Did you know that Robert Yannes, co-founder of Ensoniq was the creative mind behind the Commodore’s 64 chip SID? After that experience, he started Ensoniq and made this super synth

Here we are with one of my favourite synths all the time, the Ensoniq ESQ1. There are two versions with keyboard, the metal body version and other built in plastic. Besides, there is a rack version as well.

It’s a 61 key velocity sensitive, eight-note polyphonic and multitimbral with digital oscillators but the rest signal chain (VCA, VCF) are analog.

The first time you turn switch on it, quickly see this big amazing and retro display, wich it’s perfect to control what are you doing all the time.

It was made by  Robert Yannes, father of the popular SID chip, so it sounds pretty similar with that character, besides, it reminds a bit aesthetically the famous old computer and those ages.

A goal of it, is the way to create new sounds, because of it’s so easy, so you can access quickly to every parameter, understand quickly what are you doing and learn subtractive synthesis.

It works with standard wavetables (you know, piano, bass, strings, etc) that you can apply to obtain new sounds, getting FM bells, metallic drums, deep bass, celestial strings…

Inside, there is a standard Filter Curtis, that sounds creamy. The way to control it is not very accurate because of the fader for that is slow, so if you want to control the synth in real time, a great way would be with some midi controller.

First, you create a sound inside, save it, and then you play with the external controller, and when you want to return to the initial point, you just click the preset to restore it.

This is multitimbral, so with that sequencer, you could create entirely a track inside if you want.

Its keyboard is amazing, with a great pulsation, so, because of this synth is cheapest, a lot of people uses it like a midi master keyboard for triggering other gear.

Its OS has a few bugs, so, it’s probably that you will have to make a hard reset in an occasional way. If you have to, here are the steps to make that correctly.

Presets are stored in a battery lithium, but if you desire you could keep it in a cartridge designed for that.

It’s cheapest, solid… but be careful with the keyboard, because of there is a design fault that this could cause response keys problems, so it’s complicated to repair. This fail is typical in most of Ensoniq keyboards (ASR-10, SQ-80. VFX, etc). I know people with this problem and other that happened anything. It’s like a lottery 🙂

Another important goal is If you install the latest EPROMs (V 3.5) you will have available more waveforms.If you want to, this is the way.


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