Dave Smith Instruments Evolver

Dave Smith Instruments Evolver Image

Released in 2002, Evolver is the first instrument to come from Dave Smith Instruments. Dave Smith is considered a legendary figure in the synthesizer world, he founded Sequential Circuits and designed such classics as the Prophet 5 and Prophet VS, and he was a pioneer in bringing MIDI to synthesizers. After a stint working in Software Synthesis for Seer Systems, Dave collaborated with Roger Linn on the Adrenalinn, and then officially came back to the world of hardware synthesizers. And the world was happy to find him back designing synths for a new generation of players - starting with Evolver!

So, there's no keyboard on this thing! Well, it's a hands-on desktop sound module and audio processor. The Evolver is a true analog synthesizer that incorporates many of Dave and Sequential's old secrets, circuits and technologies. It's monophonic with four oscillators - two analog DCOs and two digital - it's a true analog/digital hybrid synth. The analog oscillators feature multiple classic waveforms plus pulse-width modulation and hard sync, and they sound really nice and big. The digital oscillators feature FM synthesis, Ring Modulation and 96 wavetables straight out of the Prophet VS (plus 32 user wavetables, loaded via MIDI software editors such as Motu Unisyn).

Evolver also features two Curtis voltage-controlled analog low-pass filters which are fully resonant and switchable for two- or four-pole operation, two digital highpass filters and real analog VCAs. Modulation capabilities are handled by four LFOs and three ADSR envelope generators (for the filter, the amp, and one is user assignable). There are dedicated onboard effects (feedback, delay, distortion, glide, etc.). Stereo audio inputs let you process external audio through the Evolver's filters, envelopes, LFOs and effects.

One of its coolest features is the MIDI-syncable 16-step, 4-parameter, analog-style sequencer (with each patch able to store its own sequence) which really brings the Evolver to life with animated evolving sounds. The LFOs, step sequencer, and three separate delays can all be synced for massive, rhythmic, time-based effects in stereo. As for programming and tweaking all these functions, Evolver's easy-to-navigate matrix-style interface allows for quick editing and real-time control of 8 parameters simultaneously.

A major unique feature of the Evolver is that although it is monophonic, it has a true stereo signal path. The reason many things come in multiples of two here is because each channel gets its own independent analog oscillator, lowpass filter, highpass filter, VCA and effects. It's sort of like two independent synths - one on the left and another on the right. This allows for pretty nice stereo imaging effects not possible with most other mono-monophonic synths. Some of the factory patches will make your jaw drop - sometimes it's really hard to believe it has only a single voice!

It's no surprise the Evolver was a hit when it came out. There just are no other modern analog-digital synthesizers in its price range, it sounds wonderful, and is one of those synths that has no real need for external effects or sweetening. Evolver literally is a rebirth of the best of Sequential Circuits, updated to meet the needs of today's musicians. The internal computer and DSP chips can be reprogrammed via MIDI, for easy bug fixes, OS updates and feature additions. Other forms of the Evolver that have evolved: Mono Evolver (a keyboard version), Poly Evolver (a polyphonic keyboard version), and Poly Evolver Rack (a polyphonic rack module).

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48 Visitor comments
michaelphibes
September 25, 2012 @ 8:51 pm
dave smith is a genius! i think its capable of just about anything hot and mild.not for the faint of heart. not thin sounding at all anyone who says that is lying to himself and u.i think the evolver can bring so much creativity cuz it has so many unique sounds and can't stop finding them.......so drool at any demo's u may find that are worthy on youtube and save ur money to get one. its nice to have 4 osc. for this price.if you can find one used u may get a hundred or so off but its worth more than its current price 4 sho'
Patrick
July 12, 2012 @ 12:07 pm
Couldn't stand the thing and had to get rid of it, this is why.
Curtis filters: Hated them, it's a matter of preference, try a DSI synth in person before you buy, its not for everyone, it sounded to separated from the oscillators for my taste.

Editing: It's an absolute nightmare, yeah, you'll never get bored with this synth, because each time you make a patch it will take you at least an hour.
Oscillators: Just too damn thin, and the digital oscillators are just retched, why are they even their?! Their is other stuff, but mainly, i just hated it, not a bad synth, but not for everyone.
alex
May 31, 2012 @ 9:29 am
mister smith know how to build syntesizers theese days and know what people want. not like other companys who take only the name of famous synths or build some toys.
namnibor
May 18, 2012 @ 4:04 am
This is best $ spent for a VERY utilitarian device. First time sitting with it, not reading any manuals to see how intuitive it is found myself with two hours flown-by; or was I abducted by aliens? A little of both! Having external left/right/mono/stereo input for processing even takes it another level. Ran Microwave XT thru it's analog filters and I think that's where the "aliens" came-in; simply genius on Dave Smith's part! Fat sound--you will have to keep reminding yourself it IS monophonic. A Polyevolver must blur that line of genius and madness; worth every cent for new sonic weapon!
Jonny
February 25, 2012 @ 10:32 pm
Have it, love it. If you can't get anything out of this synth, your either not trying, of not on the right instrument. I like to think of it as a Frankenstein SCI Pro One & Prophet VS. It has almost limitless potential (other than never being polyphonic). So you get 2 analog oscillatiors, 2 wavetable oscillatiors, 3 digital delays, overdrive, a step sequencer with a sequence for each patch, and all done in a 100% analog signal path. I would get a poly in a heartbeat if i could afford it. Get one, you won't regret it!!
 
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Monophonic
  • Oscillators - 2 digitally controlled analog oscillators (DCOs) with selectable sawtooth, triangle, saw/triangle mix, and pulse waves (with pulse-width modulation), and hard sync;

    2 digital wavetable oscillators with Prophet VS waves and wave sequencing capability, FM and ring modulation.

    White noise generator.
  • LFO - 4 LFOs each with sawtooth, triangle, ramp, pulse, and random waves. Each LFO can be routed to any destination in the matrix. Can sync to MIDI clock.
  • Filter - 2 Low-pass filters: 1 analog Curtis filter per channel, selectable 2- and 4-pole operation (self-resonating in 4-pole mode) and ADSR envelope generator.

    2 digital 4-pole Highpass filters.
  • VCA - 1 analog VCA per channel with ADSR envelope generator
  • Arpeg/Seq - 16 x 4 analog-style step sequencer that syncs to MIDI clock.
  • Keyboard - None
  • Effects - Digital delays: 3 separate, syncable, stereo delay lines.

    Dual (left and right channel) tunable feedback loops with "Grunge": use feedback as a pitched sound source.

    Distortion! Digital, one for each channel, can be placed before or after analog electronics; and "Output Hack."

    Separate Glide per oscillator.
  • Memory - 512 fully editable programs (four banks of 128).
  • Control - MIDI In, Out, and Thru
  • Date Produced - 2002 - present
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Dave Smith Instruments

    Additional info provided by Miles Bader and David Bryce.

    Reviewed December 2007

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