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Mirage

A sampler introduced by Ensoniq in 1984. It was Ensoniq's first product, and the first sampler to be priced low enough to be affordable to the average musician. It used 8-bit sampling at a rate of 32 KHz, both considered "low-fi" by today's standards, but the bit width was the same as the original version of the far more expensive Fairlight CMI. It was 8-voice polyphonic, and like some other samplers of the era, it featured analog voltage controlled filters. Five-segment envelopes and an LFO per voice completed the voice architecture. The synth was developed by Bob Yannes, who was also responsible for the Commodore SID.

Three versions of the keyboard instrument were produced, two keyboard versions and a rackmount version. The keyboard versions had a span of 61 keys, and a floppy disk drive to store samples. All contained 128 kilobytes of sample memory, enough for four seconds of playback. The first was designated as the DSK-8, and it had a piano weighted keyboard. Performers complained that the original Pratt-Read mechanism had a poor feel, so during the production run Ensoniq switched to a keyboard from Fatar. The second keyboard version was designated the DSK-1 and had a synth weighted keyboard.

The programming interface was minimal, consisting of a set of menu and up/down buttons, and performers had to learn hexadecimal math in order to set sample loop and end points. Nonetheless, the fact that the Mirage was priced far below the Fairlight and the E-mu Emulator meant that thousands of performers dealt with the limitations in order to pursue sampling technology, and semi-pro and amateur musicians were able to get into sampling for the first time.

The Mirage was produced until 1988. The technology used in the Mirage in turn spawned Ensoniq's EPS series.

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