DSI Evolver Desktop

I am looking into the Evolver desktop far too often lately, and would like to have opinions on it of anybody who has used it or owned it.

It is somewhat ancient as far as the latest and hottest in the sub-1000 use synth space, like a kind of granddaddy to all the mini brutes and mophos and rockets and blofelds of the world.

I love it´s quirkiness and, although I never listened or played with one live, it does sound very nice in the few and old videos around the net.

I also know that the midi implementation is supposed to be top notch.

Any takes on it?

Akward User Interface, maybe you are better off with the Keyboard?

compared to

Agreed, but the interface actually does´nt look that bad, at least on the videos, it looks quite hands on…plus you have killer midi so hooking it up to a keyboard with some more knobs would not be that hard…also, $$$$…plus huge shipping costs so more $$$$.

I know the evolved does´t look that cool, but feature+price+sound quality wise?

I have the Poly Evolver Keyboard and I still consider it the greatest keyboard synth made in the last 10 years. It’s only weakness is 4 voice polyphony.

I was a DSI fan-boy for a long time (until I found MI that is!). Here’s some advice if you’re evolver shopping:

The mono evolver keyboard is out of production. If you can find one used make sure it’s the Potentiometer Edition since there’s supposedly an issue with jumpy encoders.

As for the Evolver desktop, if you’re buying one used make sure it’s serial # 1859 and above. Serial numbers lower than this don’t have the version 3 PIC so you need a 25$ upgrade kit from DSI. If you want the great midi implementation, you need this upgrade. From their website: “Changes in version 3 include the addition of MIDI Continuous Controller mapping to many of the Evolver’s parameters…”

Hope this helps!

I had DSI Evolver Desktop, serial #00093 or so, the one with the fancy knobs. It’s a great little synth, interesting to program, especially if you’re into weird non traditional sounds. Never liked it for bread and butter bass and lead sounds though. Mostly used it with software editor, which is a bit pricey, but makes programming much easier. Sold since it did not get much use to a good home (DSI fan).

Frank is absolutely right, the desktop version sucks, but the keyboard version is much easier to handle. But i never got really touched by it, even though i tend to Petes opinion. It’s not a working horse, but capable of some nice tricky sounds…

Super useful kyle and kvitekp thanks!

I was actually shopping for a new evolver desktop, found one for 509 usd which I think is a great price. I like how it sounds and the idea that you can sequence it´s 4 oscillators separately for faux polyphony. Also like having onboard effects and stereo sound.

I can also find the Evolver mono keyboard Pot Edition, brand new for 1079 usd which is also killer, but double the price and double the extra shipping…choices choices!

I would just like to question your logic on the “just map it to some controller” logic - I have a synth that’s capable of some awesome sounds, but has very few knobs for editing it on the front plate, and frankly, I never use it… It’s too tedious to program, I’m too cheap for the 3rd party software editors(+you have the choice of great interface, but no extra features, or horrible interface, but extra features), I bought 3 encoder boards for a Midibox controller project 1.5years ago, and I still haven’t gotten around to building it.

Synths with few knobs on them are just less inviting to play, at least for me. That said, the interface looks much better than the synth I’m moaning about :wink:

$509 seems to be a bit high if you’re in US, the going price seems to be below $400.

@kvitekp: care to point me in the right direction? All I see on evilbay is retail price, and 509 is as low as I could find after applying discounts. This is for a brand new unit tho, as for used ones I don´t know.

V´cent: in general I think you are right, I just thought that the interface looked intuitive enough for jamming. One of the reasons I don´t like the Mopho module so much is because I find the interface somewhat convoluted, but I think that there are some examples where one can achieve a lot with fewer pots, and I can say that I am comfortable using my Shruthis even though I also have a Programmer Shruthi too.

i love mine. the sound engine is just great.

its indead not an optimal user interface but its ok.
matrix editing is not as bad and once you made a cheat cheat or memorized the codes for mod source/destination its fine (they all have to fit in 3x 7-segment display and are therefore pretty cryptic)

the firmeware is thought out well otherwise. you got nice special features like clocking the sequencer from a audio->gate circuit from the audio in and stuff like that. it also can do some kind of karplus strong synthesis with tuned delay or tuned feedback.

check out “The Definitive Guide To Evolver
By Anu Kirk” which is a alternative manual here

@Varthdader: here is the one I had! I definitely recognize the manuals and the serial number :wink:

I’ve been looking into getting a DSI Prophet, never paying much mind to the Evolver line. However, after watching a couple of demos of the Evolver Desktop and PolyEvolver I’m convinced one of these synths will go much further for me and give me more unique sound than anything else made by DSI.

I might get the desktop version just to be able to have the sound module and sequencer, but I think holding out for a PolyEvolver keyboard PE edition is the right move in the end.

I would agree that the keyboard version is a better bet, if you can afford and find one. I had the Evolver desktop and sold it, the main problem for me was that three digit display. You end up having to remember A LOT of acronyms if you’re setting modulation destinations. Or referring constantly to a cheat sheet, which is no fun.
Having said that, it’s a unique machine, and very versatile. Kind of wish that DSI would pay it some more attention, instead of doing so many Mopho-based designs.

I’m waiting for 4-voice version of Prophet-12 :slight_smile:

@MaxZorin
In the MoPho SE Case? A Prophet 12/3

I can relate to the issue with not remembering acronyms and or button combos (Monotribe, I am looking at you!) I have to have my iPad next to me for some fairly basic noodling with my Lxr or Anushri too.

I wish there was a desktop with a larger, more modern lcd…would a careful setting up of a midi keyboard with a big-ass lcd make it clearer to operate?

The thing is that for the extra 600 that the keyboard commands, I could buy some other stuff. I know the DSI keyboards are top quality instruments, but I guess I am in a “variety more than quality” phase. More of a “cheap synth slutiness” period, where maybe getting the Volca family, the Evolver Desktop and maybe a Yokto far outweighs getting just the Evolver keyboard…

I bought a Prophet '08 module and a used Poly Evolver Rack around the same time last year. Having heard some killer Evolver demos on YouTube, I really, really wanted to like the Poly Evolver Rack. I spent a fair amount of time programming patches for the it using the SoundTower editor (which is actually pretty good). While the lack of hands on control was a bit of an issue, it was the sound of the Poly Evolver that just didn’t do it for me. All the patches had this cold/hard edge that grated on me after a while. The Prophet '08 sounds a lot warmer by comparison (even when using just the analog aspects of the Evolver).

So I am actually selling the Poly Evolver Rack and will probably build another Shruthi to replace it.

This guy (it seems credible, with picture) says Prophet 12 Desktop is coming, at approx half price of full version.

The Evolver desktop is a bit like a hellraiser puzzle box. A lot of times you don’t know what’s going on, and after a little tweaking it suddenly sounds fantastic. I’ll keep mine.