Last update: 2003.08.22

Mirage-Net Frequently Asked Questions

General Info
1. What is the Mirage-Net?
2. What is the Mirage?
3. What is the Mirage's History?
Where Can I Find Stuff?
4. Where can I get the Mirage Operating Systems?
5. Where can I get sample disks?
6. Where can I get samples via ftp?
7. What third parties support the Mirage?
8. What web pages are available?
Upgrades/Help
9. How can I upgrade my Mirage?
10. What's the deal with formatting?
11. My Mirage is broken - HELP! - what do I do?
12. How do I know what revision my OS is?
13. Can I reboot without turning the Mirage on and off again?
14. What do parameters 78, 79, 80 and 84 do?
15. I just got a Mirage, now what?
16. Is there a source for parts?
17. Any hnts on replacing the floppy?

1. What is the Mirage-Net?

The Mirage-Net is a mailing list 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:

One nice feature is that subscriptions to the list are done via a web page. Follow the link below and you're on your way to joining the list. That web page is:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Mirage-Net/

Or you can send mail to:

Mirage-Net-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Once on the list, you can send messages to the entire membership by using the address:

Mirage-Net@yahoogroups.com
(Only members are allowed to mail to the list)

As of October, 2002 membership is restricted. This means that when you ask to join, you will have to wait for a moderator to approve your membership. This is because Yahoo! has been unwilling and/or unable to do anything about ongoing spam (nearly daily, and pretty much all porn) on the list. To prevent that, we're now "screening" members. Don't worry, all you need to join is any resonable looking sort of email address. We're not exclusive, we're just fed up with spam.

If something goes wrong, try contacting the list administrator at:

Mail to Johnny

and I'll try to fix whatever might be wrong.

It can be a week sometimes before I check my mail - please be patient. Besides, the answer to your question may well be in this FAQ you're reading, check it out.

The Mirage-Net web page is hosted by Webcom, courtesy of your friendly, local Mirage-Net benefactor (me).


2. What is the Mirage?

The Mirage is Ensoniq's first product, an 8-bit sampler. It 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.


3. What is the Mirage's 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 years:

        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
                        shape.

        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.

4. Where can I get the Mirage Operating Systems?

The MirageOS 3.2, MASOS 2.0, and the three 10-disk sound sets are all available from
Syntaur Productions.

5. Where can I get sample disks?

Nice seque, huh? Well -
Syntaur Productions for one. They have the three 10-disk sounds sets, as well as the K-MUSE sets and others.

MUG (MIDI Users Group, formerly Mirage Users Group) had a 700 floppy collection, but they are gone.

6. Where can I get samples

There are several locations, but they change too often to keep the list here. Your best bet is to look at the Mirage-Net link site at: http://webcom.com/~jawknee/Mirage/links.html. Links with samples are marked in green.

7. What third parties support the Mirage?

Let's face it, we're talking about a machine that hasn't been made for, what, ten years? Still, stuff is available, especially if you know where to look.

What's Listed Below:

Still with us:

Defunct, so far as we know:

Let's start with the big one. Note, the area code changed sometime back so you may find an old phone number with the (215) area code - don't use it.

Ensoniq
        Ensoniq Corporation
        155 Great Valley Parkway
        Malvern, PA  19355

        (610) 647-3930 (voice)
        (610) 647-8908 (fax)
You can contact their web page:
http://www.ensoniq.com

For Musical Instrument Customer Service you can send e-mail to: music-support@ensoniq.com

Syntaur Productions
As mentioned above, Syntaur is the repository for all of the products that Ensoniq used to sell, but doesn't anymore.

Syntaur was founded by long time Transoniq Hacker contributor Sam Mims. They're probably the best source for Mirage commercially released sounds; they have all three ten disk sets from Ensoniq, as well as the K-Muse series (at much more reasonable prices than back in the old days) as well as MASOS, SoundProcess and others. Check 'em out.

You can contact them at:

        Syntaur Productions
        1418 N. Walnut Ave. 
        New Braunfels, TX 78130 

	Info and Product Support: 830-627-1530   
        Orders: 800-334-1288  
        Fax: 830-627-1531 

        email: syntaur@juno.com

You can also access their web page at: http://www.syntaur.com/
MIDICaster
A must! MIDICaster turns your Mirage alternately into: MIDICaster is an alternate form of OS 3.2 that replaces sampling functions with new capabilities. One nice feature is that additional functions can be loaded into the sequencer memory, allowing lots of different functions to be used without having to reboot.

MIDICaster is available from:

        Tim Martin
        1510 S 5th W
        Missoula, MT  59801

        (406) 542-0280

You can learn more at Tim's MIDICaster web site: http://www.bassontop.com

or email him at midicaster@bassontop.com.

As of April, 2001, Tim is quoting $25 US for MIDICaster and manual, $40 US for the same with a second, backup disk.

Upward Concepts
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 get into the 6809 processor code on the Mirage, and patch it or modify it for your own purposes.

I'm happy to be able to announce that his products are once again available. Check the Upward Concepts page at: http://webcom.com/~jawknee/Mirage/UPWARD/ for more information.

Kaysound Imports, Inc.
Guy Bergeron of Kaysound imports announced in May of 2002 that they have a number of Ensoniq parts and accessories available. Check out: http://www.members.tripod.com/ensoniqparts


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

Transoniq Hacker
The Transoniq Hacker was a monthly newsletter with articles of interest to users of Ensoniq products - Mirage articles were pretty few and far between towards the end. Unfortunately, a subscription is no longer an option, the Hacker left us at the end of 1999. I believe some back issues are available at $2.00 a copy.

You can contact them at:

        Transoniq Hacker
        1402 SW Upland Dr.
        Portland, OR  97221

        (503) 227-6848

        trnsoniq@teleport.com
And of course Eric and Jane have a web page too:
http://www.teleport.com/~trnsoniq/subinfo.html

M.U.G. (MIDI Users Group, formerly the Mirage Users Group)
- Defunct, as far as I can tell -

The M.U.G. has lots of Mirage Users, as well as others. They are a source for stuff Mirage users are often looking for: samples, SoundProcess and the ISF. They still carry a huge collection of sounds available individually or in roups - you can buy a set of 700 if you want - however you might pay more than you did for you Mirage. So what.
M.U.G. has a web page at
http://www.nowopen.com/mug.

You can get back issues of the Transoniq Hacker, sound disks, and (when available) hard to find items like the Input Sampling Filter, Sequence Expander Cartridge and Sound Process.

One year membership is $20, a lifetime membership is $65 - last I checked.

You can contact them at:

        M.U.G.
           c/o G-4 Productions
        P.O. Box 615TH
        Yonkers, NY  10703-0615

        email: G4Prod@aol.com

        Fax:       (914) 961-0785
        Human:     (914) 961-1797
        BBS:       (914) 683-3665
        voicemail: (212) 465-3430 / (800) 569-5232

SoundProcess OS (available through Syntaur and 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.

8. What web pages are available?

There are a few, and more every day. You should be able to find answer to lots of questions at one of these sites:

9. How can I upgrade my Mirage?

There are a couple of different upgrades available. In almost every case, you're on your own.

The first upgrade for the Mirage was to reduce noise, as well as a couple of other changes. This change required a boot ROM change and also required version 3.2 of the MirageOS. If your Mirage boots 3.2 you have the upgrade. The upgrade also came with updated OS disks. Before the ROM upgrade, the revision of MirageOS was 2.1 (near as I can tell), MASOS was 1.2. After, and since MirageOS is 3.2, MASOS is 2.0.

Double-Sided Drive Conversion

In early 1997, Art Entlich graciously agreed to allow the Mirage community web access to his Transoniq Hacker article on the
Mirage Double-Sided Drive Conversion - instructions on how to install said drive in your trusty old beast.

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

Don Slepian's modification is also available on his web page: http://www.DonSlepian.com/Mirage.html

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:

        Musitech
        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

I have no address for Musitech, though Alan Gary Campbell does still write regularly for Electronic Musician. If anyone has an address - please send it to me or post it to the list.


10. What's the deal with formatting?

The Mirage stores sounds on Single-Sided, Double Density (SSDD), 3-1/2" floppy disks, though DSDD are much more common and work just fine - it's just that the Mirage only uses one side. High Density (HD or if your soul is reversed like mine: CH) floppies are not recommended. They appear to work sometimes, but failures are common and that sort of defeats the purpose.

The format is specific to the Mirage and is documented somewhere in a Transoniq Hacker article - though I do not know which one.

A Bit of History
When the Mirage was first introduced, blank floppies had to be purchased from Ensoniq at about ten bucks a pop for a "pre-formatted" (but otherwise blank) floppy, in a blister pack. Outrageous even then, when blank floppies were quite a bit more than they are now. To their credit, Ensoniq saw the error of their ways and solved the problem by sending out the FMT-1 floppy. This floppy had a new Mirage OS that would format any floppy AND (this is the key) it would put the FMT-1 OS on the new floppy. This way you could take a regular floppy down to the store or to a Mirage-owning friend's house and come away with your own floppy that would let you do your own formatting with your own Mirage.

One slightly odd thing about the formatting OS is how you start it. You first boot from the floppy and the display shows "Fd". To format a disk, insert a blank disk and press, no, not Enter, but Seq Save. Pressing Enter tells FMT-1 to reboot. The way you'll know you messed this up is if you get "ud" on the display. You just tried to reboot from an unformatted disk.

One problem with the FMT-1 method is that you can't make a bootable floppy - handy for gigs where you want a particular setup. For this you need a third party formatter. For that you'll need one of the other, commercial available formatters:

I can recommend MIDICaster. It will let you format a floppy and copy a non-protected OS onto it (like MASOS or MirageOS). It also has many other handy features. (See above)

Ensoniq also produced the FMT-2 OS. It adds the capability of putting MirageOS 3.2 on the newly formatted floppy, in addition to the FMT-2 OS. It is available from Syntaur - $12.95 US, last I checked.

There are also programs that run on computers that can format a Mirage floppy in the computer's drive. At this point I do not have a lot of information on this. Help is appreciated.


11. My Mirage is broken - HELP! - what do I do?

Check out the latest on fixing your Mirage at the troubleshooting page:
http://webcom.com/~jawknee/Mirage/TroubleShooting.html

12. How do I know what revision my OS is?

Beyond looking at the printing on the floppy, the value of parameter 97 is the revision of the OS. Boot the disk in question, press PARAM, 97, VALUE. For the current Mirage OS, you should see: 3.2

13. Can I reboot without turning the Mirage on and off again?

Yes. For MASOS 2.0 and Mirage OS 3.2 use the sequence: It will reboot. For the FMT-1 disk, the Enter key will reboot. For the FMT-2 disk, use "0 ENTER".

14. What do parameters 78, 79, 80 and 84 do?

What you have here are the parameters that were added in OS 3.2. They were not documented in the original Musician's Manual or Reference Card.

They are:
Keyboard/Program Parameters Range Default
30/Local On/Off [ON-OFF] ON

MIDI Parameters Range Default
78/LFO Modulator Source [0-9] 1
79/MIX Modulator Source [0-9] 1
80/After Touch Modulation Depth [0-63] 63
84/MIDI Function Enable [0-3] 2

The External MIDI Controllers for parameters 78 & 79 are:
Controller Number Controller
0 No External Controller
1 Modulation Wheel
2 Breath Controller
4 Foot Pdeal Controller
6 Data Entry Slider
7 Volume Pedal
8 After Touch
9 After Touch - Polyphonic

NOTE: To use an external controller for MIX Modulation, you must also set parameter 35 on the Mirage to 0.

MIDI Program Change Commands
This parameter (84/MIDI Function Enable) changed from an on/off switch, to a four value function:
Value Description
0 Only MIDI key information is transmitted or received.
1 Key information and controller information are both transmitted and received.
2 Same as value 1 with the addition that program changes are both transmitted and received.
3 Same as value 2 with the addition that to change a program on the Mirage you must also press the MIDI +1/yes button on instruments such as the DX-7. This setting allows you to change sounds on your controller instrument without changing sounds on the Mirage.

Here is a table of MIDI program change numbers (1-128). Note: the actual datum transmitted (0x00-0x7F) is one less than the MIDI program number.

Mirage Program Number 1 2 3 4
Load All Sound 1 1 4 7 10
Load All Sound 2 2 5 8 11
Load All Sound 3 3 6 9 12
Change Upper/Lower Program # 13 14 15 16
Load Lower Sound 1 17 20 23 26
Load Lower Sound 2 18 21 24 27
Load Lower Sound 3 19 22 25 28
Change Lower Program Number 29 30 31 32
Load Upper Sound 1 33 36 39 42
Load Upper Sound 2 34 37 40 43
Load Upper Sound 3 35 38 41 44
Change Upper Program Number 45 46 47 48

Program Changes:
In addition, OS 3.2 added the ability to load one of the four programs associated with a bank at load time. For example, to load upper sound 2, program 3, you would enter: LOAD UPPER 2 3 ENTER - the equivalent of program change 40 above.

The display would then show

" 3"
to indicate program 3 is loaded. Note that if parameter 84 is set to 2 or 3 then the Mirage will also transmit a program change through MIDI as in the chart above.

15. I just got a Mirage, now what?

Assuming the Mirage is in operating order, you're going to need a few things to get you going. The Mirage requires a floppy disk with a bootable operating system on it. You'll also need the Musician's Manual to get started. A good way to start is with the Syntaur Starters Kit. You can more about it at:

http://www.fatsnake.com/syntaur/mirage.html#start

16. Is there a source for parts?

DSDD floppy drives
See Kerry Townson's note in his DriveReplacement article at:
http://webcom.com/~jawknee/Mirage/DriveReplacement/drive3.htm.
CEM chips
The Mirage has eight Curtis Electromusic CEM3328 VCF chips. Don't replace them casually, but if you need a replacement, try these links:
Other Stuff
Watch the Mirage-Net Troubleshooting page at: http://webcom.com/~jawknee/Mirage/TroubleShooting.html for more up-to-date information on parts and repairs.

17. Any hnts on replacing the floppy?

There are these articles:

As well as this reply to a question on the mailing list from Tom Arnold:

The Floppy drive in a mirage is a DSDD 720k drive the likes of which havent been made in a few years.

http://www.hometown.aol.com/route66studios/media.html

They sell drives for many different older synths.  They list the Korg DSS1 which I routinely swap drives of with my Mirage.

You have another option if you are good with a soldering iron or have a friend who is.   The Teac FD235HF drives can be jumpered for 720k DSDD operation.

http://www.teac.com/DSPD/support/floppy_drives/720k_emulation.htm

These drives should run you under $20 at a good computer store.  Just make sure the drive you get is an FD235.  If its a friendly place, take a printout of the instructions with you and ask to look at the drive to make certain you can find the jumper points.  These drives are slightly smaller then the drive in a mirage.  I use a little strip of rubber weatherstripping stuck along the top edge of the drive to plug the hole.

Good luck!


This FAQ was compiled by Johnny Klonaris. To the best of my knowledge there is no copyrighted material here and is intended simply to document and reference information about the Ensoniq Mirage Sampler.

The html has been constructed such that if all tags (everything between and including the carets) are removed, it will produce a reasonable and readable ASCII text file.

-jk, June 25, 2000