Review of the Ensoniq ESQ-1 Synthesizer

My thoughs on the Ensoniq ESQ-1 Digital Wave Synthesizer
Vist my Website!

As Always Thanks for Stopping By!

Subscribe to me on YouTube!

Follow me on Twitter!!/TDSAlkebulan

Join me on Facebook!

Pick up a copy of my latest album The Daydream Sound I at:

Ensoniq ESQ-1 is a hybrid digital-analog synthesizer released by Ensoniq in 1986. The ESQ-1 featured 8 voices with 3 digital oscillators per voice. Each oscillator could be set to one of 32 different waveforms. Some of these were standard simple waveforms such as sawtooth and pulse, while others were samples such as piano and voice. Each oscillator also had an associated DCA (not VCA) to control its volume in 256 steps. In addition to that, an ESQ1’s voice featured 3 LFOs, 4 envelope generators, a 4-pole resonant analog lowpass filter (VCF), and a final VCA with left/right panning. It also sported a 61-key velocity-sensitive keyboard, full MIDI implementation, memory for 40 patches, a memory cartridge slot, and an 8-track sequencer. A rackmount version called the ESQ-M was also released circa 1987, with exactly the same specification minus the sequencer. The ESQ-1 was produced until 1988.


Soccer scout Donald says:

a nice machine for electronic funk music from the 80

Soccer scout Donald says:

i,m gona buy one,,amazing sounds fom the 80 and 90

Erin Thomas says:

What is a fair price to pay for the ESQ-1?

Poindexter Frink says:

“I don’t own any other synths and never will”

“The layout of the panel is THE BEST”

PTechnicalOriginal says:

Problems with the display like flickering and garbled text can indicate a problem with the transformer(not the best quality in the ESQ). There is a modification available to fix this, and parts are still around in decent numbers. I’ve just had a scanner chip replaced in mine, as well as an op-amp very cheaply.

Spanking God says:

You’d expect a review to demo the instrument to let the listener make his own judgement, much like a game review demos the game. This is a terrible review and he seems like a douche, from the comments he leaves to his viewers.

diegodzila says:

This is by far my fav synth too, and I’ve tried many including synths that cost many times more. Another great feature not mentioned on the video is that the ESQ1 is 8 parts multi-timbral, Also worth mentioning that a lot of the patches that come with the ESQ1 (and the ones on many optional cartridges too), have the DCA volume of each osc set to the max value of 63, and this overdrives the filter a bit giving you a dirty crunchy tone, but if you turn down the DCA to around 40-50 say the tone is a lot smoother and more “hi-fi”. It sounds beatiful..And yes, I agree the keybed is the best ever, it feels like you are playing a vintage accordion or something like that, not plasticky at all like most other synths out there.

Synthesizer Home says:

there is a good reason, why the ESQ-1 has no floppy drive: this is a synth, all waveforms are already there, there is no need to load them everytime from disk, like on a sampler. What the ESQ needs, are only the sound settings, which take just few bytes. This small amount of data can be hold by the internal battery.

And you could store the patches not only on cartridges – but also in a MIDI sequencer or via tape interface if needed. You could even use Mirage’s floppy disk to store ESQ-1 patches…

biggsterboy says:

This keyboard blew my mind when I first got it in 1987. Incredible sounds for the time, 8 – part polyphony (like having 8 synthesizers in one!) and an incredibly intuitive sequencer and sound programmer. I wrote more songs on this synth than I did on any other because it sounded so good and the technology didn’t get in the way of the creative process. The backup of sounds/sequences definitely *is* the biggest weakness. I finally bought an Indian Valley (no longer in business) rack mount disk drive that allowed me to back up all my sequences to floppy disk rather easily. Still have my ESQ-1 and disk drive and have to play it every now and then for old times’ sake. Great memories with this keyboard!

Su Se says:

dude, you have really glassy looking eyes. Don’t use drugs!

bendacko2003 says:

I wonder if you can save your sounds by uploading into a software program via Sys-Ex dump…

James Reeno says:

Why are you talking instead of demoing the synth?…seriously?

doggyaugie says:

The SQ-80 is far more than the ESQ-1 with a floppy. It has extra waveforms (including a drum kit!), an AM-type functionality, and (most importantly) POLYPHONIC AFTERTOUCH!

gentillyguy1 says:

Have you had to replace the battery on your ESQ-1? If so, did you solder a new one? There are some sites that show how to replace it with alkaline batteries. I recently bought an ESQ-1 that is giving the ‘Low Battery’ error message and wanted to get your opinion.

The Daydream Sound says:

Congrats man! Let me know how you like it!

pamela swarts says:

my absolute favorite synth…really an underrated board. Anyone who is a synth aficionado and has played mine went and bought their own. It is easy to find them cheap

helio1055 says:

how about actually playing it?..

Jim Walker says:

I bought one with my spare change jar!

ablethevoice says:

Maybe it is because it was my first digital board (and I still have it even after all these years) but I personally think the ESQ’s sequencer is perfect. It does precisely what I need a sequencer to do. My only complaint is that it can store so few key events even with its memory maxed out.

Gospel Musicians says:

Man what camera did you use and what Film Look plugin/effects do you use? 

daikuone says:

I have an ESQ-1 that is in mint condition. Great sequencer for the time.

Dave Casad says:

good review

Janomix: Taller de Sonido says:

and sound?????? ok, this car es very speed but is in the garage for ten years more…

ZipSnipe says:

would have liked to hear some sounds

sexmachine-Stay on the scene says:

Lol. my next ep vinyl is full of this machine since i bough it 8 months ago

Paolo R says:

Thanks to your great videos I’m redescovering Ensoniq gear.

Prick says:

As a viewer I’d like to see more varied shots in your review. I like to see your face but not as much as i like to see equipment you’re plugging. Otherwise great review, very helpful.

krakapoww says:

Yo, just got my hands on a mirage rack sampler, but it says just U.D (unformatted disc?) when i try load floppy. do i just need a OS floppy off ebay?

Worship the plastic says:

Man, you give the best reviews!

skiptofreedom says:

i’m a big fan of your videos, TDS. I’d love to hear you review an SQ80, as I’m debating whether the extra dollars would be worth opting for it over an ESQ

ilovjesusanmama says:

It’s a review… NOT a tutorial! LOL

Gospel Musicians says:

About to pick up an SQ-80 on eBay now….Great sounds!

The Daydream Sound says:

Much appreicated! Glad you like them. Thanks for your kind words.



The Daydream Sound says:

I agree!

NoisyPegasus says:

My only problem with mine is I get easily lost in its envelopes x.x Love it for the epic industrial sounds you can get from it.

tintala says:

more sounds less talking paleeese thnx

mayormccheezit says:

When I set the filter on my ESQ to 100% key tracking, I find that it will only close about halfway. Have you found any way around this problem?

Toyman Blood says:

How long you had the digital synthesizer for?

Untro says:

So I just bought an esq1 for 200! But I noticed it has the low battery warning, and tho it has a cartridge, the end of your video is very ominous about the battery issue. If it is still working, should I wait till it putters out? What should I do to fix it? Thanks

Conjo Bo Mama Mia says:

What you think of the plugin?

Natefunk49 says:

if you spend $300.00 for an esq1 you are getting ripped esq1 75 to 150 tops 300 you might as well get an sd1 or ts12

Gospel Musicians says:

I just got my SQ-80 in and it is in very good condition.

Pepe Bigo says:

Hi can u help me learn how to make my own beat using ensoniq sq2 please

Lukk Sirem says:

Hello man, nice video! You can save your sound using sysex if you don’t have a cartridge 😉 peace

James Cornelison says:

What synthesizers would you think compete best with esq-1?! Its so hard to find anything 

The Daydream Sound says:

For a number of reasons. The main one being because I enjoy it. Does it bother you that I can simply talk and get more views on this video than all of the videos you have on your channel combined?

 Write a comment


Do you like our videos?
Do you want to see more like that?

Please click below to support us on Facebook!