As keyboards continue to decorate more and more production studios, we will "Test Drive" some of the more popular ones to let you know what's out there. This month we look at the SQ-80 from Ensoniq.

Let us begin by stressing once again that our Test Drives are done from a radio production person's point of view. With that in mind, let's set aside the fact that musicians everywhere have great things to say about the SQ-80, and we will skip some of the aspects of the SQ-80 that will appeal more to a musician. As far as you're concerned, the question probably is, "what can it do in production?"

The SQ-80 is not a sampling keyboard. This is strictly a synthesizer and MIDI controller with a nice built-in sequencer. Why "Test Drive" a MIDI keyboard that doesn't have a sampler, too? It is strictly a preference on our part to adhere to a belief that modularly built systems are better than the all-in-one type configurations. Considering the rate at which technology brings out new products, it makes more sense to upgrade a synthesizer without having to worry about buying a sampler, too. However, we will look at sampling keyboards in future issues. The more budget conscious station may do better to purchase a sampling keyboard if you don't already have a sampler. If you have a few more dollars to spend, you're probably better off to get a great sampler, then find a great MIDI synth to control it with.

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