Ensoniq EPS

Ensoniq EPS Image

EPS means 'Ensoniq Performance Sampler'. The EPS is just that with clever new features that make it not just a professional studio music production tool, but also a powerful live performance instrument. Its biggest feature is its ability to load new samples while playing the instrument, a feature you'd be lucky to find on current synth/samplers. The EPS is somewhat multitimbral in that you can have 8 instruments on-line one at a time or stacked* and switching between them is as easy as pushing one of the 8 instrument buttons. The 'Patch Select' buttons over the Mod-Wheel allow for on-the-fly patch switching from a spot where your hand is likely to be while performing!

Its unique 13-bit sampler is highly versatile with multiple sample rates to choose from (6.25 to 52kHz). However, higher sample rates mean less polyphony and sample time. Unfortunately sample memory is miniscule at 480 Kb yielding anywhere from 5 to 41 seconds of sample time. Fortunately it is expandable up to 896 Kb (with optional 2x expander) or 2.1 Mb (with optional 4x or 4x+SCSI expanders) allowing as much 167 seconds of sample time. Some of the EPS's goodies include an 8 to 16 track sequencer (which steals its memory space from the same RAM that holds the samples) with quantizing, digital filters that seem like analog and preset template envelope options.

Ensoniq EPS Image

The EPS brought together many facets of synthesis at its time: sampling, synthesis and performance. It blended these together in a superb machine that, despite its limited sample memory, is quite popular and useful even today. Though it was later upgraded to the full 16-bit EPS-16+, the 13-bit EPS is a very cost-efficient alternative for any musician in search of classic keyboard-samplers!

* Although you usually play one instrument part at a time, you can get all 8 up at a time. With the EPS in Load mode by first selecting an instrument and then double clicking another instrument both will be played together. Continue double-clicking the other instrument buttons to layer all 8 instruments! (submitted by Rod Wesson and John Rule).

The EPS has been used by Cirrus, Wu-tang producer RZA and filmaker/composer John Carpenter.

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66 Visitor comments
November 21, 2013 @ 6:01 am
Finally got one, no aliasing at all, but instead very interesting *chunk* it's very different than any other 12bits I've heard, opposite to akai
October 9, 2013 @ 11:00 am
"Bitcrushing the sounds"

Yes! but does it aliases when pitching (like Emax/SP does), I would like to know that, it has 13-bit to 16-bit internal way so it is possible with lower rates it does. Can anyone inform with this, for comparison, even they crush very nice 12-bit Akai's do not aliase.
Passable Plastic
October 8, 2013 @ 11:10 pm
Also, I have to disagree about the "no effects" statement for the EPS. True no "standard" effects, but between the in-depth control over LFO, the 3 separate envelopes, layering, pitch control, etc, etc, plus the fact that you can pretty much make anything modulate anything, you can seriously warp your sounds.
Passable Plastic
October 8, 2013 @ 11:00 pm
Regarding disks, I think you will have most fun using a program like Awave to convert newer, high quality wav's to EFE's. There is an old, free DOS program that you can use to format disks, then load the EFE and/or OS files. I can only run it on Win98, tho.

Bitcrushing the sounds, running through analog filters, then recording and mixing the results will give you unique effects. Otherwise most of the standard disks are 80's cheese, still fun tho!

Yes, this piece is not good for live use. Mine crashes regularly for various reasons, but it's fine in a controlled setting like a studio.
August 29, 2013 @ 2:07 pm
I find the EPS rather impractical for live use but I certainly want to dust it off and use it live more often. I just can't seem to part with it however. Theres an indescribable magic about the EPS.

The one problem which I'm surprised isn't mentioned here is the overheating problem which I've heard is rather common. The back gets scaldingly hot VERY quickly which can generally be taken care of by placing a pedestal fan or similar infront of it. I would probably also use it live more if it didn't have such an overheating problem.

Any of you EPS owners out there not have this problem?
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Rated 3.89 (349 Votes)

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  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 12 voices at 52 kHz.
    16 voices at 39 kHz.
    20 voices at 31.2 kHz.
  • Multitimbral - 8 parts.
  • Sampler - Mono 13-Bit A/D input, 16-bit D/A stereo output. Variable sample rates from 52kHz to 6.25kHz; Sample-time: 5 seconds (52kHz) to 41 seconds (6.25kHz).
  • Filter - Independent dynamic digital filter per wavesample, multi-mode digital low pass or variable-width band-pass with many slopes
  • VCA - 6-stage envelope including envelope preset templates
  • Sequencer - 8 tracks with separate instrument, volume, and MIDI channel. 80,000 notes limit.
  • Keyboard - 61 keys (velocity and aftertouch)
  • Memory - 512 Kb (480 Kb to be exact) internal (expandable to 896 Kb w/ 2x expander, 2.1 Mb w/ 4x expander)
  • Control - MIDI, Disk Drive (800K double-sided 3.5" micro-floppy), SCSI (w/ 4x+SCSI expander)
  • Weight - 29 pounds (13 kilograms)
  • Date Produced - 1988

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