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Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)

Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2017, 09:24:16 AM »
I thought the old knobs were plastic, not rubber.  Such a simple matter.  This seller certainly has a knack for mystery!

Gerry Havinga

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Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2017, 09:37:27 AM »
I understand it has a rather good 4 channel / track step sequencer on board that can address external instruments over MIDI. I want to move away from the computer (DAW-less) in the long term, so this might also be an interesting aspect of the Evolver. I do understand it is rather tricky to program, but I believe there is a good Windows based editor which can help with storing sequences for each patch.  Is there someone that is willing to share their experience with the on-board sequencer?

Note: Gerry, I meant to reply to your question in this post, but apparently I clicked Modify (in my capacity as moderator) instead of Reply. I did not intend to alter your post, but to respond to it. If you'd like this post's content updated in any way, please PM me. Regards, chysn. Sincerest apologies for my mistake.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2017, 01:51:54 PM by chysn »
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet Rev2 and Evolver desktop, Waldorf Blofeld, Roland System-1, Korg Microstation, Nord Rack 2, Akai S5000, Bitwig v1 and v2. Trying to become daw-less...

https://soundcloud.com/user-252754541

Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #22 on: October 29, 2017, 09:42:20 AM »
I added a copy of the jpeg the seller has added to the ad. It might be a stock image, not sure.

Yeah, this is a stock image of one of the very first Desktop Evolvers. Noticeable due to the white stripe on top of the caps. Except for some early units, the caps were all black.

Ableton Live 9 Suite & Push 2 (macOS) | Arturia BeatStep Pro | DSI Pro 2 | KMI QuNexus | Korg Volca Beats | Moog MF-104M Analog Delay | Moog Minitaur | Moog Model 15 App | Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition | Sequential Prophet-6

Gerry Havinga

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Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #23 on: October 29, 2017, 09:57:41 AM »
I added a copy of the jpeg the seller has added to the ad. It might be a stock image, not sure.

Yeah, this is a stock image of one of the very first Desktop Evolvers. Noticeable due to the white stripe on top of the caps. Except for some early units, the caps were all black.


Thanks Paul, the mystery deepens. I'll wait for the response and let you all know what has happened.
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet Rev2 and Evolver desktop, Waldorf Blofeld, Roland System-1, Korg Microstation, Nord Rack 2, Akai S5000, Bitwig v1 and v2. Trying to become daw-less...

https://soundcloud.com/user-252754541

chysn

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Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #24 on: October 29, 2017, 01:50:45 PM »
I understand it has a rather good 4 channel / track step sequencer on board that can address external instruments over MIDI. I want to move away from the computer (DAW-less) in the long term, so this might also be an interesting aspect of the Evolver. I do understand it is rather tricky to program, but I believe there is a good Windows based editor which can help with storing sequences for each patch.  Is there someone that is willing to share their experience with the on-board sequencer?

Yeah, happy to. My experience is that it's exquisitely awkward. If you're absolutely determined to use it to drive external instruments just to prove something, you can, to a limited extent. But once you experience the limited capabilities in this area combined with the challenges of using them, you're likely to give up after trying it once.

This isn't a "don't buy the Evolver" post by any means. The sequencer is actually not bad for what it's designed for. But don't plan on its use as a MIDI sequencer being a remotely enjoyable or musically-inspiring experience.
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Moog Little Phatty w/ CV Outs, Arturia MicroBrute, KMI QuNexus
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore
Modular Grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/354385
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #25 on: October 29, 2017, 02:06:02 PM »
I agree with chysn. The Evolver sequencer basically works like the gated sequencer in your Rev2. It's meant to be a 4-track modulation source, not a MIDI sequencer in the typical sense. That won't take you one iota away from a DAW environment, nor can it serve as a substitute for that.

Your best bet would rather be devices that come in the beat box form factor like the Elektrons or - even more so - something like an MPC, especially the new ones.
Ableton Live 9 Suite & Push 2 (macOS) | Arturia BeatStep Pro | DSI Pro 2 | KMI QuNexus | Korg Volca Beats | Moog MF-104M Analog Delay | Moog Minitaur | Moog Model 15 App | Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition | Sequential Prophet-6

Gerry Havinga

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Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2017, 12:04:32 AM »
I agree with chysn. The Evolver sequencer basically works like the gated sequencer in your Rev2. It's meant to be a 4-track modulation source, not a MIDI sequencer in the typical sense. That won't take you one iota away from a DAW environment, nor can it serve as a substitute for that.

Your best bet would rather be devices that come in the beat box form factor like the Elektrons or - even more so - something like an MPC, especially the new ones.
Thanks Paul and chysn great feedback.

My thinking at the moment is that, in the long term, I would like to keep functionalities separate as much as is possible: sampler = sampler, synth = synth, sequencer = sequencer. Preferably no device that combines functions, except were the sequencer is a modulation source (as on the Rev2). As my musical direction is towards Berlin School, I believe I would probably be best served with a Manikin Schrittmacher and/or a Sequentix Cirklon. Despite that I would like to gently (financially and emotionally) introduce myself to step sequencing a (live) performance. The Evolver might be a possible way into that direction, but perhaps not.

No news yet from the seller with regards to a picture of the missing rubber buttons .
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet Rev2 and Evolver desktop, Waldorf Blofeld, Roland System-1, Korg Microstation, Nord Rack 2, Akai S5000, Bitwig v1 and v2. Trying to become daw-less...

https://soundcloud.com/user-252754541

Gerry Havinga

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Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2017, 05:28:44 AM »
I am now in communication with the current owner  :) he will sent a picture as requested.

My next question to him was, if he had installed the latest firmware ROM https://www.davesmithinstruments.com/product/evolver-desktop-3-x-firmware-upgrade/. He could not answer this question as he himself had not installed a new version and he does not know if the owner before him did so.

is there a way of figuring out what ROM version is installed?
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet Rev2 and Evolver desktop, Waldorf Blofeld, Roland System-1, Korg Microstation, Nord Rack 2, Akai S5000, Bitwig v1 and v2. Trying to become daw-less...

https://soundcloud.com/user-252754541

Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2017, 05:43:08 AM »
Infos on the latest Evolver OS can be found here: http://www.davesmithinstruments.com/updating-evolver-os/

The current owner can determine what versions are installed by doing the following:
  • Hold the Row 1 button and press Row 2 to display the Main version.
  • Hold the Row 1 button and press Row 3 to display the DSP version.

In addition to that, the DSP version can also be determined by the serial number. Version 3, the latest version, was installed in all Evolvers from serial number 1859 onwards.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2017, 05:46:49 AM by Paul Dither »
Ableton Live 9 Suite & Push 2 (macOS) | Arturia BeatStep Pro | DSI Pro 2 | KMI QuNexus | Korg Volca Beats | Moog MF-104M Analog Delay | Moog Minitaur | Moog Model 15 App | Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition | Sequential Prophet-6

Gerry Havinga

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Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #29 on: October 31, 2017, 08:37:16 AM »
Infos on the latest Evolver OS can be found here: http://www.davesmithinstruments.com/updating-evolver-os/

The current owner can determine what versions are installed by doing the following:
  • Hold the Row 1 button and press Row 2 to display the Main version.
  • Hold the Row 1 button and press Row 3 to display the DSP version.

In addition to that, the DSP version can also be determined by the serial number. Version 3, the latest version, was installed in all Evolvers from serial number 1859 onwards.
Thanks Paul, I am sorry I should have found this info myself if I'd thought about it. You are very patient by providing the answer regardless.

The seller has come back to me and indeed the picture he sent does have the encoders at the top row missing. No problem as they can be replace / bought from DSI.

Unfortunately the serial number is below 1859 so we don't know yet if the ROM is updated. He will try tonight using the procedure above to figure out what they are.  It is becoming more likely i will buy it ...... of course (especially being Dutch  myself :) ) I want to get the best price.

The serial number is in the mid 1500 so it must be from 2002/2003 I presume. I wonder how long it will keep working, being approximately 15 years old.
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet Rev2 and Evolver desktop, Waldorf Blofeld, Roland System-1, Korg Microstation, Nord Rack 2, Akai S5000, Bitwig v1 and v2. Trying to become daw-less...

https://soundcloud.com/user-252754541

Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #30 on: October 31, 2017, 08:49:47 AM »
Thanks Paul, I am sorry I should have found this info myself if I'd thought about it. You are very patient by providing the answer regardless.

No problem, that's what I'm here for as a moderator.

Unfortunately the serial number is below 1859 so we don't know yet if the ROM is updated. He will try tonight using the procedure above to figure out what they are.  It is becoming more likely i will buy it ...... of course (especially being Dutch  myself :) ) I want to get the best price.

The serial number is in the mid 1500 so it must be from 2002/2003 I presume. I wonder how long it will keep working, being approximately 15 years old.

Upgrading it is still no problem, as the Main PIC processor can still be purchased for $25:
https://www.davesmithinstruments.com/product/evolver-desktop-3-x-firmware-upgrade/

You might wanna substract that from the price, though.

I would not worry too much about the Evolver being 15 years old already.
Ableton Live 9 Suite & Push 2 (macOS) | Arturia BeatStep Pro | DSI Pro 2 | KMI QuNexus | Korg Volca Beats | Moog MF-104M Analog Delay | Moog Minitaur | Moog Model 15 App | Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition | Sequential Prophet-6

Razmo

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Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #31 on: October 31, 2017, 09:33:50 AM »
Funny... when I look at the PIC MCU in the picture, its a PIC18F452... one of the MCU's I've been programing for extensively in the past... I really wished there was some sort of "hardware reference guide" for the Evolver (how the pins are used etc.)... I've got both a programmer and assembly code compiler for this ;)

...aside from that, I've just bought a desktop Evolver again, and will start using it soon... there has always been a lot of talk about the sonic differences between the P12 and the Evolver... I've had them both, and sonically I actually prefer the Evolver... it's more dirty and raw in it's character, where the P12 is more clean and rounded... but that's up to taste I guess... no doubt the P12 is much more flexible, and a much more modern machine (and what I would call Dave's knowledge from Prophet 08 and Evolver put together in one... and then not really)...

One thing is certain though... it has it's own thing, and it sounds good.

Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #32 on: October 31, 2017, 05:39:32 PM »
I recently got around to updating my Evolver after 15yrs, heheh.  I was so used to the way it was, I didn't know what I was missing until I did it.
You can work out if it has had the rom updated from the firmware revision number; if it's above 3.x, it's the newer rom.  Not hard to do the upgrade, just be really careful if you don't have an IC extractor.  Oh yeah, try to grab as much in one order as you can, get your replacement knobs, the prom and an extra psu (it'll go bad decades before the Evolver does) so you don't get too stung by postage.  My vers. 3.x chip cost less than the cost of sending it here!

Gerry Havinga

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Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #33 on: November 05, 2017, 11:35:42 PM »
Latest news .... The current owner came back to me with the ROM versions:

Main version| 2 | 1 |
DSP| 2 | 0 |

I would want to upgrade the ROM to version 3. Happily the owner managed to find 6 of the 8 rotary encoder tops. I could try to ask DSI if they have two spare / originals matching.

In light of that I did go ahead and made an offer. We agreed to settle at 320 Euro (30 Euro off the asking price). I will pickup the unit tomorrow evening and spent some time testing it together with the owner.

GASS has won once again, but I do believe this is a great opportunity to learn more about Dave's designs. I haven't played with FM synthesis since I sold my DX-21 many years ago. I am also very much looking forward to fiddling with the combined analog and digital nature of the Evolver. This will be my first mono synth ever (actually dual mono :) ). I believe combining / layering the Evolver with the Rev2 and the Blofeld will be awesome.
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet Rev2 and Evolver desktop, Waldorf Blofeld, Roland System-1, Korg Microstation, Nord Rack 2, Akai S5000, Bitwig v1 and v2. Trying to become daw-less...

https://soundcloud.com/user-252754541

Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #34 on: November 06, 2017, 08:02:27 AM »
Happily the owner managed to find 6 of the 8 rotary encoder tops. I could try to ask DSI if they have two spare / originals matching.

As you'll need to order the update ROM, you may as well order a fresh set of modern knobs, which just feel so much better to use than the Evolver or Mopho/Tempest plastic equivalents.
Sequential / DSI / Pioneer stuff: Prophet-12 desktop, Pro-2, AS-1, Prophet-600 Gligli, Prophet 2000

Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #35 on: November 07, 2017, 08:11:09 PM »
Latest news .... The current owner came back to me with the ROM versions:

Main version| 2 | 1 |
DSP| 2 | 0 |

I would want to upgrade the ROM to version 3. Happily the owner managed to find 6 of the 8 rotary encoder tops. I could try to ask DSI if they have two spare / originals matching.

In light of that I did go ahead and made an offer. We agreed to settle at 320 Euro (30 Euro off the asking price). I will pickup the unit tomorrow evening and spent some time testing it together with the owner.

GASS has won once again, but I do believe this is a great opportunity to learn more about Dave's designs. I haven't played with FM synthesis since I sold my DX-21 many years ago. I am also very much looking forward to fiddling with the combined analog and digital nature of the Evolver. This will be my first mono synth ever (actually dual mono :) ). I believe combining / layering the Evolver with the Rev2 and the Blofeld will be awesome.

Yay!  You will be very happy with your purchase I'm sure.  I really wish I bought two when I got mine, I now need to pay more for a 2nd hand unit than I did for the first brand new!

The FM on the Evolver is very simple.  Nothing like a DX synth of any type, but still a great function for adding texture to a patch.  It is the first synth on which I actually understood what FM does.  Other synths with osc FM left me wondering what it did to a patch and generally ignoring it.  A lot of that was due to Anu Kirk's guide mind you, but also the ease with which the results of different FM combination were demonstrated using an Evolve is a great way to understand how it works.

If you don't mind using computer to program, the Sound Tower editor for the Evolver is pretty good, with a wonderful sequencer programming gui which takes a good amount of the pain involved in using it away.

Some new user tips: When checking out the presets, go into the Trigger Select parameters to change what triggers the instrument.  By default it seems nearly all the presets are set to be triggered by both incoming notes and internal sequencer 1 gate which can make for unexpected behaviour when sending it notes from an external sequencer.
Also when previewing, some presets have their external input turned off in the Key Off/Xpose parameter setting.  This dictates if the Evolver responds to note values via MIDI.  Starting with off, Key Off/Xpose will transpose the MIDI notes it receives from -36 semitones to +36, as pointed out in the manual (or was it the guide) allowing for individual patches to have different tunings.  This is another setting that can make a first time user go "what the hell is going on?"

I've mentioned "the guide" a bit, bloody amazing piece of work which you can find a link to in the stick thread on this board.

Well done on your new acquisition and have fun creating some truly unique sounds and synthetic instruments!

Gerry Havinga

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Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #36 on: November 08, 2017, 07:35:56 AM »
Happily the owner managed to find 6 of the 8 rotary encoder tops. I could try to ask DSI if they have two spare / originals matching.

As you'll need to order the update ROM, you may as well order a fresh set of modern knobs, which just feel so much better to use than the Evolver or Mopho/Tempest plastic equivalents.
Thanks David, I have ordered a complete set of everything (spare power supply, knobs and 3.0 ROM) today. Shipping is 58 1/2 dollars - I should have also gotten a Rev2 T-shirt but didn't think about that at the moment of ordering  :) :)

Edit: Yeah my hundreds post! Do I get a goody now?
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet Rev2 and Evolver desktop, Waldorf Blofeld, Roland System-1, Korg Microstation, Nord Rack 2, Akai S5000, Bitwig v1 and v2. Trying to become daw-less...

https://soundcloud.com/user-252754541

Gerry Havinga

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Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #37 on: November 08, 2017, 07:51:33 AM »

Yay!  You will be very happy with your purchase I'm sure.  I really wish I bought two when I got mine, I now need to pay more for a 2nd hand unit than I did for the first brand new!

Thanks megamarkd. I got it yesterday and am starting to include it in my workflow. The sound is amazingly good compared to the size of the little box. Great design, once again.

Quote from: megamarkd
The FM on the Evolver is very simple.  Nothing like a DX synth of any type, but still a great function for adding texture to a patch.  It is the first synth on which I actually understood what FM does.  Other synths with osc FM left me wondering what it did to a patch and generally ignoring it.  A lot of that was due to Anu Kirk's guide mind you, but also the ease with which the results of different FM combination were demonstrated using an Evolve is a great way to understand how it works.

The DX21 was only a 4 operator FM synth and in those days I didn't manage to figure it out properly. This time will be different  :). I have downloaded Anu Kirk's guide and will start going through it as soon as I have got to grips with the Evolver's interface.

Quote from: megamarkd
If you don't mind using computer to program, the Sound Tower editor for the Evolver is pretty good, with a wonderful sequencer programming gui which takes a good amount of the pain involved in using it away.

Yeah thanks for the tip. I bought the bundle and got the VST plugin to work within Bitwig. Was a bit fiddly but so far so good. I also want the standalone version so I can do patch management outside of the DAW environment. Setting up the MIDI is a tat buggy, I have had several VST crashes with the plugin this afternoon. Happily Bitwig catches it and keeps itself running.

Quote from: megamarkd
Some new user tips: When checking out the presets, go into the Trigger Select parameters to change what triggers the instrument.  By default it seems nearly all the presets are set to be triggered by both incoming notes and internal sequencer 1 gate which can make for unexpected behaviour when sending it notes from an external sequencer.
Also when previewing, some presets have their external input turned off in the Key Off/Xpose parameter setting.  This dictates if the Evolver responds to note values via MIDI.  Starting with off, Key Off/Xpose will transpose the MIDI notes it receives from -36 semitones to +36, as pointed out in the manual (or was it the guide) allowing for individual patches to have different tunings.  This is another setting that can make a first time user go "what the hell is going on?"

I've mentioned "the guide" a bit, bloody amazing piece of work which you can find a link to in the stick thread on this board.

Well done on your new acquisition and have fun creating some truly unique sounds and synthetic instruments!

Thanks again. I have noticed that some patches seem to be out of tune with my Rev2. I am not used to mono-phonic synthesizers, it does sound a bit weird (tuning) when playing chords on the Rev2 and sending the notes also to the Evolver. There is probably someplace a note priority setting. Will be fun figuring that one out.
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet Rev2 and Evolver desktop, Waldorf Blofeld, Roland System-1, Korg Microstation, Nord Rack 2, Akai S5000, Bitwig v1 and v2. Trying to become daw-less...

https://soundcloud.com/user-252754541

Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #38 on: November 08, 2017, 08:29:33 AM »
To state the obvious, a four-oscillator synthesizer has more potential to be simultaneously in-tune with itself but out of tune with other instruments.  The key is to tune the oscillators of the Evolver at the same time above and below that of the other instruments, so that no oscillator is that far from them.  It you were to create a string patch on the Evolver with oscillator tunings of 0, 4, 8, and 12, then that 12 would be quite a distance from your Rev2's oscillators.  Instead, use tunings of 0, 4, 8, and -4, or thereabouts.  This keeps the whole ensemble sounding in-tune.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2017, 08:31:53 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Gerry Havinga

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Re: Should I buy second hand Evolver desktop (missing rubber buttons)
« Reply #39 on: November 08, 2017, 08:43:15 AM »
To state the obvious, a four-oscillator synthesizer has more potential to be simultaneously in-tune with itself but out of tune with other instruments.  The key is to tune the oscillators of the Evolver at the same time above and below that of the other instruments, so that no oscillator is that far from them.  It you were to create a string patch on the Evolver with oscillator tunings of 0, 4, 8, and 12, then that 12 would be quite a distance from your Rev2's oscillators.  Instead, use tunings of 0, 4, 8, and -4, or thereabouts.  This keeps the whole ensemble sounding in-tune.

Sorry Sacred, I didn't intend to sound critical. At the contrary I love the sound quality and possibilities of the Evolver. All I have at the moment are the patches that the previous owner left me with. I have made backups of the soundbanks and probably will wipe one of the banks this weekend so I can start learning and experimenting. I am looking forward making some interesting drones and  sequences that can harmonize with the Rev2. I think you are absolutely right, what I have observed so far is that in some of the patches the oscillators are all over the place. Sounding great together, but not with another instrument. Should be very straightforward to get right  :).

I do recognize some of the design principles, which also show up in the Rev2. Dave is quite an electronics and user interface design wizard.
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet Rev2 and Evolver desktop, Waldorf Blofeld, Roland System-1, Korg Microstation, Nord Rack 2, Akai S5000, Bitwig v1 and v2. Trying to become daw-less...

https://soundcloud.com/user-252754541