Ensoniq VFX / VFX-SD

Ensoniq VFX Image

Following up on the heels of the ESQ-1 and SQ-80 synths from Ensoniq comes the VFX with more polyphony and waveforms. The VFX allows for PPG-like synthesis using a sort of wavetable synthesis. This puts it into a unique class of digital synthesizers along with the PPG Wave series, Waldorf Microwave series, and Ensoniq SD-1, SQ-80, ESQ-1, and Fizmo.

The VFX has 21 voices of polyphony. A single patch can contain up to 6 of 109 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 VFX has a standard 61-note keyboard with velocity and polyphonic aftertouch. The synth also has full MIDI implementation with 12 channels for multitimbral functions. The VFX has a cartridge port as well, for storing sounds onto Ensoniq's proprietary media. The VFX is a digital synth, and its filter is pretty weak but the VFX makes some sweet strings and textural sounds but it won't be very handy for any "meaty drum and bass sounds. It has been used by Front 242, Rick Wakeman, Nick Rhodes, Tony Banks, Peter Vettese, T Lavitz, Jonathan Cain (Bad English, Journey), Richard Barbieri and Oscar Peterson.

Ensoniq VFX-SD Image

The VFX-SD adds a powerful 24-track sequencer for a total music production workstation. This is a professional quality sequencer with 25,000 note capacity expandable to 75,000, and it holds up to 60 sequences and songs. There is quantization (96 ppqn), real or step time input and auto-punch in/out. One thing that's kind of quirky, the sequencer's operating system gets loaded into the instrument's RAM memory from floppy disk (they replaced the bulky and proprietary cartridges of the VFX with a standard 3.5" floppy drive). This allowed Ensoniq to provide new operating systems that you could load in real easily. This was a good thing since the VFX was plagued by bugs during its early years and there were several subsequent OS versions released by Ensoniq, the most recent of which can still be downloaded.

The VFX-SD also adds new drum and percussion sounds including 24 drum kits. A disk originally shipped with the VFX-SD full of pre-sequenced drum patterns to get you going or inspired! Despite these newer features, the VFX-SD is totally compatible with the original VFX sound library. The VFX-SD also featured four individual outputs, MIDI Automated mixing, and an on-board 3.5" disk drive for storing your sound patches, sequences, songs, and SysEx MIDI messages. Unfortunately the VFX-SD did not do too well when it was released, so Ensoniq re-released it with a few enhancements and called it the SD-1.

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46 Visitor comments
Just Me
November 7, 2013 @ 9:36 pm
As to the blofeld. I sold my blofeld keyboard after 6 months. I still have my VFX-SD after 10 years. The arpeggiator in the blofeld was the only thing I miss. It was good. The VFX-SD when used as a performance machine is very nice. I do find the effects noisy and generally send dry to offboard effects.
max
October 27, 2013 @ 2:34 am
I had a VFX-SD in my rig for about ten years - FX were great, and the 6 oscillator engine, in conjunction with the patch select buttons (a la EPS) helped create really playable, expressive sounds - the sequencer is actually a pretty good pattern sequencer as well.
The bob chap
August 31, 2013 @ 4:04 pm
Hi everybody,

I was wondering if someone can kindly tell me, how does the VFX compare to more recent wavetable synths, for example the Waldorf Blofeld. What I'm specifically wondering is how good the VFX is at creating really far-out, alien, surreal sounds, that the waldorf blofeld seems to be so good at. Does the VFX just not have the waveforms, modulation possibilities etc. ?

Many Thanks.
Pulse Emitter
April 17, 2013 @ 1:12 am
a monster of a synth! after working with and loving my ESQ-1 i decided to check this out. i use it on everything now. the transwaves are unbelievably good sounding, so much character. a very powerful and unusual topography that instantly made sense to me, just made for lush, shifting pads. it came with a stack of floppys that the original owner had purchased, third party sounds he had bought, some inspiring stuff in there! the filter is nothing, no resonance, like an EQ. this is a digital synth, with a very digital sound. very smooth, high quality tones. i love it! www.synthnoise.com
John C
October 17, 2012 @ 12:41 pm
I haave been a player for around 30 years, and in the day(s), I have onwed classic Krummar, Moog Oberheim, and many others (unfortunatly a Yamaha piano...junkola), and my Ensoniq VFX and Ensoniq ESP (and Kork CX-3 with Motion-Sound) made me (locally) famous. The sonic quality of these keys cannot be overstated. Now I have just digital stuff on PC. Not the same groove, to be sure. Rock on!
 
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  • 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 - 21 voices
  • Oscillators - 1 to 6 per voice. Wavetable has 109 waveforms (multi-sampled acoustic instruments, sustained waveforms, harmonic and inharmonic structures)
  • LFO - 1 LFO
  • Filter - Dual multi-mode digital filters; High- and Low-Pass with 12 or 24 dB/Oct. Band-pass filter with 12 dB/Oct.
  • Envelopes - 3 11-stage envelopes
  • Sequencer - (VFX-SD only) 24-track, 25,000 note capacity (expandable to 75,000), 60 songs and sequences, 96 PPQN quantization resolution
  • Effects - 24-bit Dual VLSI Multi-Effects: reverb, chorus, flanging, and delay
  • Keyboard - 61 keys (velocity and polyphonic aftertouch)
  • Memory - VFX: 120 patches, 12 performances
    VFX-SD: Over 200 patches, 3.5" disk drive for external loading and storage of sounds, sequences, songs, MIDI SysEx and VFX-SD sequencer Operating System.
  • Control - MIDI IN/OUT/THRU (12-channel multitimbral)
  • Date Produced - 1989

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