Let us posit that one has a need to obtain an image of the instrument ROM of an Ensoniq Soundscape S-2000, Elite, or OPUS sound card. There are two basic approaches: A) Desolder or cut off the ROM chip, plug into a PROM reader, extract the data; or B) Design and write software to read the ROM contents and leave the hardware intact. Method A) is crude but effective—very simple but potentially destroys the card. So let’s see how method B) might be done.
First it is necessary to understand the architecture of the Ensoniq Soundscape. This text will focus on the original S-2000 and Elite, with a brief note on the newer Opus and VIVO cards.
The S-2000 is a 16-bit sound card with an onboard synthesizer and instrument ROM. The card is compatible with Sound Blaster and AdLib (Yamaha OPL2/OPL3) standards, as well as MPU-401 and General MIDI, but the compatibility is implemented purely in software (firmware in fact). The S-2000 has four major chips, clearly seen in the above photo: Ensoniq ODIE (ES 5706), the system interface and control gate array; Ensoniq OTTO (ES 5506), the wavetable synthesizer chip; Analog Devices AD1848, the audio codec; and Motorola 68EC000, the OBP (On-Board Processor). There is also 128KB of DRAM for use by the OBP, and an instrument ROM with 1 or 2 MB of data (our target).
Much like it was the case with E-mu/Creative, Ensoniq’s sound cards were essentially the respective company’s cut-down synthesizers on an ISA card; in Ensoniq’s case it was the TS-10/TS-12. The Soundscape was clearly not intended for musicians (it was a consumer/gaming card) and therefore had no sampler functionality (no sample RAM), even though the OTTO synthesizer could have handled it without trouble.
Note: For reasons which are not clear, certain people think that just because a chip has ‘(C) SEQUOIA DEV GRP’ etched on it, it must be called “Sequoia”. Sequoia Development Group was in fact a company specialized in developing MIDI equipment and is known to have provided the firmware for the Logitech Soundman Wave card (Yamaha OPL4 synthesizer) or Samsung KS0164 and KS0165 synthesizer chips. The Ensoniq chip in question is clearly called ODIE.