" So you just bought a Mirage "
Mirage Starters Guide
Version 1.1

Peter Sansom


1. Introduction
2. Preliminaries
3. Disks
4. Formatting Disk
5. Basic Loading
6. Basic Sampling
7. Basic Programs
8. Basic Saving
9. Basic Sequencer
10. On-line stuff

1. Introduction

This document is designed as a quick get you up and running guide to the Ensoniq Mirage Sampler. It does not replace any of the official manuals or documentation. The available manuals are the " Musicians Manual " - a little red book that covers the standard operation of the Mirage and " The Advanced Sampling Guide " - features more information on sampling , sound maniplulation and the instructions for MASOS , the Mirage Advanced Operating System. To obtain copies of these manuals contact Syntaur Productions who also have other Mirage products. You will find details in the last chapter.

2. Preliminaries

Incase you are connecting the Mirage into a Midi system or using a Rack Mirage here are the Midi parameters. Param 81 sets Omni mode On or Off. If it's On then it willreceive Midi data on all 16 channels. When it is Off the Mirage receives only on the channel as set in Parameter 82, Channel Select. Param 83 sets the Out to being an Out/Thru. Parameter 84 is concerned with what control data the Mirage will respond to. When On it can send and receive Pitch Bend and Mod wheel. When Off it doesn't.

3. Disks

So you have arrived home with your Mirage and are eager to get it up and running. Before diving right in there are a few things to sort out first. Your Mirage should have come with some disks. One of these disks will be the operating system. The reason for putting the OS on disk is that it allows for updates to it to be loaded in. The Mirage will not work without an OS disk so you better hope it came with one ! If it didn't then contact either the person/shop from whom you bought the sampler, another Mirage user, the mirage net mailing list or Syntaur Productions. When it comes time to buy blank disks you need to buy Double Sided Double Density ( MF2DD ) 3.5 " floppy disks. They are getting a bit rare but a couple of phone calls should locate some. In the US try Staples and in Australia try your local Post Office shop.

Let us assume , for the moment , that you did receive some disks with the Mirage. These disks can have a variety of functions ;

- Operating System disks
- Formatting disks
- Sound disks / Sequence disks

Now, how to figure out what is what. The easiest way would be to look at the disks and see if they are labled. If there are no obvious signs of what is on the disks then the Mirage can tell us what they are. So plug in your Mirage , to the power and to a mixer or whatever you will use to listen to the Mirage. Now insert the mystery disk into the disk drive and power up the Mirage. You shoukld now be hearing the disk drive churn away as the mirage figures out whta the disk is. There are several reactions that could occur.

If the LED shows UD then you have a disk that has not been formatted for the Mirage.

If the LED display starts to flash FD then you have a formatting disk. Some sound disks may also contain the Formatting program so it is worth while checking all your disks. A Formatting disk is vital as it's one of few ways of formatting disks the Mirage can read.

If the LED displays a number then you have an Operating System disk. To determine what OS you have you need to check the value of parameter 97. To do this first click the button marked Param under the LED to make sure that you will be changing parameters. Then type the numbers 9 then 7 on the keypad and 97 should appear in the LED. Now click the value button and a number will be displayed. If the number is 3 or higher then you have the Standard OS. If it is 2.0 then you may well have a MASOS disk. Operating system disks also contain Sounds. If you have loaded an OS disk then the first bank of sounds should be loaded too.

Make sure to label disks. You may only have a few but believe me they will start to pile up after a while.

There are other codes the Mirage can give you about the disk drive and these may be useful to know Before you lay down your hard earned cash.

When the Mirage is initially powered up the LED should flash " nd " meaning No Disk. Put one in the drive and it will stop flashing. After placing a disk into the drive there are several things the Mirage may tell you. " ud " means the disk isnt formatted. " Pd " the disk is write protected , will flash if yo try to save to a protected disk. " nF " is Not Found . The really bad news message " dE " disk drive error meaning some form of mechanical problem with the drive. If the drive doesnt work it can be replaced. Goto chapter 10 and you will find links to a page on replacing the drive and another on a Double Sided floppy drive Conversion.

4. Formatting Disk

If you want to save sounds to disk you will need to format the disk first. Simply turn the Mirage on with the Formatting disk in the drive. When the LED is flashing FD take the formatting disk Out of the drive and replace it with the blank disk you wish to format. Once this is done then press the " Save Seq " button and find something else to do as the formatting will take a few minutes. When it's finished the LED will flash " FC " and you have a disk you can save sounds and sequences onto. You will also find that the disk you have formatted will also boot up the Mirage in Formatting Mode. However there are two kinds of formatting disks . The first is the standard FMT-01. This is the kind I hae described above. The second is the FMT-02. This program is able to format disks and place a copy of the Operating system on the disk. It is most likely that the version you have is the 01. The only way to tell is either via a label on the disk or by the behaviour of the formatting program. As I only have version one I can only describe that version.

5. Basic Loading

Hopefully a couple of sound disks were included with the Mirage. If not, dont despair , keep on reading as I will cover some of how the Mirage and it's disks and sounds are layed out and treated here. You will hae noticed that there are two Sample and Load buttons, Upper and Lower. These refer to both memory banks and also the layout of the sounds over the keyboard. Now, each disk can carry three Upper and three Lower sound banks. Sometimes the Lower and Upper sounds go together to make up a complete sound like a piano over the full range. At other times they could be completely independant of each other like drum sounds on the Lower bank and a bass sound on the Upper. Each of these halves , Upper and Lower , can be broken down again into anything up to eight sections. The Mirage refers to these as seperate wavesamples.

     DISK      MIRAGE 

     UP 1      Upper Bank  -------- Wave 1     
     LW 1      Lower Bank           Wave 2
     UP 2                           Wave 3
     LW 2                           Wave 4
     UP 3                           Wave 5
     LW 3                           Wave 6
                                    Wave 7
                                    Wave 8

  Fig 1 - How sound data is organised.

To load a sound from disk, stick the disk into the drive then simply click either Lower or Upper , or both for Load All . The LED will flash either LU, LL or LA. Using the number keypad click in 1, 2 or 3. The Mirage will now load the sound and you should be able to play it from the keyboard.

6. Basic Sampling

That's the reason for owning a sampler , after all ! First decide on the noise you want to sample. Is it pre-recorded material or an accoustic sound ? You see, the Mirage's Input can be set to either a Line Input or a more sensitive Microphone Input. To set this parameter click Param then key in the number 75 and click Value. If this displays On then the input is set for Line level. If it is set to OFF it is set for Microphone level. One thing missing on the Mirage is anyway of attenuating the input signal so this has to be done from what ever you are sampling from. There is , however , a Level indicator displayed when Sampling is selected. Plug in either your microphone or sound source into the Mirage's Input socket.

Next we need to tell the Mirage where we want the sample to be, upper, lower and what wave number. Lets say we want to sample in the Lower bank in wave number 1. First you need to select the Lower half. Click the 0/Prog button. If it flashes U1 then click it again and it will change to flashing L1. Once L1 is flashing press the 1 button and it will stop flashing. You have now set the Mirage to Lower Program 1. More about programs later. Next click the Param button and then key in 26. Param 26 value indicates the Current Wave . This indicates the wave we will be sampling into.

To check and change the size of the sample area allocated to the Current Wave there are 3 parameters. The beggining of the wave is accessed from Param 60 Wave Start. The end of the the wave is accessed from Param 61 Wave End. The third parmeter is 65 Loop Switch. Obviously you would turn this on to loop from the start to the end and back again. However it has a second function and that is to truncate ( cut ) the sample. You see , no matter how much you change Param 61 (Wave End) it will have no effect until the Loop is turned On then Off again. For now lets just set Param 60 (Wave Start) to 00 and Param 61 (Wave End) to FF. Dont be alarmed by these odd numbers they are Hexadecimal numbers. You will need to get used to them if you are to do any sampling with the Mirage.

HEX - DEC   HEX - DEC  HEX - DEC         HEX - DEC   HEX - DEC
---------   ---------  ----------        ----------  ----------
 00 -  0     09 -  9    12 - 18           F0 - 240    F9 - 249  
 01 -  1     0A - 10    13 - 19           F1 - 241    FA - 250
 02 -  2     0B - 11    14 - 20           F2 - 242    FB - 251
 03 -  3     0C - 12    15 - 21           F3 - 243    FC - 252
 04 -  4     0D - 13    16 - 22   . . .   F4 - 244    FD - 253
 05 -  5     0E - 14    17 - 23           F5 - 245    FE - 254
 06 -  6     0F - 15    18 - 24           F6 - 246    FF - 255
 07 -  7     10 - 16    19 - 25           F7 - 247
 08 -  8     11 - 17    1A - 26           F8 - 248

  Fig 2 -    Hexadecimal to Decimal number charts

OK Having set up the wave area to sample into it's now time to set some sampling parameters. The first parameter to decide on is Param 73 , Sampling Time. The values of this parameter are expressed in microseconds ! To work out the more normally used Sample Rate you need to use this formula -

 Sample Rate ( kHz ) = -----------
                       Sample Time ( microseconds )

A value of 34 gives the highest Sample Rate of about 29 kHz and a value of 99 gives around 10 kHz sample rate. The Lower the Sample Time the Higher the Sample Rate. A higher Sampling Rate gives a better high frequency response but uses up sample space faster so the time allowed will be shorter.

Speaking of high frequecies there is a rule to figuring out the highest reproducable frequency for a Sample Rate called the Nyquist freqency. Simply divide the Sample Rate in half and you have the Nyquist freqency. It is best to filter out any frequencies above the nyquist other wise these high frequecies can " foldover " and create an awful noise. So to filter out these frequencies the Mirage has a built in Input Filter. Parameter 74 sets the cutoff freqency of this filter. Value 99 sets the cutoff to about 15 kHz and 0 sets it to 50 Hz. You will probably need to play around with this parameter to get the setting right for each particular sound. Lets say the sampling rate is 10 kHz then the nyquist would be 5 kHz so the filter would have to be set below 5 kHz.

  50 - 1k     77 -  6k     87 - 11k     94 - 16k     99 - 21k
  58 - 2k     79 -  7k     89 - 12k     95 - 17k
  65 - 3k     82 -  8k     90 - 13k     96 - 18k
  70 - 4k     84 -  9k     92 - 14k     97 - 19k
  74 - 5k     86 - 10k     93 - 15k     98 - 20k

  Fig 3 - Approximate Input filter frequencies...

Now the filter is set , the next parameter to check is Param 76 , Sampling Threshold. This sets the level where Auto Sampling will occur. After telling the Mirage to sample it will display a level meter , actually just a series of 3 horizontal bars , in the LED. When the signal exceeds the Sampling threshold then the Mirage will begin sampling. To turn this feature Off just set it to 00 and sampling will begin as soon as you hit the Enter key.

So this brigns us neatly to pushing the Sample button ! Click the button marked Sample Lower . Once this is done the LED will flash SL for a bit then a couple of horizontal lines will be flickering in the LED. This is the Level Indicator. You dont want it flashing into the top bar to often or you will get evil distortion. Have it hover around about the middle. Again you dont want the signal to be to low either or there will be lots of noise. When you are ready to sample clickt the Enter button and away you go. The Mirage will stop sampling when it gets to the end of the wave space. If you want to cancel from sampling click the Cancel button.

Once the Mirage has finished sampling then you should be able to play the sound from the keyboard.

Once you have the sound you want, it's time to set up a Program.

7. Basic Programs.

So the Mirage is divided into Lower and Upper banks and these banks can have up to eight wavesamples each. There is also a Synth section to the Mirage that the samples pass through before leaving the output. There is an LFO , a controllable analog Low pass filter with resonance and a controllable amp. Both the filter and the amp are controlled by their own envelope generators. The parameters for these are stored as a Program. Each bank can contain 4 programs or four sets of settings. To change between these Programs click the 0/Prog button and it will flash either U1 or L1. Click a number from one to four on the keypad and the Mirage will switch to that program. Here is the basic parameters for a program.

LFO Params     Filter Params

31 - Speed     36 - Filter cutoff
32 - Depth     37 - Filter Resonance
               38 - Filter Tracking

Filter Envelope

40 - Attack       45 - Attack VS 
41 - Peak Level   46 - Peak VS
42 - Decay        47 - Decay kyboard scaled
43 - Sustain      48 - Sustain VS
44 - Release      49 - Release VS

Amp Envelope

50 - Attack       55 - Attack VS 
51 - Peak Level   56 - Peak VS
52 - Decay        57 - Decay kyboard scaled
53 - Sustain      58 - Sustain VS
54 - Release      59 - Release VS

Attack  Velocity Sensitive - more velocity faster Attack rate.
Peak    Velocity Sensitive - more velocity higher Peak. 
Decay   Keyboard Scaled    - Longer decay at lower notes. 
Sustain Velocity Sensitive - more velocity higher Sustain value. 
Release Velocity Sensitive - more key-up velocity shorter 

8. Basic Saving

Having Sampled a sound and set up a program or two it comes time to save the sound. Nothing could be simpler. Just place your blank formatted disk into the drive. Click the Param button and enter either Param 11 ( Save Lower ) Param 12 ( Save Upper ) or Param 13 ( Save Upper and Lower ). The LED will flash and indicate the choice you have made and wait for you to push a number between 1 and three for the disk location. Once selected the Mirage will save the sound to disk. Be aware that it will write over any pre-existing data without warning you. So write protect any disks you would like to keep.

9. Basic Sequencer

Now this is something I haven't really used much as I use a computer for sequencing. But here is a bare bones description of the Sequencer. To record a sequence click the Rec Seq button once to set standby and again to create a new sequence. The LED would have been flashing rS then stoped on the second REC push. To start recording simply play the keyboard. To stop press Stop and to play press Play. Param 87 is the Sequencer Clock rate. To save your sequence press SEQ SAVE , the LED flashed SS. Select between one and eight for the sequence number and then enter. The mirage will save the sequence. To Load press the SEQ Load button then press the number of the sequence you wish to load then Enter.

10. Internet Resources

Mailing List

There is a mailing list that deals exclusivly with discussions about the Mirage. To subscribe goto this page http://www.onelist.com/subscribe/Mirage-Net You will also find alot of useful Mirage info at the Mirage-Net web site http://www.webcom.com/jawknee/Mirage/

Parameter Card - Mirage info

Richard Wifall has a page that contains alot of good sampling and MASOS tutorials from old editions of the Transoiq Hacker magazine. There is also a couple of gifs of the original Mirage Parameter Card. This chart lists parameters and functions, a must have especially if you dont have a manual. http://www.sundial.net/~wifall/richard/audio/mirage/index.html

Syntaur Productions

Syntaur Productions amazingly still stock Mirage items such as formatting disks , Musicians Manual , MASOS, Advanced Samplers Guide and the Sound Process OS . http://www.fatsnake.com/syntaur

Floppy Drive

Kerry Townson's article on replacing the drive - http://www.webcom.com/jawknee/Mirage/DriveReplacement/drive1.htm

Art Entlich's Double-sided floppy drive conversion article - http://www.webcom.com/jawknee/Mirage/DriveConversion/

PC disk images

If you have an IBM-PC and your after some disks there is a program available called EDE - the Ensoniq Disk Extractor and there may be some sites that contain disk images in this format. There is also MREAD and MWRITE that do a similar thing. Here are some sites that feature disk images in these formats.

Gordon Pearce has a page with some disk images that contain not only sounds but OS 3.2 , the standard Mirage operating system. There are instructions for using the disk images and where to get the correct PC software to create the disks.

Leigh Smith's Page - contains some more DOS software and some more sound disks.

Is that a Mirage ? page

There is also my Mirage Web page , the original source of this document and home to MASOS sample dumps, tips , hints etc. http://sustenance.va.com.au/d/mirage.html

This is Version 1.1 of the Mirage Starters Guide. (c)May 1999 - Peter Sansom

Last Update Updated - 19 March 2002