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Dave Smith Instruments Mono Evolver Keyboard

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    A Wickedly Powerful Synergy of Analog and Digital.The Evolver marked Dave’s Smith’s triumphant return to hardware synths and still sets the standard for sheer sonic ferocity in a monosynth. It features a plethora of Dave’s best ideas packed into a monstrously powerful instrument with a sound like no other.

    This Mono Evolver Keyboard, shares the same voice architecture as its sibling, the Evolver, but sports a 3-octave keyboard, pitch and mod wheels, and enough knobs and switches to put a smile on the face of even the most jaded sound tweaker.

    The Evolver’s unique tonality comes from the synergy of its two analog oscillators and two digital oscillators (which feature the waves from the legendary Prophet VS). Classic Curtis analog low-pass filters and real analog VCAs add ample warmth and girth to the analog section while the digital high-pass filter, tuned feedback, and digital distortion provide sizzle and grit. But what really sets the Evolver apart is the way in which the analog and digital sides of its personality mesh—in a true stereo signal path. Massive doesn’t even begin to describe the sound of the Evolver.

    Imagine being able to move effortlessly from thick analog smoothness to crisp digital edge—or anywhere in between—and you begin to get the picture. The LFOs, step sequencer, and three separate delays can all be synced for complex, evolving, rhythmic, time-based effects in true stereo.

    It’s a sound designer’s dream that can go from ultra creamy to ultra aggressive with the turn of a knob. If you need convincing, just listen to the demos.


    + Monstrous four oscillator voice architecture: two analog and two digital.

    + True stereo signal path with separate Curtis analog low-pass filters in each channel.

    + Dedicated onboard effects (feedback, delay, distortion, high-pass filter, etc.).

    + Highly accessible sound control for easy, intuitive operation: 58 knobs—43 of them potentiometers—and 33 switches.

    + 16 x 4 step sequencer really brings the Evolver to life with evolving “pseudo-polyphonic” sounds – you won’t believe it’s monophonic!

    + Stereo audio input for audio processing of external stereo or mono signals, enabling the synth to act as a unique stereo effects processor.

    + Everything (sequencer, LFOs, and delay) syncs perfectly to MIDI.

    + Multiple Evolvers can be daisy-chained for increased polyphony.
    Type: Analog, Digital
    Synthesis: Karplus–Strong, Subtractive, Wave Table
    Oscillators: 4
    Waveforms: Pulse Variable, Saw Down, Triangle, Wave Table
    Osc Modulation: Envelope, Glide / Portamento, Keyboard, Knob, LFO, Mod Wheel, Oscillator, Pitch Wheel, Ring Modulation, Sync Hard, Velocity
    Oscillator Notes:
    + Digitally Controlled
    + Hard sync

    + Prophet VS waves
    + Wave sequencing
    + Ring modulation
    Envelopes: 3
    Evelope Paramerters: Delay, Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
    Filters: 3
    Types: 12dB Slope (2-pole), 24dB Slope (4-pole), High Pass, Low Pass, Resonance
    Filter Modulation: Envelope, Keyboard, Knob, LFO, Mod Wheel, Velocity
    Filter Notes:
    + Curtis filters
    LFO: 4
    LFO Parameters: Noise, Sample & Hold, Saw Up, Saw Down, Square, Clocked, Key Sync
    LFO Notes::
    Separate rates per oscillator.
    Polyphony & Tuning
    Polyphony: 1
    Timbrality: 1
    Tuning: Standard
    Modes: Mono
    Patches RAM: 512
    Storage: Internal
    Editing: MIDI, USB
    Modes up, down, up/down, and assignable modes, and latched operation.
    + 4 tracks
    + 16 steps per sequence
    + Real-time input, rests, and variable-length sequences.
    + Sync to MIDI clock and external audio.
    + Sequence modulation source.
    Case: Keyboard
    Keyboard: 37 keys, Non-weighted, Plastic
    Controls: Velocity, Buttons, Knobs, Mod - Wheel, Pitch -Wheel, Pedal - Control, Pedal - Sustain
    Display Type: LCD, LED, Backlit
    Audio Output Connections: 1/4" Phone Jack, Stereo Main, Stereo Headphone
    Audio Output Count: 4
    Inputs: 2 x 1/4" TR
    MIDI Ports: IN, OUT, THRU
    CV Ports: CV IN
    Control Features: CV control via pedal inputs
    Year Released: 2006
    Year Discontinued: 2012
    Design Notes:

    Designed by Dave Smith. Who explains the evolver design, himself:

    Well, that's not my intention, though I suppose anything with real voltage-controlled analog filters would certainly fit in that category. I've received many requests over the years to re-do old Sequential gear, and later to design software versions of old products. As a synth designer, I really have no desire to re-do a product. If you want the old stuff, it's still around. I like new stuff. New sounds. And, most importantly, instruments with personality!

    The concept of Evolver is to generate new sounds that, well, evolve. Sounds that change, subtly or dramatically. Look back at the Prophet-VS and Korg Wavestation as previous examples of instruments that are never static. And, I have to admit, analog still has a warmer, more natural sound, partially because it is never perfect; it has that natural slop. Yes, there are some very cool digital synths out there also; even some that mathematically emulate analog synths have a nice edge to them. I don't think analog is always better, or that digital is always better; they're just different.

    So, Evolver has the analog components, and also some digital components. I'm trying to generate new sounds via the interaction of analog and digital electronics. Best of both worlds. I've always liked feedback in synths, so there is extensive use of tunable feedback in Evolver, interconnecting the digital feedback loops with the analog electronics. I like sounds that blow up, predictably or not. When sounds blow up digitally, it can hurt your ears - I've done that enough times designing the soft synths! However, when Evolver goes ape, the analog circuitry actually keeps the signal in line just enough that the result is wild sounds, not pain. Plus, the feedback constantly moves, and differently in each channel (each channel has their own independant feedback path), giving some very cool stereo ambience to the sounds.

    In fact, the product name came from playing with the synth. Originally the product name was Noise, just because I've always wanted to design a synth with that name. But, a day before the NAMM show in mid-January, I stopped development long enough to make a few sounds for the show, and was blown away by the organic nature of the synth. Organic is a stupid word to use most of the time, so the name Evolver popped up (thanks Denise!).
    Manuals & Documents

    Product Links
    Company Product Sites:
    Editors & Software:
    MSRP List Price: $1,199 - convert
    Retail Street Price: $999 - convert
    Used Price: $600 - $900 - convert
    YouTube Videos
    References & Sources
    Related Synthesizers
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