Digital Wave Synthesizer

Ensoniq ESQ-1 audio demos in .mp3


(FACTORY PRESETS ver. 3.50 - latest version)

Stream all audio examples below

Preset name with audio demo My comments
PIANO1 A nice piano tone, suitable for many genres.  Now probably deemed thin and lifeless, back in 1986 it would have been considered very good.
ORGAN1 Good Hammond sound, with percussion and warm tone.
3TRUMS Three trumpet combo.  Interesting digital sample, with obligatory aliasing due to the early technology.  Still, charming.
VELBAS Classic '80s bass!!  Similar to the FM-based DX7 bass preset.
SLDRUM Solo drum.  Useful for '80s music, new age/ethnic.
SLOSTR Beautiful analog strings, typical of the era.
MIXED Mixed choir.  Very, very interesting, spacious and moving choir - of course unrealistic, given the length of the samples and the bit rate, but "vintage cool" nonetheless.
SINPAD Outstanding, powerful, analog synthesizer!
WAVBEL One of the best sounds on board!!!  Hypnotic, complex, rich in character...
4XFADE Showing off the envelopes of the machine, and the three oscillators.
BL PNO Ballad piano.  A good DX7-style electric piano sound.
CLAV 1 Gritty Clavinet sound
HEVBRS Heavy Brass maybe? - perhaps the name of the patch is in reference to the fact that many '80s heavy-metal/hard-rock/hair-metal bands used these kinds of analog brass in their songs - i.e., the famous "Jump" and "Final Countdown".
SYNBAZ Excellent synth bass, very Moog in the low register, but capable of more in the mid and high.
SNAPS1 Cool sound that utilizes the velocity and filter programming.
BRASTR Very nice and regal analog ensemble.
SAX 1 Typical mid-80s saxophone sound = sounds more like a duck who's about to die.  But vintage-sounding! ;-)
MOODS Great, broad, moving and majestic synthesizer pad.
HI-RES Thin type of tone, heard often in the '80s.
ECHO1 Very interesting envelope programming
PIANO2 Variation on the main piano tone - this one is actually better than preset 1.
ICYORG Very digital-sounding organ sound.
ANABRS Typical '80s.
PLKMTL Plucked metal - actually an interesting tone.
MRIMBA Distinctive, woody marimba emulation.
HARP2 Very nice chorused harp!!!
MINI M Easily one of the best sounds on board!!!  A killer Minimoog emulation!
BOTTLS Haunting, glassy sound
NOISTR Ana-strings mixed with a bit of noise.
DIGPNO Another DX7-type electric piano.  Very beautiful and moving, great for ballads.
ISLAND Standard steel drum sound.
PLKBRS Pluck brass - very 1980s.
KLUNKS These are the '80s!  Typical comp synth of the era.
KICK Reminds me of New Order's "Blue Monday" bass drum sound (Oberheim DMX)
KALMBA Beauty - an enchanting Kalimba sound.
+KOTO2 A great ethnic sound, this Koto is well-programmed.
2 COOL Uber-cool sin/tri wave sound - similar to Lyle Mays Oberheim with the Pat Metheny band.
TRIBEL Nifty envelope programming, typical in synths of the '80s.
K+SIMS Kick + Simmons toms = this is the "Miami Vice theme" in a box!!! Ian Hammer would be proud.


Ensoniq ESQ-1 pictures (click on thumbnails to enlarge them)

Ensoniq ESQ-1 manual

PDF Manual found on line:  Ensoniq ESQ-1 manual.pdf

Ensoniq ESQ-1 factory patches in sysex data


Ensoniq ESQ-1 3rd Party Sounds

Here's a picture of a book from great synth-programming house Valhala ('80s) containing patches for the ESQ-1:

source: eBay#

Books containing patches were popular during the '80s, when computers weren't mainstream yet.  Nowadays, we are so much better off uploading sysex patches from a computer sequencer than copying parameter settings from a book.  But again, in the '80s, this was the popular way to do it - and many books for various synthesizers (the Yamaha DX7 jumps to mind) were published.  I still have two patch books for the great Casio CZ-line.


  • Review in "Keyboard magazine" Janfebmarch 198___
  • great, gritty early sampled waveforms
  • powerful analog sounds
  • three oscillators
  • on-board sequencer
Features at a glance
Year of release: 1986
Polyphony: 8-voice
Sound generation method: analog, 3 DCOs
Preset memories 40 + 80 on cartridge
MIDI: in, out
Sound expansion capabilities: cartridge
Sequencer yes
Arpeggiator no
Effects no
Touch sensitivity yes
Aftertouch no

The "Song made only with this instrument" trial: _________  The ESQ-1 sounds great.  Note in particular..



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