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The Ensoniq ESQ 1
Old 19th November 2020
  #1
The Ensoniq ESQ 1

Hi all

I have ordered one in a great price with filght case. What do you think of this synth ? i think from all the plenty of vids around that its a beast and a really underatted one compared to what it can do.
This post has to do with current or previous owners mainly.
Old 19th November 2020
  #2
Lives for gear
 
๐ŸŽง 5 years
It's a great synth full of character, very warm filters and huge synthesis and modulation capabilities. The only downside is that classic issue of '80s programmable synths - slowass CPU that will choke and die if you try to automate anything over MIDI.

And it can be had for $200 still. There are VSTs that cost more.

So congrats on your purchase.
Old 19th November 2020
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
mitchell's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
I own a bunch of fancy vintage synths, but IMO, the ESQ-1 (and SQ-80) are THE best bargain in vintage polysynths. The digital oscillators aren't as warm as a true analog, and can't really do PWM correctly, but they're way more flexible (and there are three of them), and the filters sound great. The UI is hands down the fastest and easiest non-knob-per-function I've used. ESQ's are great!
Old 19th November 2020 | Show parent
  #4
got it for 200 euros plus the hard flight case included and mint so its a synth to stay since i am into 80s music along with my other mint beauty a classic yamaha dx 7 mk 1 with cartridges
Old 19th November 2020 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
enossified's Avatar
 
1 Review written
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kraze View Post
slowass CPU that will choke and die if you try to automate anything over MIDI.
And it can be had for $200 still.
There's not much to automate anyway. It only responds to five CCs and only three... 1 (mod wheel), 4 (foot pedal), and one additional global user defined CC...are assignable to patch parameters. The other two are 7 (MIDI volume) and 10 (pan).

What's unusual about the synth architecture is the number of internal mod sources. In 1986, four EGs and three LFOs was unheard of, even today it's not very common. Another odd feature is that splits and layers are created within a patch rather than requiring a special playing mode.

kraze, let me know where all those $200 ESQ-1s are...I haven't seen a working one that cheap for years.
Old 19th November 2020 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
๐ŸŽง 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by enossified View Post
There's not much to automate anyway. It only responds to five CCs and only three... 1 (mod wheel), 4 (foot pedal), and one additional global user defined CC...are assignable to patch parameters. The other two are 7 (MIDI volume) and 10 (pan).
CC implementation being terrible is nothing new with '80s stuff. But there's also that SysEx thing - you can "automate" stuff using it and some synths from that era do respond to such parameter changes much better than others - but with ESQ-1 it's even worse than with Matrix 1000 pre-GliGli.

Quote:
kraze, let me know where all those $200 ESQ-1s are...I haven't seen a working one that cheap for years.
Got one from eBay less than a year ago exactly for $200 (with some preset cartridge). Granted it was some kinda pawn shop where the dude just told me "it turns on so must be working" and I thought "ah what the hell - it's just a few hundred bucks".

And then I receive it and it just works.

The box was also full of some small US town newspaper pages - so it was quite interesting to look into the life of that town as well where news about some vandal kids doing graffiti make it to the front pages.
Old 19th November 2020
  #7
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenOcean View Post
Hi all

I have ordered one in a great price with filght case. What do you think of this synth ? i think from all the plenty of vids around that its a beast and a really underatted one compared to what it can do.
This post has to do with current or previous owners mainly.
You won't regret it! Check the attachments for a couple sysex files.
Old 19th November 2020
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Breaks Dude's Avatar
 
1 Review written
๐ŸŽง 5 years
No idea why these haven't shot up in value. I have one and it's pure 80s sounding excellence.
Old 19th November 2020
  #9
Lives for gear
 
hcppp's Avatar
Congrats! It wouldn't happen to have the Ensoniq flight case as well?




Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenOcean View Post
Hi all

I have ordered one in a great price with filght case. What do you think of this synth ? i think from all the plenty of vids around that its a beast and a really underatted one compared to what it can do.
This post has to do with current or previous owners mainly.
Old 19th November 2020
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
Mach1na's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 5 years
I don't know where you get these "$200" ESQ-1's.

I'd like the have the rack version (ESQ-M), and those seem really scarce. Usually eBay has everything...but those.
Old 19th November 2020
  #11
Moderator
 
Don Solaris's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenOcean View Post
Hi all

I have ordered one in a great price with filght case. What do you think of this synth ? i think from all the plenty of vids around that its a beast and a really underatted one compared to what it can do.
This post has to do with current or previous owners mainly.
4500 free patches in here:

Ensoniq ESQ-1, SQ-80 - ultimate patch collection

Feel free to share these patches with a valid link to the above thread. Please do not resell or redistribute on your own. Thanks!
Old 19th November 2020
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
Remote Vision's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
I had the ESQ-M. My favorite synthesizer of all time.
Old 20th November 2020
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Bignatius's Avatar
I've been watching for ESQ-Ms lately, myself.
Old 20th November 2020 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
๐ŸŽง 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mach1na View Post
I don't know where you get these "$200" ESQ-1's.

I'd like the have the rack version (ESQ-M), and those seem really scarce. Usually eBay has everything...but those.
I got a $100 one at the pawn shop.
Old 20th November 2020
  #15
Lives for gear
 
๐ŸŽง 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenOcean View Post
Hi all

I have ordered one in a great price with filght case. What do you think of this synth ? i think from all the plenty of vids around that its a beast and a really underatted one compared to what it can do.
This post has to do with current or previous owners mainly.
Itโ€™s sometimes a cool synth, I wouldnโ€™t use it for everything but sometimes it is the right thing. I wouldnโ€™t say really underrated...it is what it is.
Old 20th November 2020 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
๐ŸŽง 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mach1na View Post
I don't know where you get these "$200" ESQ-1's.

I'd like the have the rack version (ESQ-M), and those seem really scarce. Usually eBay has everything...but those.
I've seen ESQ-M on eBay quite a few times. But because of their rarity (and the formfactor I guess - oh and the fact you can convert them into "SQ-80M" by dropping in modified SQ-80 ROMs, which you can't do with ESQ-1) - people ask upwards of $900 for them. They don't even have a comfortable interface of their keyboard siblings. But oh well.

Saying that - I've seen quite a few SQ-80 going for $500 or slightly less once in a while
Old 20th November 2020
  #17
Gear Head
 
I had an ESQ-1 for a couple of years and always regretted getting rid of it. It has two limitations: the filter doesn't resonate enough and it doesn't have pwm- though you can sort of "hack" pwm into it iirc by syncing two square waves together and modulating the pitch of one of them...still it never sounded right.

The thing nobody ever talks about is how flexible the modulation is on these things. It has several envelopes and several lfos and you can modulate pretty much every parameter by anything you want, so you can get some really interesting sounds out of it.

Other than that, it does sound really good.
Old 20th November 2020 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
๐ŸŽง 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tryan225 View Post
though you can sort of "hack" pwm into it iirc by syncing two square waves together and modulating the pitch of one of them...still it never sounded right.
But that's in a way its charm. Since using that hack you can modulate all other waves it contains - for appropriately weird and/or sweet results.

My take is that it couldn't have PWM since it's using what is basically pre-recorded single cycle wav files. And dedicating CPU, memory (both RAM and ROM) to real-time stretching and shrinking of those waves was grossly outside of hardware capabilities of the time.

I'm even surprised it can do 3 digital OSCs, 3 LFOs, 4 ENVs, osc sync and even amplitude modulation (all while sequencing stuff) with a generic 8-bit 2 MHz CPU of the '80s and not choke (well until you send any MIDI parameter change to it that is)
Old 20th November 2020 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
abruzzi's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Breaks Dude View Post
No idea why these haven't shot up in value. I have one and it's pure 80s sounding excellence.
I don't know either, though they have been moving up. ~4 years ago I got mine on ebay for $125 shipped. Today they are mostly ~$400-500, with the ESQm commanding $700-800.

The only theory I have is that, due to its multitimberal nature, the moment you trigger a note, the sound parameters of that note are fixed. You can change filter cutoff, but only if you have it already assigned to on the CCs it is watching. So to hear changes you have to keep retirgering the note. That fine if you are a 'program today, play tomorrow' type of synthesist, but if your the sort of person that likes tweaking while a sequencer is playing, it won't work the way you hope--the stepping will be aligned with each new note.
Old 24th November 2020
  #20
Update from the ESQ Front

Got mine today has some minor issues at first i need to replace the battery this is OK for me also one key is not triggering as good as the others if anyone has a step by step video about how to perform these minimum service tasks just drop it here, otherwise its mint everything works fine got it for 200 euros with the flight case included so i can say i am pretty much satisfied with this purchase. And thanks for all the input on this post.

Also mine has the SQX 10 sequencer expansion built in.

i only get the "Brass 1" sound everywhere and the battery - never replaced before - measures only 0.33 v so its a dead one, my plan is to get the battery off the mainboard with little cables and place a holder for a normal 3V CR 2032 while i completely remove the old completely If its the right voltage.

Furthermore when i reset i cant get the preset sounds but i think that this has to do with the dead battery, my version is 2.00
Old 24th November 2020 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Nut
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by abruzzi View Post
The only theory I have is that, due to its multitimberal nature, the moment you trigger a note, the sound parameters of that note are fixed. You can change filter cutoff, but only if you have it already assigned to on the CCs it is watching. So to hear changes you have to keep retirgering the note. That fine if you are a 'program today, play tomorrow' type of synthesist, but if your the sort of person that likes tweaking while a sequencer is playing, it won't work the way you hope--the stepping will be aligned with each new note.
That's ultimately why mine is sitting under the bed, only coming out once a year to check the battery and caps. It's a good synth, I just never really had fun with the workflow. Sentimentality is keeping me from selling it... that and knowing that packing/shipping costs would pretty much eat half of what I could sell it for. Who knows, maybe my kid will need it when he starts his Skinny Puppy cover band.
Old 24th November 2020 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
NawSon's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by abruzzi View Post
I don't know either, though they have been moving up. ~4 years ago I got mine on ebay for $125 shipped. Today they are mostly ~$400-500, with the ESQm commanding $700-800.

The only theory I have is that, due to its multitimberal nature, the moment you trigger a note, the sound parameters of that note are fixed. You can change filter cutoff, but only if you have it already assigned to on the CCs it is watching. So to hear changes you have to keep retirgering the note. That fine if you are a 'program today, play tomorrow' type of synthesist, but if your the sort of person that likes tweaking while a sequencer is playing, it won't work the way you hope--the stepping will be aligned with each new note.
Mod wheel is your friend for real-time tweaking tho obviously only one at a time really. Still more than adequate if you listen to Aril Brikhaโ€™s Deeparture In Time album which is lush and tweaked quite well.
Old 24th November 2020 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
๐ŸŽง 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenOcean View Post
Update from the ESQ Front

Got mine today has some minor issues at first i need to replace the battery this is OK for me also one key is not triggering as good as the others if anyone has a step by step video about how to perform these minimum service tasks just drop it here, otherwise its mint everything works fine got it for 200 euros with the flight case included so i can say i am pretty much satisfied with this purchase. And thanks for all the input on this post.

Also mine has the SQX 10 sequencer expansion built in.

i only get the "Brass 1" sound everywhere and the battery - never replaced before - measures only 0.33 v so its a dead one, my plan is to get the battery off the mainboard with little cables and place a holder for a normal 3V CR 2032 while i completely remove the old completely If its the right voltage.

Furthermore when i reset i cant get the preset sounds but i think that this has to do with the dead battery, my version is 2.00
Dead battery is the norm when getting these synths - but I suggest you use MIDIOX to store patches on your computer regardless if you get a fresh one installed.

As for "Brass1" sound everywhere - looks like you have an old OS version. You can find a rom file of the most recent one (with "hidden waves" unlocked) then burn it on a ROM chip using f.e. buyICnow.com. New OS versions would restore default factory patches when low on battery juice - not to mention bug fixes.

Overall you got a very good deal for your 200 euros.
Old 24th November 2020
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Breaks Dude's Avatar
 
1 Review written
๐ŸŽง 5 years
I don't know what's worse - synths with buttons and a little one line screen or something like the ESQ-1 with the stepped filter.
Old 25th November 2020
  #25
Gear Addict
 
XXXEsq's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I still have one I bought new when they just came out. Replaced the battery a few times and a cap or two, but it still works fine. I use it mostly in poly-timbral mode being driven by a guitar synth. It can be overloaded if you feed it too much midi at one time, but it handles 6 channels pretty well.
Old 25th November 2020
  #26
Gear Addict
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I have an M and love the sound of it. The osc waveforms are great and I like the sync sounds it does. Would love to upgrade it to the SQ80 ROMs.

The Stereoping hardware editor is a fantastic tool for enabling knob control for all three of the oscillator's waveform selection parameters and detuning amounts. On the whole though, I find it to be far from ideal. It has an unusual subset of envelope controls which are workable if you are starting your patch from scratch but aren't so great if you are trying to edit other people's patches.

My stereoping firmware also appears to have a bug where one of the knobs puts out the wrong commands - perhaps there's a difference between the sysex spec of the ESQ-1 that it was designed for and the ESQ-M that I'm using.

I had some fun with the ESQ's multitimbral functionality recently using Retune in Max4Live to facilitate the sequencing of microtonal harmonies.

Also, as noted elsewhere the SQ8L VSTi is an excellent patch compatible emulation but more than a bit cumbersome under OSX.
Old 25th November 2020
  #27
Lives for gear
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Yeah, the vsti is pretty cool.

Just before I sold my esq-m, I copied all the internal sounds and all my cartridge sounds to computer. To this day, I can't figure out to get my data, such as "cart a" and "cart b" into forms for use with the sq8l.
Old 25th November 2020 | Show parent
  #28
Thanks for the reply my os version is 2.00 so yes its an old one, the restore sequence "Record+soft button 1" works but i dont get any preset patches just the "brass 1" i will connect the synth via midi just to check if it can load any sounds, its mint everything works fine and its really clean inside so i guess there is no issue, now about getting a new eprom its a bit of a more tech thing to me and i would like to keep it as it is, i dont mind about "hidden waves" too.
Old 25th November 2020 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
๐ŸŽง 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenOcean View Post
Thanks for the reply my os version is 2.00 so yes its an old one, the restore sequence "Record+soft button 1" works but i dont get any preset patches just the "brass 1" i will connect the synth via midi just to check if it can load any sounds, its mint everything works fine and its really clean inside so i guess there is no issue, now about getting a new eprom its a bit of a more tech thing to me and i would like to keep it as it is, i dont mind about "hidden waves" too.
With 2.00 you ain't getting any patches restored since there are none stored in the OS ROM except for a single one. The collection of stock patches was added in 2.30. You can load them using MIDIOX from sysex files but they will stay in memory only until the powerdown if a battery is not replaced.
The most recent firmware is 3.5 - so there is quite a bit of changes.

On the other hand your unit having firmware version 2.00 probably means it's made of metal and not plastic like newer ones - so if that's the case - you also got a better build quality right there.
Old 25th November 2020
  #30
Lives for gear
 
massimo's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Hi all,

I have the ESQ-m, and I love it.
Is this the upgrade with SQ80 waveforms some of you are referring to?
https://www.ebay.de/itm/DIY-KIT-Enso...Cclp%3A2334524
Any first-hand experience?
Also, I have a cartridge with hundreds of presets. Will their sound change after performing the upgrade?

Best
Massimo
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