The E-mu Systems Emulator II was by far the ‘must-have’ sampler in the mid- to late eighties.
Introduced in June of1984 it set new standards in the small world of samplers, and the E-mu Systems Emulator II (and it’s bigger brothers; E-mu Systems Emulator II+ and E-mu Systems Emulator II+ HD) was the first sampler to include CDROM support, 24dB/oct analog lowpass filters with resonance and envelopes (as known from the analog synthesizers at that time) and the possibility to add a (very expensive) hard drive on which you can save your banks of samples and programs.
The E-mu Systems Emulator II series uses a lot of the technology invented for the E-mu Systems Emulator, but adds a bunch of new features.
It samples at 27.777 kHz and uses 8 bit sample technology which – through an advanced playback engine – replays at a 14 bit resolution.
It has a staggering 512kb of memory (the + models having 1mb) which allows for approx. 17 seconds of sampling time.
MIDI and SMPTE was also added and it has eight independent outputs and an RS422 port to enable e.g. remote control from an external computer – see the Sound Designer for Emulator II section below.
It also introduced a back-lit LCD making it easier to navigate the easy to use operating system.
All in all the E-mu Systems Emulator II was as impressive and breath-taking a release as the original E-mu Systems Emulator was three years earlier.
Three versions of the Emulator II were made:
The initial model was introduced in 1984 with 512 Kbytes of sample memory, a single floppy drive, and no hard disk. E-mu Systems contemplated a 256 Kbytes model, but it was never launched. As the price of RAM and hard disks reduced, further models were introduced at competitive prices (well for professional musicians !).
The Plus model of the Emulator II has an additional 512 Kbytes of sample memory bank, which enables a separate set of sounds to be loaded in parallel to the first memory bank. You can switch between them, but you can not use both together, or have samples than span the two memory banks. It was launched in 1985.
The last model of the EII range has a 20 MB hard disk in place of the second diskette drive. This enables 46 banks of sounds to be stored on a device that is much quicker than the usual diskette drive.
The Emulator II and II+ could be ordered with one or two 5.25″ diskette drives. Two drives made it much easier to copy diskettes, but a second drive cost an additional $650.
The Winchester Hard Disk upgrade was launched in 1985 for a staggering $3000.
The EII sample format is unique, with only one other device being capable of reading EII diskettes – the 2U rack mounted Oberheim DPX-1 sample player.
See the Oberheim DPX-1 section for more information on this sample playback unit.