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Article from Music Technology, September 1987

A review of ESQ1 cartridges from Executive Audio joins readers' patches for it and the Roland D50 and Yamaha TX81Z - all in this month's Patchwork.

If you're still waiting to see your particular synth featured in these pages, why not be the first to submit some sounds?

Don't forget that if your patch gets published, you'll receive a free year's subscription to MUSIC TECHNOLOGY with our compliments. So send us your favourite sounds on a photocopy of an owner's manual chart (along with a blank one for artwork purposes) accompanied by a short demo-tape (don't worry too much about classic performances and impeccable recording quality; just present your sounds simply and concisely - and convince us you're the best of the bunch). Include a decent-length description of your sound and its musical purpose in life, and write your full name and address on each chart. Remember, edited presets are all very well, but an original masterpiece is always preferable. OK?

The address to send your sounds to is: Patchwork, (Contact Details).

ENSONIQ ESQ1 - Good Vibes

Bruno Lyon, Stockport

Another month, another batch of impressive sounds for the Ensoniq beauty. And 'Good Vibes' is "cool-sounding vibes with a wooden attacking noise, similar to real mallets. Use expression wheel for vibrato."

A free sub is on its way.

(Click image for higher resolution version)

YAMAHA TX81Z - Bass Box

M P Lancaster, Glasgow

A warm welcome to these hallowed pages for the TX81Z, and a patch its creator designed as a bass sound for sequencing at medium tempos. He adds "Operator 4 was originally intended to be a slap-type addition brought on by keyboard velocity, so experiment with its output/frequency/envelope values. Also, key velocity to Operator 2 will introduce more expression."

Now let's hear from some other TX owners...

(Click image for higher resolution version)

ROLAND D50 - LA Piano

Jon Berry, Tring, Herts

No doubt the D50 is fast gaining pride of place on many a keyboardist's rack, so it's time to make room for it in Patchwork too. The first D50 patch received so far is a serious attempt at an acoustic piano (which Jon thought the factory programs lacked). The patch is "a fairly rich version of a concert grand which could be used in a variety of musical applications. It uses PCM partials for the attack portion of the sound and synth partials, based on triangular waveforms, for the sustain portion. Keyboard scaling is critical to maintain a sensible harmonic content over the five-octave range."

(Click image for higher resolution version)

Executive Audio ESX10 and ESX1

Cartridges for Ensoniq's ESQ1

Now here's something you may find interesting. As we all know, there are three types of lie: lies, damned lies and statistics. So here are a couple of statistics for you: 17 of the sounds on the ESX10 cartridge bear a marked, er, resemblance to actual Ensoniq ones and over 70 others have twin brothers or sisters in the Valhala range (reviewed in MT, June 87). On top of which, I can't help but wonder if common patch names like SYS35, 2500BS, Q, LOGDRUM, IRION, FLTMAR, and MS20 are mere coincidences. Seems to me as if somebody, somewhere is telling porkies. There are rumours of legal action and law-suits in the offing, so stay tuned but for now, back to the ESX10.

Made in Germany and marketed in the UK by Executive Audio, the ESX10 is a ROM cartridge, featuring 320 patches, created by computer assisted re-synthesis of both acoustic and electronic sounds. It comes complete with gold-plated contacts and a rather natty brown protective case (which includes a sound list). Its stablemate, the ESX1, is a 160-voice RAM cartridge with military specification EEPROMs and no battery, eliminating possible power-loss problems. Both will dent your bank balance (or increase your overdraft) to the tune of £160, which includes VAT, P&P and insurance.

The first thing you notice about both cartridges is that they're much larger than Ensoniq's own EEPROMs, and dressed in a racy black and gold colour scheme. The extra size is because they possess a larger sound capacity than Ensoniq's. In fact, if it's only the range of sounds you're after, you may be interested to learn that all of the 160 patches on the ESX1 are to be found in the first two banks of the ESX10. That is important, because if you dash out and spend £320 on both cartridges expecting 480 different sounds, you'll be disappointed. Looking at it another way, the ESX1's programmability costs 160 voices, it's as simple as that.

Soundwise, there are some real stars here: ECHOs 1, 2 and 3 are refreshingly different, FLIGHT is the best aeroplane sound in the history of the cosmiverse and KRAFTW is a meaty percussion sound (more Depeche Mode-like than Kraftwerk, actually). And there are lots of stock strings and pianos, too. However, I'm still waiting for the definitive ESQ1 bass sound.

If, in the interests of storing your own sounds, you opt for the ESX1 instead of the ESX10, you will miss out on some good sounds. All the electric drums, for example (SIMMON and *SIMM2 being the best), FAIRL which I suppose could just be a Fairlight on a good day, and MELSTR, which is perfect if you're into weepy ballads.

As an ESQ1 owner on the lookout for an extension to your range (if you catch my drift), I think you could do worse than buy one of these cartridges. Ensoniq themselves are soon to join the frey themselves with a range of 80-voice ROMs, in addition to those already available through the ESQ1 user group. These promise to be worthy contenders but if you bought either the ESX1 or ESX10 first, I don't think you'd be too disappointed.

More from Executive Audio Ltd, (Contact Details)

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(MT Mar 87)

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(MT Jun 88)

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(MT Feb 89)

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Publisher: Music Technology - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

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Music Technology - Sep 1987

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

Feature by David Bradwell

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