Ensoniq SQ80 RF with RF interference (and more)

Hi, I just bought an SQ80, it is also my 1st vintage synth purchase. It is mildly and intermittently picking up radio interference (a christian radio station). The interference becomes stronger when powering down.

  • I have the both stereo outputs connected to a mixer.
  • The SQ80 and the Mixer are connected to different power sockets.
    I have noticed the same issue occurring on this youtube clip titled ‘2017 Ensoniq SQ 80 patch set: “The Mad Scientist Series” ’:

Any thoughts on what to do about RF interference?

Also… my keyboard smells slightly of cigarette smoke. I’ve tried using isopropyl alcohol to clean it, though I feel it needs a deeper clean and deodorizing . Any suggestions on what to do?

Check for ground loops in the audio equipment it’s connected to, and if none are found open it up and check for floating grounds inside. Particularly, make sure that the shielding around the main PCB in the machine is properly grounded. Missing ferrite beads might also potentially allow RF interference in if you live particularly close to a broadcast tower, but those are meant more for removing interference from data lines.

As for the cigarette smell, soaking the keys in warm soapy water might help. It would also help to clean the PCB underneath since its fairly exposed under the keys.

Many thanks,
I will follow your suggestions

If you pop the hood, an SQ-80 is supposed to have a thin sheet-metal shield over the main board. Perhaps someone worked on it previously and left this off…?

Thanks Sam, I finally got around to lifting the hood today. Unfortunately for me, the metal shielding is missing.

Any DIY suggestions?

It’s just some sheet metal that makes a ‘roof’ about half an inch over the main board. So it’s simple in theory to make a replacement. But I would think it is tedious to get it all configured correctly - mounting tabs, holes, etc - and you’d want to make sure it wouldn’t flop down and short anything out.