E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

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E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by antitune » Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:11 am

i've been an MPC user for some time and, looking for expanded sonic capabilities, i have been looking at rack samplers for a while now. my attention was mostly focused on 12- to 8-bit sample rates and analog filters, but for several reasons my eyes have settled on the E-mu ESI 4000.

there is obviously a lot of hype around the SP-1200, and people talk on and on about the unique sound of the emulator and the emax, but nobody seems to really mention the ESI series at all. so i have some questions.

1. how is the sound of the ESI 4000? i make sample based hip-hop, i don't do any synth stuff really. so what i'm looking for is punchy kicks, gritty snappy snares, crackly dirty dusty loops, tight basses, that sort of thing.

2. how are the filters? how are the effects? i've heard some negative talk about the effects but not much about the filters.

3. i keep seeing the word "budget" applied to the ESI series in professional reviews and rundowns. is this like the cheesy MPC 500 of the E-mu line?

4. do you have any recommendations of something that might better suit my purposes? i want a punchy, gritty sound but what attracts me to the ESI 4000 and brought me away from looking at 12-bit samplers is 1) the 128 Mb RAM expansion, while many 12-bits go only as high as like 2-6 Mb. 2) the price, which is consistently around or under $200, while most 12-bits i've been looking at go for over $300.

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Re: E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by tallowwaters » Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:40 am

I have been doing some "sample based hip hop" (for lack of a better term) with my ESX and have been 100% pleased with the results. I could never go back to battling a rack sampler into doing what I need to it to again, at least for beats, etc.

If you really want to go for an E-mu sampler, the ESIs are plenty capable, but the E ultra series are even better, but you are going to have to contend with antiquated memory storage or at least buy some upgrades from JD.
Brains can be used like a "stress ball," but only once.

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Re: E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by antitune » Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:59 am

tallowwaters wrote:I have been doing some "sample based hip hop" (for lack of a better term) with my ESX and have been 100% pleased with the results. I could never go back to battling a rack sampler into doing what I need to it to again...
word... the linear layout of the "pads" (buttons) on the ESX really turns me off... i plan to control the rack via MIDI from my MPC (which i've actually never done before, but my understanding is that in theory i can have a track in a sequence on my MPC that triggers the rack sampler for drums, etc).... i understand it may be tedious to set up samples but i'm okay with that. what i'm really looking for is "that sound," know what i mean? the ease of sequencing and sample editing and such can be dealt with later.

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Re: E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by madtheory » Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:50 am

The ESI is a budget machine. You should be looking at Yamaha A5000 or Emu E4 Ultra. Well really you should be looking at Kontakt...

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Re: E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by tallowwaters » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:34 pm

I'm not sure I would consider many of those 90s rack samplers as "that sound" machines. They do impart a color, but nothing like an Emax, Mirage, or S612.
Brains can be used like a "stress ball," but only once.

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Re: E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by madtheory » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:02 pm

I guess it depends on whether "dope" means extensive sound mangling facilities, or grungy converters and transposing.

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Re: E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by rockmanrock » Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:03 pm

antitune wrote:1. how is the sound of the ESI 4000? i make sample based hip-hop, i don't do any synth stuff really. so what i'm looking for is punchy kicks, gritty snappy snares, crackly dirty dusty loops, tight basses, that sort of thing.
I would categorise it as clean with a very mild hint of warmth. The output is slightly on the low side, probably to allow headroom for all 64 voices to fire without clipping. You can adjust this headroom in the global settings to get the volume up a bit. For punch I think old Akais sound better. The ESI does smooth well to my ears, pads and so on. Check out http://www.deepsonic.ch/deep/htm/esi4000.php
antitune wrote: 2. how are the filters? how are the effects? i've heard some negative talk about the effects but not much about the filters.
For a sampler of its time they are good. They are digital though, and they lose the bottom end with high resonance. Things can get weedier rather than beefier. Good demos on that previous link. For character I'd say an external analogue one is a better choice. All that said, some people love them. The effects are crappy and aren't well integrated with the rest of the sampler, I'd have been annoyed to pay full price for them even when the sampler was current.
antitune wrote: 3. i keep seeing the word "budget" applied to the ESI series in professional reviews and rundowns. is this like the cheesy MPC 500 of the E-mu line?
They're based on the second version of the E3 (the one with digital filters) so I wouldn't say they're that budget or cheesy, you can certainly get things done with them. I think it's better at playing the Emu libraries back than sampling though. The menu driven interface is on the slow side but if you learnt all the numerical shortcuts it would be fairly fast.
antitune wrote: 4. do you have any recommendations of something that might better suit my purposes? i want a punchy, gritty sound but what attracts me to the ESI 4000 and brought me away from looking at 12-bit samplers is 1) the 128 Mb RAM expansion, while many 12-bits go only as high as like 2-6 Mb. 2) the price, which is consistently around or under $200, while most 12-bits i've been looking at go for over $300.
128MB is a huge amount, especially if you're aiming for gritty. It's more for playing back things like the factory 4MB, 8Mb piano and string sounds. If you're sampling small bits of audio you'd never use 128MB, you can get a lot in 2MB if you're dealing with snippets of sound at low sample rates. They are really cheap at the moment, worth buying to try out but it sounds you'd be happier with a sampler with a beefier lo-fi sound. Ensoniq EPS or EPS16+ is worth a try, they are really straight-forward to use and sound great. Getting one with SCSI is well worth it unless you're dealing with small samples and can put up with floppies. The Akai S1000/S1100 is probably worth considering too, they are cheap to get hold of and sound great, really punchy. On paper they look really boring but they do what they do extremely well and I can see why they ended up as the industry standard. Bullet-proof lumps of metal.

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Re: E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by madtheory » Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:12 pm

Good tips here, if I do say so myself...

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec01/a ... emuesi.asp

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Re: E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by rockmanrock » Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:31 pm

madtheory wrote:Good tips here, if I do say so myself...

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec01/a ... emuesi.asp
Sounds like you got a lot out of it all those years back! The trick with transposing to match 48kHz is Mad Theory! :mrgreen: I was fighting an ASR-X at the time. I realise now how much better the ESI handles SCSI, the ASR-X only had 34MB of memory but I'd have been waiting all day for it to load that in.

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Re: E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by madtheory » Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:37 pm

Thanks! And I actually think the effects were interesting when abused.

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Re: E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:44 pm

I wrote and recorded all of my music on 4MB of sample space on an EPS-16+ from 1991-1996. I eventually bought an E-mu E-Synth, which was pretty amazing. I sold the E-synth and bought a Micromoog and an ESI-2000. After working on the E-Synth, the ESI was absolutely intolerable. Everything about it is limiting, and the interface is nightmarish (perhaps only in comparison to other samplers, but still). I can't recall the difference between the 2000 and the 4000, but if the 4000 is even half as irritating as the 2000, I'd steer clear. Not dope.
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Re: E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by madtheory » Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:11 am

Agreed...
madtheory wrote:The ESI is a budget machine. You should be looking at Yamaha A5000 or Emu E4 Ultra. Well really you should be looking at Kontakt...

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Re: E-mu ESI 4000-- is it dope?

Post by antitune » Sat Apr 30, 2011 8:49 am

rockmanrock wrote:128MB is a huge amount, especially if you're aiming for gritty... Getting one with SCSI is well worth it unless you're dealing with small samples and can put up with floppies.
true, very true. at the time i was actually considering replacing the mpc with a hardware sequencer controlling a hardware sampler, which is why the 128 MB appealed to me. i've kind of abandoned that idea for now, assuming i can scrounge up a thousand dollars for a new mpc.

but i am still very much in love with and curious about and covetous of hardware samplers. i want to touch their clicky buttons and look at their cryptic screens and listen to the awesomely nasty noises that come out of them. just kicks and snares over and over and over. and vibraphones with a low-pass filter....

anyway you guys are wonderful and kind and brimming with knowledge, thank you for sharing it with me.

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