modding/upgrading the ESX

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modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by Mo » Sat Feb 27, 2010 7:26 pm

I love my Korg ESX, but it has two glaring flaws: the smart media slot and (very) limited internal memory.

Does anyone know if it's possible to upgrade the smart media slot on the ESX to USB? and is it possible to upgrade the internal memory?

And on the same note, what are the best tubes to use to replace the originals in order to reduce the hiss but keep the warmth?

Thanks :)
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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by awol9000 » Sat Feb 27, 2010 10:23 pm

I had the same complaints about my ESX. As I understand it, you'd need to probably rewrite the OS to read the USB & upgraded memory if you could add it. The only mods I've come across online are paint jobs and changing the LED color. I've also seen a a mute switch installed. I ended up selling mine. That hiss while recording was unbearable as well as the lack of internal memory when compared to newer products.

I'm looking at getting a Roland sp404sx. They with come with 1gb of memory (upgradable to 32gb) and is about half the price that the Korg was.

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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by tallowwaters » Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:21 pm

Neither of those are going to be very possible. My suggestion is to pick up an XD to SM conversion card (mention in the stickies in this forum) and to simply learn how to navigate the 'limited' memory (either by pitching samples up, making them mono, etc or simply pick up another ESX/ES/any sampler to supplement).

As far as tubes. I think the 'warmth' added by any toob in that circuit is debatable, but lots of people swear by JJs for having a lower noise floor while maintaining a reasonable amount of character. Either way, the ESX outputs are simply s**t hot and figuring out a reasonable gain stage is key to cutting out some unwanted noise.

If you plan on buying a 404 as a sort of substitute for the ESX, you are likely to be sorely disappointed. Mind you, it's decent gear, but lacks all the immediacy available on the Electribe series.
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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by Stab Frenzy » Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:57 pm

I basically second everything that Tallow said.

If the hiss is a real big issue for you then put some JJs in, but mine still has the stock EHX tubes and I think it's fine. I don't really crank the tube gain up that much anyway, I think the sweet spot is way before the hiss starts to be a problem.

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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by Harlem Nights » Sun Feb 28, 2010 2:23 pm

I replaced the tubes with JJ's indeed for this reason, I felt that it makes an enormous difference in noise as well as in overall "presence". I even max out all samples with the +12 dB option, then trim their volume to avoid distortion - working from this point gives a lot of headroom and dynamics - and the hiss that initially made it feel like a toy is now barely audible

I feel that for beatmaking it's a brilliant instrument really :)

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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by machinea » Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:25 pm

Harlem Nights wrote:I replaced the tubes with JJ's indeed for this reason, I felt that it makes an enormous difference in noise as well as in overall "presence". I even max out all samples with the +12 dB option, then trim their volume to avoid distortion - working from this point gives a lot of headroom and dynamics - and the hiss that initially made it feel like a toy is now barely audible

I feel that for beatmaking it's a brilliant instrument really :)
That is good to know.. I just picked one up at a stupid price because I thought it looked like fun. I was going to replace the tubes but had heard it seemed to make a bigger difference on the emx-1 but still it seemed a good idea.

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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by Kanfuze » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:00 pm

can you save the "beat" to a midi file and open it on another sequencer?

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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by balma » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:39 pm

Learn to deal with its limitations.....

why do you want to "upgrade" the media slot?. Even doing it, you won't improve the synth in any aspect. I just picked up a SM card reader and I store all the stuff in the PC. Biggest .ESX file is around 27mb....

Use the Smartmedia for data transfer, not for permanent storage.

About the small memory:
4 minutes of sampling memory are enough to construct several solid tracks inside the ESX.
--Make a juicious selection of the samples you are goning to use.
--Resample at higher pitch on some lenghty samples.
--Do a decent job of chopping the start and end point of each one of the samples, one by one.

I only think that the sample slots had a wrong distribution for 256 mono and 128 stereo.

The stereo sounds can be used only on 2 regular tracks of the sequencer (muting the track at the right) , and 1 of the slice track (wich mutes the other). Stereo sounds, besides, cannot be looped (weird) and cannot be converted on rhythm samples, and cannot be used on the keyboard tracks as stereo sample. I think that 64 locations for stereo samples will be enough and more locations for the mono would be great since they are the foundation of most ot the tracks. But honestly this issues does not bother me too much.

About the noisy tubes, the noise goes louder in the same amount the synth goes hot, but is quite decent, if you put the main output at half, and tube gain at 10-11 am.

I'm getting a Master Degree on it soon.... more than 1000 hours using it and trying to reach its limits

Between all my digital crappy stuff, je je, is one of the most used, and its always turned on. If I want to go simple, load weird samples on it, if I wanna go more technical, load those samples on the Vsynth, and work them during months. But the Electribe ESX, despite its simple design, its horrible arppegios (does it has?? je je), is a brilliant sample little box that can shake the floor on a live act.


It has a very short learning curve. Your next step, is a very detailed and smart selection of samples, organization, and you'll keep improving the next each time you make a file.
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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by tallowwaters » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:12 am

balma wrote:Learn to deal with its limitations.....

why do you want to "upgrade" the media slot?. Even doing it, you won't improve the synth in any aspect. I just picked up a SM card reader and I store all the stuff in the PC. Biggest .ESX file is around 27mb....

Use the Smartmedia for data transfer, not for permanent storage.

About the small memory:
4 minutes of sampling memory are enough to construct several solid tracks inside the ESX.
--Make a juicious selection of the samples you are goning to use.
--Resample at higher pitch on some lenghty samples.
--Do a decent job of chopping the start and end point of each one of the samples, one by one.

I only think that the sample slots had a wrong distribution for 256 mono and 128 stereo.

The stereo sounds can be used only on 2 regular tracks of the sequencer (muting the track at the right) , and 1 of the slice track (wich mutes the other). Stereo sounds, besides, cannot be looped (weird) and cannot be converted on rhythm samples, and cannot be used on the keyboard tracks as stereo sample. I think that 64 locations for stereo samples will be enough and more locations for the mono would be great since they are the foundation of most ot the tracks. But honestly this issues does not bother me too much.

About the noisy tubes, the noise goes louder in the same amount the synth goes hot, but is quite decent, if you put the main output at half, and tube gain at 10-11 am.

I'm getting a Master Degree on it soon.... more than 1000 hours using it and trying to reach its limits

Between all my digital crappy stuff, je je, is one of the most used, and its always turned on. If I want to go simple, load weird samples on it, if I wanna go more technical, load those samples on the Vsynth, and work them during months. But the Electribe ESX, despite its simple design, its horrible arppegios (does it has?? je je), is a brilliant sample little box that can shake the floor on a live act.


It has a very short learning curve. Your next step, is a very detailed and smart selection of samples, organization, and you'll keep improving the next each time you make a file.
To summarize: +1 to what tallowwaters said. ;)
Brains can be used like a "stress ball," but only once.

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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by balma » Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:05 pm

:verymad:

:D Je je, honestly not too much else to say about the Electribe ESX 1 on VSE, all the tips have been mentioned already here or on previous threads.
Only thing missing is somebody doing real good music with it....
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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by tallowwaters » Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:17 am

I like to pretend that I do...
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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by diezdiazgiant » Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:06 am

I've been surprised to see recently on youtube that there have been a few really good demos of the esx and other electribes.

For awhile the videos you could find demo'ing the electribes was often really generic and boring.
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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by madrasputin » Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:43 am

tallowwaters wrote:I like to pretend that I do...
as do i tallowwaters, as do i lol. but seriously i agree with stab about the hiss being not that big of a hassle. if it is though, like the others have said, get the jjs!

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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by tallowwaters » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:28 pm

The hiss is what makes the thing so damned punk rock anyways. Only somebody making Jarre type music for 40 year old men with headphones and lava lamps would really care. ;)
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Re: modding/upgrading the ESX

Post by balma » Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:17 pm

diezdiazgiant wrote:I've been surprised to see recently on youtube that there have been a few really good demos of the esx and other electribes.

For awhile the videos you could find demo'ing the electribes was often really generic and boring.
Any example?

When I searched on youtube for ESX1 performances, I just found people messing up with factory samples and patterns....

All the ESX1 functions can be learned on one week or less. After that, all the progress you can achieve on this little sampler, is with the samples you load on it and practicing with the hand movements, getting faster and faster for mute/unmute and tweaking. Certain types of samples does not fit very well on Electribe. It depends a lot how good your skills are on selecting the sounds you use, and how good are they, at the end, ESX is just a small hardware to put YOUR sounds on it. From the factory samples, I just kept a few kicks, snares, and hihats, but any other sound comes from my other synths, and weird noises.
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