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Ensoniq SD-1, VFX-sd, VFX
Tech Info

Models - Determining the Operating System - Reinitializing - Keyboard Calibration Errors
Keyboard Service Center

We cannot provide tech support for the general operation of your keyboard; however, we do carry the complete line of VFX and SD-1 manuals.

The VFX, VFX-sd, and SD-1 are all in the same "family" - meaning that they function similarly, and can share the same data (with a few exceptions). The VFX was the first in the family; this was a synthesizer without a sequencer or a floppy drive. The VFX-sd followed soon thereafter, and was more of a workstation with a full-function sequencer and a floppy drive to store sequences, sound data, and more. The SD-1 was the final member of the family, and it was basically an enhanced VFX-sd with additional waveforms.

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Determining Which Operating System You Have
The main Operating System (O.S.) firmware for the VFX, VFX-sd, and SD-1 resides on two EPROM chips located on the main circuit board. In addition, the VFX-sd and SD-1 load their sequencer O.S. from floppy disk. (In the event that the keyboard is reinitialized, the sequencer O.S. will have to be reloaded before the sequencer can be used.) The sequencer O.S. must be a version which is compatible with the firmware, otherwise you will get a message stating "INCOMPATIBLE O.S. VERSION." This can occur, for example, if you load the most recent sequencer O.S. from disk, yet you have older firmware.

The most recent O.S. versions for these keyboards are as follows:

Model Disk O.S. Firmware (EPROM O.S.)
SD-1 4.10 4.10
SD-1 32 Voice 4.10 4.10
VFX N/A 2.30
VFX-sd 2.10 2.00

You can determine which firmware version you have by pressing and holding the Presets button, and while holding it down, press the Master button. The "ROM V #.##" message on the second line tells the firmware version.

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Reinitializing the VFX, VFX-sd, or SD-1 will reload the operating software into memory, taking care of any glitches that may have occurred in the software. This is a good thing to do if operation has become erratic. Reinitializing also erases the programs in the internal banks, erases any sequences in memory, and removes the sequencer O.S. from memory, so be sure you have all of your programs, sequences, and other data saved before you reinitialize.

To reinitialize the VFX, VFX-sd, or SD-1, press and hold the Presets button, and while holding it down, press the upper left "soft" button on the display. This calls up a screen which reads "ERASE ALL MEMORY AND REINITIALIZE?" Pressing the soft button over "YES" will complete the procedure and reboot the keyboard. All of the internal sounds will be erased and replaced with the ROM sounds.

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Keyboard Calibration Errors
The VFX series - and to a lesser extent, some other Ensoniq keyboards - often suffered from a KEYBOARD CALIBRATION ERROR when booting up. The problem is from a faulty connection between two circuit boards directly underneath the keys. If you get this error message, after you press a button, the display will give you the option to RECALIBRATE or IGNORE. If you recalibrate, it is likely you will get the same result. If you ignore, your VFX or SD-1 will still work normally - except that the keys will be disabled. While that may seem pretty pointless at first, it does allow the synth to be played via MIDI. You can also play back sequences.

In a pinch, you can often get the keyboard to calibrate by performing the "Heimlich manuever". Lean the keyboard against a wall at a bit of an angle, then press gently in the middle of the top panel just above the keys. (The faulty connector is in the middle of the keyboard.) This can be just enough pressure to temporarily restore the faulty connection. But it is at best a temporary fix.

The real solution is to remove the keyboard, and hard-wire the connector that bridges the two keyboard coil boards. On one side of these two boards is the brown connector that mates them together. On the opposite side of the boards, where the pins of these connectors are soldered to the PC boards, you can simply solder some jumper wires which make the same connections.

VFX keyboard PCB connector  VFX keyboard PCB jumpers

The photo at left shows the brown connector between the two keyboard coil boards; the boards have been removed from the keybed for visibility. On the right, the same boards are flipped over, showing jumper wires soldered to the pins of the connector (the connector is still in place on the opposite side of the boards). This is the side of the boards that is visible when the keybed is removed.

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