June 11, 2007

Evolution Redux...

by Chris Randall

Okay, it's official. This box isn't doing it for me. I liked it a lot at first, but now that I've had it a couple months, I don't really care for it. I can't really enumerate my reasons for this, except to say that it just doesn't fit in to my workflow very well. I'm moody as hell when it comes to gear, and my equipment has a fairly high turnover rate (except for the ?ber high-end stuff, which I tend to keep forever) so it should come as no surprise to those of you that know me.

So, anyone want an Evolver Desktop? Essentially like-new condition; it has sat on my desk for the last 4 months. I'm looking to trade for something interesting; an analog mono synth of some sort. Bonus points if it's rackmount and has MIDI, but neither feature is that important. Drop me an email via the "Contact" link above if you've got something you'd like to trade.



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Jun.11.2007 @ 11:26 AM
Yeah, the evolver never really fit my workflow either and has suffered the same fate lately (sitting on my desk unused).

I usually only keep very few pieces of gear at any given moment (small workspace, not too much money) besides the speakers, master kb and what little stuff i've built myself ... but evo takes so little space and has been fun for making pointless sequences using headphones that i decided i can as well keep mine. guess that'll keep me off from starting a modular hobby or something equally pointless, at least for a while.


Jun.11.2007 @ 11:30 AM
I got one two months ago. I should have waited to buy yours, although I got a pretty good deal on mine second-hand, probably lower than you should sell it for.

I like mine, but can more than amply see how one would get tired of it. For me, I like using it as an effects box (main reason I got it), I like setting up complexly sequenced loops for later cut/pasting elsewhere, and I find it is pretty good for making percussive sounds. I'm so accustomed to doing everything in front of a computer screen, I've now taken to hunching over small boxes and fiddling about (been using an MPC500 a lot, too, mostly for that reason).

Some of the wavetable stuff is pretty naff sounding to my ears though, really only for folk who like the sound of synth noodles (of which I do not).


Jun.11.2007 @ 12:41 PM
yeah, the evolver desktop's ui just *does not* beg to be used. it's functional, but not fun. mine almost went a similar route (out the door) soon after i bought it. it wasn't until i ignored the sequencer and built a bunch of analog-only bread-and-butter bass sounds that i knew i'd be keeping it. the soundtower editor helped, too.

i bet if i'd gotten the keyboard version, i'd have reached that conclusion more quickly.


Jun.11.2007 @ 12:52 PM
CR is it the sounds you're not digging or just the lack of knobs? Will this stop you from picking up the BoomChik?
I love that Dave Smith has made so many different Evolver models but why not a tabletop/rackmount version with more knobs? I had a Virus Rack years ago and sold it almost immediately as the matrix combo for editing just never inspires me. I like the knobs on the PEK and MEK but I've yet to play one in person and I'm a one keyboard kinda guy. I use a Kawai K5000S as my main keyboard because the action just fits me (synth action without feeling too heavy or cheap) but I almost never use it for the sounds. I'd pick up a PEK in a heartbeat if I knew it would replace my beloved K5000S.

Jun.11.2007 @ 1:13 PM
Chris Randall
It won't stop me from picking up a BoomChik. The Evolver is quite an elegant design, simple to program, and good sounding. It just doesn't fit in with what I'm doing now; it has a very distinctive sound that just doesn't work for me. Also, the presets (which would logically be the starting point for any programming excursion) uniformly blow giant chunks of ass, and it isn't always easy to touch them up. (Chasing down mod routings in a box of this ilk is fairly difficult.)

Basically, that's it in a nutshell. I don't have anything against this box; it just isn't for me.



Jun.11.2007 @ 2:09 PM
There are lots of people raving about this one - I am definately not one of them. The sound was alright, but I was quite shocked when I found out that the sequencer couldn't tie notes or make rests. It went directly. But that was years ago - maybe they made an update for it.

Jun.11.2007 @ 2:54 PM
I think part of why the thing is actually a keeper for me comes from the LACK of knobs and indicators for every damn thing... An interface that's logical but doesn't really give a clue of what is going on in the patch on the whole. So there'll always be some amount of randomness or "what the fuck am I doing". Sort of working on a mini modular patch half blindfolded. Or tweaking a 303 pattern. Or whatever.

I don't have any use in my songs for most of the sounds I tweak out of Evo (although I could see myself working on songs around them at some point for fun) but that's precisely the reason why it's fun to use - I usually come out with something I wouldn't do otherwise. Kind of expensive musical therapy device I guess... But it has a big sound in a small box, no matter whether you like it or hate it.

Suffice to say, if I wanted a synth that was tweakable live and generally Useful -tm-, I would get something completely else - I'm not lusting for one of the KB Evolvers too much.

CarlLofgren, if you think of Evolver as a monophonic synth (which it basically is, even a sick one in which you can control the pitches of the oscs separately with the seq), it DOES have ways to make rests (the "off" notes in the first channel") and ties (automating the clock divide or some other parameter) ... but you do lose a sequencer track with the latter. I don't know if they came with a later software update, but AFAIR they were there right from the start.


Jun.11.2007 @ 2:54 PM
The first line of the sequencer can make rests. I have the most recent OS, so maybe that is something they've added since first launching?

Speaking of the keyboard version, I checked out the MEK this weekend in a shop. While I have zero need for another keyboard, I was impressed that the knobs turn smoothly on it, unlike the steppy action on the desktop version.


Jun.11.2007 @ 4:23 PM
I love my Evolver, but I don't program it with the matrix - I use the software editor made by Soundtower. Night and day difference, really. The matrix UI is painful, the editor makes things super-easy.

I am thinking about bumping up to the 4-voice keyboard.

It's funny how much the UI affects things - I know the Alesis Ion is a really powerful board, but the UI for programming some things is so weird that I have a hard time getting into it.


Jun.11.2007 @ 4:29 PM
I'm still on the fence with mine. I've kinda warmed to the matrix interface, especially since I bought my MicroQ with its similar way of editing. I agree that the presets sound like a box full of ugly and the sound has a slight grating quality to me. It seems like it goes into overload very easily which probably has a lot to do with its "sound". My Red Square overdrives easilly but with a smoother breakup. I actually like the wavetable oscillators better that the analog ones which is out of character for me. I'll probably keep it as it cost me so little and it doesn't take up much space but it doesn't look like it will ever be a first call synth for me, more like an extra when I'm flailing around for a particular sound.

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