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
November 19, 2011 @ 9:04 am
Just reading these comments I felt I had to write something. The SD 1 changed my life. I got it around 1993 and it still hasn't developed any problems. It's a synth that makes you want to write. I've written heaps of songs, and people have been stunned to know all the sounds and effects have come from this single beast. Operation is a breeze and the sounds are incredible. I've got rid of a fair few synths over the years. Would I sell or exchange it? -Not for all the tea in China!
Legend Z-Man
October 14, 2011 @ 2:35 pm
I have owned one of these pretty much since it's release, I don't play and record like I used to but this machine was just awesome in it's abilities. I still from time to time turn it on and play or listen to the Many Songs I recorded over the years. There are times I consider selling it but then thank the gods, I can never seem to let this wonderful machine go. the SD-1 was always my Favorite of all my Keyboards and trust me I've let go of a Few Rolands and Korgs.
September 30, 2011 @ 3:47 pm
Most of the original Ensoniq cartridges (and disks, and much more) are available from www.syntaur.com. These synths are great, but they do not handle power fluctuations well. I toured with them for several years, and had to carry around a spare power supply board, because voltage fluctuations would kill the power supply (especially at outdoor festivals powered by generator). I finally bought a Furman AR-117 voltage regulator, and that cured everything nicely.
Howard A. Jones (Haj)
September 14, 2011 @ 7:54 am
Im in need of an SD-1 32 voice fully loaded with sounds desk and cartrage. if you know someone who's willing to sell I'll pay TOP DOLLAR ! email: hajloans@yahoo.com and hajloans@aol.com also hajloans@msn.com and hajloans@gmail.com please contact me asap. POSTED DATE Sept. 14, 20, 2011 time est. 8:45 am Thank You
Stephan Eric Alexander
August 12, 2011 @ 12:27 pm
As most of know, Life is loaded with ups and downs. At this point my funds are quite on the downside but After years of owning this incredible machine, I`ve got the time to remark about how very wonderful I feel about this Keyboard VFX-SD. It required re-calibrating and this was done in New York. I hope to own the SD-1 in the near future, as my thoughts for this company are "Ensoniq Ruled" for it`s uniqueness as a Synthesizer Producer. Unfortunately, Ensoniq no longer exists (as a company) but as I venture to find Simplicity, the ease of creating is unsurpassed. ENSONIQ`s SD-1 come find me.
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Rated 3.82 (302 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.
  • Demos & Media
  • YouTube Thumbnail
    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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