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
December 21, 2010 @ 6:17 am
This shows just how personal something like 'sound' really is. I love the idea of a feedback path (use it all tthe time in NI's Massive) but I hate that digital-sounding distortion they put in the MEK.
Micheal Andrews
December 2, 2010 @ 10:01 am
Slighty disagree with the P08 Sounding more ballsy than the MEK,I own both and since aquiring the MEK recently,I haven't bothered using the Prophet,the MEK is far phatter and grittier makes the P08 sound flat to me,even thinking of dumping the Prophet and replacing it with a Poly evolver,because of the sounds the MEK produces you somehow feel a little restricted because of it being Mono some of the patches just beg to be played with Chords.the Prophet was used mainly for basslines but the MEK has now knocked the Prophet to the Sidelines,having that distortion and delay makes the oscillators just ooze ooomph
November 26, 2010 @ 2:16 pm
I compared this for a few hours to the prophet 08. And allthough I wanted to like it more, because of it's greater flexibillity (ringmod, fm, wavetables, stereo signalpath, external input) I find myself drawn more to the prophet. Does anyone agree that the prophet's sound is more 'ballsy'?

The prophet's keyboard feels more sturdy to me too.
September 7, 2010 @ 3:27 pm
Of all the synths I've owned, including many classics (Jupiter 6, Rhodes Chroma, Alesis Andromeda), the Evolver is by far my favorite. It incorporates the best aspects of digital technology (think Prophet VS and wavetables) with the best aspects of analog (Curtis filters, massive Oscs). The layout is very logical and easy to learn. I also LOVE the 3 digital delays included with this synth.

I do wish the sequencer was a bit easier as I find it confusing. Also, wish the encoders weren't as jumpy as they are.

That said, this instrument makes very unique, musical tones that are an inspiration.
Rose Specs
December 3, 2009 @ 10:30 am
A truly awesome and versatile synth that I've used heaps. The interface could be a bit more responsive; a little tedious to make it do what you want it to sometimes but not too much and the sound never dissapoints. Great performance oriented tweakable effects. Definitely has a rediculous list of features/possibilites.
I think 'Danny Gee the Giant Antelope MC' used the MEK on his debut album.
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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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