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E-mu Emulator III Sampling Synthesizer

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The Emulator III was introduced after the discontinuation of the Emulator II in 1987, and was manufactured until 1990. A rack-mountable version was introduced in 1988.

It featured 4 or 8 Megabytes of memory, depending on the model, and it could store samples in 16-bit, 44 kHz stereo, which at the time, was equivalent to the most advanced, professional equipment available. The sound quality was also improved greatly over its predecessors, the Emulator I and II, with quieter outputs and more reliable filter chips.

The Emulator III is conceptually like a tape recorder in that it records sound. However, the recording process is very different since the EIII digitally records into its computer memory. Computers can accept information only in the form of numbers, so first the EIII converts audio signals into numbers. It does this by examining (sampling) the incoming signal level at your choice of either 44,100 times a second (for maximum fidelity) or 33,100 times a second (to use less memory), and sequentially records these different levels in memory.

Once stored in the EIII’s memory bank, these samples may be played back (in the proper sequence, of course) to reconstruct the original signal. For instance, if a twosecond sound was being sampled at the highest sampling rate, it would require (2 X 44,100) or 88,200 samples to be recorded. As you might imagine, shorter sounds require fewer samples. Just like tape, a sound can be manipulated once it has been recorded. Playing back the samples in reverse order from which they were stored plays the sound backwards. Playing back the samples at a faster rate than the rate at which they were stored raises the pitch. Playing back at a slower rate lowers the pitch, much like a tape recorder’s variable speed control.

How the Emulator III Organizes Sounds

Sure, you’re anxious to start coaxing wonderful sounds from the instrument—but the following is a necessary part of learning how to play the Emulator III. It is important to understand how the EIII organizes sounds in order to make best use of the instrument in the shortest possible time. Many terms will be introduced now that show up later in the manual.

You can think of the EIII as resembling a collection of soundorganizing modules, all contained within an EIII bank. Pathways indicate how information flows within the EIII. Let’s take a closer look at what makes up this information, and how it is transferred from one section of the instrument to another. We’ll start with individual samples, then work our way through the system.

The Sample

Sampling any sound in mono or stereo using the Emulator III’s recording capabilities creates a sample, the raw material with which the EIII works. The total available sampling time can be divided up any way you like—one long sample, lots of short samples, a few medium samples, or any combination thereof.

The term sample commonly means two different things:

1) A digital recording of a complete sound, or
2) each snapshot of the sound that makes up the complete sample.

You can modify a raw sample in several ways:

1) Transposition: A sample can be transposed up or down in pitch to
cover a particular range of the keyboard. By doing this, it is not
necessary to record a sample for every key.

2) Digital Processing: Digital processing includes Looping a sample

3) Since wide-range transposition alters the sample’s timbre, it is often necessary to use multiple samples and transpose each one over a small range to give the most realistic sound. This is particularly true with acoustic instruments. (allowing even short samples to play indefinitely), Truncating (cutting off unneeded parts of the sound, thus saving memory), and many Special Effects, to name but a few. These functions are very sophisticated and are described later in full. ¦ Analog Processing: Just as a standard analog synthesizer includes signal processors (filter, voltage-controlled amplifier, envelope generators, LFO, and so on) to modify the sounds produced by the synth’s oscillators, the Emulator III includes similar modules for modifying raw samples or combinations of samples.

Technical Specifications
Type: Digital
Synthesis: Sampling
Oscillators: 2
Osc Modulation: After Touch, Envelope, Fader, Keyboard, LFO, Mod Wheel, Pedal, Pitch Wheel, Glide / Portamento
Sampling: 16 bit, 44.1 kHz, Gated, Loop, One Shot (Phrase), Multi-Sample
Envelopes: 2
Evelope Paramerters: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
Filters: 1
Types: 24dB Slope (4-pole), Low Pass
LFO: 1
LFO Parameters: Sine
Polyphony & Tuning
Polyphony: 8
Timbrality: 4
Tuning: Standard
Patches RAM: 1
Storage: Hard Drive, Internal
Editing: MIDI, SCSI
Case: Desktop
Keyboard: 61 keys, Non-weighted, Plastic
Controls: Aftertouch, Modulation - Audio Input, Buttons, Faders, Knobs, Mod - Wheel, Pitch -Wheel, Sequencer, Pedal - Sustain, Velocity, Pedal - Volume
Display Count H: 240
Display Count V: 4
Display Notes: LCD
Audio Output Connections: 1/4" Phone Jack, Stereo Main, Stereo 2
DAC Bits: 16
DAC Frequency Rate: 44
Year Released: 1987
Year Discontinued: 1990
Used By
Tony Banks, New Order, Depeche Mode
Design Notes:

However, the Emulator III was considerably less popular than its predecessors, largely due to its price - at a time when manufacturers such as Akai, Ensoniq, and Casio offered samplers at less than $2,000, the Emulator III's use of high-quality components drove the price up to $12,695 for the 4 MB model, and $15,195 for the 8 MB model. E-mu had previously been able to sell their Emulators at around the $10,000 range because the only alternatives were the $30,000 - $200,000 (depending on which package you went for) Fairlight CMI, and the $75,000 - $500,000 NED Synclavier System. However, times had changed, the technology had become more and more accessible, and E-mu was not able to keep up.
Manuals & Documents
MSRP List Price: $15,195 - convert
Retail Street Price: $14.000 - convert

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