ENVELOPE TIME TABLE
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ESQ/SQ80 Envelope Timing Table

To the uninitiated, the envelope page of the ESQ/SQ80 is a baffling matrix of numbers starting with the letters "T" and "L". Fortunately, the envelopes are both flexible and easy to set, once you understand what those "T" values mean.

Similar to standard ADSR envelopes, the E/SQ series allows you to set both the AMOUNT or VOLUME LEVEL of each individual ADSR step (the L-Values) and the amount of time it takes to reach those steps (the T-Values).

Use the following table to set you envelope rates to the desired millisecond times.

(continued after table)

Ensoniq ESQ/SQ80/SQ8X/SQ8L
Envelope Time Table

Parameter Time Value

Time in Milliseconds

Parameter Time Value

Time in Milliseconds

Parameter Time Value

Time in Milliseconds

00
01
02
03
04
05
06
07
08
09
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21

011
017
019
031
035
041
042
043
050
052
054
066
076
079
086
101
112
120
133
155
160
181

22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42

205
222
257
278
323
351
389
426
481
565
609
674
787
893
1009
1115
1205
1408
1569
1698
1977

43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63

2141
2495
2702
3123
3379
3808
4418
4790
5574
6251
6775
7863
8827
9571
11130
12496
13991
15228
17038
19826
22249

An incorrect notion that you may come across on old internet postings was the idea that the ESQ/SQ80 envelopes were "slow". As you can see from this table, it would be possible (at minimum settings) for the synth to complete an entire envelope cycle in point-oh-forty-four milliseconds. --Half that, really, because only the attack and decay stages are necessary for the most rudimentary type of envelope.

 

It's likely that the "slow" rumor got started by someone who didn't understand the envelopes as well as you do (now that you've read this webpage). The idea may have been parroted around the review boards by lazy or uninformed posters. Indeed, you can find a few postings from people who have delved deeper into the synth to discover the envelopes to be quite responsive.

If 22 or 44 thousandths of a second is too slow for you, then your musical ear is working at an entirely different level than mine. It's no coincidence that the 11 millisecond step time we are talking about is very close to the 10 millisecond unit of time known as a "jiffy". Maybe in the future someone will come out with pico second-accurate envelopes for you.

NOTE:
Some have questioned why the zero value for the envelope is 11 milliseconds and not, well, zero. The reason is that an envelope, by definition, must occur over some span of time.

It would make no sense for an envelope to evolve or change in "none-time". Indeed, this “capability” would essentially constitute no envelope at all, or at least not the kind of change that an audio/filter envelope is designed to modulate.

The creators of the ESQ/SQ80 series probably decided on the 11 millisecond minimum based on a logical division of the timer circuit. [The previously-mentioned 10 millisecond "jiffy" is the cycle time for a frequency of 100 Hz . So you can quite literally do the math... ]

UPDATE July 2017:

Question:
Who knows more about the ESQ/SQ-80 architecture than Dr. Rainer Buchty? 
The answer is:
No one alive, that’s who.  I imagine this includes the original hardware team AND the guys who wrote the RAD SOFTWARE!

So I would be irresponsible if I didn’t point out that he has encouraged me to update the information on this page several times. And I have failed to do so (insert that chocolate ice cream emoji here)...

In his own words, I got several hardware details wrong.  For example:

    There of course is a timing circuit (the DUART timer) which drives the kernel task switcher. This task switcher in turn defines an overall hardware timing, which is shared, among other things, by LFOs and envelopes. This is embedded in one of the four main tasks.

Of zero and near-instant time parameters, he writes:

    Nothing prevents an envelope to go from 0 to $LEVEL in zero or close-to-zero time. You can load a capacitor arbitrarily fast to bring it up to the desired voltage… Within the max current range, of course. --But if it's fast enough for discharging to produce a sawtooth wave in the audio range, then it's fast enough for envelope generators to consider it “indistinguishable from instantaneous”.

I’m paraphrasing a little, so any inaccuracies are in my wording, not in the initial information.  Thanks, Doc, for your wisdom and experience with the hardware and software. 

And I think my new band name will be “Indistinguishable from Instantaneous”
 

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