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Inside - Poly Evolver, Nord Lead 3, Virus TI, pulse, XT & Andromeda (updated)


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Following a moment of insanty, shitty customer service from turnkey & having an evolver break on me.. i actually owned one for about a week...

Heres the outside & inside of it documented for curiositys sake.. Also below is the clavia nord lead 3 i was lent whilst the Alesis andromeda thats replacing it instead, comes (naughty, naughty ! ..slap).

See this post for that little drama & something equating to a rough review of the evolver & nord lead 3:


Also up soon will be an alesis andromeda & maybe some other quicker bits; like the waldorf XT, pulse & an oberheim matrix 1000 ...probably seen the insides of those tho ...doubt many have seen those meantioned above tho ;) ..let alone have explaination of what actual key components are under the lid :)

...Poly evolver & Nord lead up.. come back again sometime soon for Andromeda & some others...


Click HERE for LARGE Version !










I love these... also seen on the Moog Voyager...













Click HERE for LARGE Version !



When i can be bothered... i'll look up the specs on the chips...

Btw the DSI-120 chips apparently are custom remakes of the CEM Chips :)

And with all that wasted case space ..its hardly unreasonable to expect a 'all in one case' 8 voice version sometime soon :) ...cost a luddy fortune tho'

...next up, clavia nord lead 3


Click HERE for LARGE Version !



I Really like their user interface :)
















Another curiously sparce instrument..

Looked up the SIX (DSP56362) DSP cores made by freescale semi. & found this page:


They are an impressive 120mhz a pce (a theoretical 700mhz between them is quite something for a Microcontroller project)

And are quoted as being for low cost consumer audio apps & geared heavily towards being used in surround sound processors:

"The DSP56362 is a high performance DSP optimized for cost-sensative consumer audio applications. A general purpose DSP56362 is available as well as a multimode, multichannel audio decoder for consumer applications such as Audio/Video (A/V) receivers, surround sound decoders, Digital Versatile Disk (DVD) players, digital TV, and other audio applications (applicable licenses are required). The DSP56362 supports all of the popular multichannel audio decoding formats, including Dolby Digital Surround, Moving Picture Experts Group Standard 2 (MPEG2), and Digital Theater Systems (DTS), in a single device with sufficient MIPS resources for customer defined post-processing features such as bass management, 3D virtual surround, Lucasfilm THX5.1, soundfield processing, and advanced equalization."

Now heres the amusing bit, the company sells them for $7.5 a pce ! ...so everything component wise accounted for, clavia are probably holding back a huge ammount of cash for R&D costs + Profit ....hmm.

Oh yes, and the MC68331 ($13.50) processor driving the stack is a 32 bit thing with a measily 20mhz ! ;)

This setup must make seerious use of parallel processing, well done to them for getting this working properly.. tho i am left wondering why have hundreds of millions of tiny transistors trying to emulate the behaviour of roughly the same quantity of silicon arranged into several hundred transsitors instead ?

I know which i would prefer... (as far as this application goes anyways).



"The MC68331 is a highly-integrated 32 bit microcontroller that combines high-performance data manipulation capabilities with powerful peripheral subsystems.This MCU is built up from standard modules that interface through a common intermodule bus (IMB).

The MCU incorporates a 32 bit CPU (CPU32), a system integration module (SIM), a general purpose timer (GPT) and a queued serial module (QSM)."

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it would be nice ..tho i doubt he would ...expect the same results (new DSP distortion engine aside) could be acheived by reverse engineering the original prophet's CEM based circuitary ..gonna look that up rn actually..

Btw dave smith's a nice guy; actually got a response from him within two days of emailing him about afew features on the evolver.

Not very often that anysuch company ..nor anyone so segnificant in the industry responds to the general public..

Quietly impressed by that matter...

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the prophet 5 doumentation is included below ...however you may wish to consider the low down on the prophet one ...which i believe is just the monophonic version & is easier to pick appart...

the prophet 1 uses a CEM 3320 filter (earlier relative to the cem3396 used in the matrix 1000 ...and sounds similar to me) ...and a 3340 as a Voltage controlled voice oscillator.

see here for the pro 1 schematic:


see here for the pro 5 schematic:


Here for the evolver manual:


and here for the chip info sheets:



Original sources:

http://www.hylander.com/moogschematics.html (many other classic synth schematics here too)


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Rumours tell that those PA397 chips were originally from Tom Oberheims Marion Systems MRS-2 synth. Seen original Evolver circuit board photo with OnChip PA397. Also the OnChip systems owns CEM chip designs.

(quoting) Dave:

"yes; the chip is very close to the Marion. Has 2 oscillators, LP

filter, a few VCAs all on one chip. "

This smells pretty much like 3396. So, oscillators are actually waveshapers.

Pro-one is nothing like Prophet5 for that matter, direct Voltage control versus uC based system with memory.


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  • 3 months later...

Well after more months than id like to contemplate ..the alesis andromeda finally arrived..

Got a ton of photos of its innards & those of the access virus ti, which i will uplload later when i have time.

Theres a hell of alot of stuff inside an andromeda i have to say.. build qualitys much better than expected.. although its tempting to make some replacement cheerywood end panels & some other mods when its out of warranty ;) and if you see one for a good price, its worth bagging as they really do pack quite a punch for programing power.. not as mercilessly agressive & insane as a moog or a dsi poly evolver ..however very nice for silky/gritty complex sounds thatll not overwelm everything else ..does an increabile take on the church organ sound (didn't know an analog could do that !)

only downside is i had to take it appart for more reasons than  documenting it.. in transit, the little bit of shaking round it had been subjected to.. was enough to loosen up some connections internally ..which prevented it from tuning up the first time round. That remedyed that.. however these things shouldnt really happen :/

Btw heres a shocker.. the virus TI contains just TWO of the freescale dsp chips that the nord lead 3 uses SIX of ! ...hmm food for thought.

Right more later :)

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-for the matter of fact, I know the andromeda has custom VLSI ICs for VCO VCF, and a lot of VCA. CV is handled by motorola coldfire feeding pcm54, a 16bit DAC.

- Nice pic of evolvers. I was interested buying an evolver rack and intercept signal before multiFX(=AD conversion) but reading now that its the integrated CEM3396 type (2x vco ,vcf,vca on same substrate) Im not interested any more xD

-Its official the nord lead4 does wavetable synthesis, Im interested bout interfacing.

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well.. you might want to run by that again, as well.. although the Evolver sounds very prophet/oberheimey ..it's PA397 filters dont sound anything like the cem3396's as seen in the Matrix 1000. Where as they both sound really fat in bottom end and colour (and yes the evolver could compete quite well for that with the moog) ..they have a distinctly different top end; the evolver goes really high and really bright ...where as the matrix 1000 with the cem3396 has a charmingly soft top end.

Note: also dont forget, unlike alot of analogs, that the evolver has in additoion to the basic analog oscilators, the capacity to generate any waveform you want.. including a bank of ones borrowed from the original prophet :) ..whilst not as immensely powerful for this, as something like the original wave was or the Q+ ...you  do have more analog signal path and processing than waldorf offers.

Give them a listen and see what you think... the evolver rack is really fun to program ...and can be coaxed into sounding great quite easily :) ...it takes a little more work with the alesis to really make the sounds shine.

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yeah, noticed it has 16bit wide user waveform bank (with midi transfer) and the prophets 12bit samples. Tho not sure it uses the same ad1836 delta sigma codec as the multifx part. Thats not very authentic in this respect. I guess Ill wait and see Nord's offering: they already have wavetable nordlead with sampling, cant really wait to know details.

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photos edited & on my websapce now ...however too luddy tired to hack out the post ..will do that tommorow at some point.

In addition to the andromeda, theres also pics of oberheim matrix 1000 (yup enough of them on the web too), waldorf pulse, waldorf xt, access virus ti & poly evolver rack

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Nah.. nothing that cleche ;) ...i just dont spend my money on beer, drugs and bling :) ...oh and lets see, the waldorf xt & the pulse wheere ebay adquired dirt cheap due to shot psus, the two matrix 1000's where pickedd up off ebay cheaply (no one sems to blow them up ;) ) ..the nord and the virus where lends, the evolver keys was a returned item due to a fault & ownership of the andromeda and the evolver rack where the result of the kind of agressive bartering in price, that makes store managers cry. :) ..right, photies up inabit ..dentist wants to see me first.

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Ok, Access Virus - TI..

Some of the things it contains:

* 2X Freescale 150mhz dspb56367ac150 DSP's (the nord lead 3 has 6x 120's),

* 6x (?) samsung  k6r4008v10-ui10 memory chips,

* A totally seperate keyboard controller with 4mhz pic (pic16c238-04/sp)  - connected to virus thru midi ! ,

* lots of ne5532 opamps,

* Somesort of ST electronics dsp (lettering unreadable) connected to a samsung kex400874e-uf70 memory chip,

* Cirrus logic, one chip adc/dac cs12556-c31,

* Texas Instruments tusb3200ac streaming usb controller,

* Lots of White leds,

* A white finish thats highly prone to shoing up dust, grime & scratches,

* Very heavy aluminum end caps (at least it feels solid ;) ),

* the front wooden bar is mdf with wooden vineer, lime ?

* A 'trailing blob' psu -inside- the case,

* a really dodgy looking power cap.. that looked ready to explode.











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Waldorf Pulse

A very fat 3 oscillator, monophonic 'all' analog synth.. designed with moog/roland type sound characteristics in mind. Uses transistor cascade filters & transconductance vca's in a fasion which is very similar to those found in the moog. Ultimately has a sound of its own tho.. if you get a chance, check one of these out ..alot of fun :)


* 2x CA3046 Transistor array chips stabalising each end (?) of a stacked transistor moog style filter.


* 3x CA3080e Transconductance amps (also used in some moog vca's ?) 


* 1x tl074cn opamp

* 5x tl064cn opamp

* High quality polystyrene/polyester/metal film capacitors throughout

* AD7545 12 bit DAC - for cv control ?


* 2x 8 bit 3mhz ? (xtal says 12mhz) Motorola mc68hc11e1cfn3 Processors


* 1x very strange programmable cmos logic array (hmm what is this being used for ?) - palce16v6h-26 pc/4


* 3x 93c66 EEPROM chips.

* a curious L165 Circuit used to generate an artificial -12v rail from a single 12v supply.

(this was dead in the one i adquired (another case fo psu abuse !) ..and was a little bit of a pita to adquire)

Note: the basic topology of the analog sections is crying out to be cloned, tweaked midi cv'ed & diy'ed :) ..anyone want to have a go ?







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Oberhem Matrix 1000 ..yes we've seen these before ..tho why the 'ell not ;)

* 6x CEM 3396 'synth on a chip' chips (...goes without saying really)

..contacts prone to corroding, may need reseating & cleaning occaisionally.

* 3x 7805 & 1x 7912 & 7812 regulators - it would seem to eat alot of 5v juice ...hmm.

* Fairly sizeable cap bank & psu 6800uf (5v) & 2x 4700uf for the +/- 12v analog rails.

* tl081, tl082, lm311 opamps.

* hitachi hd68b09p 2mhz 8bit processor !


* 5x UMC um82c54-2 8mhz programmable interval timer with 3x 16 bit counters.


* 1x ST EF68B50P 2mhz 8 bit asincronous communications interface adapter


* a ton of 74 series logic chips & 4051 analog multiplexers.

My, the control & processing functions certainly seemed to sprawl out from the conservatively specced cpu ;) ...mind if they made this these days, my guess is that it'd be controlled by a single microcontroller, with one or two ancilliary chips & the cem's ..all packed into a board the size of a video cassette ;) :)

Matrix schematics unearthed, from somewhere else on the web:


More hardware notes here:








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Dave Smith Instruments - Poly Evolver

* Specs pretty much the same as the PEK ..except for a slight change in board design, colour & and some additional notes son the legend masking ..hmm.

* DSI-120 / PA-397 analog synth chips

* a number of Analog devices op275 dual j-fet opamps (...hmm curious)


* a number of Texas Instruments 2272c dual lin-cmos opams (..odd)


* 4x Analog Devices AD1836AAS 96khz 'codecs' - 16>24bit 3x stereo dacs 2x stereo adcs


* 4x Analog Devices adsp-2191m DSP Chips - 160mhz ! 24bit memory structure, 40bit accumaltors.. (fairly nuts all in all..)


(surely dave, dave that dsp is underutilised & can do some insane things.. more features pleeease ;) )

* sockted chips & cpu  which i dont want to peel the labels off whilst i still have a warranty !






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A slightly grubby Waldorf XT

* Motorola mc68331cfc20 processor - 32bit 20mhz


* Motorola xc56303pv80 - 80mhz (480mips) 24 bit dsp

* 2x am29f010-70pc Flash Roms - 1 megabit 70ns


* 5x nec d431008le-15 sram chips - 256kb 15ns ?

* ne5532 opamps

* cirrus 5330aks - 18bit stereo ADC


* 2x cirrus cs4329ks - 20bit stereo DAC, 115db signal to noise :)








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And Yeuup The Alesis Andromeda

* tons and tons of circuitboards...

* The much hyped (why ?) Motorola Coldfire 32 bit 90mhz processor - mcf5307ft90b


(Replaced by MCF5307AI90B ..so they must of had a stockpile of old chips..)

(my first pc in 1996 had as much poke ;) )

* burr brown pcm54hp 16bit 333khz capable dacs - used on the voice board.


(probably used to provide the drive signals for the osicllator & filter chip, which multiplex the signal inside to save an unrealistic ammound of external circuitary to control -ALL- those internal CV drives :) )

* custom made and designed ASICS labeled - alesis - aso 0625a & asf 0625a - no info onine, however these internal schemetics:

[ See end of section !]

* proprietary dsp made by ami for Alesis, probably aslo used in their effects racks - has some dram tied to it/

* tl082c opamps throughout the audio stages

* Wavefront al1101 ADC - 24bit 48khz, 64x oversampling


(must also use this forthe calibration routine ;) )

* Wavefront al1201 DAC - 24bit 48khz, 128x oversampling


* 14x (at least) achct16374 d-type, tri state 16bit flip flop chips..


* AMD Flash Ram for OS ..etc.

* 2x is61lv25616-15t - 'fast ram' ..can't be asked to find that, however its probably 256kb 16bit 15ns sram.

* Samsung k6t4016v3c-tb70 cmos sram - 'slow ram' 16 bit 256k 70ns, tft technology ram

(related to tft tech for displays ? standard stuff anyways tho ...hmm)


* Sepperate microcontroller with old style eprom for reading & controling the control surface.

* philips p87c52x28bd 8 bit microcontroler (control surface i/o) - 128-1024 ram, upto 33mhz clock.

(phillps no longer make semi's !)


* connected to old style eprom :)

*other chips i cant be bothered to look up at this time.

Here for some random info:


Note the two 22" Widescreens below are cheap as chips and great quality if anyones after such things.. Made by Belinea, called the artistline 22W ..has aa contrast ratio of 1000:1, res of 1680x1050 ..and sells for £180 !




















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