Ensoniq MR Rack questions and advise?

#1

Hello everyone, I’m posting here because I figured if anyone was going to know the answer to this, it would be Sam.

I just got an MR Rack with the hopes of getting some good transwave action. However, it appears after looking through forums, Google, and everything else I can find, sysex banks except for the original 70 RAM sounds do not seem to exist. If I can find anything, it’s old Unisyn dumps. It also appears if I want to make my own patch or even just pilfer a transwave patch in the MR and make my own by selecting a different transwave Wave, there is no way to do it from the front panel, period.

So is the only way to access a Part and edit its Wave component through Unisyn (or MIDI Quest?) and it’s impossible to select a Wave from the front panel? Is this thing basically a preset machine only? I do not have a Mac, I’m running a Windows 7 PC, so I can’t even use Unisyn that I’m aware of unless I can find the original version for the MR Rack somewhere?

I’d also love to find a sysex dump of the MRD-1 disk, but that doesn’t seem to exist either. Is my only option finding a MRC-1 card somewhere to get those 180 sounds?

And are there ANY sounds ANYWHERE in sysex format? I’ve tried everywhere I can find, even buying a disc off of Ebay just to find it was a direct copy of the fumph website and a pirated copy of Sound Diver. I’m assuming everyone worked in Unisyn format and/or anything that was out there is long gone.

Thank you!

Devon

#2

I have an Ensoniq MR-61 keyboard with original sound set along with expansion sound boards. If there is a way I could/unsure how to dump sounds, I’d be happy to provide. Post back if it something I could help you with… thanks.

#3

Thank you for the offer! I’m looking for the MRD-1 disk that’s sold on this site but in Sysex format, so I could try to load into my MR Rack. Since you have the floppy drive, you could actually load it, where I have no way to do that. Out of respect for Sam and the forum, I’m not asking to get these for free, I’m looking for a way I can get them outside of buying the rare MRC-1 card. I’d gladly buy the floppy if it was in sysex format, but it’s not.

I also have the EXP-1 and EXP-3 boards. I’d like to make my own presets that have at least one of each of the transwaves to start from (I believe there are only extras on the EXP-3 board.)

Devon

#4

We happen to have an MR-61 here right now, so one of our guys is going to load the MRD-1 sound banks, and then save them as sysex files - if all goes well, we’ll make those available on our site.

As far as MR operations and external software, I’m pretty ignorant about it all. I thought the Ensoniq synths were brilliantly intuitive, and each new synth built on the previous ones…and then came the MR series, which started from scratch in a way that my brain didn’t want to work. They sound great, and they do wonderful things, but I’ve just never put the time into getting to know them well.

In any case, I’ll post back soon with the sysex results.

#5

Thank you so much, Sam! Looking forward to it! So sad how much of music history is disappearing slowly but surely.

I am still in shock that they literally left the most critical programming aspects of the MR locked behind a defunct piece of software. I’ll have to see then how I can at least get some basic transwave presets at least programmed somehow. But another 180 sounds from the MRD-1 disk will be very welcome at least. Time to find a SRAM card it sounds like!

Thanks again!

Devon

#6

Devon, if you can send me an email (sam@syntaur.com), I can send you back a sysex file to test.

#7

The MR rack is basically a Fizmo without some of the waves and without resonant filter. If you get one of these it will have all the waves too:

http://sampler-expansions.dxp.pl/ensoniq.htm

#8

What I’m starting to learn, without an external editor, there is no way to get to or do anything with the transwaves sadly it seems. It’s something to look into on my forever long to-do list with something like MIDI Quest or Sound Diver. Heck, I couldn’t even import the sysex dump from an MR61 into the MR Rack without corrupting it so bad that I had to reset to factory defaults. As much as I like Ensoniq and their sound, this was a poorly designed machine unless all you want is presets. I do like the overall sound of it though… Now, if you have an old Mac and have Unisyn, you’re in business it seems.

Devon

#9

The MR rack was the basis for the Fizmo, which is exactly the same in terms of limited front panel editing. At that point Ensoniq and EMU were under the control of Creative Labs who had no real interest in high end audio kit.

#10

The VFX series is the way to go for transwaves (VFX, VFX-sd, or SD-1). You can do transwave stuff - in theory - on the ASR-10, but in practice, it is pretty impossible to get the sample data lined up as exactly as it needs to be, and the result is that you always get ticky noises as you do any sweeps. The Waveboy Transwave disks for the ASR work great - but that’s because Bill Mauchly (the Waveboy himself) worked for Ensoniq, and actually designed the transwaves for their keyboards. So he has the software that will make 'em.

#11

There’s an article on making your own transwaves with a TS-10 here:

http://www.donsolaris.com/?p=902

That’s one model I don’t have. I have two ESQ-1, SQ80, Fizmo and MR-rack but every TS10 or 12 I see is too far away.

#12

I have a recently acquired MRC-1 ROM card; if you know of a way to pull the presets off (maybe a SysEx dump?) I’m happy to help you obtain a copy of the the ROM to compare to the MRD-1 disk.

#13

Thanks for the offer, ampsynth. Sam already attempted the sysex dump of the data from the floppies. That card has all 3 floppies worth of presets on it. The dump I tried corrupted my MR Rack so bad it hung on boot. I had to factory reset it for it to come back (I think it messed with the index, which is where it was hanging on) I’m wondering too if the issue is there simply isn’t enough free memory to handle all 180 presets in the unit itself too.

I think the only way I’d be able to do this is to have someone sysex dump each one of the 180 presets off one by one. No way I’d ask someone to do that for me. Too much work. Even then, I’m not sure that would work. I suppose I could try one preset and see if that even works at all. Mind trying to dump out just Icy Ana Pad? Or even try it yourself? Dump out that preset, remove the card, sysex dump that one preset back into the MR Rack without the card installed? If you get stuck on the Index like I did, I believe you held down SAVE and ENTER then power on the unit. Press enter at the prompt. This will factory reset the unit.

And actually, a very important question - how are the presets to begin with? Worth the time and effort compared to what’s already in it? I already have EXP 1 and EXP 3.

Devon

#14

I will try a few patches and see if I can get them to save/load. Just got the MR Rack back together after troubleshooting an audio output issue. The built-in presets are, to my ears, sonic gold compared to the Rolands and Korgs of the same time period. I have no additional boards installed yet. What are your thoughts on the EXP 1 and 3? I’d like to get both of those and the EXP 4, Perfect Piano.

#15

I too am quite liking the presets; all of them, including what’s in the EXP1 and EXP3. The world card I think is exceptional for a nice collection of non-standard instruments that don’t come on every other synth. Urban isn’t bad either, but I wasn’t as impressed as the World sounds. As for the Piano, I never bothered for a few reasons; 1) I just recently had the Sounds of the ZR board for my Proteus 2000 which has the piano on it AFAIK and was unimpressed. The ROM had a few decent sounds on it, but not enough to inspire me to keep it. 2) it’s a old, small sampled piano. I’ve never been pleased with any of them from that era as the sample sets were always too small. I also had acquired the Holy Grail piano at the same time; ditto. They always sound too ‘boxy’. I’d rather hear the Korg M1 dance piano over anything from that time frame, which isn’t saying much. Only pianos I like are the real thing, multi gigabyte sampled pianos, or the physically modeled Pianoteq.

Still, what is your opinion of the 180 presets on the card compared to the built in presets? Or that was your opinion of those 180 as well? I do like what I’m hearing from the MR Rack as well as the Korgs, Yamaha’s and Roland’s of the era.

Devon

#16

I have an EXP-3 Urban Dance board here - let me know if anyone here is interested, before we put it on the market.

#17

Like any collection, built-in or added later, there are some redundancies and throw-a-ways. Overall I’m glad I sought out the MRC-1 ROM. The basses are okay, but I really enjoy the pads and spacey sounds on the ROM card. In both the case of the standard presets and the ROM card, I think the electric pianos are quite good. The renditions of authentic acoustic instruments pale compared to what Roland offered in the JV series, in my opinion. The ROM card has solid lead and sweeps for mimicking the old analog synths.
If you can fins a sweet deal on the MRC-1, I’d say it is worth it. Things that are ‘rare’ aren’t always terrific.
I need to attempt to get a patch from the MRC-1 to dump to SysEx. A block of time is coming up soon, so I will report back for you, Devon.