Emu esi 4000 sampler ? Any good ?
  • A pal of mine found an e-mu esi4000 turbo sampler locally for 100 bucks. It is upgraded to 128 mb ram and has 9 extra disks of samples ( emulator and proteus )

    Are they worth getting anymore ?
  • Definitely. Good filters, great user interface, silent (no fan). Worth getting for 100 bucks if it is actually the Turbo version.

  • Vote for buy ! Outperforms easily an Akai S6000 when it comes to synth functions. Not really good as drum sampler, as Akai stuff was always tighter, but with loops in an EMU and filtering you will have a lot of fun. For 100 bucks definetely a steal, in this configuration more likely a double steal. At least worth 300 bucks in Turbo version.

  • hmm, i wonder if it has any drum kits sampled into it , can you also use it as an effects processor? or does it only process the samples?

    ( I guess the fix then is to sample what I want and use the effects :P)

    from his ad:

    “You are looking at an EMU ESI-4000 sampler. This is the Turbo version. 128mb of RAM loaded and the Turbo means it has FX outputs. Very cool sounding sampler.

    I have about 9 Zip disks (yes you can still buy spare Zip disks the Computer Exchange) worth of samples. Emulator and Proteus stuff.

    Come by and hear it!”

  • In my opinion drum kits are not the way to go. I used my Emu with drum loops made with my Xbase or MPC and mangled them through the filter and fx section and used a midi controller as the Doepfer Pocket Control to MIDI CC some functions (Envelope, LFO, starting offset…)in live performances. Man, i don’t know how you get it managed to get always such offers for good gear. In Germany people would be willing to kill for them ! Especially me, hehe…

  • Definitely worth it, I’d say! The 4000 version had the turbo and SCSI boards as standard, I think. That gives 2x 24 bit FX processors, plus an extra 2 stereo audio out pairs and S/PDIF digital I/O, plus a range of extra filters in addition to the very good 4-pole lowpass from the earlier ESI samplers. The only word of warning I’d say is that dealing with floppy disks is a pain, and I found them very unreliable, with my original ESI-32. I may have just had a faulty unit, mind you. Generally though, I’ve always loved the sound of the ESI, particularly the very good resonant filters. The modulation options are also impressive.

    Sounds like a bargain to me!


  • One more slight negative: the audio inputs on the original ESI-32 added a largish DC offset to anything recorded with them. There was an offline DC offset correction tool, but the initial offset effectively limits the volume samples can be recorded at, which means you can never make use of the full 16 bits of theoretical sample resolution. I didn’t find this out until long after I bought mine. Anyway, I tended to sample at relatively low bandwidth settings, to limit the number of floppy disks I had to use (saving, and especially reloading banks of samples used to be quite nail-biting, as I recall), so I never really noticed the limitation in practice.

    The original hardware problem may have been fixed in later ESI models, but I guess it’s something to be aware of, if you’re expecting pristine audio quality. Conversely, if you’re expecting 8-bit crunchiness, this machine won’t deliver.


  • + with the disks and the library you instantly will sound like trevor horn in his best days – the famous EMU sound at your fingertips. Time to pull out my E4x from the storage and sample some glasses and cans, i feel so industrial atm ;)

  • thanks all!

    @nightworxx, Im retired so spend all my time browsing sites and ads for deals , been a good month so far!
    @Tone Thanks for the detailed info
    @FCD I was hoping to be Stephen Lipson on p-machinery!

  • then you need a ppg and a synclavier….

  • In the Netherlands samplers are really cheap. Nobody wants them anymore, everybody uses computers for sampling. Here is one up for grabs for 90 euro’s

  • 90 Bucks WTF ??? And nobody buys this ?

  • There is 2000’s for sale for about the same price too…. I had a TX16W for sale for 50 euro for about a year until i decided to give it away for free… Here is a 2000 on the local ‘ebay’ with no bids for 20 days…..
    But this site works different then ebay… by bidding there is no obligation for the buyer or seller… it’s just a way of showing interest.

  • Same here. Apart from applying effects, filtering and extreme transpose, nobody wants to deal with SCSI, ancient Recycle, floppies, proprietary memory etc. If you don’t ADHD-out from how tedious they are to work with you probably use them for some specific effect already. Old Akais, Emus, Yamaha samplers and Rolands go really cheap here too.

    Then again, they have that special sound…

  • I got my E4x for 125€....

  • I am getting sick of all this endless VST/AU/TDM stuff. A software sampler is really flexible and genius if you use orchestral libraries or want to route your audio signals to death, but in a liveset they are sucking on valuable resources. And yes, a good hardware sampler as an EMU, AKAI or Kurzweil surely got his own sound.

  • You can get floppy emulators and other cool stuff to make samplers more reliable and practical.

  • I got maxed out AKAI S3000XL for $170, replaced floppy drive with SCSI CF card reader (works just like internal HDD that you can replace in a second), fixed dead back light and dug out a bag of old AKAI CDs from the closet, and use it for drums and effect sounds. I’m seriously considering investing in effects board for it (goes for about the same price as sample these days). Go figure.

  • I did the floppy emulator trick on my K5000s, the Kurzweil K2000 I got for free from a friend is about to experience that mod soon. Hafta get a SCSI CF for the XV-5080 too.

    That said, I fear the Kurz. Need to research what RAM it needs, Pram and all that jazz…

  • In Japan there are stores where they have samplers stacked up , just pick one up, it’s yours for free…

  • I think we will experience the same as with analog (and now starting with vintage digital) Synths. Soon the Kids will discover that a real Machine is way more Fun to operate and has a distinctive sound and go hunting for all those S-1000s, E4s . . . .

  • And then realize that their mumbojumbo 2 GB all-in-loops don’t work here, and the are forced to make music themselves. Satanic evil plan to bring quality back into music, hehe…

  • I sold an S3000xl (minus the 8 outs) for £35 last week. If you have a rack unit to put them in they are quite a good deal. They are big units to have hanging about otherwise.

  • well I dropped the cash on it and ….....................its crazy cool!!

    100 bucks for a ESI 4000 Turbo Max Zip it was as advertised it has the full upgrade to 128MB ram , the zip drive , and also teh Max effects unit with the extra effects built in! and 9 disks of samples

    Now I need to get a USB>Zip drive so I can edit the soundbanks easier , is there an external controller for this that would make using some features easier?

  • these prices are crazy. a S1000 cost 10.000 DM when it was released in 88, now if you try to sell it you can be lucky if you get 60€ for a fully working unit with max RAM and SCSI. i guess that the material alone must be worth a lot more. but it’s cool!
    analog synths used to be almost for free in the 90ies too, but unfortunately i was too late to that party ;)
    i haven’t tried any of the new E/mu samplers yet. i’m curious how they sound

  • @rosch Yep, I’ve made the same reflection (analog – samplers). I guess many people think the massive sample banks available for VST sample players make hardware obsolete. Being a fan of ASR I love the sound, synth capability and actual hands-on sampling (much more creative than mere sample playback).


  • I have found that I am trying to sell the larger things and buy smaller synths / units that I can use in a domestic environment and take to friends houses for jams etc. Saying that having one or two rack units is not too bad, and for electronic music you don’t need much really.

  • Really ? I always end up consuming at least 24 HU, hehe…as i found myself on the way back from VST stuff. In the end you’ll find your style much easier in hardware and having endless possibilities makes creative pathfinding not really easier.

  • I forgot to mention the guy who sold it to me showed me his studio

    He had a JD800, a roland MC500 an Akai s2000 ( (cant remember the number it had a detchable faceplate ) and a Cirklon , everything else was in his DAW , I think he said he uses Logic pro . He also had a massive Akai recording studio/mixer that he used to record with, then he would master in Logic he was a cool guy too

  • Akai S6000 was the one with the detachable controller…the really stupid thing of this design was that the cable was about 1,2 meters long, which in all cases is way too less for a rack mounted device. I once owned on of these babies, a really mighty sampler these days.

  • I was incorrect, Akai Z8 is what he has

  • Oh, one of the modern ones.

  • Well this is a little more complex than expected, but holy cow, what a nice sounding filter / effects set!

  • I just picked up a Akai S1000…I have no idea what I am in store for. I am interested hear how you use yours. I might have the chance for a cheap DSS-1 as well. Both come with some disks for little inspiration.

  • Go for the DSS-1!. It has analog filters! + it’s more of a sampling synthesizer then a sampler.

  • Right now I can get it for $150…I am waiting to hear on the condition. I am pretty excited. Includes 100 disks of samples. The description says “reasonable condition” and the photos are not that great. Its not really in the budget, but whatever…I want it.

  • Unbelievable. I just got a MINT S1000PB, full memory with SCSI Drive and a whooping amount of Disks (120+ or something..) for 68€

  • Nice Frank. Its a great time for old samplers I guess. If I can score this DSS I will be a happy man. I know idea where I am going to put it though. It is pretty big. I kinda want a s3000 and s950 as well, but I will leave that for next year or the year after.

  • @sammy123 bear in mind the DSS-1 is super BIG, and very heavy, by all accounts. Make sure you have room for it, and a cheap way to transport it. And a reinforced floor.. ;)

    Also, apparently, the disk drives on those machines tended to die.


  • I agree, I was looking at auctions and local stuff and the old hardware samplers seem to be popping up a lot more as software seems to be better and more prevalent

    I do prefer using the hardware though!
  • Lets start the next big vintage hype – 80ies Samplers!

  • Well let’s not talk them up too much now ;)

  • @sammy
    Why? I already have a E4x and now a S1000 ;-)

  • Ok. So the DSS is all lined up. $150 is the lowest he would go. He says its in 100% working order. I go to see it after work. I am pretty excited.

  • Picked it and it is awesome so far. Although you can adjust the resonance in real time I cant seem to adjust the cutoff while holding down keys. I have to release and re-press to hear the change. Not sure what that is all about. Time to hit the yahoo groups.

    @dude163 sorry for derailing the thread.

  • Tom Virostek has developed an upgrade for the DSS-1.

  • Back in the early 90ies I bought an Akai S-1100 with 10 MB RAM for 8.000 german marks. Unbelievable. I haven´t seen the Akai for round about 10 years now.

    But this discussion makes me want to open it an have a look at the RAM-Expansions. I wonder how many parts are needed for 8 MB and if perhaps somebody, sometimes could etch some PCBs…

    Mmmh. No, I should better avoid to open it.

  • If I end up liking this Dss-1 then that Tom Virostek mod is certainly something I would consider.

  • no sweat on derailing, Im all about geartalk :)

    at Loopino: an akai s1100 was 8000 marks!!! aaeeiii

  • So an update for anyone that is interested. I have been playing with the DSS-1 quite a bit. It sounds pretty amazing. I have been going through the discs and having a great time. There are a few discs labeled Fairlight that are pretty sweet and a number of strings and brasses that sound pretty cool. I have not dug into the Korg discs yet. There was a disc labelled MonoPoly, but unfortunately that didn’t work.

    I am still trying to figure out the envelopes, the attack seems to act a bit differently than I am used to….or maybe I am just too far removed from my polys (MS2000 and Darkstar). The DSS has 6 stage envelopes I need to read up on.

    Editing is pretty easy for only having two sliders and buttons.

    1600 x 818 - 179K
    1513 x 1200 - 240K
  • @sammy123 sounds like the envelopes are the same as those on the Poly-800/DW-8000. They do take a bit of getting used to. The idea is that the extra params (Breakpoint, Slope) allow you to create an envelope with an initial attack and decay, then another rising attack phase before reaching the sustain. There’s a diagram here

    In practice, I’ve never found the extra stages especially useful. Might be handy for certain brass sounds, I suppose.


  • Thanks toneburst

    @dude163 Yes sir I have. Thank you. I will probably dig into those at some point. I just got my Akai s1000 today. It is nice. Unfortunately I have too many new toys right now…and not enough time or creative energy. I don’t know which one to play with or what to do with them. And I still need to rack mount my Anushri and Dual SVF. And the ms-20 mini…....Ahhhhhhhh!!!

  • 1st world problems, too many synths :)

  • I had a dss-1 that was stolen before I had a chance to really dive in. I watch ebay daily to see whats out there. The thought of sampling then adding the dss-1 effects is making giddy. Must fined. I just missed out on one that went for under $200. Im a damn fool.

  • There will be more to find, i guess.

  • @Stashy I am sorry to hear that. I hope you can find a replacement.

  • Ok I have a USB zip drive now , is there a utility or any way to convert WAV files to the ESI emulator format? or do i have to sample them all in 1 by 1 ? :()

  • Ive just tried esi-win but it only works if the sampler is connected to the PC , and emxp will only let me create up to emulator 3 discs, so unless i can format the zip discs as Emax or AKAI, I may have to do the 1 at a time deal

  • I don’t have one, but wasn’t the Akai system the standard for samples? So a Akai compatible sample should work with your sampler as well..

  • gah, will only sent to a floppy drive not a ZIP, my pc doesn’t have a floppy anymore , and neither does the ESI, I can see why software based took off :)

    Thanks BTW!

  • @dude163 how is the esi treating you?

    I have played with my s1000 a bit. I sampled the ms20 mini saw wave and made some pretty great pads. I think I have got this looping thing down. It sounds really nice. I can’t wait to sample some more stuff…like some MI stuff.

    It was pretty hot and humid yesterday and the s1000 screen and leds kept flashing on and off when I powered her on. I shut her down and took out the disk and it stopped. I dont know what it was but it hasn’t done it since and I hope it never happens again. I already feel like I overpayed so I will be super bummed if it dies.

  • Its cool, but im still fumbling my way though figuring it out ! I found some really nice wav files on the net for a Juno 106 , but no way to import them, so I used my iphone to play them into the sampler and sample them 1 by 1!

    The effects on the ESI are awesome, i wish there was a way to use it as an effects processor , but the workaround is to sample what i want and then add teh effects :) Ill do a quick recording of the juno 106 and upload it to soundcloud, if you want the links let me know
  • @dude163 look out for the massive DC offset when you sample using the ESI-4000 inputs. You’ll probably want to make sure you apply the DC-correction filter to everything you sample, but the original offset does zap the headroom, unfortunately.

    There’s a nice trick you can do with the FX by assigning the FX preset to one of the 16 MIDI channels, then using program changes to switch FX programs.

    Once you get the hang of using the keypad to select different pages, it’s pretty fast to use. I remember when I first got my ESI-32, having previously used Akai kit, I spent a couple of days tearing my hair out, then, suddenly it just ‘clicked’, and I was zipping around the menus pretty fast.


  • DC correction ? Is that a menu option ? Sorry to resurrect the thread but I’m starting to actually use the gear not collect it :)

    I also need to find a way to replace the zip with a memory card
  • @dude163 DC correct is a sample processing option. I don’t have an ESI-xx in front of me now, so I can’t be any more specific. You might fine this useful.


  • Just glancing through that manual, it’s ‘DC Filter’ in digital tools 1.


  • roger dodger!!!

  • Also, this article from Sound On Sound might be handy.


  • Thanks , Ill check it out!

  • Now that Im stripping down my collection to stuff I will use , Im giving this ESI another look over , is there a way to use it as an effects processor?

    IE: run a signal through the line in and add the reverb/echo etc from the Turbo card to the Sub outs?

  • @dude163 no.

  • This is only possible (afaik) with the E-Synth and the children of the E-64 series…

  • Dang, I was reading on a forum that a guy was using the yamaha A4000 for effects and thought it may be possible with the ESI.....

  • Possible on the A3000 too I think. They’re only about £100 now.

  • hmmmm…. im bidding on a PCI SCSI card on ebay now an adaptec 2940A , if that falls through Il look for an older yamaha sampler

  • If you’re in the UK there’s one up for sale on Cash Converters.


  • Looks like it is without extension board. But as per S:o.S. the A3000 is at least capable of doing this, if i understand the review of the ESI 4000/turbo correctly.

  • Ok my SCSI card got lost in the mail and I finally have one !! Cover me I’m going in

  • Just received a Yamaha A3000 , 1 Gb SCSI hard drive 128 MB ram, 27 bucks!

  • It’s got normal oscillators like saw and square if I remember correctly, so you can use it like a synth.

  • Yes plus pulse and triangle too !!

  • Just got a ESI-4000 Turbo and installed a SCSI to CF reader/writer. Is there any way to get the E-MU samples for free or purchase. I am assuming these samples are now public domain.

  • Hi @bd594 I’m not sure what you mean by ‘the E-MU samples’.

    There was never a ‘complete set’ of samples produced for these samplers. There were many commercial sample libraries produced both for the ESI range, and for the earlier E-MU samplers (particularly the EIIIX), by E-MU themselves and 3rd-party companies.

    They’re definitely not Public Domain, though some may still be available to buy, most likely on CDROM.

    You’ll need either a SCSI CDROM drive, or a computer with optical drive, and a utility to convert the E-MU format optical media to disk image files you can put on you CF card.


  • I can recommend the E-MU EIIIX library.
    If you like 1980s sounds ;)


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