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In-depth Feature:  Dave Smith Instruments Evolver
Nick B writes: .

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Cross Modulation
The Digital Oscillators also offer wave sequencing (using the built in step sequencer), Frequency Modulation (3->4 and 4->3 respectively) which can cross modulate between both simultaneously, Ring Modulation - again possible between both 3+4. Quite a pile of sound shaping possibilities right there, I think you’ll agree. Other parameters: Frequency, Fine, Level and Glide are common to all Oscillators.

As if these routings weren’t enough, there’s also a section called Feedback, which is an ingenious implementation of two discrete delay lines with a tuneable feedback loop which can be tuned over 4 octaves with the Frequency parameter. Level sets the amount of feedback, with high levels introducing a note set with Frequency and lower levels adding movement to the sound. The final parameter is Grunge (on/off) making the sound well, grungier at extreme level settings or just more interesting at lower levels.

Envelopes, LFOs, Delays and The Rest
The third ADSR envelope (VCA and Filter being assigned to 1+2) is for additional modulation, with +/- depth control, and is routable to just about any destination for serious modulation – see table.

The Evolver doesn’t skimp on LFOs either and sports a whopping four. Speed can be set either to run freely (values 0-150) or synced to the global sequencer tempo in various divisions. LFO waves are: Triangle, Sawtooth, Reverse Sawtooth, Pulse (Square) and Random (Sample & Hold). I would like to have seen some LFO speed indicators to help figure out what is modulating what, as there are four of them it can take a little detective work to figure out exactly what is going on in a patch.

The last few parameters give you some quite radical sound shaping. Namely Output Hack and Distortion. Output Hack is described in the manual thus “Trashes the output signal, quite rudely” and I must concur, it does. Distortion can be quite unruly, sounding to my ears like the transistor variety, though the tone is dependent on what you feed it. It can be set to distort the signal after the analog filter and VCA (0-99) or the external input before the filter (i0-i99).

Evolver allows you to map modulation destinations to, Peak Amount – taken from the external input, Envelope Follow Amount – again taken from the left input, Velocity, Mod Wheel, Pressure, Breath and Foot controllers. Phew!

External Inputs
External inputs appear to be de rigueur these days, and Evolver certainly doesn’t disappoint. It features Left + Right inputs which can be treated either mono or stereo used just like an Oscillator. You can apply the pretty rabid Distortion and Hack modules to the input. Distortion on the input sounds warmer and more ‘valve-like’ to me and can be very effective on a guitar or bass. To get you started, there’s 20 programs or so in Bank 3 to check out including 10 specifically for your Axe so you can wig out.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • Dave Smith Instruments WWW
  • Evolver Yahoo Group
  • Evolver V2.0 OS update
  • A collection of Evolver Sounds
  • Watch Dave Smith + Evolver Video @NAMM

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