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This page is not affiliated with the Emu/Ensoniq Corporation.
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.

Suggestions, questions, acclamation, or simple curiosity about who that guy is you might want to place here:


In issue 8/2000 of the German KEYS magazine, our beloved Ensoniq synth was featured for which they interviewed me. 22 years later, this website led to another interview, this time by the German Amazona magazine.

Please check out this page first before mailing me!

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.

PSA1: Please note that I'm not other vendors' after-sales service. If you bought parts elsewhere, particularly from eBay sellers who like to charge you for stuff they grabbed for free from this page, please direct your questions there.

PSA2: Please also note that while I generally don't mind giving repair advice, particularly on lesser obvious defects, this shouldn't be abused. And, while somewhat obvious, please also understand that buying parts from me doesn't include eternal repair consulting. If you feel unable to walk yourself through a repair or installation job, better take your machine to a professional service.

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:
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SQ8L: An SQ80-emulating VSTi

Please note:

  • 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, a native 64-bit module 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.

Having said this ... Enjoy!


A picture says more than 1000 words. Click on it to download or here for the README.


  • (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 enhancements
  • (2007-02-26) V0.831a
    Fixes rendering problems in Ableton Live
  • (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 demands.
  • (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 EQ. Done by Siegfried Kullmann.
  • Direct comparison between original (A) and plugin (B).
    Done by Chris Hülsbeck.
  • Another nice demo (archived) 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:
    1. Configure Wine for jack output by running winecfg and selecting the JACK driver from the Audio section.
    2. Export the VST folder path, e.g. export VST_PATH=/home/buchty/VST/
    3. 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 find the dssi-vst directory, try locate dssi-vst.
    4. 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 the JACK manual.)
    5. 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:
    • 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 system.
    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.

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 virgin stuff.

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.

Please note 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 you.

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.

(Programs, Sounds, ROM Dumps)
Tech and Non-Tech Information

SQ80 Toolkit

For the lazy readers: This software is only running on Linux systems. Even worse: only ancient ones as native floppy support is to be removed from the kernel in 2023. 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!)

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.

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 support.

SQ80 disk dumps
(for use with SQ80 Toolkit only!)

The Collected Sounds Disks contain all the sound banks listed below.

SQ80 sound bank dumps
(for use with SQ80 Toolkit only!)

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

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.
Thanks to Steve Gilmer for the 1.7 and KPC dumps!

SQ80 Waveforms

ESQ-1 OS Dumps

The 1.7 and 2.0 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 3.5.


The V1.3 OS ROM will require an ESQm with installed waveform expansion unit, turning it into the all-famous SQ80m.

ESQ1/ESQm Factory Presets

For those with ESQm or older-OS ESQ1, here's the factory presets which you may (or may not) want to play back after factory-resetting the machine. For this, set your machine to channel 16, enable sysex, and feed the file to your machine using your favorite MIDI utility.

ESQ1 Waveforms

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

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.

Please note:

  • 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:
    • 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

  • Now you can use the standard dd and fdformat utilities with that device:
    • 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.

ROM Dumps

  • AWP-5000 OS
    (version unknown, 2x 27512)
  • EPS16 OS
    (version unknown, 2x 27256)
  • SD-1 (32V) OS
    (V4.10, 27010+27512)
  • TS12 OS
    (V3.10, 27040+27020)
    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, archived).
  • VFX OS
    (V2.10b, 2x 27512)
  • Mirage ROM
    (version unknown, 2732)
  • Mirage diagnostics
    (Memory & Keypad assembly test; 2732/each)
  • SPM-1 ROM
Happy to receive VFX OS V2.30, which is the current one!

PAL dumps

Chip clones

The above VHDL models I created based on existing datasheets, schematics, and code inspection. They are -- apart from a syntax check -- completely untested.

While I have no intention to develop them into drop-in replacements, I guess they shouldn't just sit and rot on my harddrive.

Use tab width=4 for proper rendering.


Thanks to Jon Corley for sending me a bunch of main boards plus schematics!


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 outdated.

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, archived).
  • 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 (sad001@ccnet.com). 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 Archive

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.

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 know.


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

ESQ-1 Schematics

Scroll down for Tony Gonzalez' hand-drawn and documented schematics.

ESQ-1 Service Manual

Windows Users: WinZIP can handle .tar-files.

Thanks to Eddie K. Lee for scanning.

ESQ-1 Musician's Manual

Thanks to Thierry Pottier for scanning and Per Mattsson for creating the PDF archives.

ESQm Musician's Manual

Thanks to Mark Wynkoop for Scanning, OCRing and PDFing.
(Yes, I know. Verbing weirds language.)

SQ80 Musician's Manual

Thanks to Mark Wynkoop for Scanning, OCRing and PDFing.

SQ80 Schematics

Thanks to Jon Corley for sending me SQ80 (and many other) schematics for free.
Thanks to Kirk Slinkard and Alexander Maaß for cleaning/fusing the digital (Kirk) and analog (Alex) schematics.

SQ80 Service Manual

Retyped and PDFed by me.

Disclaimer: 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

ESQ1 Schematics
drawn by Tony Gonzalez
(∗May 17, 1963 †Nov 4, 2012)

Awesome work, Tony!

SQ80 Schematics

Program Cartridge

ESQ-1 Sequencer Memory Expansion

Technical Manuals

Documented ROM Listing

  • available here (ZIP, 200kB)

Turn your ESQm into an SQ80m

Turn your ESQ-1 into an SQ80

Documentation of ICs Sound generation

Please note that the original Q chip as used in those Mirages featuring the piggy-back PCB is rev. A and hence differs in the following ways: It does not include the ADC and features a slightly different pinout for lacking the S&H stages. Both of which are included in 5503D/1261D (DOC rev. D).

Computing engine and I/O Display components Misc analog

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 and later channel-pressure keyboard machines with 61 and 76 keys.

The Cassette Format

  • Three data types
    • bank
    • sequence
    • all sequences
    • an unimplemented 4th one that may have been "OS" (as it bears the same data type ID as the equally unimplemented OS data type on disk)

  • Storage format
    • Native data, e.g. PCB or sequence data

  • Raw format
    • Encoding: biphase-mark
    • Leader tone (all mark)
    • data blocks comprising
      • Head (4x sync: 0x7e)
      • 256 8(9)-bit data bytes (5 consecutive 1-bits get zero-padded) followed by an even-parity bit
      • XOR checksum over all data bytes
      • Tail (2x sync: 0x7e)

Here's my experimental parser for ESQ1/SQ80 data tapes. Use tab width=4 for proper rendering. First convert the audio file of choice into an 8-bit unsigned raw binary, then fire up the parser with the data file name as parameter.

It does neither care about the actual file type nor the intended file length, but just bluntly decodes until the audio file ends (hence typically with a timing error).

Miscellaneous Information

External Resources
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.
  • A vast collection of ESQ1/SQ80 sounds where doubles have been weeded out and a grouping into sound categories was performed provided by Mark Peters. Awesome work, Mark!
  • Stuck with your old Ensoniq songs and sequences? Translate them into Standard MIDI Files using Gerhard Pichelhofer's converter software. You'll also find a tool for bank dump manipulation there.
  • For historical reasons, here's Margus Kliimask's converter software and seq file analysis that started it all. (archived)
  • 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 ;) (archived)
  • Commercial ESQ1/SQ80 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
  • 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 SD-1 (32V) OS 4.10
  • Alison Cassidy for providing SQ80 OS1.3 and ESQ1 OS1.7
  • Michael Krause for providing SPM OS 1.7
  • DJ Maytag for rev-engineering the rev. 5601 PSU schematics
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.

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.