Monday, April 7, 2014

Ensoniq Mirage "It makes $1695 sound like a lot more." ad, Keyboard, 1985

Ensoniq Mirage "It makes $1695 sound like a lot more." full page colour advertisement from page 53 in the July 1985 issue of Keyboard magazine.

Just a quick Monday blog post as a follow-up to last week's UK Mirage advertisement. After posting that ad, I thought it would be neat-o to do a comparison of sorts and see what Ensoniq was doing across the pond in North America. Sure enough there was an ad running in Keyboard the exact same month - July. what a difference can be found!

While Ensoniq was pushing a very minimalistic ad in Electronics and Music Maker (EMM), the company went in the complete opposite direction in Keyboard. In fact, they went full-on Chatty-Cathy.

Now, granted, this wasn't Ensoniq's first advertisement in Keyboard - this was actually their second ad in Keyboard that started appearing around May 1985.  There was the chance that the company introduced the Mirage to North America with equal minimalism in their earlier ad, but when I went back and checked, that was clearly not the case and that first ad was even more detailed than this one. Will post that one in the near future.

Let's face it, the Mirage's most unique, defining feature when it was introduced was price, and Ensoniq came out swinging against one of its biggest competitors without actually naming names. But the field was still so small at the time that everyone must have known exactly who they were talking about - the E-mu Emulator. Or at least that's who I think they were referring to. The ad compares the Mirage to a "$10,000" sampler, but the Emulator was actually around $8,000 for the regular model, and $10,000 for the "plus" with extra memory (according to Wikipedia).

What about the Fairlight, you ask? Well, it's probably not surprising that Ensoniq made no comparison to the Fairlight in this ad - they were biggest name in sampling with the biggest price tag. The Fairlight was *too* big and expensive and Ensoniq must have known their core market for the Mirage wasn't going to give the Fairlight a second thought (it was everyone's first thought  :). Point is, there was no need for Ensoniq to go there. At all.

On the other end of the cost spectrum was the Akai S-612. Coincidentally, the first Akai advertisement appeared during the spring/summer of 1985 in Keyboard as well - including the same issue as this Ensoniq ad. And it too included a price tag - $995.00. 

Side note: Also coincidentally, Kate Bush appeared on the cover of the July 1985 issue of Keyboard sitting next to a Fairlight in what can only be described as a Cosby sweater. To be clear - Kate is in the sweater... the Fairlight isn't. Back to the ad...

Anyways, after that initial swipe at the Emulator, the ad-copy then strategically breaks down the other features of the Mirage by playing to both the left and right half of readers' brains.

First it touches on the creative side of the instrument, listing off some key features - polyphonic, velocity-sensitive keyboard, and 77 parameters of sweet-ass editing goodness that includes filters, envelopes and modulation. And to top it off - a built in sequencer. Yum.

The the techie side takes over - because back in the 80s, if you were talking about samplers and sampling, it was hard NOT to bring technology into the conversation. In Ensoniq's case, floppy diskette storage, MIDI, and their customized "Q-Chip".

But, as I said near the beginning of this ad - it was the price that really differentiated the Mirage from other samplers at the time. In this case, the cost for a Mirage in the US in 1985 was $1695.

Now, compare that to the 1695 Pounds that the Mirage cost in the UK in 1985. According to one foreign exchange Web site, that US dollar was worth 1.3807 pounds in July 1985. So, if I've done my calculations correctly, UK buyers were paying approximately $2,340 US dollars for the Mirage in 1985.

Interesting stuff.

Time to go out and enjoy the nice weather! 


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