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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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
January 14, 2011 @ 11:59 am
i need a good synth and i really don't have much money and this synth looks amazing. i was just wondering if any of you know anywhere i could get one? email me. isaiah_mcd@hotmail.com. please contact me
January 10, 2011 @ 1:45 pm
The ESQ-1 was my very first keyboard back in the 1980's. I knew nothing about filters, envelopes and LFO's back then so all I did was play the presets sounds. Wow, did this keyboard sound great. Ensoniq made some wonderful sounding keyboards back in the days.
December 27, 2010 @ 11:53 pm
Broke Bob: The capacitors probably need to be replaced. I got exact duplicates (made of modern materials) from Mouser Electronics (www.mouser.com). Desoldering and soldering took about two hours total and my ESQ-1 was fit as a fiddle again. Well, now the keys are sticking, actually, so I have to disassemble the keyboard and clean it. Ugh. But for this board, anything. It's well worth the effort.
December 16, 2010 @ 9:16 am
I always wanted one of these, and I finally got one about 6 months ago. At first I was a little let down by it, but after diving a little deeper into it, I was pleasantly surprised. It has a very unique sound and is capable of creating some wild and crazy ones as well. I do wish that there were knobs and sliders instead of buttons, but I guess for the price I shouldn't complain. Add a good effects processor with the ESQ-1 makes this machine a beast at a cheap price.
Broke Bob
December 1, 2010 @ 11:31 am
Hey, My esq1 's power supply just died. I need to find a another one or get this one fixed. Any ideas will help.
I'm not much of a keyboardist (I play & record on guitar mostly) But I was having a ball with my esq 1. now I'm just lost without the versatility, so easy to play ! Please email me with any fixes. summerhill_co@comcast.net
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Rated 4.68 (828 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
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