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That Poly Evolver Sound

That Poly Evolver Sound
« on: March 26, 2017, 05:04:20 PM »
A synthesizer thread that refers to "that sound" is almost invariably about the Minimoog Model D.  But I'm applying the expression to the Poly Evolver, which has such a sound of its own as to rival Model D distinctiveness.

I bought a PEK early after my return to synthesis about nine years ago.  The order of instruments was: Voyager, Prophet '08, Mono Evolver Keyboard, and Poly Evolver Keyboard, all in close succession.  The PEK made the deepest impression on me, and influenced my use of the Prophet '08 and every other instrument that I've even considered owning since.  The key word is "stereo."  I used to compare side-by-side the sounds of the PEK and the P'08.  I would design the same patch on each and compare the two.  Over and over I ran these experiments, and for a while I couldn't explain why I nearly always far preferred the sound of the PEK.  When I finally realized that the difference was due to the PEK's hardwired stereo oscillators, I decided to imitate this on the P'08 by placing it in Layer Mode and using the two pairs of output jacks to pan each pair to opposite sides.  It worked so well that I decided to buy a P'08 Module, MIDI-control it with a P'08 Keyboard, and pan the two eight-voice units.  The result was gorgeous Prophet '08 width and depth.

I realize this is all familiar information on this forum.  We've discussed it here perhaps ad nauseam.   The reason I'm repeating it is to say that I'm right back where I started.  After all my experiments with my now three-unit Prophet '08 system, I've realized that...I still like the sound of the Poly Evolver Keyboard better!  The sum of it is, creating stereo by panning the individual oscillators creates a more sonorous stereo effect than simply pairing and separating two instruments.  Two (or three) panned Prophet '08's playing the identical patch sound fabulous - that is my sincere opinion.  The combination is superb for creating massive or complex multi-timbral patches.  In addition, the P'08 has better analog tone; the sawtooth waveform, for example, is warmer than the PEK's.  Regardless, an eight-voice Poly Evolver still has the stereo edge, according to my ears.  It has nothing to do with the instrument's hybrid design; I would actually have been happier if the PEK had been given four analog oscillators.  But the sum of this post is, the hardwired arrangement sounds, in my opinion, superior to the paired and panned arrangement and is obviously much easier to use.  This is true for both poly and mono patches.  The PEK effortlessly reaches the heights of stereo beauty.  Which is to say, I've really been enjoying the Poly Evolver Keyboard lately, even as I anticipate the release of the Prophet REV2. 

Several years ago, I had conceived of an all-Evolver set up.  It's tempting occasionally to consider this all over again because this instrument is so satisfying to hear while you're playing, and it records better than the Prophet '08.  And therefore, I'm dumbfounded that Dave Smith has not repeated this design in one of his more recent instruments.  In my opinion, it's the most desirable capability in all of his synthesizers; and yet, it's been entirely spent on one instrument line, the Evolvers.

Dave - please, please, please revive the hardwired oscillator design!  It's almost as distinctive a sound as the Curtiss Filter.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 12:09:51 PM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2017, 09:54:23 AM »
 Yes Sacred Synthesis,  this is a repeat topic,  but its probably ideal timing if we want the to put the bug in the ear of Dave to make a "REV 2 PEK".

I got the PEK about a year after I purchased the PO8, though cumulatively I have used the PEK more over the years.  I think the reason for that is that I just prefer the layout more.  The sequencer is a little more user friendly, it has delays, feedback and HP filter.  Wish I could breed my PO8 with the PEK.  I left them alone close together at night, but nothing yet.  ;D     My hearing is unfortunately mono, so I probably miss a lot of PEK stereo advantage.  Nevertheless,  PEK wins in uniqueness for sure IMO.

I am excited to see DSI go the REV 2 direction,  but I think I'm gonna hope and wait for a REV2 PEK to come along.   Meanwhile, to temper my purchasing anxiety I'm going to supercharge my 'ole PO8 by pairing it with the Pro 2 for delay, HP filter (PO8 audio out to Pro2)  and then (CV to Pro 2) to toy with other sequencer abilities.
DSI Equipment: Poly Evolver Keyboard, Evolver desktop, Prophet 8,  Pro-2, OB6, P-12
 

https://Soundcloud.com/wavescape-1

Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2017, 05:36:25 PM »
I hate to rain on your parade, but Dave considers the Prophet 12 the "PEK Rev2". I know all the reasons it's not the same, and you're right, it isn't an exact copy of an updated PEK. But, it is highly highly unlikely we'll ever release an actual PEK Rev2. I would like to see the true stereo signal path design return though...
Dave Smith Instruments

Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2017, 08:01:58 PM »
Yes, I realize that.  Ah well, it's nice to kick around the idea.  And you're right, the Prophet 12 doesn't come close to itching that Evolver spot - not even close.  I've tried but have never been able to like its tone.  Well, if nothing else, Tracy, please put in a word at the office for stereo oscillators. 
« Last Edit: April 04, 2017, 08:11:46 PM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2017, 03:01:48 AM »
I would actually like to see the digital side of the Evolver expanded on and just have the analog filters as the only analog part of the machine. A multi-timbral, 10 voice, VS/FM based synth but also including the Prophet 2000 samples. Sort of a modern Prophet VS/Prophet 2000 combo but also with linear FM. I think it would be quite interesting to see Dave do something like this....and for Pete's sake include the Sequential name on the thing.   

Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2017, 09:39:36 AM »
I'd love to see a sort of Prophet VS Rev2 also, but for whatever reason, Dave is not interested in making an all, or mostly, digital instrument.  To me ears, the VS has a more mysterious quality than the Evolver, due, in part, to its joystick.  That's a desirable quality.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 10:39:19 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2017, 11:58:16 AM »
I hate to rain on your parade, but Dave considers the Prophet 12 the "PEK Rev2".

Didn't Prophet 12 essentially get the same type of honor? Which is cool because the Evolver is such an iconic instrument and hence so obvious to compare newer designs to. Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I doubt its the last time we will see a new instrument being designated as the next Evolver. Simply because of the Evolver's status, people wanting a new version of it and of cause some obvious positioning needs.

I would like to see the true stereo signal path design return though...

Suggestion: Bi-timbral layers and stereo panning layer mode. Which have the advantage that the user can chose between stereo panned voices and having twice the number of voices available. Then add all the advantages stack/split layers offers. Much more value for the user IMNSHO.

So I would suggest looking at stereo signal path as a feature request for an easier way to stereo pan voices than standard bi-timbral layers can do.

Of cause there will be an interesting design exercise if there are pairs of voices interacts on the hardware level.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2017, 01:12:43 PM by dslsynth »
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Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2017, 02:09:09 PM »
I'd love to see a sort of Prophet VS Rev2 also, but for whatever reason, Dave is not interested in making an all, or mostly, digital instrument.  To me ears, the VS has a more mysterious quality than the Evolver, due, in part, to its joystick.  That's a quality I'd love to add to my music.

I'd buy one.

Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2017, 02:28:27 PM »
Prophet VS: bilinear interpolation of four wave shapes with 2D point animation. Its definitely doable in software and not too difficult to make happen inside a single digital oscillator. Would be lovely with user definable wave shapes as well.
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Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2017, 07:43:54 PM »
No reason not to do another collaboration..this time with John Bowen and John Chowning.

Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2017, 10:55:11 AM »
Although I often work with the PEK's digital waveshapes and do find a number of them musically useful, the fact is, I more often use the instrument as a four-oscillator analog instrument; which is to say, I most frequently use the digital sawtooth waveshape (#2).  I'd be content to altogether let go of those digital oscillators and replace them with two more analog oscillators, eliminating the digital aliasing and gaining two more oscillators with pulse width modulation.  I find it frustrating and disappointing, when trying to design a warm rich pad, to have only two oscillators of PWM and to be forced to add two oscillators of stiff sawtooths.  It really kills the pad.  This change would ruin the much-coveted hybrid nature of the instrument, but my greatest musical desire is to have a four-oscillator eight-voice all-analog instrument.  So, I certainly don't make use of the PEK's potential because I wish it were something it isn't - a homogeneous synthesizer. 

Ah well, another musical quest continues.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2017, 10:59:41 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2017, 10:44:17 AM »
Ok, But from another perspective, I've used the PEK with just the two digital oscillators with an imported waveform for string instrument sounds.  At this point it's the only instrument that I own that can do this.  Yet another reason I take good care the ole PEK.
DSI Equipment: Poly Evolver Keyboard, Evolver desktop, Prophet 8,  Pro-2, OB6, P-12
 

https://Soundcloud.com/wavescape-1

Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2017, 11:01:01 AM »
Yes, the Poly Evolver is certainly a unique instrument and nothing else could replace it.  I just wish those digital oscillators could offer PWM, as on the Prophet 12.  My PWM patches fall flat, so that I'm forced to turn to the Prophet '08 in Stack Mode.

Razmo

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Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2017, 02:00:51 PM »
Actually the Prophet 12 can easily get that stereo path people want... it's just simply a matter of using both Layer A and B and then hard panning them L/R... The only real difference is of course the sound character, the sequencers (which always puzzled me was not ported to the Prophet 12), plus the waveshapes of the digital oscillators.... and of course the mixed in analog oscillators... but still, you can easily set Prophet 12 up to have a true stereo signal path by using Layer A/B.

The major difference in the editing is that you'd have to edit two layers identical, but as far as I know, there are ways to set up editing so that you actually edit both layers at the same time, giving you essential the same editing as on an Evolver.

You'd even end up with two voices more, as you'd have 6 on each layer.

If Dave had just included those darn sequencers and some digital waveshapes as on the real Evolver, I'd gladly call the Prophet 12 the "Evolver REV2".

The thing I'll be missing on Prophet 12 from the Evolver is those sequencers and the user waveshapes... the Sequencers was what helped let the Evolver actualy make evolving sounds that would go on forever... you cannot do that on the Prophet 12... and the ability to create your own waveshapes gives some options that I really miss... I liked to put in different waveshapes taken from soloists singing... and also different acoustic instruments... you cannot really emulate these custom waveshapes with the Prophet 12's wavetables... and then of course... those two analog oscillators definitely added to the more organic raw sound of the Evolver...
« Last Edit: November 12, 2017, 02:05:38 PM by Razmo »

Re: That Poly Evolver Sound
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2017, 02:08:08 PM »
Actually the Prophet 12 can easily get that stereo path people want... it's just simply a matter of using both Layer A and B and then hard panning them L/R.

And that's exactly what I did with a Prophet 12.  Of course, the whole instrument is then configured to it.  It's not as with the Evolver, where you control the stereo or mono by degrees with a parameter.  So simple and effective.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2017, 07:32:31 PM by Sacred Synthesis »