– Can’t load your own samples
– Between-preset gain-staging
– Some parameters not available for DAW automation
– Output meter is slick but impractical for trying to compare amplitude of L/R channels.
Evolution is a new software drum machine by Wave Alchemy, with compelling contemporary features and a massive 28,000 sample library (4.67 GB).
Including more than 400 presets, Evolution’s vast archive of samples and sound design tools from all sorts of sources, include but are not limited to: vintage analogue and modern drum machines, acoustic instruments, live rooms, processed Foley, abstract layered sounds, modular synths, percussion, re-amped drums, and tape machines (the full source list can be found in the manual on pages 52-55), all processed via analogue signal chains and mastering-grade converters, the result of five years of recording and sound design.
Audio demos can be found at the product website here.
Evolution’s unique workflow hinges upon blending three sounds (drum sounds, transients, sound design tools) in each of its 12 drum voices. Each individual layer from each voice can be edited independently or in union with other layers. This workflow for drum editing is a modern standard, and it reminds me of Goldbaby’s Dirt and Layers sample pack, which uses subtle textures as layering tools for drums. Evolution streamlines this process, making it far faster to arrive at minus the meddling.
It also has a powerful randomization tool for drum selection – clicking the dice icon will randomly select a drum sound from the current sound bank, and Cmd/Ctrl+Clicking will randomly select and load a sound for all three layers. This feature is crucial for creativity and helps users avoid being boxed in by presets. The X-Y pad can be used to easily blend layers. The fully modular eight per-voice macros and the step-lock parameter/effects sequencer can be assigned to 42 potential parameters for mix, filter, and effects.
In this video you can see the drum editing features:
The sequencer is feature-packed, delivering randomization and looping, along with sequenced per-voice effects, providing analogue-emulated filters and envelopes, LFOs, delays and dynamics processors, in addition to pitch, reverb, delay. The randomization function is huge for me – it lets users use their ears to find rhythms they like rather than just leaning on presets.
The analog simulation feature emulates analog equipment, generating random behavior, subtle sonic differences, and movement. Random volume and panning along with the analog simulation can be controlled independently for each independent layer of each drum voice, which can be highly effective in making your drums sound ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ and can help in avoiding the uncanny valley sound of rigid and overly-precise, digitally programmed drums.
In this video you can see an overview of sequencer and effects:
Evolution’s library is available clean, or in varying levels of tape saturation recorded with a vintage Studer A80 tape machine. These tape recordings sound incredible, the sound of the transients and added tape harmonics can really bring some life out of some of the colder more modern sounding samples. The reverbs boast 190 high-quality impulse responses from high-end acoustic drum rooms to classic units including the Lexicon 300L, EMT-250 Plate, AKG BX20 Spring, Fender Spring AMS RMX16.
Six choke groups: stop one sound when another plays, e.g open and closed hi-hats
Accents: certain beats trigger drums at a higher amplitude
Star/Offset timing of samples: useful for layering samples/transients, e.g some snare layers hit ahead of the beat, some hit behind it
Multi-outs: each drum can be edited in separate channels in the DAW for further tweaking
MIDI pitch-mode: C3-C5 trigger real-time recording of melodic input to the sequencer
MIDI drag and drop patterns into DAW
NKS Integration: works with Komplete S-Series keyboards and Maschine hardware
Timing slop: adds subtle to intense random timing (can be applied per sequence step)
Master processing module with tape simulation, master EQ and high-end compression
DAW presets for Ableton Live and Logic
There’s even some impressive updates planned for Evolution 1.1, poly-rhythmic sequencing (potentially), further expanded NKS integration.
Here at ANR we were already big fans of Wave Alchemy (see our Wave Alchemy Revolution review) and we’re definitely impressed by their new Evolution. It’s a killer software drum machine, with a fantastic library, nifty features, and only a few niggles.
Price and Availability
Evolution is offered for purchase at the product page here for £149.95. Wave Alchemy is even offering risk-free returns, with a full refund available within 14 days.