Original ESQ-1 Cassette Demo

10th January 2015: I have been re-sampling my old Ensoniq ESQ-1. Look out for some more patches soon, in the meantime enjoy this classic eighties demo I loaded up into its sequencer from the original working factory cassette tape (pictured here) last night.

Fond memories of Jan Hammer’sMiami Vice Theme”, Harold Faltermeyer’s – “Axel F” from the Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack, Billy Ocean’s “When The Going Gets Tough” – from “The Jewel on the Nile”, and Duran Duran’s “The Reflex” all came flooding back.

The original factory demo from the Ensoniq ESQ-1. This is the first track you would have heard when you power up the sequencer for the first time. At the time this was pretty sensational, as it was the first time you could hear so many different voices being played at the same time from a single unit.

The demo sequences come backed up on an audio cassette – you load the sounds and sequences from the cassette into the ESQ-1 by playing the tape in your cassette recorder, and by connecting the stereo audio outs of your cassette recorder – into a Tape In socket on the back of the ESQ-1 with a stereo cable.

When played the tape makes a horrible screeching sound like an old modem – not nice to listen to on headphones or through your speakers – unless you have the sound turned right down.

If it’s too quiet, the ESQ-1 can’t read it properly, so I usually have the headphones round my neck but not next to my ears! You can still hear the screeching quite easily.

The tape starts with a continuous tone: You press the button on the ESQ-1 whilst that tone is still playing, and then let the tape play all its screechy stuff until you hear the end tone (which sounds like the one at the beginning). Once the ESQ-1 tells you the SEQUENCE data is accepted from the tape you hit the SONG button and select DEMO. Then play. And this is what you get.

Note that what you hear is the ESQ-1 actually physically playing the original factory voices “live” (also loaded in from the same cassette tape) via its 8 track onboard sequencer – I captured the audio directly into my Saffire USB6 Audio Interface from the ESQ-1’s stereo audio outputs, recorded it using Reason 7.1 and rendered a PCM Wave file, which I then converted into an MP3 using Goldwave.

I loaded up both the Internal Banks (The individual synth patches) and the Demo song from cassette last night having not heard it for nearly thirty years. It’s amazing that the tape, my Denon tape player and the data transfer process all still works. So I thought I’d better capture it while it still does. Enjoy!


ESQ-1 is a discontinued product of Ensoniq Corporation. Rights remain property of all respective holders.

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