This page is not affiliated with the Emu/Ensoniq
If you were looking for them, please follow this link.
|A word from the editor
Trying to reach me?
This page exists since mid 1997. During this time it has steadily
increased -- many thanks to all contributors! I'm rather amazed how much
feedback I get and how many ESQ1/SQ80 users are still out there.
In issue 8/2000 of the German KEYS Magazine, our beloved Ensoniq synth was featured for which they interviewed me.
Suggestions, questions, acclamation, or simple curiosity about who that
guy is you might want to place here:
To fight spam, I'm running RBL-based filtering and Greylisting, so if
your ISP's mail server is blacklisted or doesn't play according to the SMTP
RFC, you might encounter bounces.
|Please check out this page first before mailing
I really appreciate your trust in me, but I also hate typing the same over
and over again ... So if you're just searching for a manual, ROM dumps,
help replacing the batteries (many thanks to Rick C. for his well explained
Howto!), you'll find all this and even more on this page.
I've accumulated too much stuff on this page. However, I still believe in a
"one page fits it all" design, keeping clicking to a minimum. After all,
they invented mouse wheels for easy web-site scrolling ;)
So if you want to spare yourself some scrolling, you may want to click on
one of those:
| Support this Page
One day I was really amazed finding a cashier's cheque in my mail.
Some kind visitor of this page sent me a $5 donation as a gratitude.
In case you too want to support this page, there's now an
easier way than sending paper around the globe :)
|SQ8L: An SQ80-emulating VSTi
Having said this ... Enjoy!
- I'm not the author of this plugin, Siegfried Kullmann is. If you have questions about this plugin, please ask him, not me. You will find his contact data in the README linked below.
- Yes, it's sad, but development of SQ8L has effectively stopped years ago. Use it as it is. Further updates are highly unlikely.
- No, I don't have the source code, and yes, there was more than one attempt at publicly releasing or even buying the source from the author.
- I'm fully aware that several of you would love to see an Audio Unit, a Reaper plugin, and possibly some other plugin versions of this. For the above reasons, these are even less likely than a further update of the VSTi. Like above, there have been several unsuccessful attempts at convincing the author to write such.
- You want to re-create the plugin and need my expertise? I'm all open -- drop me a mail. But please, please not regarding the above matters.
A picture says more than 1000 words. Click on it to download or here for the
- (2008-06-19) V0.91b
New & improved LFO and EG models, immediate parameter changes, minor bugfixes
- (2007-11-18) V0.9b
Improved voice management and synthesis, enhanced MIDI
capabilities, Polypressure support, GUI rework
- (2007-05-31) V0.84a
GUI rework, improved filter algorithms and additional sound engine
- (2007-02-26) V0.831a
Fixes rendering problems in Ableton
- (2007-01-28) V0.83a
Installer bugfix, SQ8L now requires no
installer anymore -- just unpack it into a directory of your choice.
- (2007-01-25) V0.82a
Several bugfixes, especially problems with hosts using
full-screen should now be fine. Minor code rewrite to further lower CPU
- (2006-12-04) V0.81a
Fixes some aliasing problems the original
SQ80 doesn't show. Due to some minor code rewrite it even takes less CPU
power than V0.8a.
How does it sound? (Examples are versions prior to V0.84)
- Click here. 11
Instances of the Plugins, each calculating a single sound. No effects, no
(Song composed and arranged by Siegfried Kullmann.)
comparison between original (A) and plugin (B).
Done by Chris
- SQ8L in the mix: 6
instances plus a drum loop.
Done by Subject of Ski Rize Studios
- Another nice demo
featuring just SQ8L plus external effects.
Done by Sami Koskivaara.
But I don't run Windows!
- SQ8L and Linux
SQ8L works under Linux (tested w/ Ubuntu 8.04 and Slackware 12.0). You
need the following packages installed on your machine:
- Wine (1.0.x or up)
- jack (0.109.2 or up)
- dssi (0.9.1 or up)
- dssi-vst (0.7 or up)
Create an install directory where you plan to store all your VST files,
e.g., /home/buchty/VST. Install SQ8L (and eventually other VSTi) into this directory, then
perform the following steps:
- Configure Wine for jack output by running winecfg and
selecting the JACK driver from the Audio section.
- Export the VST folder path, e.g. export
- Register the VSTi with dssi by running ./dssi-vst-scanner
from within your dssi-vst installation directory which is /usr/local/lib/dssi/dssi-vst/
on Ubuntu and other Debian-derived distros. If you're unsure where to to
find the dssi-vst directory, try locate dssi-vst.
- Fire up the jack daemon by typing jackd -d alsa. You might want to
enter this into your boot process, if not already done. (If you don't use
the ALSA sound system or have more than one sound cards installed, refer
to JACK manual.)
- Finally, start SQ8L by typing jack-dssi-host dssi-vst.so:SQ8L.dll
or from within your preferred sequencer software, e.g. Rosegarden.
Lazy typers might want to create individual start scripts for each VST and
place them, e.g., into /usr/local/bin/ or ~/bin. Don't forget proper access
rights (chmod 755), otherwise they won't start...
- Mac OS X
First of all, you may want to consider VSTi Host from defectiverecords.com/. Given the
media echo it got on the web, it seems like a solid solution -- and with $35
also rather affordable. However, I don't have any experience on whether or
how it interacts with SQ8L.
For those who want to go the hard way: jack, dssi, and Wine are also
available for Mac OS, but might require some more work to get them up and
running. If anyone wants to take on this one and maybe even providing
readily installable packages, let me know.
For the moment, all I can do is providing the following pointers:
As I don't own a Mac and have also no experience with Mac OS whatsoever,
please understand that any question in this direction will be answered by
something as helpful as a friendly shrug.
- Jack OS X is available from here.
- dssi and dssi-vst you can download here.
- WINE is available from here. Please note that
there's also a commercially available WINE port to Mac OS called
CrossOver Mac which you may already have running on your
Please note: This software was not written by me but by Siegfried
Kullmann, so see the README
for his contact address. If you encounter problems or glitches, find bugs
etc., please contact him directly.
|Repair and spare parts available!
In 2005, I was lucky to acquire what was offered to me as the last existing
stock of Mirage, ESQ1, and SQ80 supplies. This is all so-called "new old
stock", i.e., not parts cannibalized from defective, pre-used machines but
If I hadn't bought these parts from a former authorized Ensoniq repair
center they would have been dumped and destroyed ...
So if you are searching for replacement parts to repair your beloved
machine, check out the Ensoniq Shoppe. What's not
in here, I don't have -- sorry.
that this is not my primary business (actually no business at all). Please
allow a day or two for checking out shipping costs and coming back to
|ESQ1/SQ80 Mailing List
The ESQ1/SQ80 Mailing List is accessible via
Feel free to subscribe yourself! In case you want to post from more than one
email address, register all of them (and eventually switch off list mail delivery
for all but one). It is not possible to post from other
than registered email addresses.
Please notice that the same site also offers the cancellation procedure in
case you want to cancel your subscription.
|Software (Programs, Sounds, ROM Dumps)
||Tech and Non-Tech Information
For the lazy readers: This software
is only running on Linux systems. It will neither work under DOS, MacOS nor
will I provide a Windows version. (You still want a DOS/Windows/MacOS port? Use
the source, Luke!)
SQ80 disk dumps (for use with SQ80 Toolkit only!)
This software allows to read & write SQ80 disks on Linux
systems aswell as sound bank conversion from .ESQ and .MDX files to the
toolkit´s own bank dump format. V0.91 includes source code & documentation.
Since more and more people are asking for a non-Linux version, I've started
to rewrite the SQ80 toolkit to make it easily portable. Also, it should be
much more reliable - and finally, it doesn't need any assisting software
package. However, this software is still in pre-release state which
currently means that the sq80copy program is still under
development. Also, the converters aren't included yet.
A word of caution: This code is messy, ugly, outdated, and if I rewrote it
today I would do it differently. But it still does the job (for me, that
is), so why waste time with beautifying. If it doesn't compile on your
machine, sorry, but I don't have the resources to provide compilation
SQ80 Toolkit V1.0 pre-release
SQ80 Toolkit V0.91
(needed for SQ80 Toolkit V0.91)
The Collected Sounds Disks contain all the sound banks listed below.
SQ80 sound bank dumps (for use with SQ80 Toolkit
2K ESQ (54 Banks)
ESQ cartridge (2 Banks)
ESX cartridge (4 Banks)
ESX Double Brass cartridge (8 Banks)
MT32 Emulation (3 Banks)
PA cartridge (4 Banks)
Transoniq Hacker Patches (10 Banks)
The Cesium Sound patches have been removed due to copyright reasons. If you are interested in them please visit www.cesiumsound.com.
I got the above bank dumps from public FTP servers and by eMail, so I don't know whom the copyright of these banks belong to. It even may be that some of these still are sold - if this is the case please drop me a mail and I will remove the concerned sound bank(s) if desired by the rightholder.
SQ80 OS Dumps
Keyboard Controller (KPC) ROM V1.5
SQ80 OS 1.8 ROM low
SQ80 OS 1.8 ROM high
SQ80 OS 1.7 ROM Archive
SQ80 OS 1.3 ROM Archive
The 1.3 and 1.7 versions are just there for completeness sake and historical reasons. In case you need to replace your OS ROMs for any reason, go for OS 1.8.
Create your own customized SQ80 OS V1.8 version
Thanks to Steve Gilmer for the 1.7 and KPC dumps!
ESQ-1 OS Dumps
ESQ1 OS3.5 update manual
ESQ1 OS3.5 ROM low
ESQ1 OS3.5 ROM high
ESQ1 OS2.0 ROM low
ESQ1 OS2.0 ROM high
The 2.0 version is just there for completeness sake and historical reasons. In case you need to replace your OS ROMs for any reason, go for OS 3.5.
Create your own customized ESQ1 OS V3.5 version
ESQm V1.2 OS ROM
SQ80m V1.3 OS ROM
The V1.3 OS ROM will require an ESQm with installed waveform expansion unit, turning it into the all-famous SQ80m.
Want to create own waves?
Here's the layout of the multisample tables and raw wave parameters:
Don't forget to change the wave names, too. They reside in OSLO, page 6.
Other Ensoniq stuff
Thanks to Jon Corley for sending me a bunch of main boards plus schematics!
Giebler disk dump converter
Having recently acquired a TS-12 immediately triggered the need for something that doesn't force me to unearth some DOS-times zombie box in order to handle Giebler dump files.
So here's a tool that (hopefully) will convert all sorts of Giebler disk dumps to Unix dd-style linear disk dumps.
- While the later machines use a fixed sector size, they still use zero-based sector numbering. An according patch should be included in the Linux floppy driver since 2008 (or thereabout). If your system has this patch installed (which should be the case with any half-way recent Linux installation), mknod and setfdprm are your friends:
Now you can use the standard dd and fdformat utilities with that device:
- creating the device, e.g.: mknod /dev/fd0u1600 b 2 40 (use fd0u800 for a DD drive)
- for DD disks: setfdprm /dev/fd0u800 ds dd sect=10 zerobased
- for HD disks: setfdprm /dev/fd0u1600 ds hd sect=20 zerobased
- copying to DD disks: dd if=DUMPFILE of=/dev/fd0u800 bs=512 count=1600
- copying to HD disks: dd if=DUMPFILE of=/dev/fd0u1600 bs=512 count=3200
- If you want to copy from disks, just exchange if and of.
- For writing Mirage and SQ80 disks, you will most likely need to resolve to fdutils. Not sure if the Linux floppy driver handles formats with multiple sector sizes (MSS), but so far I honestly haven't tried yet. Maybe the following does work (see here for more information):
- for SQ80 and double-sided Mirage disks: setfdprm /dev/fd0u800 ds dd tracksize=11kb mss zerobased
- for single-sided Mirage disks: setfdprm /dev/fd0u800 ss dd tracksize=11kb mss zerobased
- transfer like in the DD case above, just with count=1760 for SQ80 and count=880 for Mirage disks.
- If all you have is a USB drive -- forget it. Won't work for reasons of anything but standard IBM formats not being included in the corresponding USB standard. Really.
- No, I won't provide binaries of any kind. Just use gcc.
- AWP-5000 OS
(version unknown, 2x 27512)
- EPS16 OS
(version unknown, 2x 27256)
- SD-1 (32V) OS
- TS12 OS
If you ran an older OS version before, you might need to also apply some changes to the mainboard for supporting the 27040 EPROM. See here for the required changes (external site).
- VFX OS
(V2.10b, 2x 27512)
- Mirage ROM
(version unknown, 2732)
- Mirage diagnostics
(Memory & Keypad assembly test; 2732/each)
Happy to receive VFX OS V2.30, which is the current one!
The copyright of the above ROM dumps still belongs to the EMU-Ensoniq Corporation (read: Creative Labs) or whoever they might have sold the rights to.
Historical and other stuff
The following are various bits & pieces which might be of some
nostalgic value. Please remember that some of those are highly
Authorized Ensoniq Repair
Voice Cartridge #1 Manual
Software not coming from me
- Stuck with your old Ensoniq sequences? Translate them into Standard MIDI
Files using Margus Kliimask's converter software (external site).
- The SQ80 waves made computer loadable (AIFF) by //christian as gzipped tar (.tgz, 309kB) and ZIP (.zip, 455kB)
- ESQ138, a pretty helpful librarian by Steve Day (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you need a program to handle MIDI SysEx dumps (.MDX, .ESQ) you should give this one a try. AFAIK this software is free.
The Transoniq Hacker
Unfortunately, one of the most valuable magazines for our beloved
synthesizers has not only gone out of business but also completely vanished
from the net - I'm speaking of the Transoniq Hacker.
For this reason, the Transoniq Hacker Archive was created. As time allows,
more and more issues will be filed. Please be patient, scanning in the old
issues takes time.
This archive is run with the former publisher's permission and endorsement.
If, however, you are an author of individual articles and do not like this
article to be included here, let me
Ensoniq's original Schematics & Manuals
Here's the authentic stuff. Unfortunately, copies lose quality with every copy generation - and what I got looked like a 3rd generation copy. So don't expect something like readability, sometimes you just have to use imagination. I've scanned the schematics with an enlargement factor of 200% so hopefully they won't be completely unreadable.
EPS schematics (not EPS16)
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
Scroll down for Tony Gonzalez' hand-drawn and documented schematics.
Digital Part (1/3)
Digital Part (2/3)
Digital Part (3/3)
Analog Part (1/3)
Analog Part (2/3)
Analog Part (3/3)
ESQ-1 Service Manual
Windows Users: WinZIP can handle .tar-files.
General Part (2.2MB)
Metal ESQ1 (2.4MB)
Plastic ESQ1 (2.5MB)
Thanks to Eddie K. Lee for scanning.
ESQ-1 Musician's Manual
Thanks to Thierry Pottier for scanning and Per Mattsson for creating the
Part 1 (1.35M)
Part 2 (1.44M)
Part 3 (239k)
ESQm Musician's Manual
Thanks to Mark Wynkoop for Scanning, OCRing and PDFing.
know. Verbing weirds language.)
SQ80 Musician's Manual
Thanks to Mark Wynkoop for Scanning, OCRing and PDFing.
Keyboard Processor Circuitry (KPC)
Thanks to Jon Corley for sending me SQ80 (and many other) schematics for free.
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
Analog Part (left half)
Analog Part (right half)
Thanks to Kirk Slinkard for cleaning/fusing the digital schematics. Anyone in for the analog part? :)
SQ80 Service Manual
SQ80 Service Manual
Retyped and PDFed by me.
The copyright of the above schematics and manuals still belongs to the
EMU-Ensoniq Corporation (read: Creative Labs) or whoever they might have
sold the rights to.
Non-official Schematics and Manuals
drawn by Tony Gonzalez (∗May 17, 1963 †Nov 4, 2012)
OS and SeqRAM
Seq. Expansion Interface
DUART & MIDI
DOC trimming & analog voltages
Voice Processor (CEM3379)
Components for VP
Output stage & volume VCA
Awesome work, Tony!
ESQ-1 Sequencer Memory Expansion
Inside SQ80 (PDF, 8MB)
Documented ROM Listing
available here (ZIP, 200kB)
Turn your ESQm into an SQ80m
Turn your ESQ-1 into an SQ80
Documentation of ICs
ICS1261 (aka 5503D or DOC)
CEM3360 (Dual VCA)
CEM3379 (Analog Voice Processor)
SSM2300 (8x S&H Multiplexer)
Please note that the original Q chip as used in those Mirages featuring the
piggy-back PCB is different. It does not include the ADC, and also features
a slightly different pinout for lacking the S&H stages which are
included in the 1261D.
Computing engine and I/O
6809E Programming Manual
WD1772 (Floppy Controller)
WD177x data sheet (1.6MB)
R6500 (Auxiliary Processor)
TL5810 (Display Driver)
TL4812 (Display Driver)
10957-50 (ESQm display buffer/driver)
AD7574 (ADC of Q chip / integrated in DOC)
LM2925 (Voltage Regulator)
The R6500 is used on several machines in various configurations. It serves as display/panel processor on both, ESQ-1 and SQ80 as well as the VFX and some derived machines, and also as keyboard processor on ESQ-1 and Mirage.
Repair FAQ: Replacing the Battery
Repair FAQ: Upgrading the OS
Repair FAQ: No Sound Checklist
Repair FAQ: Replacing the LM2925
Repair FAQ: Replacing the disk drive
FAQ: How to factory reset ESQ-1/SQ80
FAQ: Hidden Functions of ESQ-1/SQ80
SMP08: a pin-by-pin replacement for the SSM2300
SQ80 Expansion Project
Hidden Waveforms - an introduction
By following the below links you are leaving buchty.net; I
can and will take no responsibilities for anything you find on those
external pages. Please also note that the order of listing does not reflect
any evaluation or ranking. As I run this page for my personal fun, don't get
payments of any kind from 3rd parties, I also take the right to change or
even entirely remove this list at will.
- Stuck with your old Ensoniq sequences? Translate them into Standard MIDI Files using Margus Kliimask's converter software
- Check out Rick C's photo documentation on various ESQ1 repair projects.
- Free banks for ESQ1/SQ80 and SQ8L on Mark Wynkoop's Score for Sale.
Plus a really great advertising for SQ8L, I must say ;)
- Even more sounds you can get from Cesium Sound.
- Other Ensoniq Resources from SynthZone.
|Thanks & Acknowledgements
Until now I spent a lot of time analyzing the SQ80 and partly the ESQ-1.
Since I got no support from Ensoniq at all I had to gain the knowledge
presented on this page totally by my own. People I like to thank are
There's still a lot of work to be done. The documentation of the ROM
routines is far from being complete. All information offered here is
provided as is and based on my investigation, correctness cannot be
guaranteed - use it at your own risk.
- Alan D. Kok for providing an excellent 6809 page
- Thomas Tahsin-Bey for lending me his copy of Rodney Zak's "Programming the 6809"
- Henrik Gudath for sending me the DOC programming information (derived from the Apple IIGS hardware manual)
- Martin Käser for even more DOC information including the pinout.
- Jon Nicoll for providing the ESQ-1 ROM dumps and donating me two books about the 6809 and other ancient microprocessors and peripherals.
- Again Jon for providing dumps of various sound cartridges.
- Glenn P. Landry for the original ESQ-1 schematics.
- Jan Pniewski for selling me the SQ80 tech manual.
- Eric "Earache" Nofsinger for sending me 1600 sound programs.
- Geoffrey Mainwaring for sending me ESQ138.
- Dave O'Neill for the R6500 datasheet.
- Eddie K. Lee for scanning the ESQ-1 service manual.
- Clint Turner for providing SSM2300 and SMP08 datasheets
- Again Clint for the ESQ-1 wave ROMs
- Thierry Pottier for spending so much time scanning the ESQ-1 Musician's Manual
- Per Mattsson for creating PDFs out of Thierry's scans
- Jon Corley for donating me plenty of invaluable stuff
- Eberhard Pichowiak for the ESQm ROM dumps
- Again Eddie K. Lee for sending me a defective ESQ-1 display unit
- Paula Maddox for sending me a defective ESQ-1 main board
- //christian for doing the raw-to-AIFF conversion of the SQ80's waves
- Steve Gilmer for the SQ80 OS1.7 and KPC1.50 dumps
- Kirk Slinkard for continously scanning in Transoniq Hacker issues
- Michael Hyman for the original ICS1261 (5503 DOC) datasheet
- Paula Maddox for PDFing the ICS1261 datasheet
- Richard Choy for the battery replacement and OS upgrade howto
- Mark Moulding for scanning in and PDFing several issues of Transoniq Hacker
- Caithleann Pont for providing further issues of Transoniq Hacker
- Christopher Souza for scanning various "historical" documents and additional manuals.
- Again Kirk Slinkard and Caithleann Pont for establishing contact with the former TH publishers.
- Eric Geislinger, the former TH publisher, for giving his permission to setting up and running the TH archive.
- Martin for tracking down the owner of an ESQm and Kyle Weiss, the owner, for documenting that machine in photo and OS dump
- Brian Morton for scanning some more TH issues.
- Thibaut for providing ESQm OS 1.2
- Phillip Jordan for providing SD1 (32V) OS 4.10
- Alison Cassidy for providing SQ80 OS1.3
What I love to get is all type of (E)SQ related hardware to support my
further work on these since Creative Labs/Emu/Ensoniq doesn't give us tech
support on this "ancient" hardware anymore.
On eBay, some website harvesters frequently are selling CDs
with information which -- to my knowledge -- is available pretty much
nowhere but here or originated from here prior to spreading.
This website was set up to provide information for free. Because of
this, not only me but numerous people contributed to this website either by
offering information to publish (like hand-drawn schematics, or software) or
donation of hardware to support reverse-engineering.
In accord with other major contributors to this
website I hereby interdict any re-selling of information found on this
site, especially as some sort of "collector CD" on eBay.
If you run across such a rip-off, drop me a note.