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Does ES5 Expander take away 2 ES3 Channels?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Expert Sleepers  
Author Does ES5 Expander take away 2 ES3 Channels?
Hi all

If you use the ES5 expander, does this mean you only get 6x CVs from the ES3? The spec for the ES5 says "piggybacks on one of the ES-3's stereo channel" which could mean you lose 1 pair of outs.

My confusion also applies to the other expander s like the ESX-4CV; do these take away channels from the host card?

What would be really helpful is a few diagrams to show a fully expanded setup along with the channel counts. Is there one?

I'm very close to taking the plung as I need the 12v CV sweeps for my thirsty old Korgs (Sigma, 800dv).


When expanding off the ES-3, you will only ever lose 2 channels. If you are working on a project that doesn't need use of the expanders, you can still use those 2 ES-3 channels. The ES-5 uses outs 7 & 8 of the ES-3 by default. You can change this with a jumper on the ES-3.

Think of the ES-5 as the expansion hub. Every other expander you add will go through the ES-5. While there are 6 expansion headers on the ES-5, the first one carries the same signal as the outs for the ES-5. So, if you want to use the ES-5 outs, leave that header empty. The maximum number of expanders you can use together will always be 6.

Here is another important point - if you only use the ES-5 and headers 2 & 3, you can still use out 8 on the ES-3. Here's a pic:

Notice the red "X" on ES-3 out 7. If there is no "X" on an out, it can be used. This goes for the expanders, as well.

Now, if you add expanders to any of the remaining headers(excluding header 1), you should not use ES-3 out 8 while they are in use. Here's another pic:

I'm not a visual artist and I did these with MS Paint, so pardon the looks. The ESX-8GT was used for ease and any or all could be replaced with the ESX-4CV/8CV/8MD.

Again, notice header 1 is not used. You can certainly use it. Just remember, you should not use the ES-5 outs while you are using the expander connected to header 1. An example of why you would use header 1 is if you need to have 6 ESX-4CV/8CV modules. Putting an ESX-8GT on header 1 would be redundant. The major difference between the ESX-8GT and the ES-5 is that the ES-5 is the expansion hub. Other than that, they are basically the same.

I should also say that I do not own an ES-5 and have never used it. I do, however, have 2 ES-3mk1 modules and an ES-4 with 2 ESX-8GT modules. I do think I understand how the ES-5 works and I'm sure Os can correct me if I am misleading you. I don't think I am, though. Well, I hope not.

The information this is based off can be found at the bottom of the ES-5 user manual.

Hope this helps.
Perfect. Thanks for filling in while I'm on the road.
Hi Bill G

Massively helpful diagrams! As they say, a picture is worth 1000 words and your giagrams have cleared up all of my understandings. I really think Expert Sleepers should develop these diagrams, showing the model names and what the outputs are (CV or Gate or Either). Not only do they give clarity but they show the incredible I/O count you get from a single ADAT - I've been sniffing around these units for prob about a year and even I did not get 48 Gates and 6 CVs (plus all the permutations using ESX-4CV).

Incredible - thank you...

..just sent a stock email to PostModular but I believe most places are out of stock.


ES5 (gate expander): great idea as leaves the remaining 7 ES3 ports for CV. I don't have a modular but I use a lot of Gates for normal synth Gates plus drum machine clocks.

ESX-4CV (CV expander): great idea as even though the 4 CVs only run at audio 6kHz, this will be fine for normal keyboard tracking (possibly better than MIDI?) leaving the higher resolution ES3 CV for env's and LFOs etc.

Good stuff..

os wrote:
Perfect. Thanks for filling in while I'm on the road.

Sweet! It's the least I can do in return for all the time and frustration your products have saved me. Stay safe, sir.

punkdISCO(love that),

I'm glad those helped. I'm the same in that I have no modular gear other than the ES modules and some Tiptop drum modules. An ES-3 and, say, an SEM are a lethal combo. ES hardware controls the majority of my gear now. Midi and CV. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Interesting thoughts on the ESX-4CV. I honestly hadn't thought of it that way. My first instinct would be the other way around, but you may be right. I guess it can depend on how much pitch range you want. When using the ES-3 for pitch CV, I average 8 octaves on my monosynths. It looks like the 4CV will give you around 5 octaves, but that's still your average 61 note keyboard. It also might make a difference in portamento, but I'd bet it's still better than midi portamento. I'm just speculating, though, as I've never tried a 4CV. When Os comes out with a new product, I have to convince myself not to buy it. So good...

I see that Analogue Haven has the ES-5 in stock, but that's here in the States and they look to be out of ES-3s. I'm sure more ES-5s are in the works and will be out soon.

I had a little giggle when I saw "1000 words" since brevity is not my strong-suit. Os can say in one sentence what might take me, well, 1000 words. hihi


I have an ES-3 and ES-5 I'm just starting to use, and this has just cleared up my massive confusion over how else I could expand in future.

thanks everyone!

now, to make this damn studio pc earn its keep!
tom moody
Thanks for the diagrams. I am wondering how you send multiple groups of 8-gate signals to the Gate Expanders attached to the ES-5, in the DAW (such as Ableton).
Let's say I have two drum sequences and want to send one to the expander attached to ES-5 slot 5 and another to the expander attached to ES-5 slot 7. Do these nested routing possibilities show up in the dropdowns for the DAW?
The ES-5 has 6 expansion slots so I'm not sure what you mean by slot 7.

In the ES-5 Controller plug-in, every gate output is selectable from "1/1" (output 1 on expander 1) up to "1/8" (output 8 on expander 1), to "2/1" (output 1 on expander 2) up to "2/8" etc. up to "6/8".

In the DAW, everything is on the one stereo channel which feeds the ES-5 (equivalently, feeds the ES-3 channels 7/8).
tom moody
OK, thanks. The diagram at the top shows the ES-5 being plugged into "out 7" of the ES-3. When referring to outs on the ES-5 (that is, outs 5 and 7 in my hypothetical) I called them "slots." Sorry for the inconsistency.

Cheers for the diagrams and descriptions, really useful resource as someone looking to expand soon.
I got the ES-8 interface now and ordered the ES-5 and 2 of the ES-8GT what is my available cv out and in at this point? Do I need an ES-6 now to get inputs to my daw ?
I have not yet fired it all up i bought silintway so i should have a good link to Live 9 [/img]
I got the ES-8 interface now and ordered the ES-5 and 2 of the ES-8GT what is my available cv out and in at this point?

You have 7 CV outs and 24 gates outs. And 4 inputs.
Bear with me on this question here, but I stumbled upon the potential ability to do something in Reason that I hope bypasses the limit of only being able to access 8 audio inputs of a VST... and thus limits the ability to access more than 32 output channels because the SW ESX-8CV Combiner has 10 inputs. What I’m interested in doing might require some advanced planning and a specific configuration of expanders on certain headers, but I can’t wrap my head around why this wouldn’t work:

The image below is obviously just showing the hardware connections between the ES-3 & ES-5, and the ES-5 & expanders. If you think of the black line linking the ES-3 & ES-5 as the audio routing of the plugins & your ADAT out to the ES-3, ultimately the very last plugin has to be the ESX-8CV Combiner plugin, right?

The left channel of the stereo out of the Combiner connects to audio out 7 of the ADAT output to the ES-3’s channel 7. Similarly, the right channel of the stereo out of the Combiner connects to audio output 8 of the ADAT out to the ES-3, utilizing output 8 (if you have any expanders on ES-5’s 4/5/6 headers).
bil_g wrote:

In my current setup (ES-3mk4, ES-5 as GT1, ESX-8CV on GT2, and ESX-8GT on GT3), I’m not using headers 4/5/6, so I’m only plugging the ESX-8CV Combiner’s left output to the ADAT out 7, using up ES-3’s channel 7.

If I wanted to expand more headers, I’d be limited to just one more, right? The limit of 8 I/O of VST’s in Reason means I could only stack one more Combiner (if I’ve wrapped my head around this correctly) to allow me access to 32 outputs. Am I understanding this correctly?

What I’m getting at is this: if, in Reason, it’s possible to route audio cables between VST’s as easily as it is in Bidule, is there anything from preventing the use of TWO stacked chains of ESX-8CV Combiners, the last of which would have the left output connected to ADAT 7 of the ES-3 and the right output of the other to ADAT 8 of the ES-3. The “left” Combiner would be limited to being able to address Gates 1/1 up to 3/8, while the “right” Combiner would be limited to addressing gates 4/1 thru 6/8.

This should, in theory, allow for access to all 48 outputs if I added 3 more expanders, shouldn’t it?
Instead of buying extra expanders, I decided to move one to header 4/5/6 and test my theory out. I moved an ESX-8CV on header 2 to header 4.

IT WORKS! It's peanut butter jelly time! nanners It's peanut butter jelly time! nanners

I took a working stack of SW plugins (connected 8CV Combiner’s L output to ES-3’s Channel 7) and set up a second 8CV Combiner with its R output routed to ES-3’s Channel 8. This “right” Combiner was set to ES-5 mode with channel 4 as it’s target. I moved the 4 LFO’s (provided by Propellerheads Pulsar’s audio out) from the “left” Combiner to the “right” Combiner’s inputs 3-6.

LFO’s we’re output just the same as if they were before with the ESX-8CV on header 2 of the ES-5. Nothing wonky happened to the outputs of the ES-5 or ESX-8GT.

Will post screenshots soon.
Left Combiner routing:

The Left output is routed to output 31, which corresponds to ADAT4 Out 7 on my RME Digiface USB. That output targets the ES-3mk4, and is for channel 7 on that device (for “piggybacking” the ES-5 channels).
“Right” Combiner:

Note that this MUST be the right output of this Combiner, as was noted earlier in this thread that the signals of headers 1/2/3 use ES-3 channel 7 while signals on header 4/5/6 use ES-3 channel 8. Using the Left channel of this Combiner won’t work!
It appears as if this “solution” I’ve come up with in Reason isn’t a perfect solution, but it does overcome part of the limitation of plugins having 8 inputs.

In my separated L/R Combiner scenario, if one ESX-8CV is installed PER 1/2/3 or 4/5/6 HEADER PAIR, then all 16 CV Expander outputs are available. Putting more than one CV Expander PER 1/2/3 or 4/5/6 would limit the CV Expander that has to use a THRU pair to 6 of the 8 CV outs.

That said, 6 CV outs from an ES-3/8 plus 16 CV outs from a pair of ESX-8CV’s isn’t too shabby.

I read on your website that Silent Way or the Max/MSP external is needed to make ES expansion modules work. Do I have that right? If I have an ES-5, I can only access its outputs or the outputs of any expanders chained off its headers by using Silent Way or the Max/MSP external, right? I'm wondering if, since Ableton CV tools is a Max device, it can talk to expanders hooked up to an ES 5 through that Max/MSP external. If it can, that's awesome. If it can't, is there a possibility for that to happen?

Answered here:
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