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
Mark
December 17, 2012 @ 11:14 pm
R.E. FM synthesis: I think the guy was asking if it can simply sound like a DX7. Even though its a wavetable synth, the architecture most closely resembles an Oberheim Xpander module. Using the formant waves and the handful of included digital waves, it is very easy to coax FM-ish sounds from the ESQ. I believe that the factory presets were 60% designed to specifically resemble the "bells and whistles" of the then-popular DX line.
j s
August 26, 2012 @ 8:16 pm
FM? Are you joking? This is a wavetable instrument!
Ron
August 13, 2012 @ 7:58 pm
I have an ESQ-1 and an ESQm, Does anyone know why my ESQm has a yellow display on it rather than the usual blueish-cyan colored display?
michaelphibes
August 6, 2012 @ 8:49 pm
wow a truly amazing keyboard. the editing screen is huge. you pretty much have command at making your own presets.40 should be enuff gosh. question is why didnt they make more keyb. like this.its super easy to program. just press a couple buttons and program. to start off there are a few bass, brass, and string sounds. this is a truly special keyboard that everyone needs to check for themselves i mean it!
Cherokee
July 31, 2012 @ 1:26 pm
Can this do any type of FM synthesis?
 
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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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