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
September 23, 2011 @ 3:17 pm
All the sampling on "Pauls Boutique" by the Beastie Boys was done on the EMAX HD. So pretty much the entire album
Cob up the cream
September 4, 2011 @ 4:34 pm
I bought the emax II from new. It was not as good as I had hoped for: The digital filters are not as good as the analog in the Emax 1, and since the Emax II samples and saves in 16 bit it took a hell of a lot of disks and waiting time.The Emax 1 sampled in 12 bit and stored and saved in 8 bit, so one disc was enough. Today I only have the Emax 1. It's 12-bit companded sound and analog filters makes it one hell of a sampler even today, if you want some soul in your samples. People looking for an SP1200 should take a close look at the Emax 1. It sounds just as wicked and does a lot more.
my name is required?
July 24, 2011 @ 6:15 am
You can actually download a sequence to the Emax II from an external sequencer. I think it's a bit complicated but it should work.
Bobby Simons
July 23, 2011 @ 8:42 pm
I still have my Emax HD in a spare room closet. It was not as expensive as you've remembered, more in the neighborhood of about $3,500 USD.
July 23, 2011 @ 9:18 am
I remember testing one in a music store directly after it came out...the crazy price tag caught my attention and I still remember the sum, it cost 72 000 swedish crowns (about ten thousand USD); it was the most expensive synth I've ever seen, at least here in Sweden. Was drooling a long time for this one...lol
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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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