sq-80 vs esq-1

A forum for comparing two or more synths against each other. Also known as "versus" threads.
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cerebrosis
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sq-80 vs esq-1

Post by cerebrosis » Fri Jun 05, 2009 4:52 am

hello folks, i might be selling my PEK for financial reasons(bad economy, baby on the way, hooked on modular). i really love its sound and interface but i think i might be able to get by with something less. two ensoniqs have peeked my interest, the sq-80 and esq-1. im leaning more towards the sq-80 based on the sounds ive heard on the internet but if the esq is way more reliable i might pick that one up if its in the same realm of sounds.

i really like the hard, cold, gritty, haunting sound of wavetable synths like the microwave and evolver series ive had but i also like standard analog sounding brass and strings so i would prefer something with a nice filter. my only synths right now are the pek and A-100 modular. im about 50/50 on selling the pek, i just dont know:x i have feeling i would miss the tuned feedback and delay, sweet seq, and the overall sound of it.

what to do?

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Re: sq-80 vs esq-1

Post by braincandy » Fri Jun 05, 2009 5:22 pm

I can't say whether or not either Ensoniq would be an adequate replacement for your PEK, but with regards to the "vs." question and stability--I've owned both synths and didn't experience any reliability problems with either one. The thing about these older synths with disk drives is that you might have to replace them and you can usually buy replacements from Syntaur, which specializes in Ensoniq accessories/parts. And for digital synths, they had the best layouts I've ever used. The voice structure is laid out on the panel for you and you have a huge display that contains lots of info and is easy readable in any condition. They're also built like tanks.

I hated the keyboard action of the SQ-80. It, along with the DW-8000 has the worst keyboard action of any synth I've ever played. It's loud and clacky. You can even hear the clacking while playing through headphones. The ESQ-1, by comparison, had a much better-feeling keyboard. The advantages to going with the SQ-80 are aftertouch, additional waves for a larger palette of sounds, and a disk drive.
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Re: sq-80 vs esq-1

Post by Sir Ruff » Fri Jun 05, 2009 5:59 pm

My suggestion would be to sell the PEK, and get an sq80 and MEK... I love the sq80-probably my favorite of all my synths, and I actually found the MEK format made more sense for that synth... 4 voices was too many, and too few at the same time.

Either way, I'd say go sq80 instead of esq-1 just for the extra voices and better keyboard functions. There is nothing comparable sound-wise for the low prices they go for. As far as saving patches, I would avoid the disk drive altogether and just get a memory cart. Instant recall, and you basically double your patch memory (it just treats it like 2 extra banks-I store all of my interal sounds on one bank, and then still have another bank for new sounds). having a disk drive is still good for backing up though.
Yes, the keyboard is clacky, but not in the "worn bushings" sense, just in the "we've got to have a strip under there for the poly-aftertouch" sense... never bothered me.
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Re: sq-80 vs esq-1

Post by cerebrosis » Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:14 pm

braincandy wrote:I can't say whether or not either Ensoniq would be an adequate replacement for your PEK, but with regards to the "vs." question and stability--I've owned both synths and didn't experience any reliability problems with either one. The thing about these older synths with disk drives is that you might have to replace them and you can usually buy replacements from Syntaur, which specializes in Ensoniq accessories/parts. And for digital synths, they had the best layouts I've ever used. The voice structure is laid out on the panel for you and you have a huge display that contains lots of info and is easy readable in any condition. They're also built like tanks.

I hated the keyboard action of the SQ-80. It, along with the DW-8000 has the worst keyboard action of any synth I've ever played. It's loud and clacky. You can even hear the clacking while playing through headphones. The ESQ-1, by comparison, had a much better-feeling keyboard. The advantages to going with the SQ-80 are aftertouch, additional waves for a larger palette of sounds, and a disk drive.
thanks. key action is not the biggest thing for me. i lived with a ms-10s action for years and it didnt bother me. :wink:

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Re: sq-80 vs esq-1

Post by cerebrosis » Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:27 pm

Sir Ruff wrote:My suggestion would be to sell the PEK, and get an sq80 and MEK... I love the sq80-probably my favorite of all my synths, and I actually found the MEK format made more sense for that synth... 4 voices was too many, and too few at the same time.

Either way, I'd say go sq80 instead of esq-1 just for the extra voices and better keyboard functions. There is nothing comparable sound-wise for the low prices they go for. As far as saving patches, I would avoid the disk drive altogether and just get a memory cart. Instant recall, and you basically double your patch memory (it just treats it like 2 extra banks-I store all of my interal sounds on one bank, and then still have another bank for new sounds). having a disk drive is still good for backing up though.
Yes, the keyboard is clacky, but not in the "worn bushings" sense, just in the "we've got to have a strip under there for the poly-aftertouch" sense... never bothered me.
this could be a possibility, though down the line a little bit with the mek. im trying to save for my baby but sneak a couple(more than a couple) of doepfer modules in too :-"

are the memory cartriges a universal cart or are they only for the ensoniq brand, ie not easily found?

its sounding like the sq-80 is the one i want. got to get up the balls to sell the pek, though. thanks sir ruff.

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Re: sq-80 vs esq-1

Post by xpander » Fri Jun 05, 2009 11:29 pm

as a PEK user with a gazillion hours logged programming the keyboard, i think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how fantastic the *SQ80* sounds. sonically i tend to prefer the SQ80 although the extraordinary functionality of the PEK is, well, extraordinary and it's definitely the more flexible of the two.

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Re: sq-80 vs esq-1

Post by cerebrosis » Sat Jun 06, 2009 2:55 am

well thats good to know. its going to be my only poly for awhile so sound vs functionality need to be about even.

that would be a good thread for this subforum, Sound vs Functionality.

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Re: sq-80 vs esq-1

Post by JB » Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:13 am

I've had a couple of SQ80s and an ESQ-1 (metal case).

The first SQ80 was brand new, never had a problem with it for the 4 or so years I had it.
The second SQ80 was second-hand, the display eventually died and then it stopped booting-up successfully - afraid to say that I de-chipped it and binned the leftovers as I was moving overseas (shameful)
The ESQ-1 was also second-hand and although it worked the power supply did buzz quite a lot (not on the audio output but physically).

Again, the poly-pressure SQ80 keyboard clackiness was only an issue when playing at low volume levels where all you can hear is the keyboard (same goes for the EPS I had at the time). The ESQ-1 felt a lot smoother.

Given the choice of the two, well, there's so little difference I'd let the price be the decider (assuming that aftertouch isn't a requirement). A tidy, well looked-after ESQ-1 would be preferable to an abused SQ80. Both the metal cased ESQ-1 and plastic-cased ESQ-1 are fairly sturdy so no real preference there either.

I also currently own a MEK and, polyphony aside, I wouldn't consider regressing back to an SQ80 from that BUT needs must etc If you need the cash then an ESQ/SQ80 is a nice synth to fall-back on to. They're particularly quick and easy to program for a button & data-slider interface and as you know have plenty of oscs, mod gens and routing options to keep ones interest.

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Re: sq-80 vs esq-1

Post by cerebrosis » Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:25 pm

JB, i know they are close but witch engine do you prefer. the sq80 has the edge doesnt it?

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Re: sq-80 vs esq-1

Post by JB » Thu Jun 11, 2009 2:23 pm

Given the choice of the two I'd prefer the SQ80 as it had extra ROM waveforms (although there was a site in the 'net that provided a means to add these to an ESQ-1).

I used the disk drive on mine to store presets on as a 3.5" DS-DD disk was significantly cheaper than buying a cart plus I used mine as a master keyboard adding a third reason to prefer an SQ80 over an ESQ1.

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Re: sq-80 vs esq-1

Post by cerebrosis » Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:23 am

i got the MEK. i just sold my desktop a few weeks ago and i couldn't go without the evo engine, its so sweet. i still think either a sq-80 or microwave is in my near future, im missing poly but basking in mono right now. 8)

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