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E-mu | Emulator
The Emulator is a very old and classic keyboard sampler from E-mu that rocked the world in 1980 as it was truly the first affordable compact modern sampler. After E-mu flopped with its grossly expensive Audity analog polysynth, they sought to design a sampler, loosely inspired by the Fairlight CMI but much more affordable. The Emulator I debuted in 1981 with a price taag of $10,000! Still pretty expensive, but E-mu reduced its price to $8,000 a year later.
The Emulator is very big, it's not very pretty and it uses big 5" floppy diskettes! Its look was designed by the same people that designed the Apple II computer. The Emulator has (up to) eight voices of polyphony and some may have MIDI retro-fitted as well although they never originally came with MIDI. It had very primitive controls by today's standards. Only real-time looping and trimming was possible, for example. And sample memory is really slim with its tiny 128 KB good for about two seconds of sampling time...and that's with its lo-fi 8-bit 27 kHz sampling specs.
It was a very basic 8-bit sampler - it only had a simple filter, and only allowed for a single loop. The initial model did not even include a VCA envelope generator. It came in three forms: A two-voice model (only one of these was ever sold), a four-voice model, and an eight-voice model. When the original Emulator was turned on it was split. It was designed to be played in split mode, so playing the same sound on the full keyboard required loading up the same sound into both zones.
|Sampler||27 KHz, 8-Bit|
|Filter (VCF)||Simple VCF via JL Cooper retrofit kit|
|Memory||128 Kbyte (about 2 seconds)|
|Recording||Real-time digital sequencer added to later models from 1982 on.|
|Midi||I-O via retrofit only|
|Extra info||Rare 4 voice versions exist.|
|Produced:||1981 - 1983|
|Legend:||Obvious||Y: Yes, N: No, N/A: Not Applicable|
|VCO||Voltage Controlled Oscillator||DCO||Digital Controlled Oscillator|
|LFO||Low Frequency Oscillator||Sub||Sub Oscillator|
|VCF||Voltage Controlled Filter||VCA||Voltage Controlled Amplifier|
|Velocity||As with a piano, the harder you hit a key, the louder the sound, unlike most organs which always produce the same loudness no matter how hard you hit a key.||Aftertouch||Pressing a key after you activated it. Channel Aftertouch, no matter which key, it will send a Channel message. Poly Aftertouch, sends the pressure per key instead of the whole channel.|
|Values for OSC, LFO, Filter, Envelope are per voice unless stated otherwise.|