Dave Smith Evolver

I’m going to nerd out here for a second. Bear with me.

I built a new computer over an 18month period. That alone is a long story. It was meant to be a gift to my brother but I failed over and over to get this thing to boot. Anyhow, I instead bought my brother a camera and this is now my computer. I got it working maybe six months ago. It’s a new computer. It’s nice. I can actually use Lightroom as it was meant to be used. Blah blah. I’ve never been one for flashy new computers; I always just wish my old one would have kept working. Anyway, it took me way too long to realize that this new computer can’t record audio worth a damn. Lots of noise.. it seems to add a frequency in all the recordings, like a low-to-mid hum. I believe everything that has been recorded onto this computer in the last six months is useless. It’s all I can hear when I listen now.

As a workaround, I purchased a USB interface cable, which has audio hookups on one end (that go into my mixer) and a USB plug on the other end (which goes into my PC). Ain’t USB grand? I can barely remember what we did without them.

So I had difficulty getting everything to work right, BUT… I think it’s going to work. Not only that, I think it’s going to work really well. While I was trying to get everything set up properly (pacing around, muttering curse words, running wires, reading related message boards–all in between feeding and changing the baby), I left my Dave Smith Evolver plugged into my computer. That way, if anything started to work while I was messing with settings, I would know instantly because I would be able to hear my synthesizer coming through.

Dave Smith is a pioneer. Among other things, he was the main engineer of the Prophet-5 (and its more recognizable brother, the Prophet-10… early Van Halen, anyone?) and the originator of the MIDI interface (maybe the most important music technology invention to date). He has worked for several companies, but eventually went on to form Dave Smith Instruments.

I have owned a desktop version of the Dave Smith Evolver (Serial 00694) for maybe six years and I am very happy with it. It certainly doesn’t look like four hundred dollars (I paid that for a used one actually), but it sounds like it. It is an analog-digital hybrid, sort of the best of both worlds. You really can’t make the analog filter on this thing sound bad even if you try. Of course it has its disadvantages: it is hard to program, it can only input monophonic MIDI signals, and only one setting can be altered at once. Basically it’s not good for live performances. I think the layout of it is nice and I can cook up a sound/sequence pretty quickly on it. Here is about three minutes of what I recorded last night. It takes a little while to fade in, so don’t turn up your speakers.

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