Expert Sleepers ES-9

Hey, I’m just making a general post about the ES-9, since I noticed there are a few different scattered discussions here and there about how and why you might want it to work with VCV & a hardware setup.

First things first:

@PaulPiko made an amazing video tutorial on the subject that includes expansion module setup.

@Omri_Cohen made an equally amazing video tutorial on the subject that shows some nice patching examples.

Here’s all the posts I could find about the ES-9:

My take on the matter: I just got one recently, and it was slightly confusing to understand how to setup the configuration tool at first. I think Omri & Paul have slightly different setups in their videos. I got it to fit my needs, but I still don’t fully understand it, and this may be because I have zero experience with multiple ins/outs on an interface, and you have to manage how the hardware ins/outs and software ins/outs (in VCV) are working with each other to make round-trips with signals to have it mixed and all come out right on your headphones or speakers.

My personal goals and source of headaches: I wanted to create a setup that sort of matched what I had in mind buying eurorack hardware. I wanted to make a basic sound in VCV, send out to ES-9 and process the sound in hardware, then send it back through ES-9 to VCV in stereo and mix it down using a VCV mixer, then send the main outs to my headphones or speakers again using the ES-9. Then I needed to figure out the latency and signal delay my dry VCV only audio to match the stuff coming back from hardware. That was just for the audio part, but I of course also want modulation cv or sequences to be sent from VCV to ES-9 to hardware modules. Also, everything needs to be in time, and I don’t want to waste my physical ES-9 outs on various clock divisions, and it would be cool to have some modulation too, so I got a Pamela’s New Workout. I couldn’t figure out how to get a stable clock into PNW, so I just send a X24 clock pulse from PNW to Clocked in VCV and it works amazing. I can physically hit the start button on PNW, and it starts, resets, and syncs with Clocked in VCV.

Here’s my little setup default VCV patch with notes describing the signal flow of ins/outs. The outs from the mixer are going to my headphones & a Recorder module to record jams ES9_Default2.vcv (17.0 KB)

Here’s the ES-9 configuration tool, I use html version: https://www.expert-sleepers.co.uk/webapps/es9_config_tool_1.0.html And here’s the setup that works for me, for now, and the mixers or anything that says Bus or S/PDIF I am not using whatsoever. Everything else has a purpose that works for me.

Here’s what it looks like on hardware. I’m sending FM-OP audio and a LFO from VCV, out of ES-9 (out 1 & 2), into Mimeophon for a delay effect that is clocked by 16th notes (X4) coming out of PNW. The L/R outs from Mimeophon are going into ES-9 ins 1&2. PNW is sending a X24 to Clocked in VCV through input 9 on ES-9.

That’s it for now, sorry for long post. My intention was to put this all into perspective and archive my thought process, and maybe help someone else navigate through the possibilities like Paul & Omri have for me.

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Oh yeah, these are in stock right in the US: https://www.ctrl-mod.com/collections/recent-arrivals/products/es-9-usb-audio-interface

And a cool search tool for modules: https://wigglehunt.com/

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This is amazing Adi, great post!

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That’s a great collection of information about the ES-9. It will be really helpful for anyone researching it.

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:+1:

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Thanks for the thorough walkthrough!

As you can see, ES-9 is the only Eurorack module I currently own! I keep meaning to buy more, but it’s hard to justify the cost when VCV Rack modules are so damn good.

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Hey Rob, this looks like an very powerful and fun setup already with the Big Sky, semi-modulars & ES-9. I agree, the VCV Rack modules are amazing, and one honestly don’t even need anymore than just a midi controller to do a hands-on performance. I just felt like there were super deep modules in eurorack format that I was missing out on that could be combined with VCV Rack to make it even cooler, like morphagene, arbhar, etc. After grabbing a few modules, and combining with Rack, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with possibilities, and I will stop buying things for a while I get to know what I have a bit better. Are you having fun with this setup, and made any music with it yet? It looks like Omri and Leonardo announced a Vult Freak contest going on now to win a hardware Freak. Are you going to give it a go? Pretty cool stuff, I just don’t have a camera/tripod setup yet!

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Thanks Adi. Yeah I’m digging my setup. My full setup also includes a Push 2, Midi Fighter Twister, a norns and a grid. Making lots of music, but mostly just blowing off stress and not ready for public consumption yet. Since I probably won’t be leaving my house for the next few months, I expect I will get lots of much needed practice!

I have the VCV version of Freak. Does the hardware sound better? It’s still just digital, right? I was thinking of only adding analog modules to my setup.

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Here’s a patch that gives a stable clock from Clocked to Pamela’s New Workout through the ES-9. This was driving me crazy for awhile, but it ended up being very simple. ES9_Default3.vcv (15.4 KB)

  1. Take a X24 pulse from Clocked, attenuate it to 5v (the default 10v from Clocked was making it unstable), send to PNW’s Clk input.
  2. Send Run out from Clocked to trigger a Flip Flop, send to PNW’s Run input. (This makes PNW run only when Clocked is running.
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Updated ES-9 firmware

https://www.expert-sleepers.co.uk/index_files/es-9-firmware-v1-1-1-released.php

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thank you

I’ll wait to install it, actually I use it only with the pc…but it’s a very interesting feature!

in the meanwhile read here and there if there are any problems

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Fantastic! This is great since I don’t have a hardware mixer. Have you figured out how to switch configurations yet? I’m hoping it’s something easy you can do on the module opposed to having to go into the config tool on the computer.

I haven’t had a chance to install it yet. I should check if there’s any info in the Expert Sleepers support forum on muffwiggler…

https://muffwiggler.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=35&sid=4619cd64967e1e50785f085724eb24d6

ES-9 makes an appearance while Lightbath is discussing a hybrid modular setup for live performance. Looks like he is going to use ableton though. I’m intrigued since I don’t fully understand how to wisely choose modules in a small setup without changing your mind fifty times. Like, I’m curious why you would absolutely need Rene taking up all that room in the case if you can easily sequence with software. This will be a cool series to follow and learn from.

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I’m running into an issue with VCV Rack connected to ES-9. I’m trying to get pitch CV from Eurorack to VCV Rack, but what comes out of VCV Rack’s Audio interface doesn’t hold the voltage, it always reverts to 0V. I tested this by wiring an attenuator to one of ES-9’s input. When I turn it through full range, a scope connected to VCV rack’s Audio output will show a spike and then slowly (over half a second or so - did not measure this) revert to 0V. I have verified in the ES config tool that DC Blocking is off for all ES-9’s inputs, and I have unchecked “DC Blocker” in Audio’s context menu. I might be missing something obvious - would appreaciate a hint.

Hi. I’m not sure what the issue is that you’re having. I’ll show you how it’s working here.

I send a constant -2V from Ornament & Crime into the ES-9

Using VCV Rack Pro 2.0.4 & 2.0.3.b. The incoming voltage from the ES-9 is shown in a scope. It’s steady

I’m using Windows 10 and the latest ES ASIO driver

image

The ES-9 has the 1.2.2 firmware, and input DC blocking is off.

Sounds like a sure sign that DC-blocking is turned on somewhere in the chain. Remember that the ES-9 has two modes and two configurations, depending on its connectedness at power-up, and you have to configure both/the right one.

If the USB cable is plugged into a (turned-on) computer, on the ES-9 before you turn on its power, it’s in “host mode” (I think it’s called). If not, or you plug it in later, it’s in “standalone” mode. Two different configurations.

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Thank you for your help @PaulPiko and @LarsBjerregaard . I did all as you described, with very nearly exactly Paul’s configuration and could not get it to work - but this was on a Windows 11 machine. Your message made me try with my laptop which is still on Windows 10. Initially, I had the same behavior - until I enabled DC blocking in the ES config tool, and then disabled it - and then it started working, even though the tool confirmed that DC blocking was off before (and I had tried the same on Win 11 before, to no avail).

I think there might be an issue with the config tool on Win 11, because I also noticed I’m not getting the nice human readable information in the text boxes at the top. E.g. when using “Request ES-9 Version”, it prints “1.2.2” at the end of it all on Win 10, but on Win 11, I just get the hex output, so something is off there. Of course, it’s also possible that this is just a problem with my setup, and not Win 11 generally.

I have yet to test if it will work probably with Win 11 after configuring it using Win 10, but I’m guessing it will.

Thanks again, this was really driving me crazy!

Ah, did you load it in Chrome or Edge? Remember on the ES-9 website they recommend Chrome because the browser needs a proper Web-MIDI implementation.

Did you hit the “load config” button before changing it?

Yeah, sounds like it’s a browser with a not-proper web-midi implementation, or something “new/smart” in Win11 blocking traffic.

Yeah, these things can drive you crazy and modern computers have a way of trying to be smart/helpful/secure which only trips you up. From your description I was pretty sure it was DC-blocking not being turned off. Good luck!

… aaaand now it fully works in Win 11, including the config tool. Whatever it was, it seems that once configuring it on Win 10 nudged it along, and now all is well. Somewhat unsatisfying not to know what it was of course - but very happy it works now.

Technology hates humans :wink:

Thanks again!

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