E-mu Proteus

E-mu Proteus 1 Image

Proteus 1 (1989)

Throughout the 1990’s, E-mu came to be known for its rack-mounted synth and sampler modules. In 1989, the Proteus was the first rack-mount module E-mu produced, and it was a huge success for the company. The Proteus 1 is an economical one-space module consisting of your basic rock and pop sounds. It has 4 MB of sounds from the EIII library such as samples of pianos, organs, strings, horns, guitars, basses, drums, Latin percussion, and more all at your fingertips. The Proteus offers professional features such as full 16-part MIDI multitimbrality, 32-voice polyphony, 16-bit ROM samples, six individual polyphonic outputs and extensive editing and modulation capabilities. There is also E-mu's RMidiPatchS that allows direct real-time control of over 40 parameters for keyboard, midi controllers, internal LFOs and envelopes. It has been used by Astral Projection, Pet Shop Boys, Vangelis, Genesis, and Information Society.

E-mu Proteus 1 Pop/Rock Image

Proteus 1 Pop/Rock

E-mu Proteus 1 Plus Orchestral Image

Proteus 1 Plus Orchestral

The Proteus 1 model was expandable with an additional 4 MB of orchestral samples (from the Proteus 2), making it a Proteus 1 Plus Orchestral. This gave you 4 MB of Pop/Rock sounds plus 4 MB of Orchestral sounds - 384 patches total! Presumably, when the Plus 1 Orchestral came out, the original Proteus 1 took on the Pop/Rock label to make it perfectly obvious what sounds each Proteus 1 model came loaded with.

E-mu Proteus 2 Orchestral Image

Proteus 2 Orchestral (1990)

In 1990, the Proteus 2 was released which is identical to the Proteus 1 in most every way except that it has 4 MB of purely orchestral sounds - the same sounds from the Plus Orchestral ROM card, which also happen to come from the EIII library. This was the first time really high quality sounding orchestral sounds could be had in a dedicated sound module.

E-mu Proteus 2 XR Image

Proteus 2 XR (1990)

The standard Proteus 1 and 2 could be upgraded to XR versions (extended RAM) as well. These doubled the RAM and memory up to 8MB, adding another 192 of user patches (128 preset / 64 user) for a total of 384 patches.

E-mu Proteus 3 World Image

Proteus 3 World Instruments (1991)

The Proteus 3 is identical to the previous Proteus models except that it features an ethnic World set of sounds. It's full of 16-bit samples (4 MB expandable to 8 MB via an XR upgrade) of shofars, flutes, celtic harps, tablas, tamburas, banjos, didjeridoos, bagpipes, etc.

E-mu Proteus FX Image

Proteus FX (1994)

A Proteus FX module is also available. It features sounds from both the rock pop and orchestral modules. It also adds two digital effects processors with reverb, delay, chorus and more. Surprisingly, the FX surpasses other Proteus models in many ways but it is also the least expensive model! It features 8 MB of sounds standard, and up to 512 patches. But what it doesn't have, is six polyphonic outputs. Just your basic stereo L/R(mono) output.

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43 Visitor comments
October 11, 2010 @ 1:07 pm
These were the premier orchestral and 'real instrument' tone modules of the early 90s. No effects though and the audio output is kinda weak and needs gain. Knobs no membranes or tack switches. Very user friendly for tiny window. We used Proteus II for soundtrack work at Va Commonwealth Univ and after post-prod, the result was stunning. Cheap plastic case and battery life make them prone to damage. This is what happened. Not road worthy without the steel case.
August 24, 2010 @ 5:45 pm
This list is missing the best proteus of them all, the 'UltraProteus" which has all the 4MB sample blocks from the proteus 1, 2, and 3 so it can load all their presets, but it also has an excellent 4MB stereo piano for a total 16MB ROM. But the best reason to find one may be its Z-Plane filters, it has 100 more than the Morpheus!
April 22, 2010 @ 10:05 pm
I just acquired a Proteus FX on ebay for $75 - what a bargain! This unit has all the basics covered, sounds good in a mix and is built better than the Proteus 1, 2 or 3 - the case is metal and the controls seem more solid. This was the step between the Proteus 1,2&3 and the Proteus 1000/2000. I am using this unit along with some other synths on a recording project and it is stacking up favorably against some very respectable units! If you can find one for under $150, I'd recommend grabbing it!
February 7, 2010 @ 5:07 am
My first synth ever! Bought this back in 1990s along with an Atari 1040STE to sequence it...I actually have the Proteus 1 plus Orchestral version with twice the memory (8MB) and a grand total of 512 presets! Very nice rompler at the time, it sure sounds a bit outdated nowdays but it's difficult for me to sell it as it also has a sentimental value for me...
Don Taylor
January 7, 2010 @ 11:01 pm
Hello-the day after Christmas my "dream" Proteus2/XR was delivered. I say dream because back in 1990, when the P1, or maybe this XR, it sounded so great and cost sooo much. Here's my issue---I reinitialized it back to OEM sounds and LOST more than 1/2 of what the previous owner had programed. OK, I know i was DUMB for not backing it up 1st !!
I have an Alesis midi Disk that could transmit sys.ex as well as play miDi Files & lots of other cool stuff way back in the last century. At least it's pd for. PLEASE, PLEASE can someone help me w/ a disk so i can fill in the the more than 1/2 of the 350+patch areas. You'd be makin' this 60+ yr young very happy. All i want to do is HAVE FUN again creating MUSIC. Thank you for taking the time to read me. Happy new Year to all. Jan. 8, 2k10. regards, Don (dont811@bellsouth.net)
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  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 32 Voices
  • Oscillators - 4 MB of ROM based 16-bit samples (expandable to 8 MB); 125 waveforms
  • LFO - Yes
  • Filter - None
  • Effects - None (FX Module has 2 digital effects processors: Reverbs, chorused and delays)
  • Keyboard - None
  • Memory - 192 patches (64 user programmable); up to 384 on XR modules; up to 512 on FX module
  • Control - MIDI (16-parts)
  • Date Produced - 1989 - 1995

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