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date: 05 December 2019


  • Hugh Davies


Electronic keyboard instrument designed by Dave Rossum and manufactured by E-mu Systems in Santa Cruz, California, from 1981 until 1990. With the advent of digital electronic techniques in the late 1970s, several types of computerized digital synthesizer began to include limited ‘sampling’ of acoustic sounds; the Emulator, unveiled at the 1981 National Association of Music Merchants trade show, exclusively samples and stores externally created sounds. Its four-octave splittable keyboard incorporates controls resembling those on contemporary synthesizers (including pitch-bend and vibrato wheels), and a disc drive; different versions are semi-polyphonic, offering two voices (discontinued), four voices, or eight voices. External sounds of up to two seconds’ duration are digitally sampled and distributed across the keyboard to provide the sound material controlled by the keys; each sound can be electronically sustained at a selected point within its envelope. The number of voices available determines how many separate samples of a single source can be used; the larger the number of voices the less each sample needs to be transposed and thus reduced or extended in duration. The sounds produced can be stored permanently on a floppy disc, or passed to the sequencer memory, allowing different passages to be built up layer by layer....

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