21/01/01Emu has a new offering for those of you looking for a high-end sampler. It's actually not a completely new sampler as much as a full extension of the E4 line of samplers Emu has been selling for a few years. From the front it looks about the same as an E4xt Ultra or E6400, but from the rear you see that Emu has packed just about every option possible into this sampler.
It has 16 balanced analog outs, 24-bit ADAT in/out (8in/16out), 4 24-bit inputs in addition to the usual stereo sample inputs, word clock in/out, 32 channel midi and 2 SCSI ports. Maximum sample RAM capacity is still at 128 megs, and it sports 128 voice polyphony.
Internally, it comes with a 20 gig hard drive and the RFX-32 FX/Mixer as standard. It also ships with the new EOS 4.5 software, and 20 CD-ROM's according to Emu.
The E4 Platinum sounds like the E4xt Ultra and E6400 Ultra, which is to say that it sounds great. Same ease of use as well. In the loud showroom floor of the NAMM show I really couldn't put the RFX-32 effects to the test, but I would expect them to be an improvement over the rather blah standard effects that come in the other E series samplers.
Other Emu boxes I checked out were the Virtuoso 2000 and the Planet Earth module.
I personally found the V2k to be a bit of a dissapointment, sorry to say. I love my P2k, but the V2k just failed to impress me much. Perhaps I've become spoiled by my library of string samples for my E4xt Ultras, but I thought the V2k strings lacked body and sounded too "synthy". Some of the spiccato strings were good in certain ranges, as well as some pizzicato strings. Overall, the strings just didn't seem real to me, and felt just a bit thin sounding. The brass was a bit wimpy as well, but brass are one of the hardest to get right in *any* sampler or synth. The winds were okay and the orchestral percussion was pretty good. Again, I've gotten used to my big sample libraries, so perhaps I'm expecting to much from a ROMpler like the V2k at this point. In truth, compared to other ROMplers from major manufacturers, the V2k does compete very favorably in regards to orchestral sounds. Just don't expect it to replace a big sampler with a great 3rd party orchestral library. That said, this box would be useful for composers doing orchestral mockups, or as a tool for listening to their orchestrations as the write them. It would also potentially be useful for adding extra layers behind strings from a dedicated sample library, or to save sample space in a sampler by using some of these sounds instead.
The Planet Earth module was more interesting in my opinion, even though it is a more specialized type of box. There are tons of ethnic world sounds in the Planet Earth module, but unless you really, really need them (and 128 voices of polyphony of them) you might be better off getting a P2k and adding the Planet Earth ROM when Emu releases it. I found the quality of sounds to be good in the PE module, many with a nicely organic feel to them.
The Emu synth/sampler offerings at this show seemed more evolutionary than revolutionary, but they have filled out their product line nicely.
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