Hey sound designers!

I'm thinking of buying a Dave Smith Instruments Mono Evolver Keyboard edition both for musical and sound design purposes.

I will also add a Moog CP-251 for CV control.

I'm pretty convinced on the overall sound of the synth, but sometimes I doubt about its expandability and because it's monophonic.

If you have rare and/or experimental sounds from this synth, I will be grateful if you post it here, because it's difficult to find non-traditional uses of the DSI MEK.

Are you using it? Are you happy with the synth? Someone using this combination of hardware? How does it perform live?

Do you have any suggestions about other synths you think are best suited for sound design (and between $1000-$1500 brand new)?




Moog CP-251

6 Answers 6


I would say go for the DSI!

I don't own one myself, but I have tried a couple of DSI synths, and they are really good! The analog sound of these things is incredible, dense and textured.

If you need polyphony, I believe you can expand the evolver by connecting it to other DSI synths via a special interface. I know you can do it with some of the new DSI synths, but I'm not completely sure about the Evolver.

I have started using modular synths for Sound design and I love it, but sometimes I wish I had bought a DSI instead.

  • Thanks for your response, the first sentence alone encourages me to buy it, hehe! What's your personal experience with modular synths for sound design? What system do you own?
    – alansende
    Jan 21, 2011 at 2:49
  • 1
    I own a small (6U) doepfer eurorack which hasn't been filled completely up yet. The modules I use most are my Metasonix resonant filter/oscillator with valves, my Plaguebearer distortion module and my Synthagon filter. I have some oscillators, but I don't use them much. I mostly use my Korg MS-10 as audio source for the modules. I also use audio from my laptop, sometimes running Reaktor. The modules are quite expensive, even if you buy them used, compared to what you get in a synth. And I have quite a few modules which I don't use at all. Rather stupid considering their cost. Jan 21, 2011 at 8:02

The MonoEvolver is a great synth for sure, but adding a CP-251 to it won't greatly extend its usefulness. Unless you have some other gear that generates CV, the CP-251 will bascially be useful as an extra LFO (and the ME already has 4!) and an additional noise source.

  • Great! I was thinking the same about the combo, and your comment clarifies the situation for me. How would you expand it aside from adding voices with other synths?
    – alansende
    Jan 21, 2011 at 2:44
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    I don't think I'd worry about expanding it to be honest. It's a very capable monosynth on its own. If I was forced to spend the equivalent of the CP-251 on something to go with the ME, I'd probably put it towards the new Eventide Space pedal (but I'd be making that choice more for musical purposes than sound design).
    – unicity
    Jan 21, 2011 at 15:14

DSI's does not need any special interfacies to be polychained together. If wanting to add more polyphony all that is needed is evolvers and MIDI cables. There is polychain parameters in units that just needs to be turned on. I have MEK and desktop in polychain. Works well.

You can find more info about polychaining evolvers from DSI site. It is good to know that earliest desktop models need newer OS chip that can be ordered from DSI. (Models from certain serial number forward can be polychained withh newer models without chip upgrade..).

All other evolvers can be chained together without upgrade. :)

I don't find it very wise to group too many desktops together as their audio signals also need to be mixed together.. and they need space. Also price point needs to be concidered carefully, like when it's good move to go to poly evolver rack instead of desktops.

For me having MEK / PEK with knobs is mandatory for editing sounds.. desktops interface is just painfully slow. :)


Hi All,

I recently finished my first soundset for DSI Evolvers (Trance/Progressive Soundset). I tried to use all of its features to make really fat sounds, even unison-style presets on a mono Evolver.


I definitely love and recommend this synthesizer. Regards,



I've never used Dave smith's stuff, but i really like the nord lead 2X, and the good old roland jp8080 (although you can't find that new), and i love the moog littlephatty and it fits your price range i think.

  • There are a lot of threads about DSI MEK vs Moog LP SE. It seems most users prefer the Little Phatty for basses and the Moog filter, and others prefer the Mono Evolver for more creative uses. I think I prefer the MEK over the Nord Lead 2X because of the synthesis process (analog and digital vs virtual analog).
    – alansende
    Jan 21, 2011 at 2:47

A friend of mine used only his DS PolyEvolver for a film score last year and won some awards. That machine is a beast.


  • Oh... I should add that that video isn't really safe for work. It does have some nudity and suggestive scenes. Feb 26, 2011 at 4:40

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