Ensoniq ESQ-M: the old cat at the back of the cage

 

I’ve owned my ESQ-M since 1987, the year it came out. I’ve taken it all around the world and made a couple of albums with it. You have heard it on a few of the singles I made including Greater Reward. It’s why I use so many bell like sounds. My one is held together with rust and dried beer. It’s called BOOFHEAD.

 

Funny that something so long lasting and useful becomes invisible. I only just thought to write about it, having written about all my other more recent toys, most of them not as well loved. That’s a recommendation, I have this box as part of my life, carried it around for 28 years. (Although to be honest, when desperately trading my keyboards for food in the bad years no one wanted this old guy or it might be gone.)

 

This was terribly modern in 1987. It’s a bit like the Mirage, but with pre-recorded 8 bit waveforms, and a real honest filter and three oscillators, so you don’t tend to make Mirage cyber-vomits on it. You make sounds which are a little bit analogue and a little bit clangorous. It’s not really all the way to either a Juno or a DX7, it’s more like they had nasty sex and out popped this guy. Plenty of things sound like it these days, no big deal.

 

I turn it on regularly but I don’t use it, because there is a VST made by a man who loves this thing. A virtual BOOFHEAD.

 

I transferred all my patches to the VST and was impressed just how close the sounds were – certainly close enough for music making. As it uses the same 8 bit samples it means the filter has been very closely matched. So much for authentic analogue. The software is for the SQ-80 which was the final version, the one that Ensoniq made after they figured out all the half ass in this one. I owned an SQ80 for a while but that was a big surfboard and I hate that.

 

Use the software, I used it on the latest LP, because I know so well how to get what I want out of it and it sits neat and tidy just about anywhere. If you bought the box itself, that’s good too. After the SQ80, Ensoniq made ever bigger versions of this idea, but I don’t think they really moved on from it.

THIS TOY IS ANNOYING TO USE WITHOUT AN EDITOR

 

IT MAKES METALLIC ANALOGUE SOUNDS

THE SOUND QUALITY IS OK

IT WAS MEDIUM PRICED AND IS COMMON

 

ITS RATING IS BOOFHEAD

It was either this or a red car and I think I chose wisely.