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Technical Info

Polyphony 8 voices Sampler 8-bit, 33kHz Sample Time 6.5 seconds at 10kHz

VCF Analog low pass filter with 5 stage envelope VCA 5 stage analog envelope

Keyboard 61 keys (velocity)

The Mirage preceded the revolutionary EPS and EPS-16+ sampler workstations in the Ensoniq line-up. Historically, the Mirage was one of the earliest affordable sampler synths. There have been other versions of the Mirage since, the DSK8 and the most common and popular known as the Mirage DSK1. Sampler specs are pretty bad, a maximum of 32kHz sampling rate means your sounds will be lo-fi. The limited 8 notes of polyphony and incredibly tiny amount of storage (144K) almost make you want to hide the Mirage in your closet. Even the sample editing is done via hex-code which is not a simple to concept to master. Most users will load-in sounds from the Mirage's extensive sample library. However the Mirage has one leftover from older synthesizers that has kept it popular through the years. It has analog filters and envelopes! Five-stage envelopes for the VCA and VCF, a nice LFO and a low-pass VCF filter with keyboard tracking. There's also a sequencer (333 notes max) that is limited to say the least but is better than nothing. Most people searching for a classic sampler/synth would look towards the EPS and EPS-16+ from Ensoniq. After all, their specs, design and quality are superior. However, there is a certain amount of nostalgia concerned with the Mirage.



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The Mirage is an 8-bit sampling keyboard with 8-voice polyphony and a 61-note, 5 octave, velocity sensitive keyboard, including a pitch bend and a modulation wheel. It also has a polyphonic sequencer, and quite a few (for the time) synthesizer/sampler editing parameters. With features like this, the Mirage was the first practical sampling keyboard for under $2,000 (original list price was $1,695). Sounds were stored using a built-in 3.5 disk drive. Each disk had a capacity of 400k, so, depending on the size of the samples, a disk can hold up to 48 sampled sounds an 24 programs. The Mirage had 144k of internal RAM. The sequencer holds eight 333 event sequences, expandable to 1333 via an optional RAM cartridge. The Sequencer records pitch-bend, key velocity, modulation, and sustain pedal information. The Mirage samples at a variable sampling rate of 8kHz-33kHz, using eight-bit floating point conversion for a reported 16-bit (96dB) dynamic range. Each sample can be truncated, looped, tuned/detuned, and then layered (up to 16 samples) across the keyboard. It has a variable anti-aliasing filter, selectable input levels, variable sampling threshold, dynamic voice assignment, velocity control of oscillator mix, release velocity control of envelope release rate, keyboard scaling of decay rate, and velocity control of attack time. On the back panel of the Mirage are MIDI IN, THRU, and OUT ports, a sustain pedal input, which can be switched to sequencer start/stop.

information compiled by Stephen J. Parise



Manufacturer: Ensoniq

Model: Mirage

Production period: 1985-88

Quantity produced: 30,000

March, '86 Electronic Musician