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From cindy@hyperreal.comMon Apr 10 11:08:44 1995
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 11:00:21 -0700 (PDT)
From: Sea Of Sin <cindy@hyperreal.com>
To: tint@taz.hyperreal.com
Subject: Mirage FAQ (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 17:14:29 +1030 (CST)
From: Peter Sansom <peters@damp.apana.org.au>
To: cindy@hyperreal.com
Subject: Mirage FAQ

Mirage-Net - FAQ

$Header: FAQ,v 1.4 93/07/07 17:07:09 johnny Exp $

This is the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for Mirage-Net - a
collection of Ensoniq Mirage owners (and others). We strive for
accuracy and completeness, but this is not a perfect world - if you find
anything wrong or want something included, please let me know.

Mirage-Net was started in January of 1991. It is pretty minimal and
consists of:

- Two mail addresses: mirage@hpdsojk.ptp.hp.com
and: mirage-request@hpdsojk.ptp.hp.com

- The mailing list on hpdsojk.ptp.hp.com

- An ftp site (more on this later)

- This FAQ (with helpful answers like where the ftp site is!)

This, being said FAQ, contains:

- A (very) short primer on Mirage-Net (you should have received
a separate Greeting message).

- Mirage history

- Mirage factoids

- Information on the ftp site(s)

- Addresses for Ensoniq, the Transoniq Hacker, and other goodies

- Information on third party software and accessories

- The Stereo Mirage

Mirage-Net primer

The Mirage-Net is nothing more than a set of mailing lists on a
Hewlett-Packard workstation in Cupertino, California. By sending mail
to one of the special addresses on this machine, you can send mail to
the rest of the members of the net or to the administrator.

To send mail to the other members of Mirage-Net, send e-mail to:


The message will be sent to all current members of the net. To make a
change to that list (addition, change, or deletion) send a message
indicating what you would like done, to:


Mail to this address is sent directly to the administrator, and for now
at least, is handled by a human - there is no special format at this
time. Also, send questions about the network to this address.

Mirage history
------ -------

The Mirage was introduced in 1984 as the first product by Ensoniq.
It was the first sampler under two thousand dollars ($1995). It was
only about $200 more than the then master of keyboards, the Yamaha DX-7,
but it was much less than the nearest competing sampler, the EMU-systems
Emulator-III (around $8000 as I recall).

The original Mirage was a steel cased beast designated the DSK-8.

The following is a list of the different models of the Mirage through the

DSK-8 Original black steel case mirage w/user port
and mono output. The DSK-8 used a Pratt-Reed
keyboard assembly (not exactly the Mirage's
strong point, this) and had MIDI in and MIDI
OUT/THRU connectors, and the serial port. The
serial port allowed for connection of the SQX-1
sequence expander (expanded the sequencer from
333 events to 1000), and also for connection of
the ISF-1 input sampling filter - (see M.U.G.
below for more on the ISF-1).

Pretty early on the DSK-8 went through a minor
revision to reduce the noise output. With the
update were updated versions of the Mirage
operating systems: Mirage OS 3.2 and MASOS 2.0
- these are still the current revisions.

Not clear if the upgrade is still available, but
if you can boot OS 3.2, you should be in good

DSK-8+ Not really a designation, but this refers to
DSK-8 keyboards with serial numbers 14731 and
above. The DSK-8+ used an improved keyboard
assembly and a case similar to the original
ESQ-1 case (gray instead of black).

DMS-8 This is the rack mount mirage. Basically a
DSK-8 without the keyboard.

DSK-1 ~1986. Newer case, stereo outputs - no more
serial port. Another keyboard, this one
was an unweighted, "synth" style.

Mirage factoids
------ --------

The Mirage is based around an ASIC (Application Specific Integrated
Circuit) called the Q-Chip which does much of the hard work associated
with getting the sounds out of the memory. That memory is in two banks
of 64k: the upper and lower banks. The Mirage is an eight bit sampler
meaning that each sample can have any of 256 values (though, in
actuality, the value 0 is reserved for marking the ends of samples, so
there are only 255 possible values). The processor in the Mirage is the
Motorola 6809, a sibling to the once famous 6800 (not to be confused
with the highly successful, and still in production 68000).

Documentation on the Mirage includes the Musician's Manual - the red
book that was shipped with it, and the Advanced Sampler's Guide (ASG).
The Musician's Manual is a basic owner's guide and is not a bad
reference for using the Mirage's basic functions. The ASG is pretty
much required to do any serious sampling or other work. It includes
MASOS 2.0 which is an alternate OS for the Mirage that eliminates the
sequencer and adds in additional sample manipulation functions. The ASG
also includes the necessary information for accessing the Mirage via
MIDI SysEx messages.

Information on the ftp site(s)
----------- -- --- --- -------

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It's a fairly standard way of
transporting files from one computer to another, independent of the type
of computer. Typically a computer is set up somewhere that contains
files of general interest to a group. That is the case here; Leigh
Smith has kindly set up a site in Australia that contains Mirage files.
If you have direct access to the Internet, you can connect via ftp with
the following:

ftp marsh.cs.curtin.edu.au
cd pub/midi
get ensqutil.zoo
get (etc)

You can access ftp via email without requiring direct Internet connection.
Send the following (or similar) message to ftpmail@decwrl.dec.com:

connect marsh.cs.curtin.edu.au
dir pub/midi
get pub/midi/README
get pub/midi/ensqutil.zoo

If you need help, your best bet is probably to try posting a message to

Currently (as of March 93) the README in pub/midi is:

The file miraglib.zoo contains files for communicating between an IBM PC
equipped with a Roland MPU-401 and an Ensoniq Mirage Musical Sampler.
The compression on the zoo file is fantastic - 99%!, do the compression
on your end site.

Zoo files containing public domain Mirage sounds have been added as
cd70.zoo - Yamaha CD70 Electric Piano, Picked Bass samples and
my own dubious sample of a Yamaha Y???? organ.
soundeff.zoo - Cars taking off, Thunder and Rain samples
chimes.zoo - Chimes, Cave Organ samples

A collection of Ensoniq related utilities (for the Mirage and ESQ-1) are
now also available:
ensqutil.zoo - Containing:

ESQBANK DOC 2825 9-28-87 10:47p
ESQBANK COM 29104 9-28-87 4:41p
REMTMIRG DOC 182 9-19-87 10:36p
REMTMIRG EXE 50970 9-19-87 10:28p
BLANK 179 8-17-87 12:51a
MDE1 DOC 9205 1-13-88 6:22p
MDE2 DOC 15455 1-13-88 6:53p
MDE EXE 40687 1-13-88 6:50p
ESQSTAND TXT 2688 1-01-80 2:05a
MASOSPEC TXT 1152 1-01-80 2:06a
MIRAGOS3 TXT 14080 1-01-80 1:39a
SMPLEDMP TXT 6656 1-01-80 1:42a
SAMPLE1 TXT 11264 1-01-80 1:48a
SAMPLE2 TXT 7296 1-01-80 1:51a
SAMPLE3 TXT 6272 1-01-80 1:53a
STERMIRG TXT 13184 1-01-80 1:59a
ESQ2TXT2 DOC 1800 7-04-87 11:16a
ESQ2TXT2 EXE 64392 6-30-87 10:33p
NOTICE TXT 1920 1-01-80 1:29a

Contributor: Leigh Smith, leigh@psychok.DIALix.oz.au OR


Ensoniq Corporation
155 Great Valley Parkway
Malvern, PA 19355

(215) 647-3930 (voice)
(215) 647-8908 (fax)

Transoniq Hacker:

Transoniq Hacker
1402 SW Upland Dr.
Portland, OR 97221

(503) 227-6848


Subscriptions are (as of March '93) US: $23/year; all others,
$32/year, payable in US funds.

The Transoniq Hacker is a monthly newsletter with articles of interest
to users of Ensoniq products - Mirage articles are pretty few and far
between - but they're still coming in so a subscription is still a good
value for a Mirage user. Also, some back issues are available at $2.00 a

M.U.G. (MIDI Users Group, formerly the Mirage Users Group)

The M.U.G. has thousands of Mirage Users, as well as others. They are a
source for stuff Mirage users are often looking for: samples,
SoundProcess and the ISF. One year membership is $20, a lifetime
membership is $65.

M.U.G. Hotline: (212) 465-3430.

c/o G-4 Productions
P.O. Box 615TH
Yonkers, NY 10703

Information on third party software and accessories
----------- -- ----- ----- -------- --- -----------

The following third parties offer products that are likely to be useful
to Mirage owners.


A must! MIDICaster turns your Mirage alternately into:

- A 128k sysex dump device with floppy drive
- A 20,000 note (approx) multichannel sequencer
- A disk formatter with OS copy capability
- A Casio CZ librarian

MIDICaster is an alternate form of OS 3.2 that replaces sampling with
new capabilities. One nice feature is that additional functions can be
loaded into the sequencer memory, allowing lot's of different functions
to be used without having to reboot.

At last check, MIDICaster is available from:

Tim Martin
1510 S 5th W
Missoula, MT 59801

(406) 542-0280

As of March, 1993, Tim is quoting $50 US for MIDICaster and manual, $55 US
for the same with a second, backup disk.

---- The following products are no longer available new ----
(but may be found used - check the Hacker!)

SoundProcess OS (available through M.U.G.)

SoundProcess turned the Mirage into a multitimbral synth. It could
receive on more than one channel at a time with different sounds
produced on each channel. There is a fair amount of "fourth party"
software available for SoundProcess, though with SoundProcess no longer
available, this doesn't exactly look like a growing market.

uPward Concepts (no longer in business)

Dick Lord did some amazing work on the Mirage. I believe he was the
first to take OS 3.2 (A very stable OS - still current on the Mirage
after all these years), and modify it to do other things. Dick sold
alternate versions of OS 3.2 that could process volume and other MIDI
controllers, a couple of disks that could give your Mirage alternate
tunings (temperament) and transposition, as well as a monitor disk that
allowed you to looking other 6809 processor code on the Mirage, and
patch it or modify it for your own purposes.

His company uPward Concepts no longer exists but I understand that
M.U.G. is trying to arrange a licensing agreement. Watch this space for
more news.

The Stereo Mirage
--- ------ ------
The Mirage DSK model introduced a stereo Mirage. That upgrade is
possible for older Mirages if you're willing to open it up and make
some changes. (I guess none of us have to worry about voiding our
warranties, eh?)

There are two do-it-yourself articles in old issues of Electronic
Musician. The first, by Don Slepian is in the January 1987 issue. A
second article written by Ensoniq engineers Bob Yannes and Tom Metcalf,
is a bit safer to implement and provides a fuller stereo field. This
article is in the June 1987 issue - I highly recommend this one. If
you're going to get back issues, it wouldn't hurt to get both. Back
issues of Electronic Musician are available from:

ACT III Publishing
6400 Hollis St #12
Emeryville, CA 94608

(510) 653-3307

At one point (when the "Ensoniq" article appeared) Alan Gary Campbell's
company Musitech, had a board and full kit available. You should check
with him first at:

P.O. Box 3717
Chatanooga, TN 37404-0717

Both modifications involve taking the eight voices of the Mirage, which
are actually eight separate signals inside the Mirage, and arranging
them in a stereo field. The Slepian article describes a rather brute
force method of wiring four of the voices to the left, and the other
four to the right. The Yannes/Metcalf article uses active electronics
for better signal matching and a resistor network that pans each of the
eight voices to a different location in the stereo field. This second
method can produce some beautifully full pads and can give motion to
other types of sounds (a piano tends to bounce around too much, but
panning the channels towards each other compensates nicely).

Note the following correction to the Yannes/Metcalf article on page 38:
in figure 2, make the following corrections:

Voice 5-C131 should be C117
Voice 6-C118 should be C130

At this date (March, 93) I have sent a letter to the above address
asking if the board and/or kit are available. I have a nagging fear
that Musitech is no longer in Chatanooga, but we'll see.

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