It’s been a while since I reviewed any of my gear, so I thought I’d have a crack at it in this post.
Recently I got my hands on an EB16 FX board for my MPC2000XL. I’d been eyeing one for a while (pretty much ever since I got my MPC about 10 years ago) but a) never had the disposable income and/or b) felt that my skills needed to be tighter before I bought some extras. Anyway, in a moment of hubris and excess cash I decided to jump in the deep end and grab one from some French guy on eBay.
And I have to say – it has been a very worthwhile investment.
For those that don’t know, the EB16 was an expansion card that was offered by Akai for the S2000, S3000, MPC2000 and MPC2000XL samplers. It may also have been for the MPC3000 but I don’t really know. They’re relatively rare these days (but not as rare as the MFC42 filter expansion).
The unit offers 4 discrete FX busses, 2 of which are solely for reverb sends. The first two effects busses are multi-effects units which provide a combination of distortion, parametric filter, modulation, delay and reverb. Each of these effects can be individually switched on and off and include a fairly extensive range of modifiable parameters and settings. A final MIX stage on the multi-effects busses also allows for a range of routing options (so you can go from modulation into reverb or reverb into modulation etc). The effects are accessible through the MPC mixer window and individual pads can be sent to any of the four busses to varying degrees – that is, you can control the amount of sound being sent from a pad to each buss. All in all, whilst not comparable to the extensive effects routing and options available in a DAW like Logic, it is nevertheless a very flexible tool for manipulating sounds as you produce.
Of particular ‘coolness’ is the frequency modulation that is available on the parametric EQ module. This acts much like a phaser and you are able to adjust the depth of the modulation as well as the Q width and rate for both the lower mid and upper mid frequency bands. The results is a very nice sounding spacey-ness and phasey warmth in the midrange.
Each of the effects is wholely usable, in general, but there are some limitations. Due to the grouping of particular effects, it can often be an either/or decision as to which effect to apply. For example, you can’t use both the rotary speaker emulation and the flanger on the same effects buss (not that you would probably want to).
So, does it make you a better producer? Well, no. You’re still doing exactly what you were doing beforehand. However, it does provide some great additions and effective tools for improving the beats you make. It won’t fix bad technique or poor quality chopping but it will open up new and interesting avenues for the sounds you have. And that can’t be a bad thing, right?
Oh, and here’s a video of the ugly monstrosity that is the MPC2000XL SE2 which, if you can stand the horrific music for long enough, shows you the EB16 when it is installed.
BTW: How do you make Lady Gaga angry? Poke her face.