Synth Site: Miscellaneous: EVS1 Synthesizer: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 3.2 out of 5
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Lisko a professional user from Bulgaria writes:
This synth is weird, averybody already said that. This means you can use it for particular purposes only; also, you should be a person that likes surprises. The best part for me is the modulation matrix: you can assign almost any parameter to whatever you choose: 6-parts envelope (4 of them), modwheel, velocity, aftertouch, another controller you choose, lfo. This is what makes its versatility. Pity it doesn't have a decent resonant filter. Anyway, if you look at its samples, it's quite a poor selection, maybe worse than my Kawai Spectra which I think is one of the least interesting synths. But they didn't count on samples (or maybe they did in 1986? I don't know). It's the algorhytms and modulation matrix that makes it. When you start tweaking this area, you just stop thinking whether it's saw, sine, "brass", whatever. I play with a midi conrol surface (Edirol UR8) and assign one of its sliders to ctrl1 (modwheel) for convenience. This way, tweaking both live controls at once, it really gets interesting. You can change even the waveform on the fly, making those harsh evolving textures. And even if it doesn't have a filter, you can sweep the sound by modulating the width or... there are mamy things to be discovered for this strange synth. In 2007, you really ask yourself what was its initial purpose. And it's really really underestimated. I give it 4 just because of lack of filters. (lack of fx isn't a big deal for this one I think).

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Friday-Jan-19-2007 at 18:46
polardark a hobbyist user from Sweden writes:
I bought this unit for 200 SEK, which is around 20 USD or so. Like mentioned before, this thing is weird. The sound quality is a bit grungy as well. Audible aliasing noise isn't uncommon from this module. Think of it as a sort of early digital modular synthesizer, like Clavia's Nord Modular synths, except it has no filters. It's also 8 part multitimbral and has 16 note polyphony. With only a left and right output however, the multitimbrality is not as useful as it could've been.

It has 4 6-stage envelopes and 2 LFOs which can be freely routed to control almost any parameter of the synth engine including the LFOs and envelopes themselves. The fundamental part of this synth is the 28 synthesis algorithms. This allows the EVS-1 to do 4-operator FM, 4-operator Phase Distortion (presumably modeled after Casio's CZ synths), wavetable synthesis (like the PPG Wave, except much more limited and no filters), and various other algorithms combining the already mentioned algorithms and adding waveshapers and feedback and other madness.

The user interface isn't very good and you NEED a software editor to program this synth. Then again, the same goes for Clavia's Nord Modular synthesizers. Sound Quest MIDI Quest does the job moderately well, with a few hickups now and then. I haven't figured out if the problem lies with MIDI Quest or the EVS-1, but i'd put my bets on the EVS-1 glitching a bit. It will sometimes crash and do other unpredictable things when you least expect it. Not the most reliable synthesizer i've used. The build quality is also questionable even though it seems robust at first glance.

The presets are a mixed bag. While they probably didn't impress anyone 15 years ago, these days they may just be what a lot of people are looking for. You won't get realistic pianos or fat analogue squelching out of this synthesizer but if you're looking for sparkling digital FM-esque drones with varying degrees of weirdness and fm bass sounds this unit won't disappoint. The sampled drum kit, like the previous reviewer mentioned, is also extremely weird. It seems to be laid out pretty much at random, with duplicate and re-pitched versions of the samples all over. The drums aren't bad really, but it feels like they don't know what they're supposed to be used for.

Evolution has basically forgotten about this old unit, but the nice support people managed to find and email me a PDF of the manual anyway. They weren't able to locate an image of the original Atari editor though. The manual isn't terribly good but it should be considered essential for learning how to use and program this thing.

To sum it all up, i personally love this unit. It's a diamond in the rough, and i'd like to give this synth the highest possible score for being innovative and unique. If it wasn't for this however, it would be considered just plain bad. The EVS-1 is not the synthesizer to end all synthesizers and you'll need other synths besides this one in your setup. Like many similar digital synthesizers, you'll also need to add a bit of reverb to stop this unit from sounding too sterile.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Friday-Nov-18-2005 at 00:31
Johannes a hobbyist user from Sweden writes:
This thing is so wierd! Probably the wierdest synth I've ever seen. Just had to get one :-) Fortunatelly very cheap. It sounds pretty bad, and most algorithms clip very easily and it makes you wonder why they ever released it when it was clearly not a finished design. Which is sad, because it is soon obvious that the DSP and algorithms would have potential if realized better. Also, at least 1/2 of the built in patches (there are 80 of them, only 20 user) are cheasy excuses for Jump!-style analog brass sounds, the rest being wierd AdLib-style noises (and a few OK but simple basses to be fair) - not a single sound using anything but the simplest features of the machine. The buttons, which fortunatelly you don't need to use much, gets stuck very very easily, ie, you try to change the program and suddenly it starts going to 99... Very annoying. It also crashes rather frequently, as in at least once every 30 minutes. But some days it works perfectly. Wierd! The envelope stucture is very retarded, but at least it's not simple ADSR. There is also a very very wierd sampled drumkit fixed to locations 98 and 99. It sounds very early 90's hip-hop-wannabe but with a twist; the drummapping is absolutely schizo with most of the drums on program 98 (i think, maybe it was 99?) being differently pitched sounds of one of the bass-drum. Wierd. At least, for anyone trying of buying this thing simply because it's cheap, it is possible (with the DOS/Atari editor only) to pan stuff hard L/R to get 2 individual outs to add extra processing. There is this dutch page explaining the algorithms for those who haven't got the manual, but I've forgot the URL... Will post it here someday. The algorithms are stupid and mostly bad-sounding implementations of basic FM, plus some really wierd ones including waveshapers and feedback stuff. This is NOT an analog modelling box as some people say, and I think it was released before the analog craze, so it's not trying to be. Also, it does not feature Karplus-Strong synthesis, the feedback algorithms are simply some wierd engineers hangover wierdness. However, it has a real modulation matrix theoretically allowing for some complex sounds. If anybody has a manual or at least a wavelist, please post here and I'll get in touch. I'm mostly into the more spaced-out side of psychedelic trance, techno and electo-dub so I really considered the EVS-1 to be used for strange sounds, but so far I haven't really used it much. It does have a nice DOS editor though and it's pretty fun to see how far you can take it (which really boils down to: "see if you can get _anything_ useful out of it"). Im pretty experienced with synthesizers and synthesis but the EVS-1 is still a press-the-button-and-see-what-happens type of box to me... It's so damn wierd! It get's a 2/5 from me which may seem a little high to many, but it's not completely useless so I figured a 1 would be to low.

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Monday-Dec-01-2003 at 01:27
Al Ferrier a part-time user from London, UK writes:
I've had mine for about three years. I got it for £20 cash when I part-exchanged something. For something with 100 sounds on it, it's a beast to use! The front panel does you no favours at all and the MIDI implimentation is a real nightmare.

However, I am working on some songs at present and the EVS contributes some important sounds to them. My power supply has also broken - the little black power plug has broken off - so if anyone has either a EVS-1 or a PSU for one they no longer need, please get in touch.

Cheers and my advice: don't buy one. Al

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Monday-Jun-02-2003 at 07:34
Peter Feddersen a part-time user from Denmark writes:
The EVS-1 is an algorithm synth where you can choose from approximately 20 different rather bizarre constellations. When you choose an algorithm, you dont know what the fuck is happening and you propably never will - but I tell you you can get the most bizarre out of this world stuff from this little dirt-cheap box. The included modulation routing is near perfect and you can assign standard midi controllers to whatever parameters you may wish. With 8 step envelopes, bringing the Casio CZ-range in pleasant memory, the possibilities are endless - Envelopes can be easilly be assigned to just about anything including waveforms, thus creating cool waveform warps, much like the good old PPG.

Learn how to use and stay uncopied forever!

There are only room for 20 user patches in memory - but that will do for your next 20 songs. The Presets - Forget them!

-Stay Cool!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Friday-May-31-2002 at 19:33
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