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.

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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
April 27, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

You can just use google to find patches.

But they come as Sysex files. You need a usb to midi interface and a program called Midi-Ox (which is free and found via google). You then read the ESQ-1 manual to workout how the ESQ can be setup to accept a midi dump, then open the sysex file in midi ox and dump it onto the esq. A bit of trial and error and google and you should get there.

You could also try finding patches as audio files and doing a dump that way. Again esq 1 manual.
April 10, 2014 @ 5:37 pm
I wish there was a place I could find patches for this amazing synth. I blew some money on ebay for "patches", but it ended being a bunch of obsolete files that you have to use special equipment to load into the board of the synth. What a ripoff. Someone help me find a list of patches I can manually just put into the thing?
April 4, 2014 @ 3:37 pm
hello i bought one of these guys on ebay a couple months ago for $250 ($300 with shipping). cosmetically, it looks like new and as far as i can tell, plays/sounds great. however, i do want to ask, is it normal that i can't apply the filter in real time via the slider? it works via the mod wheel, but with the slider it does not apply until the next keypress.
April 3, 2014 @ 3:05 pm
Got one back in the summer for $500. one of the best purchases I have ever made.
January 15, 2014 @ 10:53 pm
Been lucky enough to play one of these guys in the past and I fell in love with it instantly, ever since I've been trying to get my hands on one but with no avail!
If anyone knows of someone in Australia selling one of these guys in working condition hit me up please!

contact me at michael.d.5399@gmail.com
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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
  • Resources & Credits
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