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The Emax was essentially a complete replication of the Emulator II using custom E-mu chips instead of standard off the shelf silicon chips.

This new engineering increased reliability, and reduced the cost of manufacture.

The sample resolution was the same 12-bits companded into 8-bits of memory, the samples were still monophonic, but the maximum sample rate was increased to 42kHz.

Depeche Mode switched to using Emax’s from Emulator II’s on tour, and the Emax SE HD’s can be seen and heard in use on the 1988 USA tour video ‘101’. The Emax collection includes the extensive library of samples and instruments that were originally available on 3.5″ disks. Notable Users: Depeche Mode – all three keyboard players can be seen operating Emax keyboards on their 1989 live film , 101 Faith No More – Can be seen in the ‘Epic’ video, Ice MC – Can be seen in the ‘Easy’ video, KMFDM – Used an Emax, Los Prisioneros, Meat Beat Manifesto, Mouse on Mars, Nine Inch Nails – used an Emax SE extensively on Pretty Hate Machine, Die Krupps –

Emax II, Orbital, Saint Etienne – credited with using the Emax on their 1991 album “Foxbase Alpha”, Skinny Puppy, Steve Roach, Tony Toni Tone, U2, Tom Waits – credited with using the Emax on his 1993 album “The Black Rider”, The Whispers. Categories include Keyboards & Synthesizers, Orchestral, Brass & Winds, World, Bass & Guitars, and more. 81 Megabytes.

Operating Systems

  • Emax 3.2 - for base model

  • Emax HD 1.1 - for models with internal hard drives

  • Emax SE 1.1 - adds SE functionality to non-HD models

  • Emax HD SE 1.1 - adds SE functionality on HD models.

  • Emax Plus 1.0 - adds the ability to select a SCSI ID for an external HD.


The Basics

  • 5 Octave velocity sensitive keyboard C to C or 3 space rack

  • 512k of proprietary memory (not expandable)

  • 3.5 inch floppy disk drive (uses double sided, double density (DSDD) 720k floppy disks)

  • 14 Velocity curves

  • Velocity can control VCA level, VCA attack, VCF cutoff, VCF attack, and VCF Q.

  • 32 Character Backlit LCD

  • RS-422 connection

  • MIDI In connection

  • MIDI Out/Thru connection

  • Programmable Arpeggiator

  • 16 track "scratchpad" sequencer

  • Clock In (Clock In can accept 24, 48, or 96 ppq, the pulses should be at least 1ms wide and 1 to 5 volts.

  • Clock Out (Clock Out sends a 24 ppq which is 5 volts and about 6ms wide)

  • 2 Programmable wheels for real-time control over pitch, filter cutoff, AHDSR attack rate, level, LFO modulation index, etc.

  • 2 Footswitches

  • 1 Footpedal

  • HD models came with a internal Miniscribe model 8425S 20Mb Hard Drive

Audio Out and In

  • Right / Mono Output

  • Left / Stereo (headphone) Output

  • 8 Individual mono outputs (individually assignable)

  • Sample In (mono)


Sample RatesTime

10kHz52.0 secs.

16kHz33.5 secs.

20kHz26.0 secs.

28kHz18.8 secs.

31kHz16.6 secs.

42kHz12.4 secs.


Voice Architecture

Each of the 8 voices has it's own set of the following analog processors:


  • Lowpass voltage-controlled filter (VCF) with AHDSR envelope generators

  • Voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA) with AHDSR envelope generators

  • 8 LFO's with adjustable rate, delay, and speed variation

The Emax CAN chorus its voices without loss of polyphony.


Digital Processing

  • Truncation

  • Looping (Crossfade and Equal Power)

  • Digital combine

  • Sample reversal, as well as rate and pitch conversion

  • Splicing

  • Advanced Split and Layer

  • Velocity controlled crossfading between samples

  • Individual tuning and attenuation for each sample


Synthesis (requires SE or SE HD OS)

Transform Multiplication
Transform Multiplication is a digital effect which merges together 2 sounds in such a way that frequencies common to both sounds are accentuated while uncommon frequencies are discarded. It works best on harmonically rich sounds.

Spectrum Synthesis
Spectrum Synthesis (SE) allows you to specify up to 24 complex waveforms, (called Spectrums) and to either step or fade through them during the course of a sound. The 24 waveform locations are called Time Slices, since they represent the waveform at that slice of the sound. This method allows more complex and interesting sounds to be created. In addition, each partial (sine wave) can have a 24 point envelope that determines the pitch of that partial over the course of the sound.

Each Emax SE voice can consist of two synthesized timbres, a synthesized timbre and a sampled sound, or two sampled sounds. The resulting voice can then be processed using the Dynamic Processing features and placed anywhere in the stereo field.

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