Ensoniq made its bank on affordable sampling with the groundbreaking (and price-busting) Mirage and its synthetic companion, the ESQ-1. Before long, the company's customers began clamouring for machines of a more professional quality and the company responded with the EPS sampler and its effects-laden, improved-fidelity offspring, the EPS 16+.
They sold like the proverbial hotcakes to legions of users who quickly found them to be, well, less than dependable. This writer used to drag a pair of EPS samplers to gigs, well aware that either machine could drop dead at any given moment, flashing the dreaded “SYSTEM ERROR 018” across its fluorescent display.
To its credit, Ensoniq was always quick to repair the samplers that come in from the field, and even more to its credit, it learned from its mistakes, and when it came time for the follow up, it did it right and then some, resulting in the now-classic ASR-10.
The ASR-10 was a massive machine. It was big, sleek and looked like a million bucks. Sounded like it too, thanks to a high resolution sampling engine and 64 of the best effects (culled from the swanky DP/4 effects processor) ever to grace a workstation.
The DP/4 wasn’t the only Ensoniq product to lend technology to the ASR-10. Samples could be stored and played back in much the same way as could Ensoniq’s Transwaves from the company’s VFX synthesizers. A trio of envelope generators, LFO, noise generator and a modulation matrix came together to form a very powerful synthesis engine.
There was, of course, the ever-popular Ensoniq sequencer, allowing 16 tracks at 96 PPQ resolution. 80 sequences could be stored and chained into a song. Oh, and the ASR-10 could actually sample while the sequencer was running!
And let’s not forget the 'tape recorder', that allowed two tracks of audio recording that could coincide with the sequencer. Wow. Did we mention that it resampled, too?
Obviously, the ASR-10 was a machine to be reckoned with and it is still widely sought after on the second-hand market. A terrific machine.