E-mu Emulator II

E-mu Emulator II Image

An affordable classic early eighties sampler/workstation synthesizer. It's a sampler that sounds like an analog synth because it has analog filters! It samples at a low 8-bits (up to 17.6 seconds) so it's got that lo-fi sound which is great for some types of electronic music. Especially nice is its ability to create warm analog-ish pads and sounds. It uses those giant 5" floppy disks for storage. Also on-board is a useful 8-track sequencer. It can be hooked up to a Mac for easier editing using software such as Digidesign's Sound Designer.

The Emulator II had many new features for its time. MIDI, SMPTE and computer control. Editing samples includes truncating, manual/auto looping, reverse, velocity switch cross-fading and splicing samples together. A great feature is the 24 dB/oct analog 4-pole low pass filter. There are eight separate LFO's and eight extra individual outputs for each voice. Make no mistake, the Emulator II was a long standing professional sampler of the mid-eighties for musicians and sound designers.

The Emulator II received numerous upgrades during its four year production run from 1984 to 1988. These included the Emulator II+ with double the sample memory and the Emulator II+HD which adds a 20MB internal hard drive. The Emulator II series was replaced by the much improved Emulator III in 1988. Although both have definitely been overcome by modern samplers and workstations the Emulators remain as classic music machines. The Emulator II has been used by Depeche Mode, ABC, Genesis, Paul McCartney, Tangerine Dream, New Order, Front 242, Brian Wilson, Simple Minds, Enya, Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis, Stevie Nicks, Yes, filmaker/composer John Carpenter, ABC, David Frank Of The System, Mr. Mister, Phillipe Saisse, Stevie Wonder, David "Hawk" Wollinski, Pet Shop Boys; even Ferris Beuller!

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59 Visitor comments
August 20, 2011 @ 8:53 pm
It's a bit disappointing that this article doesn't mention that Rush used this synth. It's a pretty noteworthy fact because the Emulator II was, in fact, the very first sampler that Rush used to play back their samples of keyboard sounds/vocal parts/et cetera. As huge a role as samplers play in the way Rush puts on a live show, I'd say it's pretty important to take note of what Rush's first sampler of choice was.
August 17, 2011 @ 8:05 pm
Actually, Tony Banks used the original Emulator on the Genesis self-titled 1983 album and used the Emulator II on the MamaTour in 1984, as soon as it was out...
August 15, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
Emulator II is one of the biggest and baddest sounding synths of them all. It was used on the Terminator 2 soundtrack to unbelievable effect. Tony Banks created the cool backwards strings intro to Genesis' "Its Gonna Get Better" with it, as well as the pan-flute sounds on "Domino" (so breathy!) Peter Gabriel used the shakuhachi sounds for his biggest hits. Musicians like Alan Wilder and Pet Shop Boys pushed it to its limits during the 80s. This synth also kick-started the Digidesign company who created ProTools. Fascinating piece of old-school technology with quite a legacy built around it!
June 10, 2011 @ 8:05 am
more like 1800$-2000$ todays, four years ago you could find one for 700$, man these are going to be so much sought after in future.. you need one "usher" pretending to play one in some [beep] ty music video, prices go to heaven, it becomes minimoog of the samplers.
dino vicente
October 19, 2010 @ 4:25 pm
kraftwerk not used one too?
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Rated 4.36 (483 Votes)

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  • 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
  • Sampler - 27kHz; 8-bits; 512 KB to 1 MB storage
  • Multitimbral - 8 parts (8 midi channels)
  • Sequencer - 8-Track
  • Songs - 1
  • Keyboard - 61 keys w/ velocity & aftertouch
  • Filter - 24 dB/oct 4-pole lowpass with resonance
  • Control - MIDI, SMPTE, RS422 Interface
  • Date Produced - 1984

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