The Ensoniq ESQ1 and SQ80 offered an astounding spec for not a lot of money when released in the late '80s.

Each of its eight voices featured three digital wavetable oscillators each with their own DCA (digitally controlled amplifiers) for independent level control of each oscillator, three comprehensive multi-waveform LFOs (low frequency oscillators), four multi-stage envelope generators, oscillator sync and cross modulation, a ring modulator and a comprehensive modulation matrix that allowed almost any controller to be routed to anything.

With their various polyphonic and monophonic play modes and layering functions, the ESQ1/SQ80 gave the contemporaneous (but wholly analogue) Oberheim Xpander a good run for its money. The SQ80 was basically identical to its innovative predecessor, the ESQ1, but offered far more multi-sampled oscillator waveforms to use as the raw sound.

However, at the heart of the SQ80 (and the ESQ1) were truly analogue filters (the same Curtis chips used in the Sequential Circuits' Prophet V) which gave the SQ80 a warm, genuinely analogue character despite its digital sound generation circuitry.

That the SQ80 had a versatile sequencer and flexible multi-timbral mode only enhanced its capabilities as one of the world's first synthesiser 'workstation' (limited only by its 8-voice polyphony).

Its specification may look modest today but it was (and still is) capable of making some truly great sounds.