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Dave Smith Instruments Evolver


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Dave Smith Instruments Evolver

Category:  Products / synthesisers / analog synthesisers

Added: 25-May-04  |  Author: admin

New price: Discontinued (RRP $499.00 - £ 599.00)  |   S/H price: Anywhere from £700 - 1200

Dave Smith Instruments Evolver

Amazing sounds, VERY easy to use once you get used to the display, and have an idea of how basic synthesis works. This tool is a very flexible, small, totally slick box.


The interface is really simple, just a grid of practically arranged parameters eight rows deep and a button for each row, with a shift key to access the secondary function of each grid location, and eight endless rotary knobs, one for each paramter in the row. Also there are a couple other buttons, one for the Main functions Row, one for the Sequencer Access, a start/stop button, and a reset button. There's also a cheesy little three digit LED display, that I'm kinda starting to like because it's also very old-school, like the a digital alarm clock kind of feel. It's essentially a four oscillator synthesizer with an external audio input.


Two of the oscillators are VCOs (standard shapes) and sound very nice, warm and thick, and two of the oscillators are digital, and sound very similar to the Sequential Circuits Prophet VS, for those in the know. They also kind of remind me of my Waldorf Microwave, but are a little cleaner, probably due to a slightly higher bit-rate.


The lo-pass filters sound very Sequential Circuits, like a Pro One, very warm, but still plenty tough enough to get bad when needs be. Real VCFs and they do real VCF things, especially when you saturate, and overload them (which is not a bad thing). They are normally hardwired (left and right respectively) together but there is a split function that can be modulated quite nicely for some killer effects.


The hi-pass is digital and clean, simple, easy to use, works, nothing special, nor does it need to be. The VCA is also pretty self explanatory and works nicely. Very punchy, but smooth when you want it to be. There is a feedback section, and I'm still figuring this bad boy out, The explanation is in the manual, but like anything inside a synthesizer you really have to hear it and work with it a bit to figure out what the parameters mean in terms of real sounds and how each setting changes that. So far...it's wild, like a delay that's feeding back and getting pissed off. A VERY good tool for making noise. It seems somewhat tied to the filters, and also resonds nicely to little snippets of the digital oscillators for further textural complexity. Yummy.


Next there's a delay section. Dave called it cheesy, but I think it's pretty cool myself. It sounds good and clean, and the first tap has two feedback controls, one for post, and one for pre-filter, so there's plenty of room for illness there. Three taps in total, so plenty of room for fun, especially with the short times, and close together.


Next four (FOUR!!!!) LFOs with LOADS of modulation routing capabilites, MIDI sync'able or free cycling. I forgot to mention that there are also four virtual patch cable modulations that let you connect loads of stuff to each other to make this thing freak out nicely. Stuff like enveloples to LFO speeds, and LFOs to oscillators frequencies to the filters and feedback, all kinds of really messed up sound things that synth nerds like me love dearly.


There's a third DADSR envelope for assigning to any parameter you want. First D is a delay. Next are a bunch of MIDI functions, and the sequencers destinations, which bring me to the Sequencer in this thing. It is a four track 16-step sequencer that you can use to controll all kinds of things inside this beast. I guess it will also sequence external stuff too, but I haven't tried yet. It can run off of the internal clock, or external clock, as well as being gated in a few different ways, like an external signal.


So imagine the controls of Evolver in two modes, one is sound mode, the other in sequencer mode. In fact that's exactly what they are, and as soon as you press the sequencer button, those eight buttons alongside the parameter grid switch to selecting sequencer tracks in pairs, so button one handles the first eight steps of sequence track one, button two handles the second eight, button three-steps 1-8 of track 2, and so on. All of the sequences have variable lengths as well, so there's something for the math nerds to get happy over.


Hmmm....more MIDI stuff, which is cool. Dedicated modulation inputs with variable destinations for modwheel, breath, velocity, pressure, foot control, all with smoothing for whatever destination you want, in addition to access to most of those in the modulation matrix. Then we have the external inputs, allowing us to do all kinds of neat things from simple processing and filtering to use as a modulation source, or sequencer trigger, to things like feedback and delay times. VERY NICE. I'm going to try my bass out through this thing shortly, and see how ill I can get. Already this thing has me mightily impressed, and I'm a picky bastard.


For all you cats using computers, check this thing out as a sound source. It's WAY thicker than anything your computer will generate. I'm still in the process of testing it against some of my other analog tools, and so far it holds its own nicely. Also, it's got character. It'll do the acid box thing, but it's way more than that too. Superb sound source sampling.


DJ's, this thing fits in your bag easily and will add all kinds of fun to your mixes by putting it into the effects loop, and filtering, delaying, distorting out your tracks, as well as adding all kinds of cool noises when you want to. For five bills to your doorstep, anywhere in the States, and just a little more outside them, I'd call this thing a must have, myself. If you're just getting into synthesis and making your own electronic music, it'll teach you a lot. For the seasoned pro, this thing smokes, and is good to have on any gig. Great for leads, bass, atmosphere, percussion sounds, processing external audio, you name it, this thing does a good job at it.


Dave Smith, founder of Sequntial Circuits back in the day, and pretty much THE dude who invented the MIDI standard that almost all of us electronic musicians use today, has used his genius once again to make a great tool for others to create with. Hats off. By the way, don't think that just because somebody else has this box you should not because it is sufficiently flexible that no two are going to be used the same way. Go forth and make your own flavor.


Here's a track made with Evolver sounds, save for the pads, coming off of a DW-8000. http://www.spaz.org/~ian/De-volved.mp3

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User Comments

Product:  Dave Smith Instruments - Evolver
Name: hexwoman
Email: No email added
Date: 20-Mar-04

great synth/seq blah blah BUT it has a tendency to CRASH. if like me you edit using sysex you get timing errors, unexpected stops / starts, program jumps
these comments relate to v.2 only

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Product:  Dave Smith Instruments - Evolver
Name: scutopus
Email: No email added
Activity: Hobby-ist
Date: 23-Oct-04

when playing with this, one forgets that is is a monosynth! the polyvolver (sp?) frightens me with its potential!

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