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
December 16, 2013 @ 3:34 pm
I don't own tons of synths, just this and a Yamaha an1x. I had to get it repaired, and while it was gone It was missed. The feel of the keys on this keyboard by my preferences is perfect and for some reason the words "chocolate bar" enter my head when trying to describe how the keys feel (the an1x keys feel more keyboard and almost like yeah I'm gonna play a lead or something like that, still great).
December 6, 2013 @ 5:22 am
Anyone looking to sell to a good home? Email me! highhumidity(at)gmail.com
October 23, 2013 @ 2:45 am
The ESQ-1 is certainly memorable but from what I remember playing it everyday as a teen at Sam Ash music it sounds brittle. The DX7 is still popular due to its true FM hard hitting sounds. Not even the D50 could beat the DX. Not a single good Rhodes on the D50 or the ESQ-1. I still have my 1983 DX7 and still use it.
October 14, 2013 @ 11:59 pm
I just picked one of these up a few days ago, and have already programmed some of the craziest sounds on this thing. The Ensoniq ESQ1 has the most sonic possibilities of any synth I have ever played, and I own/have owned Nord Lead 2X, Lead 3, Waldorf Microwave, DSI prophet '08, Roland Juno 60, Alpha Juno, Korg Mono-Poly, MS2000, Roland JP-8080, Waldorf Blofeld. The envelopes, LFOS, and routings available in this synth are second to none, other than maybe the Nord Modular. Add the punchy analog filters and this synth is one of the best buys out there.
Jolly Rancher
September 29, 2013 @ 9:53 pm
Zerozillion - what specifically do you find incorrect with the preview of the ESQ-1 as presented above? I haven't used these machines in a number of years now but I own both the ESQ-1 and the ESQm and it seems to present a pretty accurate representation of what I remember about the devices.
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.