Ensoniq ESQ-1

Ensoniq ESQ-1 Image

Similar to the Mirage synth/sampler, the ESQ-1 was Ensoniq's highly affordable and impressive digital synthesizer, released in 1986. Although the waveforms are digital in nature, the filters are all analog as on the Mirage. In fact, for a digital synth the ESQ-1 has many good old analog-synth features such as a ring modulator, sequencer, and oscillator-sync. The envelopes and LFOs are can be freely routed to each DCO, VCA and or VCF. There are 40 preset sounds which are the usual not-so-great sounds. Luckily the VFD display screen is large enough to make editing the sounds somewhat pleasant.

What really sets the ESQ-1 apart from other similar synths is the voice architecture. Choose from analog, digital, or samples or any combo since there are three independent oscillators per voice! Once you start editing on the ESQ-1 you will come up with interesting and unique results. Using dynamic voice allocation it can seemlesly switch from 8-voices of analog to 8-voices of digital or sampled voices! This gives you a wide array of different sonic elements at your fingertips!

Then there's its built-in sequencer. It can store up to 24,000 notes in 30 sequences and 10 songs via battery back-up. Anyone in search of an alternative synthesizer should consider the ESQ-1. More analog than a DX-7 or D-50 and also much cheaper, the ESQ-1 is a tasty option that is worth a try.

Ensoniq ESQ-< Image

The ESQ-M (pictured above) is a rack-mount version released in 1987 which is identical to the ESQ-1 except that it excludes the on-board sequencer option. The ESQ-synths have been used by Anything Box, Skinny Puppy, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Steve Roach.

Lookup Ensoniq ESQ-1 Prices

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

Related forum topics


Are you looking to buy or sell a Ensoniq ESQ-1? 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.

124 Visitor comments
July 28, 2011 @ 10:03 pm
Does anyone know if there is an librarian/editor that will run on Windows 7? Anyone have any 3.5 OS chips they want to sell? Thanks!
June 16, 2011 @ 10:27 am
I have an Ensoniq EPS-501137-F dated 06/06/88 which I'm preparing for a friends daughter. The base unit seems to work OK but I don't have any disks. Rather than buy the FD emulator which looks really good I'm hoping I can source some floppies - any help very much appreciated.

June 9, 2011 @ 1:00 am
Along with JX-3p this is hands down the best steal out there right now! I've owned three of them in the last few months alone and didn't pay more than $200 for any of them... It can do a wicked minimoog lead... A very robust Oberheim Brass... Stellar Solina strings too! In fact it is a composers dream to have this much of a variation of sounds on one unit. Fantastic + simple sequencer + really cool display... You can dial up some very good metallic DX7 sounds on it too... And an instant later have the windows rattling with its analog filter. Fun to hold and layer sounds = I love my esq-1
James Brown
May 17, 2011 @ 6:19 am
I usually dont like synths without knobs, but this is one of my favs. 12 bit grit and analog filters, cant go wrong. I just got the 'Hidden Waves' EPROMs on ebay, Theres a guy who sells them there, it gives you access to 'hidden waveforms' kind of glitchy type sounds. I'd never heard of these till now--Im rediscovering my ESQ with these, like having a circuit bent esq by just swapping some chips, recommended for ESQ owners who like glitchy raw sounds. Also love the AM modulation combined with mod wheel control of osc pitch, great stuff!
March 4, 2011 @ 9:04 pm
Owned mine from 1988-2010...and never regretted having it in my gear stack. It just DID what I wanted done...a little cheesy, but great routing and filtering. Other than the weight, an incredibly solid board to tote around to jot down phrases and ideas...and was surprisingly fast and responsive live (back in the early 90's that is). Its a shame they're so going so cheap these days...but a boon to the bargain hunter who recognized the power that can be had at the fingertips for less than 2 C-notes.
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 4.68 (827 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 - 8 voices (dynamic voice allocation)
  • Oscillators - 3 digital oscillators per voice, 32 waveforms
  • LFO - 3 LFOs per voice; triangle, saw, square, random
  • Filter - 4-pole analog resonant filter with 6-stage envelope
  • VCA - 4 VCA + 4 Envelopes with 7 parameters per voice
  • Sequencer - 8-Track (30 patterns, 10 songs w/ up to 99 patterns each)
  • Effects - None
  • Keyboard - 61 note (velocity)
  • Memory - 40 patches
  • Control - MIDI (8-parts)
  • Date Produced - 1986 - 1988
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

Errors or Corrections? Send them here.