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

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First The Analogue
Evolver offers both analogue and digital synthesis with two analogue Wave shape Oscillators, a 2/4 pole filter and a VCA. All are controlled digitally by the on board DSP. The analogue oscillators give you SAW/TRI/SAW-TRI mix and 99 Pulse Width waves. Both oscillators are tuneable over a 10 octave range (8hz-8Khz) with additional fine-tuning of +/- 50 cents. Oscillators are hard-wired to the left and right channels for impressive stereo width although it is possible to pan them centrally.

The VCF is made up of two dual mode (Low Pass and High Pass) real analogue filters (Left and Right) locked together for ease of control, although it is possible to split the LPF for individual control. The filter ranges over 164 (not the usual 128) increments, with additional smoothing to eliminate the stepping effect you can get with some filters. Resonance (0-100) will happily self-oscillate when in 4-pole mode.

The filter section has controls for Env Amount (+/- 99) and an ADSR envelope plus key tracking. The High Pass Filter is accessible via the shift key and feature frequency only operation with no additional resonance. It can be inserted in two different places. Values 0-99 are after the analogue low pass and VCA but before the delay, values i0-i99 insert it before the LPF and affects the external input only. This kind of routing manipulation is something that you’ll find on a number of parameters and allows you to tweak the architecture of the synth to great effect.

The VCA itself is pretty comprehensive with the usual ADSR envelope, velocity sensitivity plus a VCA level control – max level bypasses the envelope, set it to 0 for full Envelope use. This is handy for processing external signals where you don’t wish any envelope processing or if you fancy an endless changing drone sound – something Evolver is eminently capable of. The VCA also has an output pan control allowing for various feedback settings between L+R channels plus mono operation.

It’s Digital, Dave But Not As We Know It
In addition to the analogue oscillators, there are two Digital Wave shape Oscillators (3+4) that are again assigned to Left and Right channels respectively. Essentially these comprise of 127 ROM-based waves, fans of the Prophet VS (see what people say about it) will be pleased to hear that the first 95 waves are replicas of the original ROM from the VS. Waves 96 to 128 are in RAM, user programmable via MIDI, assuming someone builds a software editor that is. There’s quite a broad array of waves here, many harmonically rich and unusual, some sound like more than one oscillator, eg: two or three distinct notes. More than enough to create some weird stuff, and combined with the plethora of routing possibilities, giving a massive tonal range.

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

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