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The sound of old Emu filters Drum Machines & Samplers
Old 17th March 2012
  #1
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The sound of old Emu filters

As a direct result of my gear addiction I've just snatched up an old Emu E4XT Ultra that I'll be pimping with compact flash (thanks to JD) and god-knows-what.

The main reason for going hardware sampler is not just nostalgia - but old-school ways of messing up sounds. For the Emu, I am especially intrigued by the transformation multiplication feature, which came in its fastest processing version with the Ultra (AFAIK).

What captured my ears was actucally not the E4XT but the old Emax - which filters made my jaw drop. It even impressed my wife - and she barely has an interest in these matters.

Short sawtooth made into pure love: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/elect...-emax-i-2.html

Since then I'm on constant lookout for the Emax - and the E4XT sort of came in my way. I was never too fond of the filters of later Emu sound modules - I found them cool in theory but boring in reality. That might have to do with the oscillators though - but I do not expect the filter sound of the Emax with the E4XT.

Anyone who used both? How does the E4XT filters stand against Emus old samplers? And I guess this question have been discussed to death during the years - but how does the original Emax stand against the Emax II? Filterwise that is.
Old 17th March 2012
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarLofgren View Post
As a direct result of my gear addiction I've just snatched up an old Emu E4XT Ultra that I'll be pimping with compact flash (thanks to JD) and god-knows-what.

The main reason for going hardware sampler is not just nostalgia - but old-school ways of messing up sounds. For the Emu, I am especially intrigued by the transformation multiplication feature, which came in its fastest processing version with the Ultra (AFAIK).

What captured my ears was actucally not the E4XT but the old Emax - which filters made my jaw drop. It even impressed my wife - and she barely has an interest in these matters.

Short sawtooth made into pure love: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/elect...-emax-i-2.html

Since then I'm on constant lookout for the Emax - and the E4XT sort of came in my way. I was never too fond of the filters of later Emu sound modules - I found them cool in theory but boring in reality. That might have to do with the oscillators though - but I do not expect the filter sound of the Emax with the E4XT.

Anyone who used both? How does the E4XT filters stand against Emus old samplers? And I guess this question have been discussed to death during the years - but how does the original Emax stand against the Emax II? Filterwise that is.
The Emax used the SSM filter IC (2045 I believe). However, when I had an Emax many years ago I found using TM to be a slow, painful, hit-or-miss affair. Especially if you're used to working at modern computer speeds.
Old 17th March 2012
  #3
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the TM is a digital process that is most certainly better and much faster in more modern emus.. but they dont have the good wet analog ssm 2045 filters anymore..

So to have booth you are probably best of with a modern emu and an external filter device...


when i recall it right there was some external filter devices readymade that use the ssm 2045..

but i forgot the name, and they are probably only available second hand anymore..

I still have 8 of the chips to build 4 stereo units myself.. but that project is pushed down the to do list since years now ;-)
Old 17th March 2012
  #4
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Originally Posted by audioconsult View Post
the TM is a digital process that is most certainly better and much faster in more modern emus.. but they dont have the good wet analog ssm 2045 filters anymore..

So to have booth you are probably best of with a modern emu and an external filter device...
Yes - I actually started reading up on the original Emax and stumbed across TM - a function that directly appealed to my heart. But after reading more about it - I understood it was like oldgearguy says - a hit or miss, and with calculation times around 30-60 minutes that's not something you really experiment with - thus the Emu Ultra-Rapido.

I've been toying with the ideas of getting external filters a long time - but I'm not sure. After playing around with my Ensoniq ASR-10 I realize that 16 bits + noise floor is quite nice - especially when you sample stuff at low volumes and normalize them. It's dirty in a - well, I don't want to say organic, but that's the word that pops into my head - nice way.

So I'm still thinking of getting an Emax on top of it all. They worst thing is that most people dig both the original Emax and the Emax II - and although I am crazy - I'd rather not buy both.

/C
Old 17th March 2012
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarLofgren View Post
Yes - I actually started reading up on the original Emax and stumbed across TM - a function that directly appealed to my heart. But after reading more about it - I understood it was like oldgearguy says - a hit or miss, and with calculation times around 30-60 minutes that's not something you really experiment with - thus the Emu Ultra-Rapido.

I've been toying with the ideas of getting external filters a long time - but I'm not sure. After playing around with my Ensoniq ASR-10 I realize that 16 bits + noise floor is quite nice - especially when you sample stuff at low volumes and normalize them. It's dirty in a - well, I don't want to say organic, but that's the word that pops into my head - nice way.

So I'm still thinking of getting an Emax on top of it all. They worst thing is that most people dig both the original Emax and the Emax II - and although I am crazy - I'd rather not buy both.

/C

when you can live without your fancy tm function i recomend to go for an EII.. they are big fun... but in the literal sense too
Old 17th March 2012
  #6
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Originally Posted by audioconsult View Post
when you can live without your fancy tm function i recomend to go for an EII.. they are big fun... but in the literal sense too
Oh... I _have_ been thinking about that
Old 17th March 2012
  #7
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On the other hand, if you're just looking for a good sampler to mess up and transform audio (and you have the cash), I can certainly recommend the Elektron Octatrack. It is by far the most fun sampler I've owned.

(Emax, MPC 60, 3000, 5000, Waveterm, Fairlight). Certainly not necessarily a vintage sound out of the box, but definitely an excellent audio mangler.
Old 17th March 2012
  #8
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Originally Posted by oldgearguy View Post
On the other hand, if you're just looking for a good sampler to mess up and transform audio (and you have the cash), I can certainly recommend the Elektron Octatrack. It is by far the most fun sampler I've owned.

(Emax, MPC 60, 3000, 5000, Waveterm, Fairlight). Certainly not necessarily a vintage sound out of the box, but definitely an excellent audio mangler.
Already sitting here right next to me
I agree - a formidable sampler.
Old 17th March 2012
  #9
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TM would be better using EMU X3. TM takes a bloody long time on hardware, but on PC, you have all those CPU cycles to help with a faster calculation.

I gave up on using TM when I used my EMU sampler, as I would transform two disparate samples, thinking that the end result would be organismic, but after waiting several hours, the resultant sound would be absolutely ****e.
Old 17th March 2012
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarLofgren View Post
Oh... I _have_ been thinking about that
when you actually like to play a keyboard you wont regret it.. and seeing it snuckle the sound files from the huge 5inch floppy floppys is pure sex..

the only sampler where a sample from a moog turns out better than the original.. it dont trys very hard to be close.. but it adds a lot of wham and brittle...

IMO best sounding sampler ever... actually a friend of me had one to sell in berlin with parts of the original lib on allmost 100 new floppys a few month ago.. its not like the are very hunted these days.. maybe he still has it..
Old 17th March 2012
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by himalaya View Post
TM would be better using EMU X3. TM takes a bloody long time on hardware, but on PC, you have all those CPU cycles to help with a faster calculation.

I gave up on using TM when I used my EMU sampler, as I would transform two disparate samples, thinking that the end result would be organismic, but after waiting several hours, the resultant sound would be absolutely ****e.
but wasnt there some sample morph softwares that just do the same thing?
There was some in OS9 mac times...
Old 17th March 2012
  #12
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I don' know, but I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't as there is a lot of choice in the spectral audio mangling plugins nowdays.
Old 17th March 2012
  #13
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Originally Posted by himalaya View Post
TM would be better using EMU X3. TM takes a bloody long time on hardware, but on PC, you have all those CPU cycles to help with a faster calculation.

I gave up on using TM when I used my EMU sampler, as I would transform two disparate samples, thinking that the end result would be organismic, but after waiting several hours, the resultant sound would be absolutely ****e.
Yes, I am prepared for that. That was the reason why I went for the fastest Emu sampler there is. After reading about it on Sound on Sound I felt that experimenting with an Ultra would make experimenting manageble.

I did consider the X3 - but not more than five minutes though. I honestly don't know where the Emu softsamplers are today - but I do remember me writing an in depth review of it for one of my magazines and I hated it with passion. That was the first version ever though. Maybe X3 is a lot better - but I my impression still make me feel like I'm dying inside. So... yes, if the Ultra ends up with being to slow - sure. I'll try X3. But that is the last option.

What about the EIII? I know everybody rave about the EII - but the EIII looks so damn cool. Like an old tank or something
Old 17th March 2012
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarLofgren View Post
For the Emu, I am especially intrigued by the transformation multiplication feature, which came in its fastest processing version with the Ultra (AFAIK).
Transform Multiply, as others have said can be hit and miss.

But Spectral Synthesis is where the fun's at! Doesn't take a lot of CPU time on a good old Emax I neither. i.e. Pick a bell sound, check its spectral content on a monitor. Then "roll one" in Emax. IIRC there are two different ways of buildig a spectral content of a sound in its SS department.

I understand that there is resynthesis additive software that can do the same, but the point is, it doesn't sound the same. Emax has such a beautiful sound of its own. So musical, particularly when you transpose it a bit. I just love it. I also believe Emax uses 12->8bit data companding, perhaps this is where they put some "sound" magic.

If you like the E-MU filters, try Emulator II. Less acidic sounding than Emax, but way way more bottom end!
Old 17th March 2012
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarLofgren View Post
Yes, I am prepared for that. That was the reason why I went for the fastest Emu sampler there is. After reading about it on Sound on Sound I felt that experimenting with an Ultra would make experimenting manageble.

I did consider the X3 - but not more than five minutes though. I honestly don't know where the Emu softsamplers are today - but I do remember me writing an in depth review of it for one of my magazines and I hated it with passion. That was the first version ever though. Maybe X3 is a lot better - but I my impression still make me feel like I'm dying inside. So... yes, if the Ultra ends up with being to slow - sure. I'll try X3. But that is the last option.

What about the EIII? I know everybody rave about the EII - but the EIII looks so damn cool. Like an old tank or something

its a stereo emax.. not bad... but dont has these vintage soundmagic as the EII.. therfore many people i know that have used the E III havent regret to move up to the more modern hardware stereo emus...

I actually opt for modern samplers for workflow reasons or the ones that really have an own sound magic you cant achieve itb.. it dont matters really that the sample time is highly limited with the arsenal of other sampling devices around we have today.

I heard good things about the x3.. but never tried it yet.. i am more into 100% synthesis these days.. maybe thats the reason i like the E II most..

Its rather an analog poly synth with sampling oscillators than what we call a sampler today...
Old 17th March 2012
  #16
yep Emulator II seems to have that filter too
SSM
Old 17th March 2012
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reptil View Post
yep Emulator II seems to have that filter too
SSM
These proved to be rather more stable in design, but they did not have the warmth of the SSM designs. The Emulator III was the only E-mu design to use CEM chips (the CEM 3387).

so emax or EII for the classical filter sound...
Old 17th March 2012
  #18
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Transform multiplication is simply convolution.
Old 17th March 2012
  #19
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The E3 is an amazing sounding box. CEM filters are not evil, right? They sound wonderful there, as they do with old Oberheims. Really warm, yes "organic" is the right word here. I have that E2/SSM filter flavor with the Oberheim DPX-1 and full library loaded on an SD card via the HxC floppy emulator. Sounds wonderful, another shade of wonderful. I also have the E4, and yes it is a very different beast. It captures - say - 80% of the analog-like flavor of the older Emus when playing samples of analog synths. If you play the famous E3 library "as is" through the E4 they really are very very close sonically. The difference comes when you engage VCF modulation with the E3, as I mentioned. On the other hand, having 128Mb (wow!...) of RAM makes working with the E4 banks a total breeze. It's an arsenal of sounds. And it is a way deeper machine. So, each has its own merits. That said, I have no experience with the Emax, sorry.

best regards
Massimo
Old 17th March 2012
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by massimo View Post
The E3 is an amazing sounding box. CEM filters are not evil, right?
Massimo
sure..great too..but there is a certain wet sounding quality of the old ssm chips that is somehow unmatched.. i really loved it
Old 17th March 2012
  #21
szf
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Here's some high res noodling on the emax 1, wav download enabled (Used 5secs of single se1x sample, live filter tweaking)




I'd agree that the bassend on it is not the best, sp12 is in another league.. and I still can't understand why ppl use them for drums.. when 950/sp12/1200s have the much better bass response.
With that said, emaxes are still f*ucking amazing, love them to bits. never selling mine.
Old 17th March 2012
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Solaris View Post
But Spectral Synthesis is where the fun's at! Doesn't take a lot of CPU time on a good old Emax I neither. i.e. Pick a bell sound, check its spectral content on a monitor. Then "roll one" in Emax. IIRC there are two different ways of buildig a spectral content of a sound in its SS department.

I understand that there is resynthesis additive software that can do the same, but the point is, it doesn't sound the same. Emax has such a beautiful sound of its own. So musical, particularly when you transpose it a bit. I just love it. I also believe Emax uses 12->8bit data companding, perhaps this is where they put some "sound" magic.

If you like the E-MU filters, try Emulator II. Less acidic sounding than Emax, but way way more bottom end!
Ah... one more reason to get an Emax then

What always surprise me when reseaching old Emulators - especially on Youtube - is the lack of decent videos. I'm a hardcore Ensoniq slut and there are quite a few good videos covering practically all aspects of the samplers - but for Emax and EOS - well, there are loads of videos playing Depeche Mode covers and that's pretty much it. While they are nice - I'd really really like to hear stuff like Spectral Synthesis and people tweaking the filters hard.

But I think an Emax I is the way to go. Damn shame Emu didn't include Spectral Synthesis in EOS.

/C
Old 17th March 2012
  #23
szf
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In Dons and my own demos there are lots of 'hard' filter tweaks, don't know why you complain.. Instead of showing some gratitude to the 1 or 2 people who go to the trouble of uploading demos, you moan. Do you think it's any surprise more ppl on here don't bother anymore.. Notice how CoolColJ ... the #1 audio demo guy on here doesn't post anymore.. big surprise.
You also didn't search youtube properly, there are at least two excellent emax demos on there.
Old 17th March 2012
  #24
Gear addict
 

but wasnt there some sample morph softwares that just do the same thing?
There was some in OS9 mac times...


Might be soundhack. Back in the days when a used emax was starting to get affordable (early 90's for me..) i used soundhack on my mac IIci to generate or edit sounds and dump it to my emax. I'd start the processing, go to bed and set the alarm in the middle of the night to see if it was ready. If it was **** i'd start again and it would take another few hours.

I own emax1, e3 and e4 ultra and know the e2 well.
If low sample quality and nice filtering is what you are after then definitely go for the e2.
The emax filters are very good, but the sound is too brittle compared to the e2. E2's got balls, emax is whimpy.
E2 is difficult to find in europe for a reasonable price.
Else it would be mine to.
E3 is a different kind of sound, but ballsy and though 16bit what you put in is pretty different from what comes out.
Old 17th March 2012
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by szf View Post
In Dons and my own demos there are lots of 'hard' filter tweaks, don't know why you complain.. Instead of showing some gratitude to the 1 or 2 people who go to the trouble of uploading demos, you moan. Do you think it's any surprise more ppl on here don't bother anymore.. Notice how CoolColJ ... the #1 audio demo guy on here doesn't post anymore.. big surprise.
You also didn't search youtube properly, there are at least two excellent emax demos on there.
Actually I just sat down to go through the thread again and write a comment on the damn excellent Soundcloud demo. Much appreciated. The only reason why I didn't reply directly and thanked you for your effort was that my step parents are here and they litteraly was screaming in my ear to get my computerized ass out in the garden - thus I finished my mail a bit quick.

I didn't mean to show disrespect - I was merely pointing to my own experience when it comes to demos of Emu and Ensoniq samplers. There is this guy (The Daydream Sound) who are wonderfully obsessed with his Ensoniqs (Basic Sound Synthesis with the Ensoniq ASR-10 - YouTube). What I meant was I so far have found a couple of videos relating chopping breaks, routing effects and a lot of Depeche Mode covers. I haven't found one video showing either Spectral Synthesis nor Transform Multiply - or sound examples either. To be honest - I'm not even sure what I'm getting myself into.

Don - szf: didn't mean any disrespect if that's how you interpreted my reply. And the demo was much appreciated.

sensing: damn it - the more I read comments like your I feel like the only option is to get not just the Emax I but the Emulator II and the Emulator III as well
Old 17th March 2012
  #26
I adore my Emax SD HD Rack and bought it new in '87. It's traveled all over the world with me and has never had to be sent to the shop except for the few drives I've replaced myself. I have hundreds of disks and the HD allowed me to use it for live shows as well as studio work. I'll never sell it and it's my favorite secret weapon for all sorts of things.

Some of my favorite things are the Supermode (which makes the Emax multitimbral across up to 16 presets.), the HD (eliminates the needs for carrying around floppies and Banks load in 3 seconds, so it's easy to change sounds in the middle of a set.), and the great, legendary filters. The filters have such a distinctive sound. If you want to hear them, just listen to the first NIN album. (AFAIK the original EmaxI was the only Emax model with the analog filters, the EmaxII was digital.) It even has a really nice arpeggiator that can be programmed per patch.

Above all of those things, I love the way the Emax sounds and the character it can add to samples to make them sound more interesting. It's also incredibly easy to use and navigate - whoever designed the user interface deserves a TEC award - it was pretty sophisticated for its time.

Oddly, I also like the limits of the memory - only 512KB. It's enough for 18.8 seconds of sampling at 41K and you can do a lot with that much time. It is an eternity when using the Emax as a drum sampler. And because of the limited memory, I love how everything loads quickly. Only when using the SE processing features do you need to really wait. I have a K2000 and it takes forever to load banks of samples.

If you decide to get an Emax, and I highly suggest you do, get the HD model, and better yet the HD+ model which includes an external SCSI port. The HD holds 32 banks of sounds and the system will boot from the SCSI drive, so you never need to worry about losing your system disks if you're moving around.

If you really want to play with the SE features and that's your main thing, I would not recommend the Emax since it takes a very long time to process each sample. One of the more modern models would be a better choice.

Come over to the Emax side. Join us....
Old 17th March 2012
  #27
Gear addict
 

you can never have too much samplers, as long as they have decent filters with resonance.
I like and use korg dss1, prophet 2000, casio fz1, k2000 too.
Akai s612 has limited filter, but still a nice crunch machine.

If you like emax and like to program your own sounds you might like the dss1 too. It has perhaps the best filters on a sampler, is 12 bits but can reduce samples up to 6 bits and it can sync samples in the way an analog synth can sync it's vco's. Also has limited additive synthesis.
What it lacks is serious multisampling, multiple outputs and the cool e-mu looks.
The kiwi patchedior has added the dss1 as a supported model recently,
so now i can edit it's analog parameters with knobs.

If you ever run into a casio fz1/fz10/fz20 you should try it too, it's resonance can destroy anything.

Not meant to talk you out of e-mu, but there is stuff that is cheap and can be fun. And since this is GS; more is better!

Btw according to the manual emax can sample for 12,4 seconds at 42k up to 52 at 10k.
Old 17th March 2012
  #28
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Just a heads up folks, for those that might be interested im going to be selling my Emax rack shortly, i had it recapped (all old capacitors throughout replaced), had it fully calibrated, also upgraded it to SE specification and installed scsi upgrade with internal SCSI ZIP drive and slim floppy mounted above it instead of the old floppy drive. Also replaced the original LCD display to a new VFD display, which looks great and is silent.
It has the original manual plus complete factory library on 5 zip disks, a bunch of floppy disks and a spare disk drive. As you can imagine i spent a LOT having a tech refurbishing/recapping/upgrading it and also spent a ton of cash buying parts for it (new vfd display / zip and slim floppy drives/ scsi kit/ factory zip library disks) and it wasnt exactly cheap when i bought it, but anyway blah blah.. im asking £500 for it.
If you want that early EMU sound like SP1200 / EII without the big price tag!
Well without the big price tag at the moment, cos i predict these units are only going to get more expensive. Please PM if interested......
Old 18th March 2012
  #29
szf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarLofgren View Post
I didn't mean to show disrespect - I was merely pointing to my own experience when it comes to demos of Emu and Ensoniq samplers. There is this guy (The Daydream Sound) who are wonderfully obsessed with his Ensoniqs (Basic Sound Synthesis with the Ensoniq ASR-10 - YouTube). What I meant was I so far have found a couple of videos relating chopping breaks, routing effects and a lot of Depeche Mode covers.
No worries, the guy who does the depeche mode covers.. dx5, does have some nice demos up, remember no one gets paid to upload these:








I'm subscribed to daydreamsound.. and don't have even any ensoniq gear... yet... highly recommend his channel to other gearslutz.

TheDaydreamSound's Channel - YouTube
Old 18th March 2012
  #30
Geariophile
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sensing View Post

If you like emax and like to program your own sounds you might like the dss1 too. It has perhaps the best filters on a sampler, is 12 bits but can reduce samples up to 6 bits and it can sync samples in the way an analog synth can sync it's vco's. Also has limited additive synthesis.
What it lacks is serious multisampling, multiple outputs and the cool e-mu looks.
The kiwi patchedior has added the dss1 as a supported model recently,
so now i can edit it's analog parameters with knobs.
OOh, just looked up that Patch Editor. Very sexy, considering I love the sound (and yes, the sync..!!!) of my DSS-1......so if I understand this right you can sweep parameters on the Editor and it kicks out SysEx for the Korg to do its thing, while also kicking out CC's to record in a sequencer/DAW? Letting you record any behaviours? Does that work without glitches?
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