Where digital dreams are made

Digital synthesizers are often known for sounds that are razor-sharp, crystal-clear, and precise - SQ80 V has other ideas.

Explore a detailed software resurrection of a digital anti-hero that’s out to break the rules.

Capture the grit, character, and charming imperfection favored by John Carpenter, Adamski, Mr Bungle, and countless others with an instrument that’s simultaneously complex and accessible, focused and intricate, edgy and dream-like - and unlike anything you’ve heard before.

The digital edge

SQ80 V’s perfectly-modeled 8-bit 5503 DOC chip delivers digital sounds that are uniquely full of organic character, ranging from silky smooth to razor sharp - all ready to customize & play in seconds.

Analog character

Digital oscillators collide with an emulated analog filter and output circuit for sinewaves that growl, harmonics that sizzle, and warm lo-fi timbres that are perfectly imperfect.

Waveforms evolved

Explore thousands of possible combinations of waves, instrument-style transients, hidden waveforms, and VFX transwaves for sound design potential that surpasses the original hardware.

Digital made easy

Digital synths have long been notoriously tricky to program, both hardware and software. SQ80 V bucks the trend with an immersive digital architecture that can be tweaked instantly, hassle-free.

Riding a wave

Created by the same engineers responsible for the Commodore 64 - considered the best-selling computer of all time - Ensoniq’s SQ80 was up against stiff competition.

At the time of its release, the digitization of hardware synthesizers was well under way - but it went on to become a cult classic.

Here was a digital synthesizer that offered a degree of warmth and character usually reserved for its analog peers; flexible voice and modulation controls that didn’t require 10,000 hours of practice to program; a workhorse keyboard that produced an unprecedented array of timbres to suit any style, without the stellar price tag of similarly capable instruments.

After finding success with the Commodore 64 computer, former MOS Technology engineers Robert Yannes, Bill Mauchly, Bruce Crockett, David Ziembicki, Al Charpentier, and Charles Winterble spent several years on projects that ultimately didn’t materialise. The best selling computer of all time was a tough act to follow.

It was the Commodore’s MOS Technology SID (Sound Interface Device) chip that led the team to form Ensoniq, a company to produce synthesizers. Robert Yannes put his sound expertise into creating the Digital Oscillator Chip - aka the DOC 5503 - which was the sonic foundation for Ensoniq’s first generation of synth releases.

Their debut 1985 release, the Mirage, was a sampling keyboard that entered the market at considerably less than the dominant samplers of the time like the Fairlight CMI. Its affordable price tag came at exactly the right time, so success was all but guaranteed. Their next release, the ESQ-1, cemented the company’s place as worthy contenders in the synth arena.

By the time Ensoniq released the SQ80 - an updated version of the ESQ-1 - the digital synth market was saturated. Pioneering Japanese manufacturers were dominating, with releases like the Roland D-50 and the Yamaha DX7 already in the world's top studios and on the biggest stages.

The SQ80 was up against stiff competition. And yet, during a time when synthesizers were becoming increasingly complex, and therefore difficult to program, Ensoniq had the upper hand. Simple menus, a clear screen, and clearly assigned buttons meant that crafting your own sound was quick, fun, and versatile. Compared to the leading Korg M1, the SQ80 was a breath of fresh air for keyboardists.

The fact that its proprietary digital circuitry was combined with a Curtis CEM 3379 filter & amp chip meant that its sound was unique too. Rather than glassy and precise like other digital offerings, it was crunchy, loud, and inconsistent.

It was this distinct formula that, ultimately, led to the SQ80 being considered a classic instrument. Its imperfect tones, featured on numerous ‘80s & ‘90s hits, soundtracks, and performances, are as nostalgic and edgy today as they ever were. SQ80 V brings them to your DAW in all their former glory, complete with additional enhancements modeled on Ensoniq’s later releases like the VFX.

Waveforms

SQ80 V’s unique voice is all about combining and manipulating waveforms.

Each of its 3 oscillators can be assigned a different waveform; SQ80 V unites classic waveforms from the original built-in library with hundreds more that we’ve added, ranging from the familiar to the abstract. The resulting range of sounds at your disposal is simply enormous; soft moving string pads, plucky pulse width basses, glitchy industrial percussion...

Waveforms

Just a small selection of the variety of sounds you can attain with SQ80 V, thanks to its diverse library of available waveforms.

SQ80 waveforms

The keyboard’s original factory library, ranging from sinewaves to unique drum transients, all distinctly synthetic in their nature.

Transwaves

An additional technology taken from Ensoniq’s follow-up generation of synthesizers, including ‘Transwaves’, a pioneering form of wavetable application.

ESQ-1 hidden waveforms

ESQ-1 preceded the SQ80, but had the same software. The same ‘hack’ was applied to produce a new selection of unique waveforms.

SQ80 hidden waveforms

By ‘hacking’ the original SQ80’s software, users unearthed a series of unpredictable waveforms made entirely of manipulated code.

Shades of analog

SQ80 V’s unique voice begins with its 8-bit oscillators and endless hybrid waveform combinations. It’s when these components collide with its emulated CEM 3379 analog filter that it truly comes into its own. By processing digital sounds through its emulated analog filter and amp, SQ80 V can inject organic imperfections, crunchy harmonics, and tangible lo-fi distortion into your modern mixes.

Filter

Hear the richness of SQ80 V's modeled CEM resonant low pass filter and how well it complements the digital voices.

Using our proprietary TAE® technology, we remodeled it in unparalleled detail to bring you a virtual instrument that sings, barks, and growls just like the original hardware.

Layer upon layer

From the immediacy of its controls to its games console aesthetic, SQ80 V is as charming, edgy, and accessible as the real deal. Use it in your DAW or as a standalone instrument and, quite literally, make waves.

An authentic experience

The main interface is stripped down, as with the original, with a mini display menu providing instant access to your main voice controls, including tuning, waveform selection, octave switching, and more.

Oscillator triple threat

In the Synthesis tab, you’ll find more detailed controls for SQ80 V’s 3 oscillators, each with a dedicated DCA (amplifier) and hundreds of waveforms to choose from. This simple architecture is comparable to classic analog synths, making it ultra-accessible despite its complex sound. And, just like the original, you can explore unique hard sync and AM (amplitude modulation) configurations to unlock more abstract sonic behavior.

3-Oscillators Versatility

A demonstration of how the layering of 3 distinct waveforms can create a unique patch, like this dirty bass sound.

Analog output

Where digital meets analog, magic happens. SQ80 V features a meticulously-modeled Curtis CEM 3379 chip that provides the beautifully warm resonant analog filter and stereo amplification stage. Better still, we implemented subtle analog dispersion to reproduce the nuanced ever-changing behavior of analog circuitry for a truly organic sound.

Analog Dirt Output

Even a simple filtered sawtooth waveform can sound beautifully grainy and lo-fi thanks to SQ80 V's emulated analog filter and output.

Movement and modulation

Ensoniq’s instruments were known for providing a more familiar synth architecture than many of their digital peers, closer to that of an analog synth in many ways. SQ80 V replicates and enhances this familiarity in detail so you can craft your own evolving, pulsing, and rhythmic sounds in no time: 4 multimode polyphonic envelope generators, 3 LFOs with 6 waveforms, 8 MIDI sources, and even a dynamic modulation mixer.

MSEG

A demonstration of how a single sustained note can become an interesting rhythmic and melodic pattern in itself, simply by applying SQ80 V's MSEG modulator.

Effects

Getting SQ80 V mix-ready is as easy as hopping over to the Effects tab. A familiar but powerful array of 15 effects add the final piece to its end-to-end sound design puzzle. From modulation to dynamics, configure the effects section in series or parallel to refine your patch into a finished product.

FX

Subtle application of SQ80 V's Effects can make any idea into a mix-ready melody or pattern that's full of life.

What we added

SQ80 V strikes the perfect balance between ‘80s cult classic and modern production workhorse with character.

To achieve this, we added hundreds more waveforms and retrofitted its architecture with a number of extra creative features - without compromising its distinct retro charm.

The arpeggiator

Introducing an arpeggiator to SQ80 V’s curious sound equips it for easy performance and melody creation. A classic component with the familiar controls, including arp direction, sync, octave range, and hold. Just turn it on and enjoy free-flowing lo-fi sounds that fit right into your mix.

Unison

SQ80 V offers up to 16-voice polyphony - twice that of the original hardware instrument - but we couldn’t resist adding an 8-voice unison option. Stack up those oscillators for enormous basses, gritty percussion, and ultra-dense lead sounds.

Dispersion

When it comes to classic synths and keyboards, the true charm often lies in the details. We went a step further than emulating the SQ80’s sound and interface by introducing dispersion - meaning subtle variations and inconsistencies in the behavior of its emulated circuitry. No two notes will ever be exactly the same, bringing a truly unmatched organic sound.

Envelopes expanded

To further shape the attack, duration, and evolution of your sounds, we upgraded SQ80 V with 2 additional envelope modes: DADSR and MSEG. The former adds a delay stage to the traditional ADSR for staggered strikes and interesting rhythmic patterns. The latter is a fully-customizable looping function generator for painting envelopes your own way.

The Mod Mixer

Combine any 2 modulation sources, from envelopes to keyboard controls, to distort, mangle, and refract your patches in interesting and unexpected ways. With 6 different modes of modulation mixing, the combination possibilities are enormous - as are the potential sonic results.

MPE compatibility

SQ80 V supports MPE-compatible controllers for an advanced expressivity experience. Create dynamic performance patches and textures that can respond in numerous ways to a single keystroke.

Steve Levine

Artists Corner

Taking the very best of the SQ80, and in the now familiar Arturia way they just start adding those extra tweaks and enhancements that I’m sure the original designers would have loved to have added had they had the wonderful technology we have today. The SQ80 V stays sonically true to the original vibe with those wonderful digital waves coupled with one of the best sounding analogue filters.
Steve Levine
( Producer / Engineer )
Marc Romboy

Artists Corner

My wish was to own an Ensoniq SQ-80, which I eventually bought. After having sold it some years ago I felt the urge to get it again and just in this moment Arturia has come up with this plug in and I simply love it as it sounds authentic.
Marc Romboy
( DJ/Producer )
Joel Little

Artists Corner

This thing is great! Plenty of inspiring sounds to get things started, and the Synthesis and Effects tabs are laid out in a way that make it easy to create interesting and unique sounds quickly.
Joel Little
( Producer / Songwriter )
ill Gates

Artists Corner

The SQ80 V has all the tone and texture I need to get that big vintage sound while I'm out on the road producing in hotel rooms. It's like you can hear the dust on those old 80's chipboards! That authentic vintage tone combined with a modern, easy to use interface under the hood means you CAN have your cake and eat it too. More of everything please!
ill Gates
( Producer )
Chris Dudley

Artists Corner

Having not been able to use a hardware SQ-80 for years, this took me back to that exact feeling. This is IT....except now I don't need a floppy disk for my presets. Truly impressive.
Chris Dudley
( Underoath )

Hear it in action

SQ80 V’s distinct lo-fi charm is best expressed through sound. We enlisted the help of established sound designers, producers, and music-makers to put it to the test - have a listen and immerse yourself in the sounds of a classic resurrected.

Sound Corner

Train Fantome (Maxime Desormieres)

Dark Trap/Drill beat, with layers of SQ80 V’s patches. Same MIDI used for all the melody parts, mostly keys and pads. There is a custom 808 with slides and drums to match with it.

80 Squares (Solidtrax)

80 Squares brings us back a good twenty years as it is heavily influenced by some key artists in the techno and house scene that we listened to a lot in early 2000. The SQ80 V delivers the ingredients for the track perfectly, as this synth was used a lot in the scene.

Planete X (Maxime Desormieres)

Spatial/Melancholic Trap beat. All the melody except the drums and 808 are coming from the SQ80 V. I played with the «Detune» and «glide» option to get an old, organic type of sound. Some of the patches are custom but I used mostly the factory presets.

SQDM (Lily Jordy)

A lofty, raw and mysterious IDM track using only 6 instances of the SQ80 V from the new Factory library. Automations made using macros and internal FX.

87 Summer Sunset (Maxime Audfray)

A retro synthwave track with a lot of 80's action, showcasing the ability of the SQ80 V to trigger strong nostalgia response from the VHS era. All sounds present in this demo (even the drums!) are from the SQ80 V, with only a little bit of EQ and compression.

To The Floor (Leonard De Leonard)

A straight to the point techno piece that starts off with a bang (and ends with one too). No external effects were used in the making of this demo.

SQ Acid (Maxime Dangles)

A colorful acid house track, with lots of energy and a little mystery. No external effects were used.

SQ Dreams (Jean-Michel Blanchet)

A lofty evolutive piece using different layers of ambient sounds in the SQ80 V Factory. No external effects were used in the making of this demo.

Presets

Enjoy perfect tailor-made sounds from the offset with SQ80 V’s expertly-designed library of 160 presets, including 40 replicated from the original instrument. From metallic industrial percussion to synthetic keyboard patches, you’ll find a sound that suits you in no time.

Bass

Chase Me

A layered retro bass sound that combines bell-like resonance with a smooth filtered low end, with the filter cutoff on the move.

90s Bass

A punchy bass straight from the '80s and early '90s, with a string-like slap and subtle distorted movement with the mod wheel.

Strings

Infinity

A classic string-style pad with a pulsating filter. Control the filter's movement with the macro controls and the richness of the chorus with the mod wheel.

HARP

A bright and clean plucked string from the original Ensoniq instrument's factory library, expanded with stereo delay.

Pads

Liquid Thoughts

An ultra-smooth, dark, and rich pad that plucks softly and swells over time, demonstrating how mysterious and evolving SQ80 V's sound can become.

Bending Light

Refractions, fragments of sound, soft movements and interplay between different waveforms, FX, and expressive tools.

Sequences

Ethereal Steps

Rich cascading arpeggios originating with just a single note, crafted with a DADSR envelope and pitch-shift delay.

Acid Rain

Warm arpeggios, acidic in nature, colored and expanded with intense delay and fading bitcrusher.

Keys

So Sqeet

An almost-familiar '80s brass patch with slow vibrato, complemented by the harmonic character that only SQ80 V's digital architecture can provide.

Distorted Life

Like a processed music box fading into the distance, this keys patch shines with overtone richness and chorus depth.

Lead

Double Phases

A dark lead sound with airy overtones, almost formant in quality; a sound that only SQ80 V's cross wave architecture can deliver.

Artic Blues

An eerie lead patch that's initially soft before introducing deeper reflections for a reverse-like call and response, courtesy of cross-fading between oscillators 1 and 2.

TAE® Powered

The exclusive analog modeling technology that makes our virtual instrument emulations indistinguishable from the originals. By accurately mimicking the characteristics of analog oscillators, filters, and soft clipping, we can provide astonishing component-accurate detail and authentic analog charm in equal measure.

Learn More

In-App Tutorials

Integrated in-app tutorials guide you through every aspect of the instrument, from individual parameters to tips from our sound designers, so you can focus on the creative stuff. It shouldn't be this easy, but it is!

ASC

Arturia Software Center lets you download, organize, and update all of your Arturia software titles in one place, as well as manage all of your licenses across multiple devices. Keep it simple.

Learn More Download the ASC

DAW ready

Our virtual instruments and plugins are designed to fit right into your setup without hassle. Whatever your style, you can explore sound while enjoying full compatibility with major DAWS, on both Windows and MacOS.

Preset browser

Instantly find the sound that’s in your head with intelligent & streamlined preset browsing. Search with keywords, explore by instrument type, musical style, and more - you can even save your favorites to quickly recall later.

Resizable GUI

Whether you want the full visual immersion of our classic instrument emulations, or to save precious screen real estate, the interfaces for all of your Arturia virtual instruments can be resized to a scale that suits you.

Perfect integration

Instruments come seamlessly mapped for the Arturia KeyLab range - but they’ll place nice with other MIDI controllers too. Instant sound tweaking macros, easy DAW integration, and standalone operation.

Platform specifications

  • Windows: Win 8.1+ (64bit) PC: 4 GB RAM; 2.5 GHz CPU.
    2GB free hard disk space
    OpenGL 2.0 compatible GPU
  • Apple: 10.13+: 4 GB RAM; 2.5 GHz CPU.
    2GB free hard disk space
    OpenGL 2.0 compatible GPU

Required configuration

Works in Standalone, VST, AAX, Audio Unit.

VST 2.4
VST 3
AAX
AU

Protection

The software is protected by the Arturia Software Center. You can learn more about it here.

All manufacturer and product names mentioned on this page are trademarks of their respective owners, which are in no way associated or affiliated with Arturia. The trademarks of other manufacturers are used solely to identify the products of those manufacturers whose features and sound were studied during the development. All names of equipment, inventors, and manufacturers have been included for illustrative and educational purposes only, and do not suggest any affiliation or endorsement by any equipment inventor or manufacturer.

Main Features

  • 3 digital oscillators based on the original DOC chip
  • Over 400 waveforms across 4 unique banks
  • Amplitude Modulation and Hard Sync
  • 4 analog DCAs; 1 for each oscillator, 1 master output
  • Analog resonant low-pass filter based on the original CEM chip
  • 4 polyphonic envelope generators with 3 modes; SQ80, DADSR, MSEG
  • 3 LFOs with 6 waveforms
  • 8 MIDI sources
  • Modulation mixer for combining 2 modulation sources
  • Built-in 7-mode arpeggiator
  • Up to 16-voice polyphony with Unison mode
  • 4 FX slots across 2 busses, configurable in series or parallel
  • 15 master effect types
  • Advanced Brightness, Timbre, Time and Movement macro controls
  • 200+ factory presets, including 40 from the original SQ-80 instrument
  • MPE compatibility