair » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:34 pm

andyjingram wrote:do you reckon that multiple oscillators are genarally more useful than the PWM available on the Dark Energy?

In my opinion, yes, but it is a matter of preference for sure. Two oscillators tuned closely together and one oscillator with it's pulse width being modulated both create motion in the sound, I usually prefer the Oscillators, but PWM is a sound I know and love from old video games. To me, the Neptune and to a lesser extent the Mono Lancet would have me creating "bigger" sounds, while the Dark Energy offers a lot more options for quirkier stuff right off the bat. This is just going off of features without hearing the timbre of the unit in person though.

For what it's worth, it looks like the breakout box for the Mono Lancet adds PW CV inputs, but it doesn't look like you get an LFO to control them with - and for the Neptune, the Service Manual describes how to add PWM (and other cool stuff), though it seems like it's something you'd want to have a tech do unless you have experience fiddling with boards and all that: http://www.spectralaudio.ch/support/Ser ... tuneII.pdf

If you're still not sure if you'd prefer multiple oscs or PWM, maybe grab a simple soft synth VST like Synth1 or something and see what's actually more important to you? Try playing around and making patches using only one Osc w/ PWM, or two Oscs with no PWM. You could also use this to decide how important seperate EGs are (simulate only one EG by limiting yourself to setting the Amp and Filter EGs to the same setting, or only using the filter EG and setting the amp EG to min attack, min decay, max sustain and min release, or vice versa etc)
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Re: Spectral Audio Neptune 2 Vs Doepfer Dark Energy

Postby andyjingram » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:21 pm

That's a great idea on the soft synths! I have a few that came with Cubase, (Neon, CS-40, JX-16 I think, and the FM7, which may be less useful in this instance). Between those four I might be able to find something to give me an idea. I haven't looked at them since before I started to learn how synths actually create and process sound too, so perhaps going back I will be able to make a bit more sense of them!

I actually had a chance to have a quick look at youtube and today (rushed and through computer speakers) the Neptune actually seemed to have the character I preferred of the three. Not a deciding factor just yet, but the Neptune is collecting points fairly quick here! I'd like to avoid mods for now, but would certainly have to get an expert to do it for me- I would not trust a nice, new, fully functional module to my soldering butchery. :shock:
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Re: Spectral Audio Neptune 2 Vs Doepfer Dark Energy

Postby nuketifromorbit » Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:26 am

Just so you know, the Neptune does apparently have a midi to cv bug.
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Re: Spectral Audio Neptune 2 Vs Doepfer Dark Energy

Postby andyjingram » Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:19 pm

I had heard some mention of that, but it seemed to be an issue with older models. I would be buying new, as there doesn't seem to be any distribution in the UK and I would have to order from the manufacturers (although they haven't yet emailed me back with a current price yet!).

Do you have any more details about what the issue is/was and whether it was ever sorted by the manufacturers?

Thanks, Andy
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Re: Spectral Audio Neptune 2 Vs Doepfer Dark Energy

Postby nuketifromorbit » Fri Nov 05, 2010 4:31 pm

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/Nept2

This should help, I was thinking about getting a neptune 2 as well, but ended up with the dark energy just because I wanted something that was more geared towards weird horrible noises, and I'm paranoid about experiencing technical problems. I think the neptune 2, judging by the demos, would make a better traditional lead bass synth, not that the doepfer can't do this to some extent. The DE does have some short comings though, for instance the oscillator still bleeds through a bit even when the amp is cranked all the way down, and if the lfos are in the audio rate range they will bleed into the audio, however its only noticeable if they've been turned on and are not modulating anything. Also I'd say the build quality is top notch and I'm very happy with my purchase. I think my requirements were a bit different from yours though, because I also needed a decent midi to cv interface and had plans to expand into the eurorack modular world. Hope this helps, I'm not a professional user, so I'm not sure if my opinion is really worth anything.
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Re: Spectral Audio Neptune 2 Vs Doepfer Dark Energy

Postby andyjingram » Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:33 pm

Thanks nukeit, your experience is just as valuable as that of someone who is getting paid!

I'd seen that link on my google travels, but not gone past the first page. I've dug a bit deeper into it now, and it sounds that a newer model will be a safer bet, especially as I will be running a MIDI controller direct to the unit via a short cable. It looks like the oscillator bleed is evident on both synths, so perhaps is one of the compromises in all the lower priced analogue units.

Actually, the biggest obstacle seems to be finding somewhere to buy a Neptune! I could order one from Sweden or Russia, but that seems a bit extreme. So I may have to spend a bit more time researching the DE and Lancet anyhow!
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