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Opinions on Ensoniq VFX synths?
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Author Opinions on Ensoniq VFX synths?
dkcg
So I'm looking for a midi controller with polyphonic aftertouch. Another sonic experiment sucking $$ out of my wallet...
Seems that there are very very few in production, but lots of used ensoniq synths that have poly AT.

Hoping to get one I found local for under $200.

So outside of poly AT, I don't know very much. The sounds I've heard have been "meh."

Any opinions on the Ensoniq VFX? The one I'm hoping to get is a VFX-SD.
TS
I would love to get my hands on one. I have heard some great demos. Share some sounds if you do pick one up!
Astrolabe23
I was never impressed with it. The sounds were very polished and sequenced song ready. It always reminded me of something like an updated korg M1. Onboard sequencer, drum track, multi timbrel workstation. Not really my cup of tea, but ensoniq keyboards do have a nice feel. Don't get me wrong, it's not crap, it's just a certain kind of keyboard and what it does, it did it well for its time. There are demos on YouTube if you want to get a feel for the sounds on it.
dkcg
Astrolabe23 wrote:
I was never impressed with it. The sounds were very polished and sequenced song ready. It always reminded me of something like an updated korg M1. Onboard sequencer, drum track, multi timbrel workstation. Not really my cup of tea, but ensoniq keyboards do have a nice feel. Don't get me wrong, it's not crap, it's just a certain kind of keyboard and what it does, it did it well for its time. There are demos on YouTube if you want to get a feel for the sounds on it.


That's the impression I got, basic 90's romper sound, all digital.

My main interest is the polyphonic aftertouch. Seems like it's a rare thing, but luckily the Ensoniqs seem to have polyAT at a nice affordable price. Cheaper than many modern usb controllers.
Sir Ruff
dkcg wrote:
That's the impression I got, basic 90's romper sound, all digital.


That's not necessarily a bad thing depending on your needs and tastes. Won't give you a robust analog bass, but will cover most other sounds pretty well. Particularly great for evolving ambient pads and New Age-y acoustic + digital-type sounds; with 6 oscs per voices it's one of the best for that in fact. Lots of things can be modulated, including effect parameters.

Conversely, if you want more of a gritty analog sound with PolyAT, the SQ-80 would be the way to go.
dkcg
Thanks for the info Sir Ruff.

Haven't heard back from the seller yet. I'm sure I'll use the onboard sounds for practicing or quick things. 6 oscillators per voice is pretty good, hopefully that can go slow enough to be LFOs. I'm not counting on it. I'll be playing an OB-6 with the ensoniq. anything beyond controller use is a bonus. smile
RickKleffel
The VFXSD is a great synth and sequencer ... For its time and even to a degree, now. More than capable of a decent cheap synth sound. You can find a place for it in the mix. The sequencer is nice too. An excellent sketchpad with lots of end-use sounds. Good luck in your search!
scottmoon
I bought mine new around 1990. I just recently got it out of it's case, cleaned it up and amazingly the battery was still holding a charge. I opened it up, cleaned the insides and made sure all the chips were seated properly, and put a new battery in just in case. I've been thinking about parting with it but I would have to find someone local that could give it a new home. It's easier than I remember to program. Now if I could just find a floppy disk to see if it's drive still functions. hyper
sutekina bipu-on
Its all good. I got a zr-76 on craigslist also for $200. I use it as a master keyboard and sequencer sometimes and the built in sounds are quite good in a mix. Most weird problems with these come down to the ribbon cables needing to be reseated. I don't remember what it's called, but there is some kind of corrosion that builds up on ribbon cable connectors when they've been unmoved for years and years.
dkcg
Awesome. Thanks for all the info and opinions.

The one I'll probably get sounds like it all works, OS and keys, but the volume is finicky, but works. My guess is some dioxin will fix that right up. Even if it doesn't, I don't mind keeping it on full and using the mixer for levels.

I already have a NI 61 key controller, but it's channel AT (as are the other keys I own). I just got an OB-6, so I'm planning on using the Ensoniq as a poly AT controller for the OB-6 (and whatever else I have that supports poly AT).

Sounds like $180 for a polyAT controller that comes with a whole synth attached is a pretty decent deal.

Thank god nobody gives a crap about polyAT or the Ensoniqs might start going for higher than they should, like the DX7.
Pugilistas
I think the VFX does primitive transwave synthesis. A nice little bonus there to the PolyAT there, though I can't remember how easy it was to set up.
nyannarz
The VFX (not the SD) can get really gritty Akira Yamaoka-ish ambient textures, if that appeals to you. Also, the polyAT implementation is great, given the low cost of entry.
Sir Ruff
Pugilistas wrote:
I think the VFX does primitive transwave synthesis. .


I wouldn't call it primitive--it's more advanced than the earlier esq1/sq80 and basically the same as on Waldorf synths. It sounds different from Waldorfs tho as the wavetables are different.

Also, the VFX and VFX SD are sonically identical.
Knights Who Say Neve
I'll second what Sir Ruff said, and add that the VFX-SD has excellent microtuning support, if that matters to you.
dkcg
Great info, thanks guys.

I was going to pass until I got done moving, about to have much less space.

But it sounds like it could be an interesting digital synth to use, especially since I'm really interested in wavetable synthesis lately. It sounds like a great controller for the OB-6 I'm planning on using it with. That little beast has me wanting polyAT when I play it's patches and the QuNexus is just too limited, I want at least 3 octaves, preferably 61-76 keys, the VFX should be perfect for what I need.
Scot Solida
I miss my old VFX-SD so very much. Great sequencer, great sound, so many patching possibilities.

As was the case with the original EPS, some of them had issues and could be quite crashy. Once fixed, though, they were solid performers. If you can, spend some time with it before plumping for it to make sure it's one of the good ones. At the time, a bad unit had to be shipped back to Ensoniq, where it would receive a new motherboard (mine did - it started life as a VFX-SD, but was returned to me as an SD1-32, as they were all out of VFX-SD boards).

Excellent, undervalued synth and one of my favorites of the era.
dkcg
Scot Solida wrote:
I miss my old VFX-SD so very much. Great sequencer, great sound, so many patching possibilities.

As was the case with the original EPS, some of them had issues and could be quite crashy. Once fixed, though, they were solid performers. If you can, spend some time with it before plumping for it to make sure it's one of the good ones. At the time, a bad unit had to be shipped back to Ensoniq, where it would receive a new motherboard (mine did - it started life as a VFX-SD, but was returned to me as an SD1-32, as they were all out of VFX-SD boards).

Excellent, undervalued synth and one of my favorites of the era.


I ended up passing on it. I'm moving out at the end of the month, I've been in artist lofts for the last 16 years, so space has never been an issue. It's about to become an issue. So I'll wait and see if I have the space first. I would hate to get it, then it sits in a closet because I don't have the space. The Ensoniqs seem to pop up somewhat often, about as much or slightly more than the DX7. In the meantime, I'll do some more research on the different models, and see what kind of space I have left in a couple months.

But if anyone is looking for one in the LA area, $180 VFX-SD in Ventura county on craigslist...
Blairio
If space is short (and I do sympathise) then perhaps seek out an Ensoniq ESQ1M (module). It has that great ensoniq sound, plus a rock solid sequencer. I still have some of my gear from the late 80's early 90's like my roland s330 sampler and emu proteus 1 + Protologic Expander rompler. I wish I had kept my ESQ1 as well.
Knights Who Say Neve
Blairio wrote:
If space is short (and I do sympathise) then perhaps seek out an Ensoniq ESQ1M (module). It has that great ensoniq sound, plus a rock solid sequencer. I still have some of my gear from the late 80's early 90's like my roland s330 sampler and emu proteus 1 + Protologic Expander rompler. I wish I had kept my ESQ1 as well.


The ESQ-M does not have the sequencer.
Blairio
Knights Who Say Neve wrote:
Blairio wrote:
If space is short (and I do sympathise) then perhaps seek out an Ensoniq ESQ1M (module). It has that great ensoniq sound, plus a rock solid sequencer. I still have some of my gear from the late 80's early 90's like my roland s330 sampler and emu proteus 1 + Protologic Expander rompler. I wish I had kept my ESQ1 as well.


The ESQ-M does not have the sequencer.


Ah - you are right. On reflection, I traded my ESQ1 keyboard for the module version, some time after I had transferred sequencer duties to my mac + Opcode software. False Memory syndrome at work here.
HighLordFixer
Have you ever contemplated the Ensoniq ASR10R?
It's awesome. You can make it do VFX plus SD-1, SQ-80, ESQ-1 type sounds if have the wavetables.... or the ability for creating custom wavetables... made 10 cdrom series of sounds for mine... it doesn't have the digi out on mine and wouldn't boot when someone came over off craigslist so my old friend just said get that piece of **** out of here... slapped some old mac ram had in it... and abrahadabra... it booted with full 32mb.... that was ages ago... over the years it's seens all types of duty.... plus can use it as stereo fx processor... it's one of the best things Ensoniq ever made... no real resonant filters yet some waveboy magick can make it happen.... ASR10 & EPS series are good Ensoniq architecture.... it's a Warhorse in the right hands
plus it's hot!!!! like you can fry an egg on the top of it after leaving it on long time.... or use it for heating your studio... that's just the nature of the Ensoniq ASR10
Thank thee Gods it's not a Mirage!
MadGav
HighLordFixer wrote:
Have you ever contemplated the Ensoniq ASR10R?
It's awesome. You can make it do VFX plus SD-1, SQ-80, ESQ-1 type sounds if have the wavetables.... or the ability for creating custom wavetables... made 10 cdrom series of sounds for mine... it doesn't have the digi out on mine and wouldn't boot when someone came over off craigslist so my old friend just said get that piece of **** out of here... slapped some old mac ram had in it... and abrahadabra... it booted with full 32mb.... that was ages ago... over the years it's seens all types of duty.... plus can use it as stereo fx processor... it's one of the best things Ensoniq ever made... no real resonant filters yet some waveboy magick can make it happen.... ASR10 & EPS series are good Ensoniq architecture.... it's a Warhorse in the right hands
plus it's hot!!!! like you can fry an egg on the top of it after leaving it on long time.... or use it for heating your studio... that's just the nature of the Ensoniq ASR10
Thank thee Gods it's not a Mirage!


Would any VFX/SD owner he willing to provide samples to convert to Transwaves for ASR/EPS16?
HighLordFixer
good question.... eye have some transwaves.... plus made bunch of them in my cdrom Ensoniq EPS/ASR series... let me check if actually have any legit originalVFX transwaves in my archives... otherwise can make something close with collection of VFX bank raw single cycle samples
sutekina bipu-on
MadGav wrote:
HighLordFixer wrote:
Have you ever contemplated the Ensoniq ASR10R?
It's awesome. You can make it do VFX plus SD-1, SQ-80, ESQ-1 type sounds if have the wavetables.... or the ability for creating custom wavetables... made 10 cdrom series of sounds for mine... it doesn't have the digi out on mine and wouldn't boot when someone came over off craigslist so my old friend just said get that piece of **** out of here... slapped some old mac ram had in it... and abrahadabra... it booted with full 32mb.... that was ages ago... over the years it's seens all types of duty.... plus can use it as stereo fx processor... it's one of the best things Ensoniq ever made... no real resonant filters yet some waveboy magick can make it happen.... ASR10 & EPS series are good Ensoniq architecture.... it's a Warhorse in the right hands
plus it's hot!!!! like you can fry an egg on the top of it after leaving it on long time.... or use it for heating your studio... that's just the nature of the Ensoniq ASR10
Thank thee Gods it's not a Mirage!


Would any VFX/SD owner he willing to provide samples to convert to Transwaves for ASR/EPS16?


I don't know how to do this but I have a SD-1 32 voice and ASR 10 I love and would be interested to do this.

Are the ESQ type sounds from ASR you describe transwave or sample based...? eek!
HighLordFixer
see this post AudioTerm
that works insanely better than Tranzillion of whatever
let me dig around in my sample source archives and see what have already in efe format that can possibly upload...
yet...
ummm that involved the entire game of getting working ensoniq disk images on disk... which is a process in itself
unless you are already well versed in SCSI
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