Synth Site: Dave Smith Instruments: Evolver: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.5 out of 5
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MIke Peake a professional user from LA, CA, USA writes:
I know that I'm late to the game on this, but have finally grabbed an Evolver after playing with it at a couple of NAMM shows. I don't know if I'm adding anything that isn't already known, but it works for me so here goes..

-Fatter bass/pad sounds

Set the same sound in both channels (detuned saws, for instance). With the filters at the 24dB setting, increasing resonance cuts the passband as on the Moog filters. Set Envelope 3 to minimum attack, maximum decay and release, and sustain to maximum. This "creates" an offset, a continuous "on" signal while the keys are gated. Modulate one filters' resonance up (just one), or of the overall resonance level is high, us it to modulate one filters' resonance to its minimum. You get the resonant character plus the size of the non-resonant filter. Use Tri and Sine waves on that side too.

Set Pan to Non for center.

-I don't find it to be really punchy, but this is easily dealt with by setting the envelopes to linear, and using a Mod to modulate AmpEnv All by itself (lin through log responses with positive and negative self-modulation).

This is of course fun on the filter envelopes as well.

-More vintage character

Oscillator Slop, set at 5, doesn't come close to the Moog and other old-timer movement, so add slight (1 or 2) LFO to pitch modulations, with individual LFOs per oscillator, and a touch of LFO to LFO rate modulation. A tad of Envelope 3 to pitch helps as well.

-Don't miss out on the 12dB filter setting.

The 24dB setting has much more resonance, but the 12dB setting can sound nice and plucky, and do nice slightly fuzzy pads etc.

This is only approaching the instrument as a keyboard plus tone source device; I haven't touched the sequencer yet, and note many excellent factory programs using it for multiple-part harmony and timbrality. Some folks did some killer work here.

-Inside the Evolver

The PCB, Rev 1.5, has "Yeee-Ha!" on it :-)

There are Analog Devices OP275 opamps on the output section. This is a surprise; they're not cheap but have great specs, so Dave has paid attention to sound quality (I think that it's a good-sounding instrument, even with overall digital conversion involved).


Yes, I know that there is digital involved, but I've been a fan of digital waveforms through analog filters for a long time. The analog-waveshaping oscillators have a nice character and a wide pitch range as well, and a nice hard sync tone. The PWM isn't quite as sweet as the Juno, IIRC. The digital oscillators alias more than I'd expected in a 24-bit DA system, so I use them at lower frequencies with the analog-waveshaping oscillators for hf stuff such as Triangle waves to add harmonics etc.

The instrument sounds clean, but not clinical, and lacks (thankfully) the "brazz" of somem DCO synths.

There is a touch of noise, but that's okay.

Clavinets and bells just pour out of this thing. I usually don't program clavinets either (ION found me making some brass patches, and I don't usually go for those either; interesting how different synths have different "voices" depending upon all of the different tonal and parameter aspects). This is a great device for pads, percussive tones, filter sweeps, leads, bass, SFX, etc. It has a wide range of strong results.

Fear the PolyEvolver! If you like the Evolver, start saving now.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Sunday-Mar-21-2004 at 19:36
Sam a part-time user from USA writes:
I owned one for about a year and did not like it at all. Found it to be a bit too digital and not organic sounding enough for me. Too similar to computer noise for me. I really dont get all the hype on this one at all but perhaps Im just ignorant. I sold mine and do not miss it one bit. I know the grid matrix thang from my Pulse and MicroWave units, so that wasnt what threw me. I just never created anything that really turned me on out of this little box. thats what did it for me.

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Nov-25-2003 at 12:15
Damien a professional user from England writes:
I absolutley love this synth. When you open the box and a tiny little thing stares up at you, you question your purchase. Then you plug it in, fiddle about and read the very simple manual. Then bit by bit you just start unfolding different sounds and if you like retro 80's electronic sounds then this is a brilliant bit of gear. Just one evening of playing around gave me so many ideas, intros and blippy little grooves, the only downside is, i can spend hours just messing about with this, instead of getting on with projects already on the go. For those people harping on about the lack of this and the not quite doing that side of the synth, treat it as unique, stop trying to compare it with anything else and enjoy it's quirky little character... and as Dave Smith says...get evolving!!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Aug-01-2003 at 11:01
Jonas a professional user from Sweden writes:
I got the Evolver about a month ago, and I´m really pleased with it. It´s got a really wide spectra of sounds - great filters, great oscs (the slop function is great for some analog drift), a really nice interface (once you get familiar with it) and loads of modulations and sound wrangling capacities. The price is almost unbelievable compared to other new analog monosynths, and it fits right on top of my Nord Lead 3! This is a winner!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-Aug-01-2003 at 07:05
pah-dre a professional user from North America writes:
Such an amazing box. I call it the wedge.

all the oscilators sound really good. I LOVE the digital waveforms. I shit you not. They sound very organic.

Everything is tuned also.. the (wonderful self-oscilating) filter automatically tunes to a note. very musical. I think the feedback does this too.

You can get the deepest of the deep analog bass out of this. The bass from this makes the Virus B look bad.

Nice wet drippy analog sounds... Or crazy monster machine lines... or weird quirky melody loops.... or PErcussion... acid lines... evolving drones.. weird poly/syncopated patterns... Self playing melodies.. this thing does it all.

Once again people will argue forever about this synth's sound, but the magic and personality really lie in the sequencer.

Bad points : the interface can be clumsy.. The 2 digit LED.. No headphone out.. the knobs do suck for performance... Labeling of knobs is nearly impossible to read in the dark.

you'll find these things dont matter.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Jul-17-2003 at 15:57
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