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.

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124 Visitor comments
xidan
December 11, 2011 @ 10:40 pm
@shane
midi is easy, you can program everything per routing the parameters to the tweakable cc and then adjusting the specific value.
xidan
December 11, 2011 @ 10:38 pm
of those with analog filters one of the most flexible. best things aside the fine waveforms is the 3 free envelopes you can assign to every of the osc-dca. having another one free for the filter would have been perfect though.
Sam
November 25, 2011 @ 4:52 pm
Ceephax Acid Crew should definitely be added to famous users of this synthesizer, really big part of his sound on a ton of tracks.
home alone
November 25, 2011 @ 10:34 am
Found one of these @ a church auction while I was driving through upstate NY (GREAT place to find old gear). Picked it up for $50, think things are finally turning around for this guy. In all seriousness, the esq-1 sounds great once you start tweaking the patches, and has a really lovely "grime" to the sound.

Great candidate for those looking to add some more color to a midi rig without breaking the bank.
shane
November 1, 2011 @ 9:35 pm
does any know how easily this can be midi pragrammed through say a BCR
 
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  • 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
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