Sampler dilemma

So, I bought this ESI-2000 sampler (with the 4000 software installed) for a few tens of euros a while back, and I have started to try and get it up and running. After some research I have realized that communicating with the sampler through the SCSI port is not trivial, but what seems to be the best solution is buying an interface which connects an SD card to the SCSI port. (Best alternative there seems to be SCSI2SD.) However, the question is now - is it worth it? This will end up costing more than the price I gave for the sampler itself.

What I think I want is a hardware tool which does basic sample manipulation (chops a bit, looping and stuff) and makes it possible to easily “play” the sample easily through a keyboard. This last thing means that neither the Volca Sample or Akai MPXes are an option.

What do you think? Investing in the SCSI2SD, or is there any better/cheaper solution? Or any new hardware which I have missed?

SCSI is not cheap.
If you have a CD burner, some CDs, and can get your hands on a SCSI CDR/W, that is the cheapest option for SCSI samplers.
You can try porting samples over MIDI with Sample Wrench if you have a PC.

Or if you want software that sounds like hardware, you can try these three.

Bruno III by Tubeohm

Tal-Sampler by TAL

Morgana by 112dB

Sounds like you want an MPC-1000 with JJOS2XL maybe?

I actually had an esi scsi’d to my computer once upon a time but…

scsi is a pain in the ass and is obsolete technology. If you have an old computer laying around you could probably round up an old scsi pci or pcmcia card for cheap but trying to make it work on a modern computer is going to cost you. You’re better off buying a more modern sampler like an akai 5/6K or a jjos mpc like t2k said.

Thanks for the input, all!

Everyone constantly advices me to get an MPC-1000 with JJOS2XL, regardless of what my initial question was. I guess that gives me a hint of what I should do…

To be sure, by “communicating” do you mean saving/loading stuff with your computer ?
SCSI in indeed obsolete but you could buy something like a ZIP (or JAZ) reader if you just need a bit of storage. Another option is to use a floppy emulator.

@dubtoms: Yeah, I was somewhat vague there. That is right, I just want to upload/download samples and stuff to/from the sampler. It has a floppy drive, but since the memory is expanded to 128 MB I thought I would try to make use of that.

ZIP reader is an idea. I was briefly looking at using a floppy emulator, but got the impression that they were not that easy to get hold of. Did not dig that deep though…

E-mu’s don’t use a format you can natively read with a pc or mac but with wavelab, recycle etc. you can send it samples over scsi. This has nothing to do with storage. If you want to read/write to e-mu storage from a computer you’ll have to buy a program like translator regardless of whether you have a zip or sd drive.

A little tangential, but be aware that the whole ESI range had a major hardware bug with the analogue-to-digital converters, that was never fixed. Anything sampled using the analogue inputs has a large DC offset, effectively reducing sample quality by reducing the headroom significantly.

I had an ESI-32 for years, and didn’t find out, mainly because the stuff I sampled was mostly from low-quality sources. When I managed to transfer my ESI samples to my computer years later, I could clearly see the offset when I looked at them in an audio editor. I looked into it, and it turned out to be a problem common to the whole ESI range, not just my unit.

Don’t necessarily let that put you off. A fully-expanded ESI-2000 is still a pretty cool sampler, especially when you start messing around with the modulation matrix and builtin effects.


@soup: Hrrm, thanks. I have some more reading to do, it seems.

@toneburst: Thanks for the tip. I read that somewhere, so I thought I would mainly use samples I have sampled using other machines.

@thhmas in that case, I think you’ll enjoy it!

Incidentally, you might find the easiest way to get samples off the sampler might be to find a 2nd-hand internal SCSI Iomega Zip 100 drive and fit that to the sampler in place of the floppy drive.

You can then use a 100MB Zip cartridge (if you can still find one) as a big floppy disk. You’ll need a USB Zip drive to transfer the samples to the computer, and some software that’s able to archive the contents of the cartridges without them being readable by the computers OS, since they’ll be formatted in a proprietary E-MU format.

Or, if you want to actually read the samples on the computer, you’ll need a sample-translator of some kind. There are a couple of options, I think, though how long they’ll continue to be developed/updated, now that there are very few hardware samplers being produced, I don’t know.

OK, that’s not an easy way. But then, neither are the alternative methods…


Why didn’t I just become a country music fan? In that case I could just get an acoustic guitar and be satisfied with that. (Grumble, mumble, and so on)

Hehe… That wouldn’t be as much fun, though…

I think we all thrive on challenges, here.


I would recommend getting a ZIP drive , quite cheap!

I don’t think anyone would bother sampling with a sampler would they? easier to prepare on a PC and shuffle it over?

@6581punk: But then you would not get all these vintage sampler colourings of the sound which are so hard to emulate! Like that DC component toneburst mentioned! Or, well, I guess that could be emulated quite easily…

I’ve had quite fun sampling with my Akai MPX16, but that one is more portable than older rack samplers. And the fun stops when one of the 1000 bugs in the firmware kicks in.

Not forget the noise of the output…sometimes i really think they should rename AKAI to CRAPKAI.
Their new stuff really lacks the quality they were known for in the 90ties…

Sampling and editing on hardware with a well-designed interface can be a pleasure. If anything, it forces you to “edit by ear” much more than using a conputer.

For transfer, using physical media like ZIP is probably the easiest and cheapest option.

@t2k: Yeah, I have noticed that a good - physical - interface can do wonders when it comes to finding cool sounds with my synthesizers.

You are talking about using a ZIP drive connected to the SCSI port, right? And not replacing the floppy drive with a ZIP drive? I just saw a few USB floppy emulators on ebay which were quite cheap (30ish dollars), but I have no idea about the quality or how easy it is to open up the sampler and replace the floppy. Might be fun though, so I might try that.

I had this same dilemma a few months back (the MIDI play part, not the SCSI and landed on the Bastl Microgranny2. Unfortunately, their support isn’t on par with what I’ve been spoiled with by Mutable Instruments, so I’m very hesitant to recommend this unit. I don’t want to go too far off-topic to I won’t say more here, but check out the microgranny2. If it seems like an option, we can rap more about what issues I encountered with the company. Definitely seem like a group of nice, creative fellows tho)