Synth Site: Ensoniq: SQ-80 Synth Workstation: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.5 out of 5
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Philip a part-time user from Dull-ass, Texas writes:
These are my initial impressions since buying a near-mint model 1 month ago: It really is a hybrid workstation that is intuitive and very versatile, if you consider its age (debuted in '87). Soundwise, it has those clear, ringing digital DX/D-50/PPG textures that were the norm back in the late 80's, but it also does harsh, edgy industrial tones and the analog string pads that remind me of the JX-8P and sometimes the Matrix-1000. I've even copped some good synth basses ala the Juno-60 off it. Anyone looking for realistic acoustic sounds here is missing the point. It actually does well at fusing acoustic instruments with a synthesis structure. One of my fave sounds is a very spacey piano that adds detuning as you adjust the mod wheel. Pump this sound through a chorus/long verb and you've got an incredibly rich texture. Some of the sounds stand fine on their own, but they really come to life when put through an f/x unit like the Lexicon MPX-100. I'm already making my own tweaks and am coming up with new sounds easily.

The sequencer is easily the easiest one I've ever used. It's not as feature-laden as hardware sequencers or later workstation sequencers, but it's still a great tool for composing on the spot so that you don't forget your ideas.

As for the key action, it is clackety, but you get polyphonic aftertouch. It's not that big of a deal for me as I'm used to playing on a variety of keyboards. Editing isn't all that hard as each button follows the voice structure and there aren't there's 1 button for each parameter.

For all the features and the flexibility in voice programming (plus the analog filter), the SQ-80 is still worth searching out. Aside from keyboard feel, it's definitely worth the upgrade over the ESQ-1. I'll post a more in-depth review later.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Sunday-Nov-03-2002 at 16:48
Carl Sattler a hobbyist user from US writes:
From a piano player's perspective, I have reservations about the artifitial "feel" to this keyboard. Equipped with only a sustain and a CV pedal, I have not used this machine to its potential. My father bought the unit in 1987 and it was used for sequencing and practice. Now that I am re-entering the MIDI arena with newfound interest (WIN background) I have high hopes for prying some lifelike sounds from a reletively good platform. I was hoping to get some insight on how to prevent the synth from locking up during play. It did it last night after about 10 minutes of use and that is the first time the unit has had power to it in 10 years. Before that, it locked up regularly.

Eager fan.


Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Thursday-Jul-11-2002 at 14:06
Think of3 a part-time user from USA writes:
Hello- I've loved the SQ 80 since I bought it when I worked there in the late '80s but now it locks up after using it for a while... can anyone help me with this problem? Thanks and Keep in Touch!

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Mar-03-2002 at 08:36
PXP MUSIC from United Kingdom writes:
PXP MUSIC (JADE project)

I swapped a VCR for one of these, and it was the best thing I did - I loved this synth - I loved the sounds, the sequencer was dead easy to learn (step time programming) an FD drive makes saving easy, cartrige slots for saving edited sounds. I wrote the track Commitment from our Calcium Waves CD entirely on this keyboard (extra effects and sounds added in the studio) - and found this synth a joy to work with - so why did I sell it, I don't know - I wish I hadn't - If I see another one I will certainly buy it. This keyboard is recommended.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Jan-02-2002 at 10:50
DR.MIX a professional user from TOLEDO,OHIO,USA writes:
GREAT, GREAT, GREAT ! The Ensoniq SQ-80 has also been my main keyboard since 1987. The sequencer is awesome. The sounds ar awesome.Creating sounds is very easy.The sequencer, It wll correct itself, if you ask it to do something it can't.Its very non-destructive, it never breaks, sounds like real players, the sequencer responds to the way you think! The keyboard has touch sensitive and light plastic keys that respond properly. I use this piece for ALLLL production. Producers, musicians, performers marvel at the fact that they think it is BRAND NEW and they can't find one! It interfaces and communicates with EVERYTHING ! I have produced Records, Tapes, and CD's with this machine in everything from Bach to Rock and I mean everything in-between. I have used it's sequencer in live shows and performers,and audiences alike thought I had musicians playing.I LOVE THIS MACHINE!I also have never wanted newer synths.If you understand math and waveform technology you don't really need them. The SQ-80,a Proper Drum machine,any sampler,some outboard F/X a multithrack and you can fool the World! I KNOW. To echo aother user,"After you've played an SQ-80, everything else is just too many menus and knobs. The SQ-80 is a dream to play." It can be used as a controller and be used by controllers! The onboard sequencer is easy and tough to beat. It has plenty of memory, if you know how to arrange music and sequences. If anybody has one of these to sell, please let me know. Let's make a deal. I am also interested in starting a SQ-80 user's group. I feel I have mastered the uses of this fine piece of equipment. If you have any questions on the operation or interfacing of this piece, contact me. I have used it with many, many pieces connected with MIDI,CV,Analog, Data Pipe(with the help of other gear). I can be contacted at DRMIXXMASTER@AOL.COM I CAN SEE WHY ENSONIQ STOPPED PRODUCTION ON THIS FINE PIECE. LOOK AT ALL THE PIECES THAT FOLLOWED. THEY SEEM TO HAVE SOME,BUT NOT ALL THE FEATURES OF THE SQ-80! LONG LIVE THE SQ-80 DR. MIX E-MAIL ME AT DRMIXXMASTER@AOL.COM

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Nov-14-2001 at 13:53
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