Monday, October 22, 2012

Reading Ensoniq EPS .EDE floppies

Since I was a kid I wanted a sampler; back then, samplers were expensive and a standard synth was more flexible for a lot less. Then computers catched up with hardware and samplers became more and more obsolete. Got Kontakt, wich is not bad (don't like the workflow) but sounded astonishingly great. But a "wave cooked" by an old DSP doesn't sound the same, and near zero latency is noticeable (if not, very cool). Then I saw a local ad for a Ensoniq EPS16+. Got it and it rocks. It does sound different, the keys are great and the sampling facility is also well made. Sadly, I have a some 144 Error+, hope to be able to fix this thing... Anyway, the the device came with 300 floppies...

I have read and read on the net a way to read the original diskette that comes with it. Because the information is mixed from 1991 to 2012; there is a lot of dead software and alternative solutions. Here is a quick status on what you can do with Ensoniq EPS disk:

1. You will need a PC floppy reader; USB floppy drive will not work. This is because the program needs to do low level calls to the floppy reader that are not implemented in a USB floppy drive. It is possible to do those calls with a complete floppy emulator like this: Kryoflux; but an old PC might be less expensive.

2. Originally, only the DOS program epsread was able to read EPS disk; this program didn't ran on NT (read XP and more), so you needed an old windows/dos installation to read those disks. Somebody was kind enough to write a Linux and Windows software that does the low level calls : epslin. Open source. Works on XP and Windows 7 using a lowlevel floppy driver called fdrawcmd.

3. File format: ".img" files are a 1 to 1 I/O dump of a EPS disk. (sidenote to Linux users: dd if=/dev/floppy out=epsdisk.img will not work since the sectors are not align like a pc disk, use epslin to do that). A ".ede" format is like a simple dump image (.img) with a 512k header that contains the disk description. Use this format since it is the most common one.

4. Once you have extracted the ".ede" files, you can use epslin to extract the actual instrument called ".efe". Another program named EnDiskEx can also extract ".efe" instruments from multiple ".ede" files. Once it is extracted, it is possible to load the instrument (".efe") in Kontakt.

4A. There is commercial alternatives to read ".ede" disks, but I didn't tried them : Chickensys Translator Pro or Awave Studio; it should translate ".ede" to the format you want.

5. There is a way to get rid of the floppies by using HxC Floppy Emulator. Plug the 34-pin floppy interface from the EPS sampler from this device and you will be able to read ".ede" floppies from a SDCard; directly from the sampler.
youtube demo

Some dated but usefull info on the EPS, EPS16+ and ASR10 format: Ensoniq EPS/ASR KB

1 comment:

Ksus Susk said...

Only got a USB-Floppy Drive:(