Ensoniq SQ-80

Ensoniq SQ-80 Image

The SQ-80 is basically a reved-up ESQ-1 with a total of 75 waveforms, a 61-note keyboard with velocity & aftertouch, floppy disk drive for storing patches and sequences, and an enhanced sequencer. Great for organs, analog-type sounds, pads and sound effects. Like the classic ESQ-1, the SQ-80 functions in providing analog-type 4-pole lowpass filtering and editing of digital waveforms. Each voice can combine up to 3 of the 75 waveforms. These waveforms include multi-sampled transient attack waves such as violin bow, plectrum picks, mallet, hammer, breath attacks and percussive sounds. There are also 5 sampled drum sets. Three LFOs are onboard for some pretty wild modulation of the sounds you create or edit. Complete MIDI implementation makes the SQ-80 great for any studio or live use too.

Ensoniq SQ-80 Image

As for playing the SQ-80, it is a dream! Its 61-note keyboard is full, responsive and has polyphonic aftertouch. Polyphonic aftertouch simply means that each key pressed will respond to aftertouch independently of the other keys. The aftertouch can be used to control a variety of modulation parameters such as the LFO. Pitch and mod wheels and plenty of front-panel buttons and a few sliders make accessing and editing fairly easy and hands-on. The keyboard can be split or layered. The pattern-based 8-track multitimbral sequencer is great for creating short to complex sequences live, or in step time with quantization, bounce-able tracks, 60 sequence patterns and 20 songs. And they can be saved to disk along with any patches you've created and any SysEx Midi data. Unfortunately, the SQ-80 has no built-in effects. The SQ-80 is certainly a classic analog/digital hybrid of the late eighties which still holds up well today. It has been used by filmaker/composer John Carpenter.

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37 Visitor comments
April 12, 2011 @ 11:10 pm
"Oscillators - 24 osc"

I'd say that it has NO oscillators at all. Word oscillator suits best for synthesizers. This is sample player with added synth like properties like LFO's, envelopes and nice filter section.

Besides, even if you count samples as OSC's how in the earth some one counted it having 24!?

How about 3 like ESQ-1?
April 3, 2011 @ 10:09 pm
This is top instrument of all the flawless ensoniq history,it has the same filter that the P5 does. Todays prices for that just a question of time. they will rise a lot
February 15, 2011 @ 10:21 pm
Out of my many gear changes, nothing has survived as long as my SQ-80. Yes, the keybed is loud and has far from the best action. Really the synths only major flaw. Once you adapt to the action the SQ-80 becomes a true instrument that you can emote with. Modulation routings, poly-aftertouch, velocity, layering, and that warm filter make the SQ-80 something truly unique, in a good way. Can't think of a synth in it's price range that has so much character.
Joel Galasso
January 9, 2011 @ 10:28 pm
I love this synth! Lo he programado durante horas, semanas, meses y siempre logra sorprenderme. Lo he usado mucho para sintes solistas o para colchones en composiciones para películas. Si lo ven a un precio razonable cómprenlo, no se arrepentirán nunca jamás.
September 27, 2010 @ 5:44 pm
I find those comparisons hard to believe as they sound exactly the same. heard those when I first got my sq and tried my own comparison...copying the patches exactly and the results were quite a bit different from one and other though somewhat similar. I will say however that the software does sound pretty cool in its own right.
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Rated 4.03 (396 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
  • Oscillators - 24 osc.
  • LFO - Up to 3 per voice - can route to pitch, amp, filter, pan
  • Filter - 1 4-pole analog filter per voice w/sweepable resonance
  • VCA - 1 digital amp per oscillator + 1 global amp per voice
  • Sequencer - 8-Track, 60 patterns, 20 songs, 20,000 note capacity
  • Keyboard - 61 keys with velocity & aftertouch
  • Memory - 40 patches onboard + 80 with EEPROM cartridge, floppy drive
  • Control - MIDI (8-part), switch pedal, CV pedal, wheel, breath, mono/poly aftertouch, kybd mapping
  • Date Produced - 1988 - 1989
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

    Thanks to Tony Evans for providing information.

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