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
April 15, 2009 @ 3:28 pm
i'm lucky to have one of skinny puppy's old stock.

February 24, 2009 @ 6:30 am
bubba the esq1 is not live oriented...the data entry slider not operate in realtime...it's follow the next key pressed system...only way to sweep the filter is to assign cutoff to mod wheel (quantized signal) or the control pedal...the esq1 is pretty underrated machine but I don't like the data entry system programming...so I sell mine...for a Juno 106...but the sound is amazing (the sampled waveform instead is very boring)
February 11, 2009 @ 11:58 pm
okay actually correction to *my* last post:

i guess they are DCA's but that only means they are digitally controlled - they are still analog amplifiers. the signal isn't 1's and 0's in the amp stage.

apologies for my error... anyways regardless of the circuitry, the ESQ-1 is really great sounding synth with filters that add tons of character.
February 11, 2009 @ 11:52 pm
i'd like to make a correction to the very first post on here and also apparently to some other confused statements elsewhere on the internet: the ESQ-1/m and the SQ-80 have VCA's - NOT DCA's. it uses a curtis chip for the VCA section - a CEM 3360 in fact. The envelopes however are digital. think about it - it would make no sense at all to go DCO - VCF - DCA, which would require the signal to go through a D/A converter to the filter and then back to digital....

also check out the SQ-8L, which is a pretty decent emulation VSTi:

February 11, 2009 @ 2:24 pm
a blinder - dark moddy idm synth , glassy , warm , ppg like ? very ppg like at times , this is a classic Mood synth .
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  • 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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