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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.
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