US$1199 for a brilliant one-voice synth? Resident CDM hardware synth lover Lee reports. -Ed.

The Dave Smith Instruments booth at NAMM was a buzzing hub of activity with performances by Parliment/Funkadelic’s Bernie Worrell, BT, and even an impromptu appearance by Herbie Hancock. But I still managed to get some alone time with the new DSI Mono Evolver Keys.





Anyone’s who struggled to use the original Mono Evolver’s matrix editor will love the fact that latest incarnation now sports a knob-laden front panel along with a three-octave keyboard. Understandably, DSI had to double-up on some of the knobs (for example, the knobs for the sequencer are the same as the ones for the filter and VCA parameters and all of the Oscillators and LFOs share controls between them) but the result is a more compact synth that is easily transportable as well as being able to fit into the smallest project studio. And due to the intelligent design choices, DSI made, the Mono Evolver Keys is easy to use and an absolute blast to play and sequence.


Since, it has the same analog/digital synth engine as the other Evolvers, its not surprising that it sounds fantastic and it comes in at an absolute steal of a price at $1200. The Mono Evolver Keys is not only a classic monosynth in the making but it also makes sense as a controller for the Poly Evolver rack module. Expect these things to fly off Dave’s workbench when they ship in April.


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  • tom

    Lee, I'm so jealous!
    How did you get on with the tweakability? The Evo has 128-odd controls (8x8x2 matrix, before you get to the sequencer) – and the keyboard has 'only' 60-odd knobs. Is there still a lot of shift-pressing, or how does it work?

  • lsherman

    Yes, you must enter a particular mode (such as sequencer) first but the way the panel is laid out is entirely self-explanatory. I believe there's a larger view of the panel on the DSI site. It's eminently tweakable, trust me!

    Lee