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How many eyes does a typical person have?

Dope Machines You Didn't Know Existed:  ENSONIQ EPS-16+ RACK

There is always this trend. No matter the hobby or interest. A trend of "Tried and Proven"

Or people who see someone do something great with one thing, and have the (also common) misconception they will be great with it too (or sound like that person).

You really miss out on a lot playing follow the leader. You close your eyes to an entire world just to take what has been set in front of you without question.

This really goes along with the whole crazy for the AKAI S950 which is a super duty tough machine for sure, but getting scarce, prices going up like crazy. In a way it's a good thing. Because there are hundred of other great rack samplers, that might not be very well known about.

This is another machine I just can't get enough of, and it's the Ensoniq EPS 16+ (Rack Version)


EPS16 4


The Ensoniq EPS-16+ is one of those things I was really excited about. I had never heard of them before. I knew of Ensoniq because of the ASR-10 61-Key sampler and the rack unit, but I didn't know much about the rest of their product history.

One day I was talking to this old school veteran type character about the AKAI S-950 and I was saying how I wanted one, but out of nowhere the prices on them were going for 550-600.00 and how crazy I thought that was.

We then got to talking about why that was. Because more people found out a lot of great sounds, and great works they were down with, were done with the S950. How for others it was like having a trophy, simply owning one to be able to say they had one.

This is when I remember him saying after a drag from his cigarette, "The 950 was cool. But the EPS-16 was really something". That's when I was saying oh yeah? What's the EPS-16? His response, for what it was to him, two words: 'Secret Weapon'

Apparently nobody cared for the EPS-16+ on a wide scale back then either. It was all about the AKAI's. They were the industry standard after all. And most the time throughout the history of anything, when something great comes out, and someone tries to come with their version of it, it's just never any good. That was defiantly not the case here (like many other things!).

He was saying how it had great low-end, that when you sampled things, the bottom end didn't vanish. That it had a bit-rate you could change from as low as 11.2 all the way up to 44.2 before sampling in. He talked about how it really colored the sound because of how the company didn't have all the funds it's bigger rivals had, so the audio converters were not that great. It might have sounded like crap to some, but to others who wanted to sound different, in our world, loved it.

I got to thinking I should try and find out some more about it. I wanted to get a rack sampler to go along with my 2000XL. I couldn't afford an S950. Sure I could of just saved up my money and waited longer, but it was more of a I was not willing just yet to drop 600 on something I wasn't totally sure I wanted anymore.

After talking about the EPS-16+ I got to thinking.. Do I REALLY want an S950 because I want one? What reasons do I have for wanting that specifically over anything else. That could be said about the EPS-16+ sure, and I did research both. And I settled on the Ensoniq over the Akai.

This is one of the videos that made my heart (and ears!) jump.

After spending every free chance I had trying to read as much about the EPS-16+ as I could in my spare time, then comparing it with the S-950 to really see what I wanted, it was a given. I really wanted to get my hands on an EPS-16+ so I got on ebay to check out the prices and I was absolutely stunned! I was expecting it to be practically worthless. But of course not. Anything old is now "classic!" and "rare!" so no matter what it is, automatically gets grouped up with SP1200's.

The prices were not THAT bad. But they were more then I expected, and being that it was what I was after, I was willing to go for one. There were two for sale. One of them was listed BUY-IT-NOW for 850.00 (I would never have spent that much, I can wait) and another for 550.00. The one listed for 550.00 was in pretty rough shape.

The screen cover looked like it was smashed in (the display is separate, this is just a piece of plastic), it was badly bruised up and scratched up. I figured both of these racks from this seller had been sitting for a long time. Everyone I asked about it was saying "Nobody will buy them for that price, the keyboards only go for 200-300" and saying especially not in that condition.

On the unit for 550.00 the title of the listing was 'ENSONIQ EPS-16+ TURBO RB2'. I looked up the Turbo title, and results returned old forum posts of users saying it was a marketing ploy to sell a unit. Turns out it was not. I emailed the seller and asked what the Turbo thing was all about. It had a sticker with "Turbo" in the lovely EPS-16 purple text, so it looked official. You can see the sticker here:

EPS16 1

(I bought a new Faceplate from because the one that came with mine was beat to hell and back, plus the previous owner tried terribly to "repair it" and really trashed the bezel and the little shelf it slides into!)


So it turns out the TURBO model is equipped with the RB-2 Flash ROM, 8MB Memory Bank. So TURBO models do exist. Just because it has the sticker though, does not mean the Flash ROM was not removed. Keep that in mind. It's just like with Akai addons.

So I made the guy an offer, I said I would pay 350.00 for it (he had make an offer listed) and he argued that it was a great machine with nothing wrong with it (later I found that to be untrue in 9 different ways!) but I said I would have to pass. And I did. I was emailed back the next day from a notice from ebay saying the seller has accepted your offer.

And that was it. After getting it, finding that a bunch of keys didn't work, both data sliders were dead and their pads torn off from a botched repair job, no floppy, and needed a a display I requested a return right away. I was offered the price to repair it in refund. I took it. So I got the thing for 100 bucks.

He took a shot. It didn't work. And here we have it.

EPS16 5

The goofy looking thing where the floppy drive is supposed go is an SD card floppy emulator. I'll go into detail on that in the MODS section of this article. I'll say though, I don't like it, you can do the same thing for 30.00 instead of 300.00 (I was foolishly mislead at the time about this into thinking there was something special about a 40-Pin IDE connection!). Even still, I like floppy disks better. There more fun, I think they look cooler, you can tag them up and draw stuff on them and color on them. Plus a shoe box full of sounds and beats is way more exciting to me then a couple tiny blue or black plastic cards.

This thing does sound great.. To my ears, it's incredible. I even spent MANY hours, and I mean HOURS going back and forth at the same volumes (closest I could) sampling in the same things between this and the 2000XL, and playing each one back and forth to hear the difference. Then getting into messing with the sample rate.. That is a story in its own. Not only can you change that, you can set the frequency cutoff and all kinds of other wild things before sampling in.

It's big, it's heavy, it's solid metal, the buttons make this awesome loud click when you press them, everything about it feels COOL to me. And when my mates and their mates see it, there is an excitement about something they have never seen before that sounds dope.


Mashiro Shiina
+1 #4 Mashiro Shiina 2017-11-12 23:17
Thank you for reminding me! I had completely forgot to write that! I'll get on that right away :D
Oscar berglund
+1 #3 Oscar berglund 2017-11-12 22:15
When is the mod guide for the floppy drive swap coming? Curious user here!
Mashiro Shiina
0 #2 Mashiro Shiina 2016-02-27 04:02

Yes, it's the "Turbo" model with the RB2 I believe the name of the flash rom module. It's real helpful, especially holding the OS!

I was reading a lot about it before I bought it, and yeah the price was high! It was top equipment. I think it still is to this today honestly!
+1 #1 Ed 2016-02-08 18:56
They ARE cool! I really miss mine (bought when new for $2300 US!) Mine did not have the flash RAM option so 2 megs total for me. But you could do so much - PER sample - an LFO 3 EG's and oodles of modulation options, including random...per sample(!)does yours really have 8 meg flash ROM? 4096 blocks = 2 megs 1 block is 2 bytes if I remember correctly... great article :)

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