Ensoniq SD-1

Ensoniq SD-1 Image

The SD-1 comes from a long line of Ensoniq's evolving TransewaveTM wavetable digital synthesizers. It began with Ensoniq's earliest synthesizer, the ESQ-1. That led to the SQ-80, then the VFX and VFX-SD (the latter featuring an on-board sequencer) and then to the SD-1 (and it eventually led to the Fizmo). The SD-1 allows for additive synthesis using waveform modulation, a sort of wavetable synthesis. This puts it into a unique class of digital synthesizers along with the PPG Wave series and Waldorf Microwave series.

The SD-1 can create all sorts of acoustic, electric, digital, and analog-like sounds. Its piano sound has over 1 MB of 16-bit waveforms to give it a full and rich realistic tone not found in other digital synthesizers of the time. That piano sound was just the beginning of what would become the "Perfect Piano" used in Ensoniq's ZR-76 and E-mu/Ensoniq's Halo series "Sounds of the ZR" ROM expansion soundset.

The SD-1 has 21 voices of polyphony just like its predecessor, the VFX (a 32 voice version later became available). A single patch can contain up to 6 of the 168 waves in its ROM memory that can be combined and layered. Advanced and analog-like synth parameters including its dual multi-mode digital filters, three 11-stage envelopes, LFO, and 15 modulation sources allow you to further shape and morph your sounds. There's even a built-in 24-bit VLSI dual effects processor with reverb, chorus, flanging and delay. The SD-1 also has a standard 61-note keyboard with velocity sensitivity, polyphonic aftertouch and full MIDI implementation with 12 channels for multitimbral functions as well as four 16-bit DAC outputs.

Like the VFX-SD, the SD-1 has a professional quality on-board sequencer making it a complete all-in-one music production workstation. This is a 24-track sequencer with 25,000 note capacity and it holds up to 60 sequences and 20 songs. There is quantization (96 ppqn), real-time or step entry, looped or linear mode, and auto-punch in/out. Tracks can be set to control the SD-1's internal voices or external MIDI equipment, or both at the same time! An on-board 3.5" disk drive allows you to store your programs, sequences, songs, and even MIDI SysEx data. The SD-1 is compatible with all VFX and VFX-SD program librarys too. An optional SQX-70 Sequencer Expander upgrades the sequencer memory from 25,000 to over 75,000 notes.

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32 Visitor comments
bobby h.
June 3, 2011 @ 5:38 pm
The SD-1 is basically a more reliable version of the VFX, which like many of Ensoniq's synths, was not very reliable. (I owned a ESQ-1- horrible!) Tony Banks used the SD-1 on the '92 Genesis We Can't Dance tour to replace the VFX he used on the album.
Jsomers
April 15, 2011 @ 5:43 pm
I have an SD-1 that has a clitch in the tempo. Enen with sliders all up or down, the tempo will erratically jump from lowest tempo,(001), to highest temp,(250), no matter what i do. If anyone can help me with this problem please e-mail me at: jsomers549@yahoo.com. Thank-you. jerry (04/15/11).
Colin Macdonald
February 25, 2011 @ 7:56 pm
The Ensonic SD-1 was also used by another famous Keyboard player in the 1990's until he was given a full sponsorship from KORG. His name is Jim Gilmourof the band SAGA noted as being one the best Progressive Rock Keyboard players of our time. the Ensonic was most notabley used on the 1995 released album Generation 13 actually several of them where used live.
Mark Magee
February 18, 2011 @ 7:48 am
I am looking for an SD 1. If anyone has a lead on one one, please contact me at 8322500317 or email me at soundengineer1@ yahoo.com. Thanks
Mark Magee
David
February 5, 2011 @ 8:56 pm
I just have to say that I also have an SD-1 that I love dearly. I'm always paranoid that it's going to die (just because of it's age) and I haven't found anything as a possible replacement. I love the sequencer functions, especially the ability to string together smaller sequences in a song "file" and adjust repeats on the fly. To the best of my knowledge, the computer based sequences just caught up with this in the newest version of Cubase. I think someone had a time machine when this keyboard was designed, or it was adapted from alien technology. They just don't make 'em like this now.
 
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  • 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.
  • Demos & Media
  • YouTube Thumbnail
    ENSONIQ SD-1
    by Steve Sisson

    Manual - Download the original owner's manual from SoundProgramming.net.

  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 21 voices (or 32 voices in the SD-1/32).
  • Oscillators - 1 to 6 per voice. Wavetable has 168 waveforms (multi-sampled acoustic instruments, sustained waveforms, harmonic and inharmonic structures) 3.5 MB ROM.
  • LFO - 1 LFO
  • Filter - dual multi-mode digital filters
  • Envelopes - 3 11-stage envelopes
  • Sequencer - 25,000 note capacity (expandable to 75,000), 60 patterns, 20 songs
  • Effects - 24-bit Dual VLSI Multi-Effects: reverb, chorus, flanging, and delay
  • Keyboard - 61 keys (velocity and polyphonic aftertouch)
  • Memory - 180 Patches, 60 Performances
  • Control - MIDI (12-parts)
  • Date Produced - 1990
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from unknown source.

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