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A synthesizer manufacturer which was considerbly influential in the 1985-1995 time period. The company was founded by three engineers from the IC manufacturer MOS Technology, including Bob Yannes, who had designed the Commedore 64 SID chip while at MOS. The company began in 1982, and curiously, their first product was one of the first soft synths -- a drum machine package that ran under DOS. However, in 1985, the company created a major splash in the synth market with the Mirage sampler. The Mirage came with a list price of $1500 US, but often sold for less than $1000, the first sampler to reach that price point. The Mirage was pretty limited, but it evolved into the very capable and popular EPS line. And, as in the case of E-mu, Ensoniq made a lot of money selling pre-recorded sample libraries for its samplers.


Starting in 1989, Ensoniq began introducing new models which incorporated the principle of wave scanning, an idea lifted from the very expensive PPG systems. Ensoniq referred to this as "Transwaves". Through the '90s, the company continued to branch out. They introduced one of the first MIDI-controlled effects units, the DP/4, in 1993. They also introduced a line of sound cards for personal computers, the Soundscape series.

The sound card market grew rapidly through the early '90s and sound card sales began to overshadow the synth line. Mid-'90s models such as the ASR-X were variations on earlier themes, while competitors were introducing all-new products. Lack of R&D funding for the synth line meant that the company missed out on the analog renaissance, And they began having design and quality control problems. The final blow came in 1998 with the Fizmo, a conceptually brilliant and extremely flexible Transwave-based synth. Unfortunately, large numbers of them began coming back during the warranty period with DSP chip failures.

At this point, Creative Labs made an offer for the company, which Ensoniq's management accepted. Creative merged the company with E-mu, which it had already acquired. Creative's interest in Ensoniq was for its sound card technology; it had no interest in the synthesizer line, and manufacture of the remaining synth models was quickly terminated, the sound card line was transferred to E-mu, and the Ensoniq name abandoned shortly after. One additional synth was marketed under the Ensoniq name, the Halo, but it was an E-mu design.

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