Dave Smith Instruments Mono Evolver

Dave Smith Instruments Mono Evolver Image

The Mono Evolver was the highly anticipated performance-oriented keyboard version of the original Evolver table-top sound module. The voice architecture is identical to the Evolver, but it sports a 3-octave semi-weighted keyboard, pitch and mod wheels, a new built-in arpeggiator, and finally enough knobs and switches to put all the controls within easy reach.

Mono Evolver is a true analog synthesizer that incorporates many of Dave Smith 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).

Mono 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 Mono Evolver's filters, envelopes, LFOs and effects. The Evolver's ultra-cool MIDI-syncable 16-step, 4-parameter, analog-style sequencer (with each patch able to store its own sequence) is also on-board to really bring the Mono 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.

A major unique feature of the Mono 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!

Dave Smith Instruments Mono Evolver Image

The original Evolver was a hit when it came out. There just were no other modern analog-digital synthesizers in its price range. It sounds wonderful, and was one of those synths that has no real need for external effects. But it was limited in its table-top form, with just 8 rotary knobs for hands-on control. Four years after the Evolver was released, Mono Evolver finally appeared to make the Evolver a true performance-oriented synthesizer, and without breaking the bank! For about the same price you could also get the Poly Evolver Rack which is basically 4 Evolvers in one tidy little polyphonic rack module. And then there's the flag-ship keyboard version - the Poly Evolver - twice as expensive but four times as big.

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29 Visitor comments
Tim
October 30, 2009 @ 11:05 am
This is an extremely versatile little synthesizer. It can produce both immense elaborate sounds and very pretty musical tones. The 2 analog oscillators are fairly warm, while the 2 digital oscillators add another quality - not tinniness, but not warmth either; almost a reedy type tone. The 4 LFO's allow for all sorts of simultaneous modulation - vibrato, pulse width modulation, filter sweeping, and stereo panning all at once. This makes for a very animated moving effect.

This is an excellent instrument for the traveling musician, since it's only 26 inces long and very lightweight. Note that the MEK fits into the same ATA case as the Prophet '08.

I was hesitant to buy a synthesizer that was even partly digital, because I shun the tinny quality of digital instruments. The MEK didn't disappoint me. I'm thrilled with its musical quality.
djsinistral
August 15, 2009 @ 4:46 pm
GREAT SYNTH! Incredibly versatile, just dialling through the presets is jaw dropping. Makes almost every other mono synths seem very limited.
S Dhain
March 2, 2009 @ 6:29 pm
Ive had this, the evolver DT, the poly evolver KB AND the mopho. Out of those i used the mopho to the max. The sound quality is a real marmite scenario, as although it does have hints of prophet vs due to the wavetables, it is incredibly noisy on a lot of the presets. Judicious programming can knock some of this out, but on the main, it does require patient eq'ing when recording in a mix to get the best out of it.
Andru
February 4, 2009 @ 8:03 pm
This little synth is absolutely amazing. If there ever was an analog synth that made you feel like you could do anything in the world (one note at a time of course) this is it. The modulation capabilities (aftertouch, mod wheel, pedal) enable you to make all sorts of expressions during play. I especially like linking the aftertouch to feedback to pull out howling harmonics. The only feature I would like to see added would be a sub osc, but I have paired my MEK up with an Alesis Nanobass and a Red Sound Dark Star so I have plenty of dial-in bass from other modules. If you are looking at analog synths to sound like a Moog, buy a Moog. If you are looking at analog synths to create unique sounds, buy an Evolver.
 
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  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay 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 - Sequencer: 16 x 4 analog-style step sequencer that syncs to MIDI clock.

    Arpeggiator: up, down, up/down, and assignable modes, and latched operation.
  • Keyboard - 3-octave, semi-weighted action keyboard with velocity and aftertouch.
  • 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, and Poly Chain.
    Pedal/CV1 and Pedal/CV2 inputs: responds to expression pedals or control voltages ranging from 0 to 5 VDC.
  • Date Produced - 2006
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

    Reviewed December 2007

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