EXP Board Reviews
The ASR-X and ASR-X Pro are both
capable of accommodating a single ROM expansion board. Ensoniq
currently have the following boards available:
||The EXP-1 features 24 MB
of World and Ethnic Waveforms and Sounds. It contains 441
waves and over 500 sounds and Drum kits from around the
world. All the data for this collection was recorded on
location in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, and
North America specifically for this release.
||The EXP-3 "Urban
Dance Project" adds 24 MB of new waveform data to
your MR keyboard or rack. It contains over 400 new sounds
and drum kits with a total of 369 waveforms. This
expander is designed to give you the tools you need for
||16 MB of high quality
sampled piano Sounds featuring a STEINWAY D Grand Piano
and 2 Electric Pianos William Coakley has been a pianist
all his life, as well as a piano technician. He has tuned
pianos for Teisher, Watts, Ferranti, and Liberace. Also a
recording engineer, Coakley pursued the perfect piano by
sampling meticulously and spending long hours making sure
the process was as close to perfection as possible.
Is it difficult to upgrade
For memory, OS and Expansion board
upgrades you need to remove the front panel of the X. The front
panel is fixed on with around 30 hex nuts. Inside you'll see SIMM
socket (2 on the Pro), two labeled OS chips (you don't need to
bother with these on the Pro) and the EXP socket. Detailed
instructions are given in the user manual, and we've not heard of
anyone having any problems.
Real World EXP-1
Ensoniq's 'World Music' expansion
- "Buy it - the samples
are really great. Great gongs & metallophones, killer
voice samples -the Kabuki screams are really hip."
- "I have several
"world" CD-ROMS for the K2500 and aside from a
few good samples most pale in comparison to the Ensoniq
World Card. I wish they would release it as AIFF files on
Urban Dance EXP3
The EXP3 "Urban Dance"
card is Ensoniq's offering for the dance market. It's a good
selection of drum sounds, loops, vocals and synth sounds and the
general consensus is that it's more 'hip-hop' than 'techno'.
- "The Urban Dance Card is
great. It provides a ton of cool drum kits, drum loops at
various BPM, and awesome synth-bass sounds as well."
- "I just got my urban
dance board yesterday, and i LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I had
previously bought the real world board and was very
unsatisfied. It d a couple cool samples and stuff, but
nothing i would really use in my music. the URBAN DANCE
board, on the other hand, is soooooo dope. i never knew
it was THAT good. i cant keep my hands off my
- "It sure ain't huge on
- "However at this point I
hafta stick up for the EXP-3. As far as drums, I like to
resample the drums with effects. The EXP-3 provides 40+
drums kits (with some duplication). I also like to dial
up kits and play them with two roland Octapads."
- "The EXP has some
seriously useful drums, IMHO, some useful and some useless
instrument sounds, some usable-once vocal samples"
- "I would consider the
EXP-3 as a great source if you plan on doing any internal
resampling of drums. It's got mostly "american"
drum sounds. The synth sounds that come with it are
pretty cool too. I could do without the dumb vocal
sounds, but I guess those could be cool if you resampled
them and messed em up."
The ASR-X can only take
one card - Which card should I go for?
Unfortunately the X can only be
fitted with one EXP card. Choosing the right EXP for your music
can be a bit of a dilemma...
"I am interested in
picking up one of the expansion cards (Urban Dance or Real World)
-- anybody have any pros and cons for each?"
- "The choice between the
two cards would depend on what kind of samples you have
access to: I have both and I prefer to have the world
card in the ASRX 'cause it's easier to find quality hip
hop/urban/groove oriented samples. I have several
"world" CD-ROMS for the K2500 and aside from a
few good samples
most pale in comparison to the Ensoniq World Card. I wish
they would release it as AIFF files on CD-ROM."
- "It depends what sort of
music you are into. The EXP-3 is definitely slanted
towards Hip-Hop and is pretty sparse when it comes to
good Techno sounds. Because it is really designed to work
with the MR series synths it lacks a lot of the bread and
butter pads, etc and concentrates more on things that you
might use a sampler for. I do ELECTRO-INDUSTRIAL stuff
and I have found the EXP-3 to be mostly a waste of money,
I use the bonus sounds on the Demo Disk a lot more than I
use the EXP-3 sounds. I bought it thinking that it was a
cheap way to buy a new synth but it didn't work out that
What about Techno?
- Despite the name, the
"Urban Dance" board is more hip-hop...
- Is it just me or does it seem
strange that ensoniq hasn't made a techno expansion board?
- I think they qualify the
"Urban Dance Project" as a techno board. Well
you can get some decent techno-ish sounds out of it, but
it's clearly a very hip-hop board, and a very very
american sounding board. Forget to get any
european-sounding techno (and I ain't talking about
euro-disco crap, but good underground shit), since you
can't even find a decent 303 sound, they didn't even try
(not that I care I have a hardware emulator but others
might). There is absolutely no question that the dance
card was intended to be used for hip-hop. No doubt,
- I really wish ensoniq would
make a techno card.
- ...I think they *think* they
did. Which shows what Ensoniq knows about techno... With
some massive detuning, some of the hippety-hop kits can
make some pretty neat jungle-ish sounds, but most of the
stuff they label "techno" sounds weak at best.
- Many of the synth-sounds are
perfect for my synthpop-inspired xtravaganzas (hence I
*like* my EXP-3, "EXP29:054 AnaRezz Stg" being
one of my favorites, make me feel like Jean Michelle
Jarre if run through a phaser) but they aren't too good
for *techno*... to weak, mellow, and punchless.... plus
has this obvious "someone-has-sampled-a-synth"
- I would find that to be so
much more useful for my music. i'd dump my "Urban
Dance" card for a "Euro Dance" card in a
What about Hip-hop?
Which ROM board chip is best
for hip-hop production? I've heard of the Urban Dance Project, is
that the one?????
- I do hip hop and the drums on
the exp board are pretty useful, with a lot of variety.
But for the best drums, go buy a cd with a bunch of old
breakbeats and sample their drums. The instruments are
ok, I find myself using only like a couple of the basses
the card offers. The vocal samples are useless. I paid
The EXP cards were
designed originally for the MR. How compatible are they with the
When the EXP boards were used with
an OS older than 2.62, there were a few problems with sounds
popping and snapping. This was probably down to gain differences
between the MR and ASR-X, and the problem has been fixed in later
There were also a few issues with
EXP sounds being designed to complement the MR ROM set, which is
different to the X's
When I spoke to the dealer
they said it was because the ROM sounds actually reference
sounds/ settings from the MR series. Does this mean I wasted my
money? Is this true? Am I screwed?
The EXP cards were designed for
the MR - yes. Although there is an MR-synth in the X, there is
not the MR ROM. So sounds referencing the MR-ROM sounds do indeed
become screwed. Although, on the EXP-3 (dance), these are just a
handful, a hi hat there, some string. I think I counted 4 or 5
sounds that didn't work right of the 350 or so on there.
The X intelligently remaps several
of the waves to whatever is close in the ASR-X ROM or other EXP-3
waves. Dunno how well it works on the world ROM tho - I hear the
situation is a bit worse there, but still not so significant as
to define yourself as "screwed".
It's true that some of the more
involved pads on the card have layers that need ROM samples from
the MR series. I've only found this to be a problem on a couple
of patches - like the Rainforest patch - some of the layers sound
like random sine & square waves bleeping & blooping in
& out - not something that I'd expect in a rainforest (unless
you're eating some hallucinogenic tree bark!)"
Are they worth the money?
- At around 300 pounds here in
the UK, you have to ask the above question.
- "I'm actually an ex-ASRX
user that went for an ASR10. And the only thing that I'm
truly missing on the 10 that my X had was the drum sounds
from the urban dance card. Loved 'em. And to tell you the
truth, I've had my 10 for a week now and I haven't really
come up with anything because I haven't been satisfied
with the drums I've sampled. Now I'm searching
desperately for some decent drums sounds. Oh well, just
thought I'd tell yall that."
- I would really suggest going
to a shop that has an X with the dance card installed and
test drive it. spin the sound type knob down until you
see it read "EXP" sounds. then just spin the
value knob and check out the sounds on the board.
- If you dig a whole lot of the
sounds then the card may be worth picking up. if you only
like a handful of them then take your $300 and buy 3 new
cd sample collections."
- So basically the MR sounds
suck and ain't worth paying the extra bucks for? I mean,
I have an offer on an ASR-X though without the Urban
Dance Card. So, I'll be better of laying the extra money
on something else rather than investing the extra 300$
(as the Urban Dance Card costs over here) on the card?
- I actually do find use for
the dance card. i like a bunch of the basses and i love a
lot of the drums (especially after some tweaking.) its
definitely not a full synth its kind of like an accessory.
just some extra sounds to augment your existing
- So as far as making the ASR-X
a standalone all-purpose machine.... the EXP cards are
great. (since the stock ASR-X doesn't have crap for
internal sounds, in my opinion). Kinda spendy, but worth
it in convenience
Has anyone had any experience
with the Urban Dance Upgrade Board? I'm thinking about getting
it, but if it isn't great, I'd rather get something like a Pulse
or a Basstation. Can I use it as my main bread and butter synth
like say a Roland JV1080? Is it in the same class as the 1080?
Any info is greatly appreciated. If it makes any difference in
your reply, I've got an ASR-X with 32 megs, SCSI, the 8 output
Xpander, and a Roland JP-8000.
- I agree that there are some
better drum sounds on the EXP-3 but if you're just going
to resample them then you may as well just fork out for a
couple of good sample CD's or a 2nd hand SR-16, either of
which will cost way less than the EXP-3. When I got mine
I thought it was a great alternative to buying another
synth but I'm disappointed in it's lack of really useful
sounds e.g. A really good string ensemble would be far
more useful to way more people than those naff vocal
samples that any idiot could do for themselves (the X is
a sampler, after all). The card might be great for an
MR-synth but I don't think that it is a good buy for an X
- That's a good assessment.
Unfortunately we have to absorb the wave of marketing
toward the rhythm-oriented crowd. Perhaps we'll see a
"bread-and-butter" EXP. Ensoniq did make some
sort of thought to putting one out every quarter or
bi-annually, I forget which. As any Kurzweil person can
attest, it's nice having ROM sounds to supplement what
sampled sounds you use.
- Problems so far with my
box..-Not as many sounds as i thought were included.
- Yeah, you NEED to buy the
EXP-3 or real world card. Totally worth it for internal
sounds... 450+! I love mine.
- Also, did you find the secret
70+ bonus sounds on the system floppy? Just go to
"load", "sound", "BONUS".
Tons of cool analog filtery sounds.
Why don't I just borrow
the card and sample the bits I want?
How many MB's of rom data are
on the EXP cards? I had a friend suggest to me that i should just
buy the card, sample all the sounds i want and then return
it...personally, i think that would be a big pain in the arse...
What you really want are the
programmed sounds, and let me see here there are:
557 sounds on the Dance Expander
475 sounds on the World Expander
Plus, you probably want to
multisample them for good quality playback. Plus, you wouldn't
get the custom programmed Insert FX for a lot of the sounds.
They seem like a bargain to me,
just so's I can skip all of that work.
Compiled by Giles Ward
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