Ensoniq EPS & other reminiscences


An update on the EPS adventure: My experiences with Passpot’s Alchemy sample editor on the old O.S. 9 box and the EPS have been frustrating to say the least. When using Alchemy with one of my Unitor-8 interfaces, I could get sounds on and off of the EPS, but there were lots of errors reported by Alchemy, and sometimes the EPS would crash when attempting any editing using its data slider. The EPS is notorious for being unstable, but that isn’t the case with my current EPS - it only crashes when bringing samples in from Alchemy via the Unitor-8.

As reported in the other thread, I bought a cheap n’ cheerful Midisport 2x2 interface to see if it was the Unitor at fault. The results I got with the Midisport were not much better, though completely different. With the Midisport, samples could easily be transferred from the EPS and edited in Alchemy. However, any attempt to send them back to the EPS results in glitchy samples… and no, not the fun kind.

Not one to be deterred, I then tried using Sample Wrench (which is now free). I have a Core2Duo iMac with Windows XP running via Virtualbox, so I installed it on that. Once I installed both OS X and Windows drivers for the Midisport, I was able to send and receive samples in both directions… most of the time. The whole process is a bit hit or miss, sometimes it works, sometimes the interface just stares blankly at me like I just asked it a stupid question. I found that disconnecting and reconnecting the USB port via Virtualbox generally gets it all running again if it stops working.

In any event, I was able to do something I never could on the EPS when I first owned it 30years ago: play stereo samples. While Alchemy automatically creates a hard-panned, dual-layer EPS instrument from stereo samples, Sample Wrench requires that the user do all of the work of splitting a single stereo sample into two mono files and then exporting them to two different harp-panned layers on the EPS. Nevertheless, with a bit of effort, I was able to record a stereo patch from my ARP 2600 and get it sampled and looped -in stereo - on the traditionally monaural EPS. Pretty cool, if ultimately not very practical.

Forgive the lengthy explanation. Suffice it to say that I won’t be complaining about the difficulties of using my Octatrack any time soon…


Sounds like a ton of work but stereo samples on an EPS is pretty awesome.


Anyone ever rock an ensoniq DP4? Thought it looked like a good pair for octatrack with the four ins and outs and apparently extensive midi implementation


I had one for about 10 years, great machine. Octa would be an excellent companion for it I imagine. Only problem is finding a reliable one, and they are notoriously difficult to repair…


Great box. My best friend (pro studio owner/engineer) had one back in the late-80s. Why on Earth do I not have one of these today?


Scot how did you get stereo samples on the EPS? Enquiring minds want to know.


Yeah, it is indeed pretty cool. I had to force myself to power down for the evening so i could get back to work. Before I did, I tried Alchemy again and the results were even weirder… the glitch was still present in any sound I tried to send, but this time, the previous sample I’d done (the stereo ARP 2600 thing) was somehow leaking faintly through into the new wavesample. “Another layer?” thought I, but no. There was only one instrument, one layer, and one wavesample. In fact, I had cleared the previous instruments/waves/layers before the transfer.

This behavior persisted even after I had rebooted the EPS. What the heck? Somehow, this data was stuck in the bitstream somewhere between all of the connected devices. Very, very strange.


Sounds like some classic EPS weirdness. It would always amaze me that when you did the whole start point trick that it would play in random order every sample that had been in the machine, in random order. Even if the samples were deleted and replaced with the sample memory maxed. It was like voodoo!


I did it ‘the hard way’ using Dissidents Sample Wrench (Alchemy has an algorithm that does this automatically, but as reported, Alchemy isn’t working for me). Sample Wrench is now free, by the way.

I opened my stereo recording of the 2600 in Sample Wrench, where I converted the sample rate from the 41000 Hz at which it had been recorded to a lower 39100 Hz (which seems a good rate for the EPS). I then used the Clone function to create an exact copy of the wave. I then used Sample Wrench’s Stereo>Mono tool to transform each of those into mono files - one for left, one for the right- stripping out the undesired channel along the way. It’s important that you have done all of your editing and processing first.

After that, I created a new Instrument on the EPS, and created two new layers in that Instrument. (It’s important that the EPS’ Auto-looping function be OFF.) I then used Sample Wrench’s Send function to send the left channel’s waveform over to layer 1, and the right channel’s waveform over to layer 2. I then hard panned each layer. That’s it! Stereo sample playback on the EPS!


Yeah someone on an old gearslutz thread said the dp4 was through hole components but the pro was surface mount so that’s the one to watch out for. Not sure how accurate that is though. Which did you have?


I had the standard one. If I recall correctly I think maybe the converters were different too? In terms of “that sound” I think crappier converters were better (like the Midiverb II vs III)…