Ensoniq SQ-80

This SQ80 is fully functional and in very good condition.

The Ensoniq SQ80 is an awesome and inexpensive digital synthesizer that has an analog 4-pole resonant filter and 75 waveforms that can be mixed and modulated in a semi-modular type fashion. Its is great for pads, acoustic emulations, analog synth type sounds, and percussion!  The keyboard has an excellent feel and is a very useful MIDI controller as well. 

Compared to the ESQ1, the SQ80 includes 43 additional waveforms (including 5 drumkits), an enhanced sequencer, and a floppy disk drive for storing patches and sequences. Synthesis-wise, the SQ80 introduced the so-called 2nd Reverb, a low-cost solution to simulate reverb-like effects. As with the first Ensoniq product, the SQ80 not only offers MIDI In and Out, but also a MIDI Thru jack.

The SQ80 was the first Ensoniq product to feature their patented Polypressure Keyboard technology. Unlike the ESQ1 and Mirage, the SQ80 keyboard offers channel pressure and polyphonic pressure (aftertouch) as well as programmable hardness (velocity). Since the keyboard does not use mechanical sensors for detecting velocity and pressure, it is immune to contact problems (which ESQ1 and Mirage suffered from) and pressure sensor wearout (like conventional keyboards).

Because of the hardware similarities, the SQ80 OS was later backported to the ESQ1 platform to become the latest ESQ1 OS Version 3.5, which is almost identical to SQ80 OS 1.8 apart from the hardware-specific features (additional waveforms, floppy routines, keyboard control).

Interestingly, this machine also features the same extremely user-friendly interface as its predecessor (ESQ-1) at a time when other synthesizers were getting harder and harder to program due to their frustrating obscure menu navigation systems. On the SQ80 and ESQ1 a large fluorescent display consisting of two rows of 40 alpha-numeric characters shows many parameters at once for a given section, and buttons placed over and under it give instant access to each one.

One other thing worth mentioning, this model is more reliable than its predecessor due to revisions to the electronic hardware design. By pressing and holding the "Record" button and then the "Mode" button on the SQ80, the display will list the names of all those at Ensoniq involved in the design of this synthesizer.

  • Polyphony - 8 voices
  • Oscillators - 24 osc.
  • LFO - Up to 3 per voice - can route to pitch, amp, filter, pan
  • Filter - 1 4-pole analog filter per voice w/sweepable resonance
  • VCA - 1 digital amp per oscillator + 1 global amp per voice
  • Keyboard - 61 keys with velocity & aftertouch
  • Memory - 40 patches onboard + 80 with EEPROM cartridge, floppy drive
  • Control - MIDI (8-part), switch pedal, CV pedal, wheel, breath, mono/poly aftertouch, kybd mapping