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.

Check Ensoniq ESQ-1 Prices on eBay

The link above will take you to a 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.

118 Visitor comments
April 12, 2012 @ 3:58 am
Its a great synth but take care like most Ensoniq synths if you drop it it will never work again.....
March 14, 2012 @ 11:52 am
The ESQ-1 is a classic synth. The synth can be anything you want from lush pads to filthy basslines. With its strong and fat filter this babe can do damage when needed. The oscillators are all good not Analog but good enough to get lost in programming for days. What more could you want with 3 oscillators running through this filter will send grandma running home. Pick it up for a bargain under $150. Oh yeah the battery is usually dead when you get them no worry though easy cheap fix if you care about saving patches otherwise it will function even after battery is dead just wont save patches.
Jason Tonks
March 13, 2012 @ 11:49 am
Doug Farrar- please contact me. I am looking for a mint ESQ.

midipuppies at mac.com
Doug Farrar
March 11, 2012 @ 6:52 pm
I have one that i have been sitting on for 25 years. Its mint condition. I just prefer vst stuff.
I would love to get rid of it.
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.
Post Comment!
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 4.68 (783 Votes)

  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a 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

Errors or Corrections? Send them here.