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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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
March 9, 2012 @ 4:54 am
Dark, grungy, a cold heart run through a surprisingly warm analog filter. Its DAC interface is a model of clarity and usability, it's keyboard is far too lightweight to satisfy my heavy touch, but I still want one, and I'll buy it again some day. You might conceivably use its sequencer to drive your entire studio, as it was many years ahead of any of the competition as far as build-in sequencer were concerned. It's still an Ensoniq though, so don't pay premium prices. These must forever be affordable, as many were sold, and all of them need to be in the hands of talented, and broke, kids.
February 9, 2012 @ 7:02 pm
IIRC, the Esq 1 and M can save sequences and patches to the Mirage's disk drive. Could be very useful for those of you who have a Mirage.
January 23, 2012 @ 4:57 pm
Great gritty sound, limitless possibilities. The ESQ1 sparks total creativity. I love how you can make up a sequence and then change the patch data on them to come up with some crazy patterns that are still musically pleasing.

The midi out is not functioning on mine, anyone know what that could be? It's not a setting issue sure of it.

sysex library on the buchty website will in windows 7 in virtual windows XP mode.
December 15, 2011 @ 6:04 pm
@Max: you need a simple voltage converter (capable of >50w), they´re cheap.
December 14, 2011 @ 11:10 am
Guys! I'm planning to buy one, but is it possible to make it work on 220v power adaptor somehow?
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Rated 4.68 (829 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
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