Reset/Re-Initialize the ESQ/SQ80
 How To   Envelopes   PWM   LFOs   Overdrive   Reinitialization

I’m reproducing this resource practically verbatim from the old Ensoniq web site, so some of the advice is “overcome by events” (for example, good luck finding an “authorized service center”).  R.I.P. Ensoniq. At least the hardware lives on...

--Except when it doesn’t.  In case of system failure, you’ll need to know how to reset your synth. Its an important tool that may get you out of a jam.  But it can’t solve every problem.  --In fact, if you’ve got a heartbreaking hardware problem, then reinitialization might be a useless gesture.

But reinitializing is light years better at solving actual problems than the stupid, stupid advice that you will find all over the internet to “replace the battery” as an all-purpose magic band-aid

Replacing the battery does nothing for the health of your ESQ/SQ80.  Reinitialization might solve a software glitch.  Changing the battery  only affects “volatile” data (i.e. sequences and user-modified patches).

Without a battery, any patches or sequences you store will be gone when you switch the power off.  Otherwise, the battery doesn’t have any effect upon the normal operation of your ESQ/SQ80.

 Consider this page a quick reference guide for un-blinkering your blinkered-up music machine.

Quick Links:

What is “Reinitialization”?

Should I reinitialize?

ESQ-1 Soft Reinitialization

ESQ-M Soft Reinitialization

SQ-80 Soft Reinitialization

“Hard” vs. “Soft” Reinitialization


SQ-80 Hard Reset (Detailed)

ESQ-1 Soft Reset (Brief)


Reinitializing Your Ensoniq ESQ/SQ80

Part of the power and flexibility of the ESQ/SQ80 series lies in the fact that they are really computers - a computer  disguised as a keyboard instrument, but a computer nonetheless.

If you ever have used a computer, you should be  familiar with the need to occasionally re-boot your system when you get an error message (If you’ve never used a computer, I have no idea how you’re reading this right now).

What is resetting, or reinitialization? Quite simply, reinitialization is the equivalent of  re-booting your computer.

Why Reinitialize?

There are a number of things that can happen to any computer which might scramble the system software - voltage surges, power  failures, static electricity, etc.. As with any computer, infrequently some unforeseeable event or combination of events can  cause the software to become confused, with strange and unpredictable results. Many units brought in for factory service have no hardware problem, just corrupted data. In these cases, all that was needed was reinitialization. Reinitializing should only be performed if:

  1. Your unit begins to behave in peculiar ways
  2. The display shows words or characters that should not be there
  3. You get error or unexpected-event messages
  4. Sequencing or editing functions behave unpredictably.

Try reinitializing before seeking service from a repair technician!

ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR  DATA before reinitializing any unit. Backing up your data  is important because all internal RAM memory will be erased when you reinitialize. This means you will lose all your work if you do not  back it up.

WARNING! Unplug all audio cables prior to reinitializing. Audio outputs may make a loud pop when reinitializing.

After you reset the machine you should tune the filters.  The last couple steps in each procedure show you how to do this.


ESQ-1 Soft Reset

I. Reset

  1. Press and hold the (RECORD) button
  2. Press Soft button (1) (upper left hand corner of screen),  then release both buttons.
  4. Select YES. The display  returns to the sign-on message. All RAM is erased and all internal programs are reset

II. Filter Tune

  1. Press and hold (RECORD) button
  2. Press the (FILTER) button, then release both buttons (verify that all filter values are between 140 and 160 inclusive, if they are not within these values you should probably have your unit serviced at an authorized service center).

Note: When re-initializing with O.S. version 2.2 and lower, all internal programs will reset to BRASS 1.  Higher versions will load the forty factory sounds.

ESQ-M Soft Reset

As with the ESQ-1 and SQ-80, you should re-tune the filters after resetting the ESQ-M. Since the ESQ-M requires a few extra button presses, I have broken this into little sections.

I. The Hidden Functions Page

Yes, a hidden functions page exists. In general, here is how to access the hidden functions:

  1. Press Param and then Storage.
  2. While holding down Scroll, press Master.
  3. The Scroll button can now be pressed until the desired function is reached.

II. Performing the actual Reset

Step 1. Get to the Hidden Functions Page

  1. Press (PARAM)
  2. Press (STORAGE)
  3. Press and Hold (SCROLL)
  4. Press (MASTER), then release both buttons.

Step 2. Filter Tune

  1. Use the (SCROLL) button to select the Memory Reset page.
  2. Press and Hold (SCROLL)
  3. Press (STORAGE) and release both buttons. Display = RESET ALL MEMORY
  4. Press ([). The display shows the wake up screen for 2 seconds, then returns to program mode.
Editors Note:
That last step is directly from Ensoniq, but I’m as confused as you are. Can anyone show me the “([)” button on this interface?

III. ESQ-M Filter Re Tune

Step 1. Get to the Hidden Functions Page

  1. Press Param and then Storage.
  2. While holding down Scroll, press Master.
  3. The Scroll button can now be pressed until the desired function is reached...

Step 2. Filter Tune

  1. Select the Filter Tune page using the Scroll button.
  2. While holding Scroll, press Storage. The display will sequence through the eight filters and show a number for each. Verify that each filter number is between 140 and 160.
  3. * Failure indicates a Main Board problem.

SQ-80 Soft Reset

  1. Press and hold the (RECORD) button
  2. Press Soft button (1) (upper left hand corner of screen),  release both buttons.
  4. Select *YES* Display returns  to sign on message. All RAM is erased and all internal programs reset
  5. Press and Hold the (RECORD) button
  6. Press the (FILTER) button, then release both buttons (verify that all filter values are above140, if they are not above this value you should probably have your unit serviced at an  authorized service center).

“Hard” vs. “Soft” Reinitialization

The next section gives detailed procedures for performing “Hard” Reinitializations.  As you might expect, Hard Resets are “harder” to execute than Soft Resets....

But what is the difference between “hard” and “soft” reset?  Furthermore, why would you perform one instead of the other?

What is a Hard Reset?

Here’s an analogy for you: Usually you can reboot your computer with the mouse or keyboard.  This is the same as doing a soft reset for the ESQ/SQ80, because the reset is accomplished via simple button presses, as you have seen in the procedures above.

But sometimes your computer totally freezes, and will not respond to clicks or button presses. The only solution is to pull the plug and do a so-called “Hard” reboot.  If your synth won’t respond to button presses, I’m afraid its not as simple as just unplugging the electrical cord. You’ll have to open the top and dig in to the hardware.

If this makes you even slightly uncomfortable --good!  Unlike the soft reset, any time you open the case of your synthesizer you run the risk of seriously damaging either your instrument or yourself.    I don’t mean to sound like a fear monger -- the chance of receiving a lethal voltage is small. But it could happen, especially if you don’t know what you are doing.  Pay attention to the disclaimer on this page and others.  Know your limits. a $100 fee to a repair guy is much cheaper than destroying your synth of risking electrocution.


The Hard Reset procedure is what I call a "cold sweat reset".  This is because of the increased chance that something will be permanently damaged. Hopefully not your body (or the body of someone you love).




These procedures are provided for information purposes only.  
I will not be held responsible for loss of equipment, monetary loss, 
bodily injury, or loss of life resulting from improper, or even proper,
Read all instructions first, and trust the little voice inside you.  
If the procedures seem too complicated, pay a professional 
to work on your synthesizer.


SQ-80 Hard Reset (Detailed)

Perform this procedure ONLY IF THE SOFT RESET fails!!  It is unusual to need a hard reset. I have performed only one Hard Reset in all my years with the synth

To perform a hard reset, first turn off and unplug your SQ80.  You must use a wire jumper to short resister R1 to U50 SeqRAM pin 28. You only need to touch the wire to these two points for a moment.  Do not leave the jumper wire in place. The jumper wire is used like a button for a “momentary switch” to reset the SQ80.


  1. Remove the four hex screws to flip up the display panel. If you have never done this before, IT WILL COME UP. Gently pry it up.  Work first on each side, then the middle until it comes up. The pressure keeping it down is the cardboard insulator on the display board, which will eventually yield to allow the control panel to flip up on the hinges you see underneath the bottom behind the unit.
  2. You will need to remove the 5-7 screws holding the metal shroud with a small Phillips screwdriver. Be sure to get the ones to the left side as well as the row at the bottom.
  3. Unplug the two small 4 pin and 1 large white 9-pin Molex plugs from the mainboard before lifting the metal shroud.
  4. Lift off the metal shroud. Lift it up until it clears the back lip of the synth and then slide it backward to get it away from the cartridge data cable.
  5. The U50 chip is covered by the cartridge data cable. Remove the two LONG screws from the other side of the data cable--the one on the flipped-up face plate. DO NOT UNPLUG THE DATA CABLE FROM THE MAINBOARD!  It is a hassle and would put a lot of strain on the board to unseat it. I simple removed the cable from the cartridge well and folded it over to the left of the mainboard. It rests nicely on the lower octaves of the keyboard during this procedure.
  6. Locate resister R1 on the mainboard. IGNORE resister 1 on any other board, such as the power regulation board (with the fuses).  The R1 we are interested in lies to far left of the mainboard (as you face the synth, as if playing it).  It is a lone resister oriented up and down--as opposed to most resisters on the boards, which are seated horizontally.
  7. Locate SeqRAM IC U50.  (It’s a computer chip to you newbies. IC stands for “Integrated Circuit", which is what a chip really is). U50 is also far left, to the bottom. The first in a row of chips after the cables connect to the board.
  8. Determine where to place the jumper. Once you have a small length of wire to use as a jumper, you must know the exact places to touch the wires:
    • RESISTOR R1: Resisters have no polarity, but it is important to contact the correct side of the circuit.  I took the service manual at its word and placed the wire BELOW the R1 resister (on the metal part, of course!).  This turns out to be the correct location.
    • IC U50:  The manual can be a little misleading for those of us who know "just enough to be dangerous". They ask you to short the pin at the bottom left of the chip, which would be the incorrect side as viewed "chipwise". Again, take the manual at its word, and touch the leg AT THE BOTTOM LEFT as you are now oriented to the keyboard.
  9. Leave the jumper wire connected between RESISTOR R1  and IC U50 for a brief moment.  You may now remove the jumper wire

Reassemble and close the SQ-80.  The keyboard is now reset.    For goodness sake, don’t leave the jumper wire inside the case after the procedure!


Questions and Answers



    Answer 1: You are touching the wrong IC leg or wrong resister with your jumper wire.  If you are unfamiliar with the terminology, look up a picture of a resister in a search engine.

    Answer 2: You are not touching the correct leg of the U50 chip. The lower left leg is slightly out of sight under the metal shroud support.  Get a good light and look back in there.  It's really not hard to find.


    Question: What is a jumper wire?

    Answer: It is nothing more than a piece of wire that you scrounge from someplace. Use something like a piece of speaker wire for making this temporary reset connection. There is not an existing jumper wire in the case magically provided for your use.  

     If your wire is insulated with plastic (like a speaker wire), strip some of each end (carefully!) with a knife. If you have never heard of a jumper, or are uncomfortable seeing a printed circuit board, you may wish to have an older relative perform this operation.


ESQ-1 Hard Reset (Brief)

If you are unable to re-initialize the unit due to scrambled software (i.e. the keyboard not responding), you can clear the RAM by following this procedure:

In general, open the unit similarly to the SQ-80 Hard Reset (above). You will not need to disassemble sub-components to reach the 2 necessary components.

Make sure the power is off and power cable is disconnected!

  • For METAL UNITS: short the right side lead of CR1 to C1.


  • For PLASTIC UNITS: short the right side lead of C18 to the left side of CR3.


Reprinted content © 1993 Ensoniq Corp.

Original Content © ScoreforSale.

[How To] [Envelopes] [PWM] [LFOs] [Overdrive] [Reinitialization]