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

Comments

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
markix88
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)
DCO-VCF-VCA
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.
DCO-VCF-VCA
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:

http://www.buchty.net/ensoniq/index.html#sq8l
IX
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 .
shannon
February 11, 2009 @ 1:21 am
At first, someone not familiar with synths will think this synth sounds really fakey. But this synth will do excellent moog sounds, a decent piano sound (for 1986) and other nice instrument sounds are possible. electric piano sounds are top notch. it will make edgy stabs and warm vintage, quite analog sounds. it can emulate practically any synth that preceded it. i use recordings from it in place of virtual synths. i once got it to make the 'dolby THX' sound and someone once emulated many of the original star trek sound effects on an esq-1.

it has layer, split keyboard, and on top of everything, a built in sequencer.

if they could make these things now and sell them for what they run used, every electronic musician would have one.
 
Post Comment!
VSE Rating

Excellent

User Rating

Rated 4.68 (786 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.