Music Production

The History of Ensoniq

Ensoniq featured Image

Hey music lovers and gearheads, have you ever wondered about the wizards behind the scenes who’ve shaped the electronic music industry? Well, brace yourselves for a journey through time as we unravel “The History of Ensoniq and How They Impact the Electronic Music Industry.” Get ready to dive deep into the beats and bytes that have revolutionized how we groove!


History of Ensoniq, A Sonic Odyssey Begins

Ensoniq, the brainchild of musical mavericks, kicked off its sonic odyssey in the early 1980s.

Picture this: big hair, neon lights, and the sweet smell of innovation. These mad scientists weren’t concocting potions but crafting instruments that would define an era!

Ensoniq was founded in America in 1982 by former Commodore employees D. Bruce Crockett, Albert Charpentier, and Robert Yannes. They had worked together at Commodore on developing the C 64, among other things.

The first product developed by ENSONIQ was the “VCS Computing Device,” an add-on for Atari video game devices that allowed these devices to be used as personal computers.

In 1983, the company turned its attention to music electronics and built its sound chip. In April 1984, ENSONIQ introduced the “Drum-Key,” a hardware and software add-on for the Apple II computer, making it usable as a rhythm machine.

Ensoniq entered the instrument market with the Mirage sampling keyboard in 1985. At USD 1500, it costs significantly less than previous samplers, such as the Fairlight CMI and the E-MU Emulator. Starting with the ESQ-1, they began producing sample-based synthesizers. Following the success of these products, Ensoniq established a subsidiary in Japan in 1987.

In January 1998, ENSONIQ Corp. was acquired by Creative Technology Ltd. for $77 million and merged with E-mu Systems to form the E-Mu/Ensoniq division. The fusion with E-mu sealed Ensoniq’s fate: after releasing entry-level E-mu MK6/PK6 and Ensoniq Halo keyboards—essentially keyboard versions of the Proteus 2500 module—in 2002, the E-Mu/ Ensoniq division was dissolved, and support for legacy products was discontinued soon afterward.


Synthesis Supremacy

Ensoniq burst onto the scene with the Mirage, a sampler that became the secret sauce for many iconic tracks. Its gritty, lo-fi charm seduced producers, unleashing a wave of creativity. Think of it as the rebel yell that started a sampling revolution in the music world!

🎹 Fun Fact: The Mirage wasn’t just a sampler; it was a time machine that transported musicians to uncharted sonic realms!


Riding the Wave of Technology

Ensoniq wasn’t content with just one hit wonder. No siree! The 1990s saw the birth of the legendary EPS series. These bad boys weren’t just keyboards but portals to a sonic universe where imagination ran wild.


EPS: Beyond the Ordinary

The EPS (Ensoniq Performance Sampler) series wasn’t your run-of-the-mill sampler. It was a beast with velocity-sensitive keys, an onboard sequencer, and a sonic palette that made other synths blush. Musicians could finally sculpt sounds with the finesse of Michelangelo carving marble!

💡 Pro Tip: The EPS series was a gateway drug to addiction, and the only cure was more Ensoniq!


The Digital Dream Unfolds

As the digital age dawned, Ensoniq rode the wave of change. The ASR-10, a digital sampler and workstation, emerged as the crown jewel. Picture this sleek machine as a musical Swiss Army knife – versatile, powerful, and fantastic!


The ASR-10: A Tale of Resilience and Musical Journeys

The ASR-10 wasn’t just a sampler but a one-stop-shop for musicians hungry for sonic exploration. Ensoniq’s baby boasted a sequencer, effects, and a killer interface that made tweaking sounds feel like painting a masterpiece.

🚀 Tech Leap: Ensoniq wasn’t afraid to embrace technology. The ASR-10 was a quantum leap into the digital frontier!


My Personal Story with Ensoniq

The ASR 10 Was my first synth and sampler. Back in those days, I was a guitar song writer, and My Guitar teacher recommended I get it.

So my awesome dad took me to the shop and we got a brand new sparkling slick ASR 10, and i would spend long nights arranging music and sampling into it (You couldent save a thing and if the power goes out you are fucked).

That Sampler was a pure source of inspiration with its effects and sampling capabilities for three or four years until I spilled a glass of milk on it (And lost hard labor in the process).

But the sampler continued, and you can hear much of it in my Debut Album, Aquatic Serenade, from 2006; then, I moved places and kept it in storage for a while. When the time came to pull it out, it was no longer working as the milk destroyed the keyboard badly, and the Sampler couldn’t load.

Fast-forward to the COVID-19 era, when I had a severe GAS illness (I’m recovered now). I went on a mission and Got a brand new Keybad from the States together with a Floppy Emulator from eBay. An 80-year-old man who used to service Ensoniq brought my Sampler back to life, and it still sounds like no other Hardware or ITB Emulation.

Ensoniq DP4

Ensoniq DP4/DP4+ Shares the same effect engine as the ASR 10 And its an Absolute Beast.


Ensoniqs Impact on Electronic Music

Now, let’s fast forward to the present – where Ensoniq’s legacy echoes through the halls of electronic music. The impact has been nothing short of seismic, and here’s how:

Pioneering Sound Design

Ensoniq’s legacy isn’t just in machines but in the sounds they birthed. The Mirage’s lo-fi charm and the ASR-10’s digital finesse shaped the sonic landscape of genres from hip-hop to techno. The machines weren’t just tools but partners in crime for sonic exploration!

💬 Quote Time: “Ensoniq isn’t a brand; it’s a sonic journey. Each beat, each note, tells a tale of innovation and passion.” – DJ Sonic Explorer

Shaping Hip-Hop Beats

Have you ever wondered where those iconic hip-hop beats came from? Ensoniq’s Mirage was the unsung hero behind the grit and rawness that defined the genre. It wasn’t just a sampler; it was the heartbeat of a revolution, influencing legends like Dr. Dre and Pete Rock.

🎤 Rhyme and Reason: Ensoniq gave hip-hop its groove. Without it, we might be stuck in a beatless abyss!

Home Studios on a Budget

Ensoniq democratized music production. The EPS series and ASR-10 weren’t just for big studios; they were the bridge to dreams for bedroom producers. Suddenly, anyone with a passion for beats could create sonic symphonies without breaking the bank.

💰 Budget Beats: Ensoniq turned home studios into sonic playgrounds. Dreams became beats, and beats became anthems!

Ensoniq Synths


Ensoniq products were highly professional. Strong selling points were ease of use and their characteristic “fat,” rich sound (generally thought of as being an “American” quality, as opposed to the “Japanese” sound, which was more “digital” and somewhat “cold”). After the Mirage, all Ensoniq instruments featured integrated sequencers (even their late ’80s and early ’90s samplers), providing an all-in-one “digital studio production concept” instrument. These were often called “Music Workstations”. Starting with the VFX synthesizer, high-quality effects units were included, in addition most synthesizer and all sampler models featured disk drives and/or RAM cards for storage. The manuals and tutorial documents were written and highly musician-oriented, allowing users to get satisfactory results from their machines quickly. In 1988, the company enlisted the Dixie Dregs in a limited edition promotional CD, “Off the Record,” which featured the band using the EPS sampler and SQ-80 cross-wave synthesizer.

Ensoniq logo

Ensoniq Synths

1985 – Ensoniq Mirage

1986 – Ensoniq ESQ-1

1986 – Ensoniq SDP-1 Sampled Digital Piano

1988 – Ensoniq SQ-80

1988 – Ensoniq EPS

1989 – Ensoniq EPS-M

1989 – Ensoniq VFX

1990 – Ensoniq SQ-1

1990 – Ensoniq SQ-2

1990 – Ensoniq SQ-R, later Ensoniq SQ-R plus

1990 – Ensoniq EPS 16 Plus

1990 – Ensoniq SD-1

1992 – Ensoniq KS-32

1992 – Ensoniq ASR-10

1993 – Ensoniq TS 10

1993 – Ensoniq DP/4

1995 – Ensoniq DP/2

1996 – Ensoniq MR61

1996 – Ensoniq KT-76

1997 – Ensoniq ASR X

1997 – Ensoniq E Prime

1998 – Ensoniq Fizmo

1998 – Ensoniq ZR-76

1998 – Ensoniq ASR X Pro

1998 – Ensoniq PARIS Digital Audio Workstation

2002 – Ensoniq Halo (E-mu product using Ensoniq brand)


Conclusion: The Beat Goes On

So there you have it, a whirlwind tour through “The History of Ensoniq and How They Impact the Electronic Music Industry.” From the gritty Mirage to the digital magic of the ASR-10, Ensoniq’s journey has been nothing short of legendary.

Ensoniq stands as a testament to the power of innovation and the enduring magic of sound in the ever-evolving landscape of electronic music. So next time you vibe to a beat or lose yourself in a synth riff, tip your hat to the wizards at Ensoniq, who made it all possible. The beat goes on, and so does the legacy of Ensoniq! 🎶


>> You are welcome to write your opinion/experience with Ensoniq. If I have forgotten something or made a mistake, please correct me.

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Picture of Yaniv Ben Ari
Yaniv Ben Ari
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