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E-MU\'s Emulator X Soundsets

Published: Mon June 14, 2004  News Feed

Emulator X is a project that has been in the works for several years at E-MU, and has opened up a world of possibilities. In the past, our goal was to offer customers a comprehensive collection of sounds in 8, 16 or 32 MB soundsets. It was always a balancing act of sampling the right sounds and then compressing them to fit the product\'s memory restrictions, especially for the Proteus sound modules. Although the Emulator IV\'s 128 MB of sample memory offered us greater flexibility when it came out in the mid 1990\'s, we still had to compromise on how many layers we could use, where to loop the samples, etc.

As development started on the Emulator X, we knew that we finally had a platform that would give us almost unlimited freedom in creating huge samples that in many cases didn\'t need to be looped. Sounds like cymbals with long decays would no longer have to be chopped up and looped. Emulator X would also be the first E-MU sampler to feature a 24-bit sampling and playback engine, affording us improved dynamic range. With Emulator X\'s development underway, all sampling sessions were now geared towards the new platform. Starting with E-MU\'s orchestral sampling project in the late 1990\'s (parts of which got crunched down for the Virtuoso 2000 module), we began to sample all of our sounds at 24-bit using multiple microphones and placements. Over the past few years we have assembled an enormous archive of material that has been sampled in this manner.

Our first Emulator X project was to create a \'Production Sound Library\' to ship with the Emulator X Desktop Sampling System. We had just finished sampling acoustic drum kits for the PX7 Command Station, so we decided to create Beat Shop One. This disc has three acoustic kits and six incredible grooves that can be modified on the fly. The 1.45 gigabyte grand piano included with Emulator X features four layers of pedal up and four layers of pedal down. We also included orchestral strings recorded at the Saint Thomas Cathedral, a Hip Hop bank that was source for Mo\'Phatt, and the Proteus Composer bank (Proteus 2000). This is a really nice collection of sounds bundled with the software.

The new Beat Shop Two is E-MU\'s first Emulator X Sound Product release, offering three more 24-bit drum kits and a collection of grooves. As with any acoustic session, the first key to recording these kits was to pick the right drums to sample, choose the right drummers to play the drums, and decide on the best rooms in which to sample each kit. We brought an assortment of microphones and preamps into each studio, anticipating what results to expect from each piece of gear and approached each kit always keeping in mind the end result that we wanted. We recorded multiple velocities of each drum and cymbal to preserve the realism of a real acoustic drum kit.

The most time-consuming phase is the recombining of all of these sounds and creating the presets. With an enormous amount of sample data recorded, we sort through all of the samples, select the most consistent samples, and then put them together to create playable instruments. The ultimate goal with acoustic instruments is to assemble as accurate a representation of the original instruments as possible, while giving the user as much control over the sound to fit it into their specific project. All of the separate microphone samples must be mixed and balanced through all the velocities, often mixing in different amounts of each microphone. With the drum presets for example, as the velocity goes up, the more room ambience we blend in. At the end of the project, we are trying to create sound libraries that will be usable for a multitude of uses - we hope you agree.

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