E-mu Emulator

E-mu Emulator Image

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 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.

The Emulator was soon surpassed by the Emulator II which added far better controls, a data display and memory space. The Emulator is most responsible for E-mu's longevity and success, and the Emulator makes a great collector's item even though it does not cut it as a usable machine these days. The Emulator has been used by David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Herbie Hancock, Genesis, New Order, OMD, Jean-Michel Jarre, Kitaro, Vangelis, Yes, Philip Glass, filmaker/composer John Carpenter, and Stevie Wonder who bought the very first one!

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22 Visitor comments
May 19, 2012 @ 3:58 am
Emulator 1 was used on Jean-Michel Jarre's Zoolook album. Choir on Ethnicolor is malefemale patch, and choir on Zoolook is female patch.
April 2, 2012 @ 2:48 am

To kriss bell : Electric cafe was most featured on NED sampler (Synclavier) then EMU even if EMU I was first introduced in Kraft' music in 1983 for "Tour de France" track.
Anyway, the author writes Stevie Wonder was first to invest on EMU technos. but he is most known for having bougt the very first Fairlight CMI sampler in 1979 !!.. which was heavily expensive (at least 10 more that EMU I realsed in 1983).
Jack Floyd
March 25, 2012 @ 3:16 pm
The Emulator I is responsible for most of the flute sounds and assorted noises on "Walk Into Light" by Ian Anderson and "Under Wraps" by Jethro Tull.
January 26, 2012 @ 11:35 am
Moogmaster: I've never seen them play an E1. Ive seen with an EII though...
January 3, 2012 @ 10:43 pm
pet shop boys also performed with this synth
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Rated 3.27 (164 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 (4 voice models rare)
  • Sampler - 27 KHz, 8-Bit
  • LFO - Vibrato
  • Filter - simple VCF via JL Cooper retrofit kit
  • Sequencer - Real-time digital sequencer added to later models from 1982 on.
  • Keyboard - 49 Keys
  • Memory - 128 Kbyte (about 2 seconds)
  • Control - MIDI (on some models via retrofits)
  • Date Produced - 1981-83

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