Ensoniq EPS Classic Sampler Workstation

Ensoniq EPS Classic Sampler
Ensoniq EPS Classic Sampler

Wow! I just picked up a used Ensoniq EPS Classic in fantastic condition today for real cheap. The EPS Classic had been sitting in the used shop for a couple of months in the junk bin and still nobody had bought it. A couple of days ago, I asked the clerk if I could plug it in and give it a test spin. He said that the EPS Classic made no sound and that it would only work as a Midi Controller. I didn’t have the time to talk about it with him, but I figured I would come back and try again later to test the ESP. Well, today I had some time to visit the used music store and this time a different sales clerk was working.

This time, the sales clerk allowed me to start up the Ensoniq Classic EPS. He said he had no idea how it worked and thus it was the reason why it was in the junk bin. There were about 65 floppy disks and quickly I was able to find the OS startup disk. I did some homework about this sampler so I kind of had an idea about how to get it going. I powered up the EPS Classic and everything booted just fine. I then found a Moog Disk and loaded up a Moog Instrument in the first bank. I found that the headphone jack was the right plugin jack so the sales clerk allowed me to use the store’s headphones. It took me a minute to figure out how to access the Moog instrument I loaded up, but sure enough I found the sound.

Wow! Did that Moog sound fantastic. Instantly I knew I had to have this EPS Classic Sampler. I can’t explain it, but it’s the sound that just clicked with me. It definitely sounds different than my Roland W-30 or S-330 Sampler. It has that old school sound which really reminds me of the 80’s. Along with the Ensoniq EPS Classic, I got an Ensoniq pedal, case, manual, 65 disks, and the 2x Expander hooked up in the back of the sampler. The keys are all in terrific shape and work very well.

I’ve actually heard a lot of great things about the Ensoniq EPS Classic especially the sound and sequencer. Indeed the sampling time is very small but the loading times and sample swapping are very fast. In fact, I already have plans to use the EPS Classic with my Boss RC-50 and loop sounds as I play them. I can then load up new sounds and record on the fly. My Roland W-30 would be a little slower in doing this, so I’m curious how the EPS will work. I think the EPS should be fun for some creative new ideas.

I don’t know much about software or other editing utilities for the Ensoniq EPS Classic, but I’ll be looking into that this week. I’m hoping to find a way to create disk images with Wav files so that I can use them with the HxC SD Card Floppy Drive Emulator that will work with the ESP. I actually just got my second HxC Emulator in the mail today and plan to set it up eventually with the EPS Classic. There is a guy on Youtube below who successfully was able to install the HxC SD Card Emulator with the Ensoniq EPS Classic. I just did it with my Roland W-30 and S-330 Samplers, so I’m confident it will work.

Update: On Win98, I installed a program called EPSdisk that allowed me to copy Ensoniq EPS Floppy Disks into .GKH image files onto my PC. I was then able to open the .GKH files in AWAVE Studio using my Windows 7 PC. I also was able to effectively make backup copies of the EPS Classic OS. When I bought the EPS Classic it came with OS version 2.20. I downloaded and made a new OS Disk for version 2.49 using EPSdisk. The EPS Classic loaded the udpated OS 2.49 version just fine. The Ensoniq EPS Classic OS v2.49 fixes COPY FLOPPY DISK and adds several SCSI and Sequencer functions.

Furthermore, I found that I could import wav files into AWAVE Studio and create and instrument file. This instrument file could then be saved into .efe EPS Instrument Format and then be saved to an EPS Classic formated floppy disk using EPSdisk very easily. This is my ticket now to importing WAV files of my own into the EPS classic. I actually did this with some example wavs and it worked perfectly! Once I found ESPdisk and discovered that AWAVE works with EPS Classic .efe and .gkh formatted files, I knew it would be easy to import WAV files. Excellent!

By the way, I found that my Ensoniq EPS Classic is now running OS 2.49 with Rom Bios version 2.0 and Keyboard version 2.10 using the Software Information Command on the EPS Classic.

Another interesting tidbit I found with the Ensoniq EPS Classic is that I had to run two high quality cables out from the left/right output jacks and into my decent Yamaha mixer to effectively get a clean sound out of the EPS. Tweaking the gain, high, mid, and lows, I was able to get a very quiet, clean, along with a very solid punchy sound.

Some people experience lots of static coming out of the output jacks. I sense this is perhaps mainly due to the fact that you might need to run the EPS through a good mixer with decent cables. The EPS sampler will make a small amount of noise due to it’s characteristics and also because the output is slightly lower than more modern samplers. However, it’s easily adjusted when using a good mixer. At least it worked great for me. I’m getting some really great analog oriented sounds now and it’s awesome!! My EPS Classic is definitely very phat sounding now.

The video below shows a guy on Youtube opening up his Ensoniq EPS sampler, removing the disk drive, and replacing it with an HxC SD Floppy Emulator.

Frankothemountain is a Youtube user that uses the Ensoniq EPS Classic on most of his early music. I really liked some of his songs and emailed him about some more info. He said he had four EPS Classics and indeed he used them extensively on his recordings. He said it required “lot’s of looping, editing, and down sampling” but the creative possibilities were endless. It’s a very inspiring Sampler Keyboard. You can check out one of his songs and videos below.

http://www.youtube.com/user/frankothemountain

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SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator for Roland W-30 S-330 Samplers

SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator
SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator

Today I just purchased an SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator off Ebay for testing with the Roland W-30 and Roland S-330 Samplers that I have. I’ve been pondering whether to to do this or not and finally gathered enough info with my own research on the subject. I feel it’s worth giving it a shot to see if the SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator rev. C works with my Roland W-30 or S-330.

The SDCard HxC Floppy Emulator can replace different kind of floppy disk drive and allows you use SDCard media instead of floppy disk. I heard this Emulator will work with the Roland S-50. The Roland W-30 and S-330 are very similar if not the same as the Roland S-50. I really need something more reliable for my samplers and so I thought why not give it a test. I also have a couple of other synths that likely could work with the SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator, so all is not lost if it fails to work on the Roland W-30 and S-330. We’ll see!

It’ll be a couple of weeks before I receive the SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator in the mail. Please stay tuned for further updates on how I progress with this project. Thanks!

Progress Report:
Does the SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator work on the Roland S-330 and W-30 Samplers?

Roland S-330 – YES!
Roland W-30 – YES!
Roland S-50 – YES!
Korg T2 – YES!

Roland W30 SMFW30 Software Upgrade

SMFW30 Last Beta
SMFW30 Last Beta

There is a new release of SMFW30 is coming soon! It’s a Sound Manager for the Roland W-30, S-330, S50, and S-550 Vintage Samplers. Over on the SMFW30 Forums, Miro has released some beta info about the new Roland W-30 Software Sample Editor. I think registration is closed there due to spam issues, but you should at least be able to view the updates. I’m on there so if anyone has any questions, I can pass them along to Miro for you if I don’t know the answer. Above is a screenshot which looks great. This is definitely a welcome upgrade and should hopefully add some new life to the aging but popular Roland W-30.

Hare are some details taken from the forum posting.

Tone Editor
* Import of waves with odd length
* Editing of tone/subtone title
* Editing of all tone/subtone parameters with waveform preview

MIDI Editor
* Correction of SYSEX troubles

Patch Editor
* Basic implementation – Load / Save / Rename and Delete patch

I am really looking forward to this release. Currently I prefer transferring my WAV files to the Roland W-30 via the S-330 and other software connected to it via the computer. However, if I can do everything I need with SWMF30, then that would clearly be the way to go.

Stay tuned for more news and about about the SMFW30 software upgrade for the Roland W-30.

Roland S-760 Digital Sampler in Japan

Roland S-760 Digital Sampler
Roland S-760 Digital Sampler

Today I managed to locate a used Roland S-760 Digital Sampler at a remote used music shop near Nagano City here in Japan. The unit was in excellent condition and it had the manuals, but no disks. The gentleman at the counter said it was junk and I said to myself “Are you kidding?”. He sold it to me for $35 because he said he couldn’t get it to work without the disks. I wanted to say if he had heard of the internet at all, but instead I slapped down the cash and walked away with a fine Roland S-760.

At home I found some english manuals in PDF format from Roland and then later found the System OS 2.24 disk needed to fire it up. Sure enough, the Roland S-760 started up beautifully and I was all ready to go. I even noticed I had the OP-760-1 board in the back and the memory fully expanded at 32MB. Amazing!! I still don’t have a Roland MU-1 Mouse yet, but I did manage to install SoundDiver 3.0.5.2 for Windows which has the Roland S-760 and S-330. I connected the Roland S-760 to SoundDiver and everything worked great!

A friend of mine had several Rhodes samples which I loaded into the Roland S-760 and they sounded fantastic! I then connected an MO Disk Drive to the SCSI on the back and saved the samples to an MO disk. I also saved the system, but I am not sure if you can boot off an MO or other drive with the Roland S-760 yet. I know you can with the Roland W-30. The MO drive was very quiet and fast when both saving and loading files I thought. So after I boot up the S-760 using the Floppy, I can then load up all the different Rhodes Performances rather quickly.

It’s been a fun couple of weeks. I never thought I could score a Roland W-30, S-330, and S-760 all for $200 in near mint condition. Indeed I have to work with SCSI and older gear, but the sound quality is really really good. I also find it a lot of fun playing around with older gear as well as someone who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. It’s just amazing at how little people will take for this stuff here in Japan. If you check out the rest of my blog, you’ll notice all of the great deals I’ve been finding lately.

Check out Synth Japan forums for more discussions.

Please check out the comments below for updates on this post.

Roland S-330 adds sample memory to W-30

Roland S-330 Digital Sampler
Roland S-330 Digital Sampler

Roland S-330 Score! Last week I noticed a used Roland S-330 at my local second hand music shop in Nagano city. At the time I decided not to buy it because they were selling it for $125 and I thought that might be too much. I was surprised today to go back and see that the price had been knocked down to $35, so I decided to grab it and run to the counter!! LOL. After getting it home and plugging it in, I found everything about it was in excellent and almost new condition. I wasn’t able to get a Roland MSX MU-1 Mouse or an RC-100, but thats ok.

I figured I could use the Roland S-330 as a sort of memory “upgrade” for the Roland W-30 which means I would use them together. You can’t use W-30 sample disks directly for the S-330, but you can convert or use Roland S-50 and S-550 disks. Using the SMFW30 and SDISKW software I can create just about any disk I want. Plus I can import WAVs with ease. In addition, I have MIDI Quest XL with the Roland S-330 instrument file and so far it works great with connecting to the Roland S-330. From the back of the Roland S-330 I have a connection to my Toshiba Flatscreen Digital TV and via B&W it works great for a monitor. Using MIDI Quest though I may not need it. I also don’t need the mouse as I can either use the Roland S-330 editor or the front panel buttons.

All of the System and Utility Disks work great. I also have a Roland SYS-333 S-330 Director-S disk, but no hardware dongle. I am currently looking for a working version of the Roland S-330 Director-S software which I’ve heard exists. At least I know it does for the Roland S-550.

The Roland W-30 workstation teamed up with the Roland S-330 is a pretty good combo thus far. Both have the same sound engine which is why I think they go well together. I have editors and am able to import Wav files without any issues, so I think it should be pretty fun jamming with these two machines for the rest of the summer.

Update: I ran across this great youtube video about how to use the Roland S-330 has an actual programmable synthesizer or close to it. This is really cool!

The video shows how Roland S-330 can be used without samples, as a stand-alone basic virtual synthesizer.

First I load the OS, then I sample 400ms of silence, then I use the ‘wave draw’ function to draw my waveform and loop only what’s showed in the wave window (that is, most of the sampled data won’t be used). The TVF (Time Variant Filter) is the most interesting part. It also offers an 8-stage envelope. With the patch parameter you can set the unison mode and use the detune for a fatter sound. What you see here is what is output from its video socket, and what you hear is what is output from out #1.

I plan to give this a try once I find a way to externally control the Roland S-330. I’m currently trying to locate a mouse.

Check out Synth Japan forums for more discussions.

Kawai K4r 16bit Digital Synthesizer

Kawai K4r 16bit Digital Synthesizer Module
Kawai K4r 16bit Digital Synthesizer

Today I picked up a “like new” Kawai K4r 16bit Digital Synthesizer Module at a local second shop in Japan for an amazing price of $20. I couldn’t believe the price and they even had the module sitting over in the junk section. I think they either thought it sounded like junk, or they looked it up and couldn’t find any info. Whatever they thought, they basically let me walk out the door with an almost mint condition Kawai K4r Synth. Not only that, but the Kawai K4r came with a Ram Card, set of manuals, power adapter, and an extra Rom Card titled “Synthetic Productions – Masteram Series Voice Card for Kawai K4 Volume 1”.

Honestly I had never heard of the Kawai K4 or K4r until today but for $20 I had to give it a shot. The sounds are pretty good, but after reading about this synth module, there are quite a few cool sounds and editing capabilities under the hood. It will be fun to go through all the presets, card voices, and do some preliminary programming with it. I can say that a few of the pads, basses, and sfx sounds are fabulous that I quickly listened to. At the price I bought it for I feel it’s going to be a really fun synth to work with.

All in all, it was a pretty good week picking up a mint Roland W-30 and Kawai K4r for a total of $100 bucks. My thinking is that they must have come from the same person because they were both produced in 1989 if correct and the they were both in mint condition. It’s going to be a fun weekend jamming with these two machines.

Later I’ll write some additional comments and thoughts about the Kawai K4r synthesizer as I learn the ins and outs of how to program with it in addition to just playing around with the presets. Stay tuned!

Roland W-30 Music Workstation Found!

Roland W-30 Sampler Workstation
Roland W-30 Sampler Workstation

Yesterday I picked up a “mint” condition Roland W-30 Sampler Workstation from a used audio shop here in Nagano City, Japan. The W30 was in mint condition with all the manuals, system disks, and sounds disks. Not only that but the manuals and disks were practically not even used as they were in pristine condition…amazing! Also included was the KW30 SCSI kit manual and floppy disk. Inside the chip was indeed installed. A case was also included. The entire package I bought for $80 which I thought was a great deal considering the KW30 chip was installed with all accessories. The manuals were in Japanese of course, but I can read Japanese so no problem there.

At home I was able to scrounge up an old 4.36GB SCSI hard disk which I was able to connect and sure enough, the Roland W-30 was able to communicate with the HD. I then was able to format the HD which took about 30 minutes and it indeed formatted to max capacity of 80MB. I then tested saving and loading various sounds and everything worked very well. I also tested an IOMEGA 250MB Zip drive with a 100MB zip disk and the Roland W-30 would not communicate with it at all. Some have had success with the Iomega Zip 250 drive, but from my experience it doesn’t work. I saw a Fujitsu 100MB SCSI Zip drive at the same used audio store for $5 bucks so I’ll probably pick that up for testing. I’ve heard that SCSI 100MB Zip drives will work fine.

The Roland W-30 boots fine with the Floppy Drive, but since I had the Hard Disk working I thought I would try to boot from the HD. This did not work despite following all sorts of instructions and trying different methods. After research and testing, it appears I need to find a different HD that can boot the W-30. Although my HD works for saving and loading sounds, it does not work as a boot drive.

I also was successfully able to tape the left hole of High Density Floppy Disks and format them as DD disks without any problems using Windows 7 Professional. I used the Sdiskw software to then load and create sound images from sources on the internet. I was able to establish a very simple workflow to transfer soundsets found on the internet to the Roland W-30 using the Sdiskw software. The only issue however is that I have yet to find a way to load and transfer WAV files. Most likely though I will simply sample directly using the inputs of the Roland W-30. The computer drives me crazy with regards to music and so far the Roland W-30 has been very simple to work with on it’s own.

Why did I buy it? The price was a bargain for this popular 1989 Keyboard Workstation. The sound is really ( I mean really ) good with the right samples and their is some functionality you can’t get on some of the newer samplers to date. For my purposes, the Roland W-30 is a real gem. For example I found a great Hammond Sample today and it was a blast playing that on the Roland W-30. Yes, the memory is limited, but honestly if I want backtracks I just use my SP-606, Roland X Series, or Korg Triton to do that. I basically wanted a keyboard that I could sample sound bites and then have fun editing and playing them expressively on the keys. There is so much you can do with the keyboard, sequencer, and editing functions.

The Roland W-30 is such a joy to play. Everything on my W30 works flawlessly and the condition is mind boggling. Somebody must have just locked this up in their closet for the past 20 years. Japan is such a great place to find used vintage gear I must say.

As I discover new uses and techniques for the Roland W-30, I’ll be sure to post comments to follow-up this article. Right now I would like to find a Hard Disk to book the Roland W-30. I would also like to have a Zip drive that works as well. With that said though I do have an HD that is saving and loading sounds. Plus my Floppy drive works great with the possibility that I might pick up a backup drive from Route66. I also would like to find a work flow for loading my own wav files from the computer, but for now I’ll just record direct. That should suffice for now and it might even be the best and fastest way to do things.

Stay tuned for more updates and feel free to comment or email if you have any specific questions about the Roland W-30 Music Sampler Workstation. I am so glad I bought it!

Does the SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator work on the Roland S-330 and W-30 Samplers?

Roland S-330 – YES!
Roland W-30 – YES!

Check out Synth Japan forums for more discussions.