12 thoughts on “Ensoniq VFX SD Overview & Demo

  1. I had a love/hate relationship with my Ensoniq EPS, then EPS 16+. These were unique and truly wonderful synths in my early introduction to synthesizers. My first was a Kawai K1.

    For synthesis, special tuning maps, sequencing, and a very clever & logical UI, Ensoniq did a great job.
    For a rig without a graphic display, it was amazing how easily I could set up good loops. It did have Poly AT which I learned to apply in some fun and musically useful ways.

    But about the VFX, I was aware of them, and always liked what I heard, both in the store and with what friends were making on them.

    About the “Hate” part of the relationship. For some reason, these EPS instruments were as buggy and unreliable as anything I’d ever owned. Nightmarish on gigs. Loading discs mid-song, looking “calm”. It did however, make some of the most wonderful swan-song, death-rattle, CPU-trying-and-failing-to-hold-it-together sounds imaginable.

  2. I got one for $200 from a local classified about 10 years ago.
    Its a OK synth. Very 90s sounding. It had a really bad keyboard and I had to get it fixed twice!
    I ended up trading it for a Roland JP 8000 and a little cash.
    I still have that.

  3. Good that the vfx gets some attention, a very underrated synth imo

    Still hope someday a proper vst editor and librarian will get released to make the workflow more intuitive and floppyless

    Is there anyone using a good editor for it which i might have overseen?

  4. This synth is a fun, deep instrument to program. Like many digital synths from the era, the filters do not have resonance – shame – but the synth does feature numerous preset sweepable wavetables called “Transwaves” in Ensoniq parlance.

    The VFX-SD was later replaced by the more reliable (and more desirable) SD-1.

    Despite what the video says, Ensoniq’s synths from he VFX onward are not really very closely related to the older ESQ-1 / SQ-80. They look similar, and the sequencer and UI is similar, but the architecture is quite different. The older synths have 3 digital oscillators per voice that (mostly) play static waves, with an oscillator sync function, through a single analog Curtis filter and amplifier. The VFX and subsequent instruments are completely DSP-based, with pretty good onboard effects as well. The voices are meant to be stacked, each consisting of 1 entire sampled sound or a Transwave, through a single non-resonant digital filter.

    In practice, the ESQ-1/SQ-80 sounds warmer and dirtier, while the newer synths have a cleaner, arguably more musical character. Some real VFX craziness is also possible with the Transwaves and the “multi-wave”.

  5. This american produced keyboard has both polyphonic aftertouch and not only has full keyboard microtonality but the microtonality can be specified globally or per patch.

  6. Amazing sounding synths! I haven’t yet come across anything to match them for slowly evolving ethereal patches. If this kind of thing floats your boat, I recommend holding out till you find an SD-1. They are a slight upgrade with more waveforms but, more importantly, they don’t suffer from the two-part keyboard pcb problem which affected a lot of VFX users. I did a few demo sounds on my SD-1 a wee while ago, which you can find here… http://ununseptiumwarehouse.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/ensoniq-sd1-dilemma-continued.html

  7. The VFX-SD was in fact a great machine IF it worked. However, until the final OS version, it crashed way too much. Even with the final operating system, the crashes were not gone, which was a pitty because I had to exchange the -SD with a more stable synth. In hindsight, I wished I had kept it because it´s “American Sound” was very unique. Later, when I got my ASR-10, there were similar issues with the first OSes, but it was much more stable than the VFX.

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