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:

EXP-1 The Real World 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.
EXP-3 Urban Dance Project 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 phat grooves.
EXP-4 The Perfect Piano 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 the X?

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 card...

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 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?"

What about Techno?

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?????

The EXP cards were designed originally for the MR. How compatible are they with the X?

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 OS versions.

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?

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.

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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