July 7, 2011 · Posted in Uncategorized 

The Ensoniq ESQ-1 is a hybrid synthesizer from 1986. It has 32 digital waveforms and analog lowpass filter. It is flexible, since it employs 3 oscillators, 4 envelopes and 3 LFO’s per voice. Also it has a built in pattern sequencer.

“The ESQ-1 is a mostly digital (It has analog filters) 8 voice polyphonic, synthesizer with multitimbral (8-part) capabilities and MIDI. Sounds can be split or layered. One nice feature is that changing the sound while the previous sound is still playing doesn’t cut the first sound off. It can store 40 sounds internally, and another 80 to cartridge. Sounds and sequencer data can also be stored via cassette tape.

Each sound, or timbre is constructed with up to three Oscillators. Using all three oscillators can give very thick, rich string pads and brasses, especially as the sounds can be de-tuned and panned in a variety of different ways.

Each oscillator draws upon a bank of 32 hybrid digital/sampled waveforms including sawtooth, sine, square and a variety of conventional waveforms such as piano, human voice and organ. This may not sound very many in comparison to today’s synths, but there are enough editing features to independently change these basic waveforms in an almost limitless fashion.

One of the strongest parts of the ESQ architecture is the filter section, which features analog four-pole (24dB/octave) resonant filters. The filter covers a broad sonic range, and can be modulated via a number of inputs including key velocity, modulation wheel, any of the three LFO’s and any of the four Envelopes.

The ESQ-1 comes standard with an 8 track 2400 note sequencer which can be expanded to 10,000 notes. The sequencer features a flexible ‘pattern play’ facility for chaining patterns one after the other in any order. The ESQ-1 sequencer does all the usual stuff, but has one extremely useful feature: You can record a sequence (or Pattern), comprising of up to 8 independent tracks (Bass drum, Snare, hats, synth, strings, bassline etc) and copy this to another location. You could then for example, remove the bass drum track from one of the sequences, but leave it in the other. While the sequence with the bass drum track is playing, you can select the one without the bass drum track, which will start to play with seamless integration once the first sequence has played to the end. This method of letting you chain any of the sequences in any order you like, continuously and seamlessly, means that you have total freedom with song arrangement. After trying out arrangement ideas this way, the 8 track sequences (of which 30 can be stored) can finally have their ‘play order’ fixed into a Song. I haven’t come across another sequencer that gives you the ability to play a looped sequence as many times as you want before selecting another sequence, without first having to save the order in which you want them to play. This is a very useful feature in Dance music and Techno music where the song is generally built up over time in the same key, but with additional instruments coming and going. You are not limited to using only the ESQ-1 sounds on the sequencer, as each track can be made to play the ESQ-1’s internal sounds, external sounds over MIDI, or both.”


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