Ensoniq ASR-X

Ensoniq ASR-X Image

The ASR-X is a sampler, synthesizer, sequencer and effects studio workstation in a tabletop unit. It makes for a nice alternative to the Akai MPC3000 (and other MPC series) instruments which traditionally set the standard for this type of desktop music workstation format.

The sampler samples in stereo to 2MB of RAM for a max of 20 seconds. That should be enough to get the sort of sounds the ASR-X is intended for: drum and perc sounds, vocal stabs, and other quick short sounds. The built-in synthesizer is based on Ensoniq's unique Transwave technology for really unique synth sounds and life-like real instruments. A powerful effects processor gives you all you need to bring life and character to your samples and synth sounds.

Of course the sequencer is the heart of this instrument. Though it can be used like a sound module or desktop sampler, those big “house” shaped pressure pads are not there just for decoration. This instrument begs to have it sounds tapped into sequences in real-time (or step-time) so you can bring your patterns to life in seconds. If necessary the sequencer does allows you to delve in deeper for fine tuning - although it was a buggy headache on early models, that could be rectified via OS upgrades.

Although it has since been replaced by the ASR-X Pro, the original ASR-X is still pretty great. For the most part, they're both the same, except that the ASR-X is not as expandable. However it still has easy programming, excellent analog-like filters (low, high and bandpass), a great sampler, digital effects and easy sequencing. Like the MPC-series, the ASR-series has been a mainstay production tool for HipHop and Rap music.

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Are you looking to buy or sell a Ensoniq ASR-X? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

24 Visitor comments
May 1, 2012 @ 12:54 am
i'm really happy people don't understand the real value of these ASR machines, just got my fourth with scsi & outputs expanded. love the sound.
March 9, 2012 @ 4:44 am
I bought the ASR-X new and early on, and eventually added the Urban sound set. I liked it, but not so much that I hung on to it. Getting one years later, the sheer sound pressure coming out of it completely surprised me. If you like things that go boooooooomm, the ASR-X is a lot of that for little money. The effects are, of course, top-notch, and the screen is obviously terrible to work through. But at current prices, this is a secret weapon to some I know, and even though it's heresy to say, this can more than hold its sonic own versus e.g. an MPC 2000 XL. A fun beast, like most Ensoniqs.
November 8, 2011 @ 8:59 am
Strange beast..: Probably the best sound engine in existence(!), nice pads and interface (sort of) - but it seems that the connection between them is broken. There is no way to edit the sounds to the full potential of the synth engine, except using a computer and special software. Thanks for that BTW, Garth Hjelte! So you're kind of stuck with a good sampler, a so-so loop sequencer, great pads and a locked-in synth. Plus, you'll really need a keyboard to make use of it. And the two knobs will drive you mad. But for rap and urban sounds, this thing kills!
October 1, 2011 @ 11:54 am
This is a great machine with lots of depth but replacement parts are a killer to find. They are either expensive or non existant. I'm trying solve the problem of floppy storage with Sony Floppy Disc Interface for Memory Stick. Has anyone tried or heard of this? The scsi to ide interface is nightmare to find for CF instaltion and I'm not a fan of zip drives. I wish this machine got as much after market love as its mpc counterparts. I love my ASR X but this issue iss definately a downer.
July 1, 2011 @ 12:07 am
This machine is a beast!!
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 3.93 (354 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 32 voices
  • Sampler - 44.1kHz; 20-bit A/D, 18-bit D/A, 16-bit Memory; Stereo or mono; Sample-time: 2MB standard (20.5 seconds max), expandable
  • Filter - low-pass, hi-pass and band-pass resonant filters
  • Effects - 2 effect processors
  • Keyboard - 13 Velocity sensitive trigger pads
  • Memory - Disk: 1.4 MB Quad-density HD, 3.5" micro-floppy disk
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1997
  • Resources & Credits
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    Review updated May 2012.

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