Ensoniq

ENSONIQ VFX SD SYNTH

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The VFX-SD was a VAST improvement on the original. Gone was the cartridge bay on the left (replaced with a *gasp* FLOPPY drive -- a 3.5 incher, too!)Êand the many bugs that had purportedly plaged the original's OS. Ensoniq would get to about OS 4.0 or 4.5 before giving up the ghost on this machine.

Finally, there were the SOUNDS. The "mega-piano" samples, as they were then called, were pretty mega alright. At just over 4 megabytes of sample data, it was the most ambitious such undertaking in synth history (though it would later be outdone by Kurzweil.) The drums sounded better, the vioiins and cellos were breathtaking, and the flutes were gorgeous-sounding.

The problems were many-fold though. For one thing, the disk drive wasn't DOS-compatible -- and in fact, its format wasn't recognized by ANYTHING other than another VFX-SD. This meant that the system would be forever closed to the rest of the world.

Sadly, Ensoniq seemed to almost revel in this kind of thing. With the ESQ-1, they had alrready begun the hermitage, by creating in their sequences no way to combine the data among each individual pattern. This changed only SLIGHTLY for the better with the VFX series, but was still kind of difficult to use. This, from the company that advertised its workstaions as "having taken out the work," was too much for some to deal with.

In the end, the VFX-SD failed because it didn't keep up with the times. It was designed as the final, do-it-all-in-one synth workstation -- but you can't build a road to everywhere, if it is in fact a dead end.

This is a lesson that we hope every synth manufacturer will at least try to learn.