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Ensoniq Fizmo Rack

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In response to the overwhelming requests from dealers and customers worldwide, Ensoniq announces the Fizmo rack, a 5U rack-mount version of the successful real-time Transwave synth. Fizmo rack utilizes real-time Transwave synthesis, a powerful synthesis engine capable of 48-voice polyphony, state-of-the-art 20-bit output converters, 24-bit on-board effects with 41 algorithms including the new Ensoniq Vocoder, an arpeggiator with 118 editable patterns, and a Flash OS that is user upgradeable via the internet.

Exclusive Transwave Synthesis

Ensoniq's Transwaves form the foundation of Fizmo rack's sound. A Transwave is a single "waveform" made up of a series of sequential wavetables. These wavetables evolve over time from one wave to another. Some Transwaves have dramatically different wavetables that produce a rhythmic effect, rather than an evolution of the sound. "Transwaves remove a major limitation of wavetable synthesizers, that is the waveform being played is usually static and has no change in harmonic structure over time, other than by filtering it. Transwaves allow a sound to evolve subtly or dramatically, slowly or quickly over time, producing a richly animated, complex sound," says Bob Yannes, Ensoniq chief engineer.

Vocoder with audio input

Fizmo Rack includes a mic input to access the Vocoder, one of the most popular features of the Fizmo keyboard. This input may also be routed to any of the 41 insert effects for powerful processing capabilities. Presets include emulations of classic Vocoder modes as well as modern voicings. "Fizmo's Vocoder has been extremely well received," says Joe Kramer, Ensoniq Product Manager, "for less than the price of some stand-alone Vocoders customers can own a Fizmo Rack."


Fizmo rack's arpeggiator includes 118 musically useful patterns. A "Tap Tempo"' button is provided, making it easy to lock in to a live performance. All rhythmic components of Fizmo rack's sound, including the arpeggiator and LFO's, are synced together and will automatically lock to an incoming MIDI clock, making it ideal for Techno/Electronica music production.

Real-time control interface

A real-time control interface is coupled with Fizmo rack's advanced wavetable synth engine, creating a truly interactive playing experience. Every programming function has it's own dedicated knob or button. Five Fizmo tweak knobs provide real-time performance modulation to the Fizmo rack sounds. Each knob conirols all current sounds within a preset simultaneously and may address several controllers, allowing the player to make dramatic, real-time changes. In addition, all controls may be recorded in real-time to an external sequencer. Additionally, a version of SoundDiver, Emagic's cross-platform editing software is included, providing users with access to all parameters via computer.

Performance Features:

5 Fizmo real-time control knobs

4 dedicated Sound buttons allow convenient selection, layering and key range assignment of presets

17 dedicated Sound and Effect editing knobs

All four zones can play local sounds or external MIDI sources
48 dynamically assigned voices

Dual layer voice architecture with the following parameters (per layer): Independent waveform selection, Volume, and Pan
four-pole dynamic digital low-pass resonant filters with key tracking (33 settings, including fractional scaling)

3 envelope generators that can be modulated by velocity, key scaling, and response to release velocity

22 modulation sources, 8 modulation destinations

1 LFO (seven waveform choices can sync to Arpeggiator or external MIDI clock)

Variable rate noise generator can sync to Arpeggiator or external MIDI Octave, semi-tone, and fine tuning

Pitch tracking (33 settings, including fractional scaling)

45 ROM pitch tables (256 steps per semi-tone resolution)

Glide mode, glide time

Mono/Poly playback

Programmable pitch bend range

Sustain on/off

Ensoniq Fizmo Rack Specifications:

Synthesizer Section
Maximum Polyphony : 48 voices
Memory Capacity Presets : 64
Data Encoding : 20-bit
Sound Memory : 4 MB
EFX : 41

Technical Specifications
Type: Digital
Synthesis: ROM, Wave Table
Oscillators: 2
Waveforms: ROM, Wave Table
ROM Size: 4 MB
ROM Resolution: 16 bit
Osc Modulation: After Touch, Envelope, LFO, Sync Hard
Oscillator Notes:
+ Digital Acoustic Simulation Transwave
Envelopes: 3
Filters: 2
Types: 6dB Slope, 12dB Slope (2-pole), 18dB Slope, 24dB Slope (4-pole), Band Pass, Low Pass, Resonance
Filter Modulation: After Touch, Envelope, Keyboard, Knob, LFO, Velocity
LFO: 8
Polyphony & Tuning
Polyphony: 48
Timbrality: 4
Tuning: Standard
Modes: Polyphonic
Patches RAM: 128
Patches ROM: 128
Multipatches RAM: 64
Storage: Internal
Editing: MIDI
+ 117 different patterns
+ Variations on Up, Down, Random, Sweep, Transpose, Riff, Filter, Panning, and more.
+ 3 separate busses
+ 24-bit VLSI effects
+ 41 algorithms
Case: Desktop, Rack
Rack Size: 19", 5U, Full
Controls: Buttons, Knobs
Display Type: LCD, Backlit
Audio Output Connections: 1/4" Phone Jack, Stereo Main, Stereo Headphone
Audio Output Count: 4
Inputs: 1 x 1/4" Mic/Line Input
Year Released: 1998
Units Made: 100-500
Design Notes:

Ensonic project members Scott Peer, Bill Mauchly, Craig Snoke.

During its short commercial lifetime, the Fizmo was much criticized because of its unfinished operating system, editing peculiarities, unreliability (concerning problems with the external power supply adapter and/or the Fizmo's internal power supply DC regulator) and misunderstood concept and sound. To access most of the operating system, the software tool Emagic SoundDiver is required (A Fizmo Only version of the editor can be downloaded free from the Fizmo User's Yahoo Group - see below). To make things worse, its physical appearance wasn't welcomed. While it sported an analog synth-like appearance, it didn't sound like its virtual analog contemporaries (Roland JP-8000, Yamaha AN1x, and Clavia Nord Lead, for example), didn't sound like additive synthesizers (like Kawai K5000s), and to be fair, didn't sound like anything else. Also, its retro-looking 4-digit 7-segment display didn't convince magazines or customers with its cryptic symbols and strange abbreviations. But like many vanished, past-criticized things, the Fizmo found a loyal group of users which accepted it "as it is" and reached a curious cult status. An estimated 500-2,000 were produced. 100-500 limited-run rack versions were also produced, comprising the full Fizmo's panel into a 5-unit rack standard.
Manuals & Documents
Used Price: $1,841 - $2,000 - convert
References & Sources

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