“Time Synthis” a tour inside the Ensoniq SQ-80 Hidden Waves

October 10, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized 

An electronic piece called “Time Synthis” explores some of the hidden waves of the SQ-80 “Cross Wave Synthesizer”.

Photo slide show of pictures Jack Girouard took showing the steps of the upgrade as well as other shots inside and outside.

“This is an improvisation done on two tracks, (did not use the sequencer, all done live) it’s all SQ-80 sound with a Lexicon MX-300 doing some effect processing. Note: these are patches I’ve created, the upgrade to 1.8HW doesn’t give you a new set of patches, it just gives you 52 more wave types that can be used for the three oscillators. They simply add to the list of waveforms simply as numbers 75-127. The patches used in this video used hidden waveforms 78, 79, 80, 82,”

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.

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.

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