E-mu Systems, Inc. is a synthesizer maker and pioneer in samplers and low-cost digital sampling music workstations.-History:Founded in 1971 by Scott Wedge and Dave Rossum, E-mu began making modular synthesizers...
was a range of digital sound module
A sound module is an electronic musical instrument without a human-playable interface such as a keyboard, for example. Sound modules have to be "played" using an externally connected device...
s and keyboards manufactured in the late twentieth century.
E-mu Systems came to prominence in the early 1980s with their relatively affordable Emulator
The Emulator is the name given to a series of disk-based digital sampling keyboards manufactured by E-mu Systems from 1982 until 1990. Though not the first commercial sampler, the Emulator was among the first to find wide use among ordinary musicians, due to its relatively low price and its size,...
In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a different sound recording of a song or piece. Sampling was originally developed by experimental musicians working with musique concrète and electroacoustic music, who physically...
, and subsequently pioneered sample-based synthesis technology with the Proteus range. Unlike the true synthesiser, sample-based equipment does not derive its raw sounds from electronic oscillators but from recorded sounds held in read-only memory
Read-only memory is a class of storage medium used in computers and other electronic devices. Data stored in ROM cannot be modified, or can be modified only slowly or with difficulty, so it is mainly used to distribute firmware .In its strictest sense, ROM refers only...
(ROM) chips. These sounds may then be layered, filtered
In signal processing, a filter is a device or process that removes from a signal some unwanted component or feature. Filtering is a class of signal processing, the defining feature of filters being the complete or partial suppression of some aspect of the signal...
, modulated by low frequency oscillation
Low-frequency oscillation is an electronic signal, which is usually below 20 Hz and creates a rhythmic pulse or sweep. This pulse or sweep is often used to modulate synthesizers, delay lines and other audio equipment in order to create effects used in the production of electronic music. Audio...
and shaped by envelopes. However, unlike a true sampler, such devices do not allow the user to record sounds but instead offer a range of factory sounds suitable for any given use. This type of sound production dominated electronic music production for several years in the late 20th century.
The Proteus range was developed into several models, some differing from each other only by the sound banks they contained, which were optimised for different purposes. However, since most allowed four ROM chips to be mounted, and these chips were available separately, real differences might be simply cosmetic. The available ROM chips included the Composer, a work-horse set of sounds useful for popular music production, three orchestral ROMs, the Vintage Keys collection of electric organs, pianos and classic synthesisers, a chip dedicated to the Hammond organ and a drum ROM as well as the Orbital and Mo-Phatt collections, aimed at dance and urban genres and the Xtreme Lead, optimised for monophonic synthesiser soloing.
||Proteus 1 (Pop/Rock) - 1989
||ProteusFX - 1994
||Plannet Phatt (Hip-Hop) - 1997
Orbit (Techno/Electronica) - 1996
||Xtreme Lead-1 (Techno/Electronica) - 2000
Mo'Phatt (Hip-Hop) - 2000
Turbo Phatt (Hip-Hop) - 2002
Though the Proteus was mainly known as a keyboardless MIDI sound module, E-mu also marketed the Proteus MPS (Master Performance System), a 61-key keyboard version of the Proteus module.
The Proteus 2000
released in 1999 was a 1U rack sound module based on Audity 2000 released in 1998. It contained many "bread and butter" sounds, among just over a thousand waves utilising 32 megabytes of ROM. It featured up to 128 voice polyphony and 32-part multi-timbrality. It could be expanded with slots for three additional sound ROM cards.
This 4U rack model was designed to function as a rack-mounted, front-panel-programmable sound source. It was equipped with sixteen multi-function pads and the same number of programmable knobs and had an onboard sequencer
The music sequencer is a device or computer software to record, edit, play back the music, by handling note and performance information in several forms, typically :...
In 2001 the Proteus line of modules was repackaged in the form of a line of tabletop units, the XL7 and MP7 Command Stations, broadly similar to the rack-mounted 2500 in features but featuring touch-sensitive pads suitable for recording drum patterns.
In 2001-2002, E-mu/Ensoniq released a trio of entry-level keyboards, essentially the keyboard versions of the Proteus 2500 module. The E-mu MK-6, E-mu PK-6 and Ensoniq Halo featured the same 61-key keyboard and controls layout, but slightly different soundset.
prodatum is a cross-platform software editor for the Proteus 1000/2000, Command Stations and keyboard versions. prodatum is free software.
Proteum is another software editor for Proteus and Command Stations, but it works only on Windows platform. Proteum is also available for free.
Since Creative withdrew their provision of historical OS updates and manuals for most of the older E-Mu gear sometime around August 2011, many of these files have been made available elsewhere, such as at E-Mu Legacy Wiki
Synth Gear Docs Archive
, the E-Mu Legacy Archive
, and via The Wayback Machine
(which unfortunately didn't manage to archive everything).