Saturday, January 3, 2009

Changing OS on your Korg ES-1

(My Korg ES-1 MKII)

[Korg ES-1 MKI]

I had my good old friend David over one night to talk about good old memories, play old video games and jam on my gear. He got really into my Korg ES-1 MKII which is a drum sampler with a similar interface to the old TR drum machines from Roland. I showed him all the functions on it and by the end of the night he had made a really cool dub track. Some weeks later he bought one of ebay. He had bought the MKI version which is basically the same except that it has a plastic case instead of the MKIIs metal one. But they're was also another exception with the MKI version which I hadn't been aware of until I talked to David about his purchase. On the MKII they had replaced one of the onboard effects. On my MKII I had a mod-delay and on Davids MKI there was a wha-wha effect. The mod-delay had been quite useful for David when creating his dub beats earlier and now he was stuck with the wha-wha effect. At least I thought so until I joined this Yahoo mailing list about Korgs Electribes and found out that you can put the MKII OS on a MKI and the other way around. Electribe is the name of Korgs series of desktop drum machines, synthesizers, samplers etc.

To check which OS you have on your ES-1 hold down REC and STOP while powering up the machine. Mine showed 1.00 which I believe is the latest one for the MKII.

This is how you update your OS on your Korg ES-1 MKI/MKII

1. Join

2. Download the appropriate OS from their Files section.

3. Put it on a Smart Media card and make sure its in the root directory and not in any folder.

4. Put it in your Korg ES-1.

5. Hold down Sample and Global while powering up the machine.

The display will now show "IPL" and start counting from 000 to 048. After that it will restart counting from 000 to 048 and the write button will flash for every step. After that the display will show "END" and you can now turn off your machine. The upgrade shouldn't take more than ten seconds. Now hold down REC and STOP while powering up to make sure it´s showing the new OS digits. If it does you're upgrade was a success. If not make sure you downloaded the right OS, check so its in the root directory on the card, make sure the Smart Media card is inserted properly.

Remember to NEVER turn off the machine while the WRITE button is flashing during the upgrade

I downloaded the 1.04 OS for the MKI under the file section on the mailing lists page. I don't think its the latest one for the MKI but it seems to be the most common. I also found a 1.06 in the file section and I have read about a 1.07 but never found the actual file. I downgraded to 1.04 for MKI just to try out the wha-wha effect and the compressor. There has been some posts on the Swedish music forum 99musik mentioning that the MKI had a bug in it´s algorithm for the compressor effect that made its sound really rough and that this was corrected in the MKII.
I tried it out and to be honest I couldn't hear any difference. But keep in mind that I only tested this briefly with a pair of ordinary PC-speakers and didn't do any proper A B comparison. So there might still be a difference in sound but in that case its a minor and hardly noticeable one. When I have the time I will investigate this further and not just by ear.


Smokin' Han said...

Thank you for the insight!
I also have a MKII...

10k said...


John Matze said...

Thanks mate! Bought me a mint mk1. The new os make it even better!

gab said...

men! I put all how i read.. I see IPL but never start the number 000/048

gab said...

men! I put all how i read.. I see IPL but never start the number 000/048

Hymerej C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hymerej C said...

Got it. the trick is, once you have of course backed up your ssmartmedia data to a computer or just dont care anymore, format it using the es-1 itself, then use your computer to throw that OS file on the SM card, not in a folder or anything. that will do it. formatting elsewhere can cause that stuck issue.

Poison said...

Does anybody knows if there is an update for the MKII Firmware? I got 1.00 running in an ES1 MK1.

Also, would it be possible to change the sampling frequency from 32Khz to 44.1Khz somehow? Or, is it possible to make the ES1 recognise samples up to 44.1Khz?

Thanks in advance!

sclr said...

Afaik there never was an update. There may have been units that shipped with a later os. But i haven't seen or heard about one. The es will not recognize 44.1 and you cannot change the khz from 33 to 44. Just convert your samples in audacity or something, or sample directly into the es-1. Sampling into it sounds better than loading samples from the smartmedia. On bigger speakers this thing has ooomph!

Robbert v.d. Bildt said...

I tried this update on my ES1 MKI and while the update it died on me. Now it doesn't power up anymore :'(. Any ideas maybe?