Synth Site: Dave Smith Instruments: Mono Evolver Keyboard: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.5 out of 5
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novelli a professional user from paris writes:
really nice & strong sonorite , and regarding comparing mek with virus ti below, I really cannot support ideas of virtual analogue sounding better. These keys show 5 X the impact of va's and software when they play with guitars and drums for my band, really present and strong sounds.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Jan-05-2008 at 10:22
Scott a hobbyist user from Toronto writes:
If you are an experienced synth user, you will appreciate the quality of the raw sound of the Evolver. Even just a simple patch made with it will sound great in a mix. Sometimes to compare the raw quality of synths it's better not to listen to the most complex possibilities they have, but just compare the sound of their simple squarewave going through a filter. You will notice the Evolver is the real deal in this area.

There are many complex patches to show off it's abilities, (some are downright puzzling for a monosynth) but there are a lot of very usable general purpose sounds in there that sit nicely in a mix. In terms of finding melodic lead sounds that have a very original and analogue feel to them, this is an amazing synth - nothing like it.

It can do nice emulations of classic synths, but it can also then be tweaked to change those sounds into very original and usable sounds. I find that with some classic synths sounds, they were really pushing the limits of those synths, and a little tweaking in any direction loses the sound altogether. Some great sounds were complex modulation routings that only worked with everything set just right. The Evolver has lots of modern options to allow you more room to experiment with and really have fun tweaking sounds.

I used to own many synths, I had 3 different Waldorfs, a Nord Modular and some others, but I decided to sell them off to streamline my studio. The one synth left standing was the Evolver, because it seemed to have all the stuff I couldn't get out of any soft-synths, including a simply stunning analogue quality at the most basic level. Also it has all those knobs!

Being a monosynth, it's not for everyone. I certainly wouldn't recommend it as an 'only' synth, you're gonna wanna use chords at some point. However soft synths are great at pad sounds, piano samples and other stuff like that.

I think this synths has some real longevity due to it's raw sound quality, and of course solid build!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Aug-04-2007 at 09:49
hip hopsicle a professional user from usa writes:
the previous review is just ridiculous! first off you never had time to actually learn the machine. all the problems you experienced are because you were incapable of using the manual with the evolver correctly. if you understand VA synthesis well guess what? you understand subtractive synthesis(evolver) as well.why? cuz VA is modeled virtual analog synthesis not much of learning curve here. no analog mastery is required to work the evolver kybd. the constant comparison to a much more expensive T1 is just foolish. why compare the flagship virus T1 with a much less costly monosynth? every line in the previous review should be followed with IMO! =) what next people? a review of how the moog mg-1 sucks in comparison to an alesis andromeda?

Rating: 0 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Jul-10-2007 at 09:25
Sonicanvas a professional user from US writes:
I guess I could sum up my review with this statement: This is the only keyboard I have ever sent back.

For Composers/Producers like me who do Ambient, Ambient Trance, and new Age Music, the trend to seek out true analogue is tempting since the analogue sound is as important in this genre as electric guitar is in rock. The Evolver was my first foray into TRUE analogue; I own a Virus C, Virus TI, and 2 AN1X plug-in boards for my Yamaha CS6R, so I am familiar with the “Virtual� Analogue sound. I had a Nord Lead, but found the sound bland and boring compared to the Virus line. 600 versions of the same preset doesn’t inspire a lot of creativity in me. And don’t start with the “It’s because of the FX� standard line. How many Trance or Ambient tunes do you hear that are not full of leads and pads washed in reverb or delays? So yes, effects ARE an important component of the sound.

Issues: 1.) Since I own an Evolver Desktop, (I’ll explain this irony later) my first mission was to chain the two together for 2 voice polyphony. The manual gave a straight forward procedure for the hook-up, however, it did not function as described. You’re supposed to connect the audio out from the Keyboard to the audio in of the Desktop. But the sound from the Keyboard was never heard. There may be another setting somewhere that needs to be adjusted in the desktop, but the manual never said what. Sending the outs from my keyboard to 2 channels on my mixer solved that issue, but uses 2 more channels on the mixer that I hadn’t counted on tying up. 2.) Some sounds do not track the keyboard. Not matter what key you press the notes are always the same. The manual says to change various setting so that the sound will track the keyboard but none of them worked. And there are so many settings to pick from I have no idea which combination will achieve the results I was looking for – and I don’t have time to spend all day trying to figure it out. 3.) The sequencing function isn’t as easy as it is made out to be in the manual – well, maybe it is, but the results are not what I was expecting. I tried a simple sequence using the keyboard to enter notes, (easy enough) but on playback, all the notes had been transposed down about 3 octaves. I tried a few tweaks on the filter to see if the filter was closed and that just resulted in the notes sounding about 2 octaves higher than the original. Why? I have no idea and, again, don’t have time to spend all day trying to figure it out. 4.) I consider myself to be a mid-level to upper mid-level programmer since I have spent many hours with my VA’s learning how they work. The Evolver was very frustrating to program because of its tendency to have one programming function rely on the setting of another – too much in my opinion. Getting the right combination of settings can be tedious and often resulted in listener fatigue due to frustration. In 4-Pole mode, turning up the Resonance resulted in an almost imperceivable sound difference until the filter began to self-oscillate unless the filter was set to a very low setting. Much lower than I would expect. And the Filter envelope amount had a tremendous effect on the filter. Much more than on my other synths. Getting this balancing act figured out was very difficult for me and made it difficult to get the result I was looking for. Also, oscillator sync was very difficult to get functioning compared to my Virus TI. The TI allows you to dial in Sync Frequency and depth and then modulate it via an LFO or other modulators. Getting a rich, hard sync sound is so easy on the TI; not easy at all on the Evolver. There is no direct modulation of sync in the Evolver. You have to go back channel routes and I was not able to get the same results. 5.) I decided to pull up a Virus sound and try to program the same sound in the Evolver. It was a basic lead sound. I used the same pulse wave settings (1 Pulse set at 76% and 1 set at 54%). I experimented with different filter settings on the Evolver until I got pretty close to the TI. Getting the basic sound was pretty easy, but when it came time to add the little extras that made the sound take on life, the TI excelled beyond comparison due to its ease to achieve a desired result. The Evolver, being a true analogue I presume, needs far more attention to the details to achieve the same results as on the Virus. Too much time for me since I, unfortunately, have to have a full time job now. Plus the sound was never as pleasing or musical as on the TI. I know the effects section on the TI can add a lot to the sound and give it a perceived fatness that true analogue supposedly has. Well, I was able to get much beefier sounds on the TI due to its voice structure. The Evolver can’t even compete with the Virus’ HyperSaw head to head. I tried various settings on the Evolver to try to coax out something close. Even with all 4 oscillators detuned and modulated, nothing I tried could give me the depth and width of sound I can get VERY easy on the TI. And did I mention it’s a mono synth!

This isn’t meant to be a comparison review of the Virus TI and the Evolver. But the Virus is used a lot to compare real analogue synths to these days due to it’s success. VA’s have spoiled us modern musicians. Huge polyphony counts, ease of programming, and fabulous sounds have given true analogues a run for their money. Should you buy the Evolver? Well, if you play in a cover band of old 70’s and 80’s prog. rock and need to cover the “Lucky Man� leads, then yes, this might be perfect for you. If you are familiar with the architecture of old analogue synths and can easily coax out the phat sounds needed for your style, then yes, this might be perfect for you. If you are looking for great bass sounds and some special FX sounds, like I am, then get the Evolver Desktop. It’s half the price and sounds the same. I have had a lot of success with the Desktop in the bass and FX department. For me, paying $600.00 for a great bass and FX box (Yes it can do other things just not very easily) makes more sense than paying $1200.00 for the Keyboard. The basses do have a little more character than on the TI. Plus unusual FX sounds are easier to achieve on the Evolver than on the Virus. I have come to the conclusion that, for me, true analogue will never be a part of my studio. It’s too difficult to program, and the trade off in sound compared to VA’s is almost imperceivable. For example the AN1X plug-in boards for the Yamaha keyboards are incredible! The fattest sounding VA I have. They fill in an analogue void that even the Virus can’t fill. But is too hard to program due to the architecture of the CS6R and is only 5 note polyphonic. There is a software editor, but once again, knowledge of analogue programming is a must for coaxing great sounds out of it. I am getting better, but not even the Virus can sound as fat as the AN1X plug-in, let alone the Evolver. You have to decide for yourself what your goals are. I can tell you that it will fit in nicely if you are a lover of all things analogue and like to spend hours digging deep into the architecture of synths to find sounds that only analogue boards can truly do. If you are just trying to get great results quickly that fit within your musical voice like me and can’t afford to spend hours getting your desired sound, than I would recommend looking elsewhere or get the Desktop for half the price and experiment.

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Monday-Jun-25-2007 at 07:50
Basti a part-time user from Hambrug writes:
If you know how to tweak it can produce pretty good basses! It gets 7 out of five for versatility so with the point that has to be subtracted for the lack of a direct analogue output for the analogue signal path / hardwire bypass for the last digital stage there are still 6 points left ;)

Great Sound (like all evolvers) and the best format (not as bulky as the poly keyboard and it still has many knobs)

I won´t rest until 4 poly-evolver rack machines join the poly chain.

Be careful - this stuff is seriously addictive!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Apr-15-2007 at 16:03
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