E-mu Emax

E-mu Emax Image

The Emax is a classic sampler workstation from E-mu. It is sort of a next generation Emulator II, it's not as good as an Emulator III but it's more powerful than previous EII's. The Emax can be found in several forms: the Emax, the Emax Rack, the Emax HD (built-in 20MB hard disk), the Emax HD Rack and the Emax SE (Synthesis Enhanced) with a built-in synthesizer section. The Emax's editing system will be familiar to users of E-mu's excellent ESI series.

The Emax has an extensive library collection of samples that can be loaded via the built-in 3.5" hard drive. Or you can sample your own sounds. The Sampler is powerful, but lo-fi. It samples at 12-bit resolution with variable sample-rates up to 42kHz. The built-in memory is 512K which only gives you a few good seconds really. Sampling and editing is easy, complete and intuitive with auto sample placement, auto-looping, truncating, reversing, velocity cross-fade, etc. The Emax also features individual channel outputs and stereo outputs and extensive MIDI implementation.

E-mu Emax II Rack Image

The Emax features many common analog synth-type controls for easily shaping your samples. Tune, filter and shape the envelope or use LFO's and chorus to liven up your samples. There's also an on-board sequencer section. A real-time only 16-track, non-quantizable sequencer for basic scratch-pad use or simple arpeggios or patterns. The SE and SE Plus models, the most advanced of the 12-bit Emax's, add a synthesizer section, newer advanced digital signal processors for sample editing and a SCSI port (standard on the SE Plus). The Emax instruments were the most advanced of the classic keyboard samplers of the late 1980's.

E-mu Emax II Image

The Emax II which was released in 1989 brought the Emax series up to modern specs with 16-bit sampling, 16-voice polyphony, 16 MIDI channels, stereo samples, 1MB RAM expandable to 8MB, SCSI, 8 assignable outputs and the SE's synthesis functions. And finally, the Emax II Turbo came with 4MB RAM standard and a 4MB hard disk. Whichever Emax you choose, they're all classic machines still capable of professional quality results when used in making the music of today. It has been used by U2, Orbital, Astral Projection, Skinny Puppy, Meat Beat Manifesto, Nine Inch Nails, Mouse on Mars, Alphaville, Beastie Boys, Clock DVA, Die Krupps, Faith No More, Richard H Kirk, KMFDM, Steve Roach, Richard Barbieri, Wolfgang Gartner and Depeche Mode.

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The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

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Are you looking to buy or sell a E-mu Emax? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

41 Visitor comments
October 6, 2009 @ 4:29 am
Sorry, I meant to direct the last bit of my post to George, not Loopwhole!
September 21, 2009 @ 4:22 am
The Emax is a great piece of kit. It's not the sampler you want if you're after a crystal clear, perfect rendition of a sound. What the Emax does is add a unique colour and crunch to sounds, turning sounds into something new. If you like the sound of mid-80s Depeche Mode you'll love it. The interface is initially daunting but once you get used to it you'll find it easy and enjoyable to use. As well as the standard digital editting , the Emax has an SSM-based VCF and VCA section and this section is really special, giving almost boundless opportunities to manipulate your sounds just as you can with a synth.

Loopwhole, you do not need to worry about getting an OS disk. Any sample disk created on the Emax contains the OS on it. I'm not sure if Emax II disks work in an Emax I or visa-versa though.
August 15, 2009 @ 6:31 am
This is the sampler used for Paul's Boutique.
August 14, 2009 @ 12:20 am
I have an Emax II with 4MB of ram. I ahhded an internal 1GB flash card as a hard drive and works perfect, no heat, no noise but it goes up to 200 banks only, if it was external I could switch it. I have downloaded some sounds banks and the atmospheres are amazing. I mean, this sampler has no background noise, is incredible clean, it has more body than the Ensoniq ASR 88 I have and so many midi functions! No wonder Depeche Mode had it.

Is a bit complicated to program, you will need to spend some time but is a performance sampler, it was conceive for personalized editing and versatile live use. Amazing.
May 17, 2009 @ 2:14 pm
this is gotta be the most slept on peice ever..(eventhough now its becoming more populare because people are finding out ) its almost identical to the sp1200 in sound. you can NOT duplicate the sound of the sp1200 with any other vst or anything..ive tried for years. the the emax is identical in sound. if you sample on the lowest resolution on the emas and play it back...there you go..you got that "metalic ring" that is SSOOOOOO saught after. respect to the emax.
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  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 8 voices (32 channels configured as 16 stereo voices or 16 mono voices w/ stereo chorus in the Emax II)
  • Sampler - Emax HD/SE: 12-bit, 10kHz to 42kHz variable (52 seconds at 10kHz);
    Emax II: 16-bit
  • Memory - Emax HD/SE: 512K memory;
    Emax II: 1MB (expandable to 8MB)
  • LFO - Yes
  • Arpeg/Seq - 16-track sequencer; arpeggiator
  • Keyboard - 61 notes (with velocity and poly pressure messages)
  • Effects - Chorus
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - Emax: 1986, Emax II: 1989
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from E-mu and

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