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
December 24, 2011 @ 3:49 pm
lman: In the Master page you can adjust the bend range from 0 to 12 semitones.
October 9, 2011 @ 11:52 pm
Anyone know how to reduce the pitch range on the Mod wheel? Getting ready to perform Pousette-Dart's 'County Line' mini-moog lead part, and the factory default setting is wayyyyyyy to broad.

Any help appreciated - have looked through the manual, and can't find any clear reference to setting this...
Rob Ocelot
July 8, 2011 @ 11:58 pm
@martin The Prophet VS also uses the CEM 3379 so I think the confusion stems from an old Harmony Central misquote as "Prophet V" which others read as "Prophet 5".

Isn't it funny how the same old synth myths and BS just keep circulating? It doesn't help that VSE doesn't amend or correct factual errors, ever.
June 24, 2011 @ 10:34 am
CORRECTION: contrary to what "john" posted, the SQ-80 does NOT use the same filter as the Prophet 5. Rather, it uses the CEM3379 chip which is also used in the Prophet 2000 sampler. The ONLY Prophet that shares the same filter with the SQ-80/ESQ-1/ESQ-M is the Prophet 2000!! People: please get your facts straight!!
May 11, 2011 @ 5:01 am
the sq80 does have 3 static wavetable/pcm oscillators per voice, and 8 voices, afaik 8*3=24...
Both ignorant and arrogant people like you are a real nuisance these days...
VSE Rating


User Rating

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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