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
March 9, 2012 @ 4:22 am
Bulky and cumbersome (nowaydays), with a dark, warm sound which IS still tempting, even now, but probably too much hassle for most. It has its place in history, and will probably stay there.
March 5, 2012 @ 2:33 pm
the emax I cannot read emax II samples..it can read SE samples...but you need to upgrade first....upgrade image is over on the emax yahoogroup
March 2, 2012 @ 7:05 am
hi! could anybody say me if the Emax i can read emax SE and emax II turbo samples??
sorry but my english is not very well ;P
Tank Circuit
February 10, 2012 @ 7:03 pm
Watch the Depeche Mode 101 DVD to see the functionality of the Emax. Andy Wilder gives a good demonstration of how the Emax is used live. I bought the Emax II several years ago and have spent many fun hours sampling guitars, voices, and synths. Unfortunately, these units may require a lot of maintenance. The floppy drive on mine is only reliable 50% of the time and the main outs can go in and out. I have a spare board for the output, so maybe some surgery will work. Good sampler, but prepare to deal with outdated storage mediums. I recommend adding an SCSI Zip drive.
October 26, 2011 @ 1:04 am
I had an Emax I which I used for several albums and loved. I then added an Emax II (as 8 notes for a song is not a lot). The Emax II definitely sounded different with the digital filter over the original analog and in the first weeks I felt a bit let down but after a while the II was definitely the center of my life.

Emax I went crazy (logic board). I didn't sell my Emax II till I was well settled using software (Reason). I still miss it as it was such an elegant musical instrument - simple architecture but lovely sound.
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Rated 4.13 (449 Votes)

  • 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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