Dave Smith Instruments Poly Evolver Keyboard: Vintage Strings

November 29, 2015 · Posted in Uncategorized 

The Poly Evolver Keyboard is certainly not known for its vintage sounds or overall tone. I’ve heard it criticized as falling short in the strings department, and even Dave Smith himself has said this. Well, I would respectfully disagree; I think the PEK can make gorgeous string sounds, but strings of the Evolver sort. So, in the tradition of those bright and buzzy string synthesizers – the ARP Omni, Elka Rhapsody, and a dozen others – I decided to offer an Evolver’s version of vintage strings. However, I didn’t try to strictly “emulate” the sound – as awful as it is! – but to offer something certainly reminiscent of it but hopefully a little better. The PEK can produce a more accurate imitation than this, but I chose to record something only similar.

A few sound design notes. There are two ways of producing decent strings on the Poly Evolver Keyboard: using only the analog oscillators, or else, using the analog and the digital oscillators together. The first way seems more logical if one is imitating an old string synthesizer, but in order to increase the oscillator beating you have to partially or entirely eliminate the stereo field with the Output Pan parameter. But this eliminates a very desirable depth. The other way of combining both the analog and digital oscillators provides decent oscillator beating and maintains the stereo depth, but it unfortunately adds digital aliasing as well – especially on such a bright sound with which you’re prone to play a lot on the upper end of the keyboard. The best solution was to set the analog oscillators at 100 and the digital oscillators at 30. And I used one oscillator of pulse width modulation. This offered the best combination of old school effects and timbre and avoided unmusical aliasing.

Many years ago, I had a tan Elka Rhapsody 490. It was an ugly crackly shrill old thing that could be made to sound fair in a mix. But In my opinion, the Poly Evolver Keyboard sounds a thousands times better – even at the one and only sound the Elka made. But that’s not to deny that I’d be thrilled to see a re-issue of one of those vintage string machine classics.

Instrumentation:
DSI Poly Evolver Keyboard
DSI Poly Evolver Rack
DSI Evolver Desktop
Hammond XPK 200L

Effects:
Lexicon MX300

Performed live and recorded directly to CD.

All music property of Sacred Synthesis

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