updated February 21, 2008
Warning: If working inside the ESQ1 keyboard, make sure you ground yourself to the chassis to prevent any unwanted static discharge that will damage some of the integrated circuits and render your keyboard useless. The ESQ1 must also be unplugged from the mains. Lethal voltages exist in and around the power supply. Some of the processes and instructions on this website require a good bit of skill and knowledge in electronics as well as safety. I assume no responsibility should you damage your unit or get injured. Also, please don't ask me to help you "learn" basic electronic skills. I have created this web site to provide informational data only. - webmaster
This depends on your technical expertise. If you have no electronic troubleshooting experience, you're going to have a harder time getting your ESQ1 to work. You only have a few options.
1) Find a music repair store that will attempt to repair it. Since the ESQ1 has not been manufactured for almost 18 years, finding an authorized repair station is impossible.
2) Find someone near you that has some troubleshooting experience and let them try to repair it for you.
3) If you have some technical background in repairing electronic equipment, browse through this website or Rainer's website for information that may help you.
Depending upon what the symptoms are, it may be something as simple as a fuse or as complicated as a defective main board. Even a loose cable could cause an ESQ1 to look dead.
Study the rest of the F.A.Q's for some other suggestions.
Contact Rainer or visit his website.
Sometimes used or defective ESQ1's and parts can be obtained on Ebay.
Power cords are the same as those found on Desktop computers and many other pieces of electronic equipment such as printers, monitors, test equipment, etc.
Additional program cartridges can be found on Ebay, usually around US$20 ea.
Volume sliders are available from Mouser Electronics. See FAQ 22.
The owners manual, instruction manual, operation manual is available from a few places.
You can purchase them from Syntaur.
Your internal battery that saves the program patches and sequences needs to be replaced. Instructions for replacing the battery are here. I advise you to use the same type of battery and not an alkaline or any other type of battery.
If this has just started happening, you may have about six months or more of use before you may loose data. The low battery will not affect any of the basic operations of the ESQ1, volume levels, or anything else. Just the 40 internal patches and sequences. If the battery is dead, the unit will still function perfectly. It will just reinitialize each time it is powered up but depending upon the operating system firmware, you may not have any 40 internal factory patches. Version 3.50 will load a factory set of patches (sounds) into the internal banks. Earlier versions will load the BRASS1 in all 40 patches. If you keep all your custom patches on external program cartridges, and don't use the sequencer or midi configurations, you may not even need a battery. The dead battery will not affect the operation of the ESQ1 but it might leak a little and could damage the main circuit board.
These ten buttons are the programmable buttons that are located just above and below the fluorescent display as shown below. Five on top and five below. These buttons do different things when the display shows different options.
Sometimes strange things will happen when trying to operate the ESQ1.
1) The power supply capacitors are starting to dry out and cause unstable operations. See Power Supply Woes for a detailed explanation of what to do.
2) A loose cable that connects to main board to the display board, keyboard assembly, or cartridge board. If you have been inside the ESQ1 to look around, change the battery, or upgraded the operating system, you may have loosened a cable connector. Be very careful and try to reseat the connectors WITHOUT unplugging the cable and reinserting it. There is a chance you may plug it in wrong and create more damage to the ESQ1.
3) A bad connection on a integrated circuit chip. There are a few "chips" that are on sockets. The pins on the sockets will oxidize over the years and slight heating and cooling will cause them to loose proper contact with the "chips". It takes only one loose or intermittent contact to render the ESQ1 useless. If this is what you suspect, you must gently "massage" the chips by pushing on them gently by rocking your finger over the chip from end to end. Use only slight pressure to insure proper contact. DO NOT attempt to remove a chip and reinsert it. It takes skill and proper tools to do so and you may destroy the chip by folding a delicate pin over or not placing the chip in correctly. This will permanently destroy the ESQ1.
4) Successive alteration of OS RAM contents by spikes, power surges, and/or failing battery may require a reset. Prior to any hardware check-up, the factory reset should be applied. If the error persists (or returns within short time), then it's time for hardware hunt, possibly a bad power supply or intermittent pins on some of the chips.
The last version released by Ensoniq is Version 3.50. When you power up the ESQ1, the first screen you will see displays the version number on the lower right on the display as shown.
You can download the firmware from Rainer's website and program the eproms yourself. If you don't have the equipment, click here. Warning: Earlier versions (Ver 2.2 or less) will NOT load factory default patches to your internal memory when you reset your ESQ1 and you will loose any custom patches you may have created. Save your patches using the tape or midi interface.
This is not an easy question to answer. You must remember that the ESQ1 was designed well before PC's were in existence. There were only a few ways to interface to and from the ESQ1. The primary way is the external cart and sequencer memory.
The second way is using the tape input and output audio recording technique recording and playing back to a cassette or reel tape as described in the musician's manual. High quality tape media is a must for perfect transfer and no data loss. You can now load and dump to a PC sound card and achieve excellent results. See "alternate method" to learn more.
The last way is by using the MIDI interface. There is a caveat. You must have a properly installed midi interface in your PC and the software application to load and save patches MUST be able to talk to the midi port AND talk properly to the ESQ1. This is where it gets difficult. Since there were no PC's when the ESQ1 was developed, no factory software was created yet. Just because you have a midi interface and some midi programs doesn't mean you can simply load and dump patches. There are some third party software programs that will allow you to load and save patches but this author has not tested and cannot recommend any at this time. You might check out Giebler Enterprises and SoundQuest for possible interface software to current PC's.
Another reliable way of having a simple interface to your ESQ1 from a PC is to obtain an old working DOS computer with DOS 3.3 to 6.2 on it. Obtain a midi interface board that will work on DOS. Some SoundBlaster sound cards have a midi interface. Some game ports have a midi port adapter available. Go to Rainer's website and download the Librarian version 1.38. The software is on the left side near the bottom of the page. This will allow you to load and dump and print out patches. I have successfully loaded the Librarian on Windows 98SE with a working ISA slot midi card and have been able to load and dump patches. I have loaded and tested the Librarian and a USB-Midi adapter on a Win98 laptop. I have not tested this procedure on Win2K or XP yet.
It is not necessary to perform a reinitialization unless you suspect a problem. You can do so by doing the following:
After the power is turned on and you see your patches displayed, hold the RECORD and SOFT BUTTON #1 down at the same time. Answer "YES" (soft button #5) to reset the keyboard as shown on the display below.
Warning!: You will loose all 40 of the internal patches you may have created. Version 3.5 will load a set of factory default patches. Older versions (Ver 2.2 and earlier) of the O.S. will load BRASS1 into all 40 patches.
The lithium battery with printed circuit solder tabs connecting the battery to the main board is the only way to reliably protect your valuable patches and sequences. The lithium battery will last from 10 to 15 years whether the keyboard is used or not. It is not recommended to circumvent this design. Trying to mount a battery bracket and use disposable alkalines will cause trouble. The battery may fall out during transportation of the keyboard. Even if it is secure, a dead alkaline will leak on the main board. If you're not careful, placing the battery in backwards will destroy the keyboard. Also if you're not careful, a static discharge when working inside could destroy the keyboard.
Trying to use a rechargeable is not reliable. Rechargeable batteries will self discharge in a few months. You must also design a charging circuit to properly keep the battery fully charged and not overcharge.
For the small price of the proper battery, it is well worth staying with the lithium soldered to to main board. See http://www.pic101.com/ensoniq/battery.htm for the proper replacement of the battery.
Note from the author: I keep getting emails from those that want my approval or tell me they installed a battery holder, even externally to the ESQ1. I don't understand why some always try to circumvent the designers decision to use the internal lithium battery. It is available just about everywhere in the world. Even from me if they really want one. Once the battery is replaced, you have at least 15 years to worry about it again. There's a good chance the new battery will outlast the rest of the ESQ1. Or even the user. Any other battery means you will have to be inside the unit much more often and the chance of loosing valuable data if the alkaline or rechargeable collapses and fails unsuspectedly. The chance for a static discharge or putting the battery in backwards is great which will literally destroy your ESQ1. Messing around inside the keyboard will always expose it to failure.
If you have a key that continuously creates a sound when you turn your ESQ1 on or if you have a key that doesn't sound. you may have a simple problem. There are two spring contacts on each key on the keyboard assembly. One contact is closed when the key is up and one is closed when the key is down.
The following is the theory behind how the key contacts work:
When you normally depress a key, a contact opens and very shortly one closes. This is what causes the keys to be "velocity sensitive". Meaning the harder or faster you depress the key, the louder the sound the ESQ1 generates (depending upon the patch) because the time is quick from the break to make connection. Gently depressing the key means the time the closed contact opens to the time the open contact closes, is longer. The ESQ1 senses this and generates a "softer" sound.
The contacts are made of a brass alloy and the common leg is a spring-like contact. This forms a "wiping" action which self cleans each time you depress a key. Normally this will be reliable for many years but because of age, moisture, and oxidation, the contacts may fail. If a key up contact fails, the ESQ1 will think you have pressed a key and will generate a continuous note when you first turn the ESQ1 on. If a key down contact fails, you will not hear a note when you depress a key.
With the above information understood, you will be able to repair the problem. A simple way to stop the key from sounding is to quickly depress at least eight other keys. The ESQ1 will mute the offending note until you depress it again. To temporarily fix the key you might try exercising the offending key by depressing it continuously and quickly for a number of times, possibly 50 or so. This may work enough of the tarnish off the contact to make it work for awhile.
A more permanent fix will be to disassemble the ESQ1 and apply a deoxidant agent to the contact(s) to clean them. Do not attempt to manually adjust, bend or file the contacts or you may destroy them.
There is a distant possibility that there is a broken circuit on the keyboard assembly that could be causing your problem. This will involve some serious work in disassembling the whole keyboard assembly and finding the break. I had one ESQ1 come in for repair and found that someone had spilled orange juice on the keys and it seeped down onto the circuit board and ate away connections. Let's hope this wasn't your problem since only someone with considerable experience can find the open connection(s).
Make sure your audio cable is plugged into the mono and not the right channel. Some patches modulate the audio from channel to channel and you're getting the effect of only one channel if you are using only the mono input to your mixer or sound system.
Try reinitializing your ESQ1. Sometimes something gets stuck in the midi table or the operating system is hung up. Restarting the OS may cure the problem.
There could also be a misconfiguration (foot volume set) or dead volume slider. On rare occasions also dead channel mux (4051), dead S&H mux (for final VCA or filter frequency), dead CEM3360, or output stage (TL084).
My display is showing weird and partially illuminated
Note: this parameter is NOT saved when you shut the ESQ1 off and you have to set it to "KEYS+CT+PC+SS+SX" each and every time you power up if you want to load patches from midi.
Also, make sure you are NOT in the midi page when you tell the Librarian to send data. Make sure you have selected one of the internal patch pages. The ESQ1 will automatically read the data when the display is normal and no setup page is selected.
Also, make sure your port is selected properly in the Librarian. This setting is not saved in the Librarian and must be set each time you start the Librarian. Go to "Mode" and select the proper midi output and input device that you are using in your PC.
If you are unable to re-initialize the unit due to scrambled software (i.e. the keyboard not responding), you can clear the RAM by following this procedure:
Make sure the power is off and power cable is disconnected!
For METAL UNITS: short the right side lead of CR1 to C1.
For PLASTIC UNITS: short the right side lead of C18 to the left side of CR3.
The Metal versions of the ESQ1 do NOT have a heat sink on the back and have a serial number from 10000-24999 with a main board assembly number of 40900004001
The Plastic versions of the ESQ1 have a heat sink on the back and have a serial number from 25000 and higher with a main board assembly number of 4090007001. The yellow arrow points to the heatsink.
There are no interchangeable parts between the metal and plactic ESQ1's. There is some information that applies to both types of units.
A: The ESQ1 and SQ80 use two 27C256 EPROM chips (OS HI and OS LOW), while the
ESQm rack-mount module uses just one single 27C256 EPROM chip in the OS HI
You can purchase them from http://www.mouser.com for about US$3 each plus shipping. Be sure to get at least two of them (unless you only have the rack mount ESQm).
One current Mouser stock number (as of mid-2007) is 511-M27C256B-15F. If this particular model becomes unavailable, these chips are made by a number of manufacturers. Search Mouser (or your favorite parts supply house) for "27C256 EPROM" and make your selection based on price and availability.
Look for specifications similar to "UV EPROM 256K (32KX8) 150ns" although the speed is not critical. (Speed of the EPROM is given in the last number, next to "ns", or nanoseconds)
27C256 EPROM's are manufactured in a number of form factors. The ESQ uses the rectangular 28 pin UV-Erasable version. "UV-Erasable" means the chip can be wiped clean with an ultraviolet light source and reprogrammed with new information. EPROMS such as these often have paper stickers covering the UV window to prevent accidental erasure.
See the figure below for help identify the correct EEPROM. (MW)
Unfortunately this website is devoted to the ESQ1 and some SQ80 info. I don't have the time to do all the research and pictures for all the other Ensoniq products that have followed the ESQ1. I would recommend doing a Google search on the different models to get information on those keyboards.
When you download the Librarian 138 and download some of the .mdx files, you must copy or rename those files to .syx files in order for the Librarian to be able to read them. You can open a DOS window, go to the folder (directory) where the .mdx files reside and perform the following command:
copy *.mdx *.syx
This will leave the .mdx files alone and make a copy of those files with the extension .syx
This will allow the Librarian to open the files for editing and transferring.
There is no actual retail kit to convert the ESQ1 keyboard or ESQm rackmount to a SQ80 keyboard. Likely someone has posted something on a forum about Dr. Rainer Buchty's brief section on his website that says "Turn your ESQ-1 into a SQ80"
Unfortunately, Rainier only has schematics of un-constructed parts of the delta between the ESQ class machines and the SQ80. To my knowledge, no one has ever performed this upgrade. There are a couple of factory prototypes of the ESQm rackmount that were upgraded to SQ80 class by the company, but no one has tried this either (to my knowledge).
Strictly speaking, the differences are not that great between ESQ/SQ80 machines. If you want to try the SQ80 extra waveforms essentially for free, try out the Windows VST soft synth SQ8L (also for download at Rainer's site).
It is a good companion for a hardware ESQ, as it can transfer patches between the ESQ and the VST. Also, it can act as an overflow voice module, giving you 16 voices (or more) of polyphony.