ensoniq esq-1


general info

sequencer spec












My ESQ-1 is pretty 'fat' - it came with an expansion board called PA_DECODER RAM & WAVE EXPANSION installed, and it's got an SQX-10 sequencer memory expansion inside. The PA_DECODER gizmo is in fact a small computer on a board (actually two boards, one for RAM expansion, the other one piggybacked into OS sockets for wave expansion), giving ESQ-1 memory page switching capabilities like we used to have in cute 8-bit computers during 80's. So, instead of 40 patches my ESQ-1 stores 320 in 8 banks which can be activated 40 at a time with a keypress. PA_DECODER also adds 32 new waveforms but I haven't tried those out yet. The manual for the board is in German and I only have a paper copy, so I typed most of it in and ran it through Babelfish, the translation bears some resemblance to English and is not completely impossible to read!

I thought my ESQ-1 would make a perfect sequencer to drive my live setup - it's an eight track polyphonic sequencer that can feed eight separate external MIDI devices. However, sequence editing is a pain via 10-button 80-character interface, especially when you've got used to visual luxury provided by Cubase and others. I could not find means to convert between ESQ-1 internal sequences and a modern computer sequence editor so I started creating one myself. The specs for ESQ-1 sequencer are not available anywhere, neither officially nor unofficially. Fortunately I could take advantage of some c code (courtesy of Ed Bowen and Rainer Buchty - thanks!) and by trial and error document the internals of ESQ-1 sequencer (hopefully at least most of them). Caution: this specification is unofficial, untested, use at your own risk, warranty void, your mileage may vary etc.

The program based on these specs is available for download here.

Here's an article about Adamski from a 1990 Music Technology scanned by Tony Irvine. Enjoy!


Julian Colbeck: N/A (*) [KEYFAX2]

Peter Forrest: N/A (**) [A-Z of Analogue Synthesizers]

Harmony Central: 9.4/10

sonicstate.com: 4.4/5

Vintage Synth 4.6/5

(*) I have a 1986 version of  the book. It says PRE-RELEASE REVIEW and gives no rating,  but concludes: "...offers considerably more for the money than any other  polysynth in production."      (**) Peter Forrest does not mention Ensoniq at all in his book. I think he is too picky about the DCOs :)

definitive website:

Ensoniq Heaven

also worth checking:

ESQ1 Hacker Site

Robert Wittek Synthesizer In German

SQ80 User Helps

mailing lists:

SQ80 List