Synth Site: E-MU: PK-6: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.2 out of 5
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ben a part-time user from CAL writes:
i like it so much i went out and bought a px7 a virtuoso, and all the roms i can get my hands on i love this thing 5 of 5

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Apr-22-2004 at 01:05
Justin a hobbyist user from New York writes:
I played around on my friend's PK-6, and use my University's Proteus 2000 quite frequently, and I have to say that this is a solid machine. The Composer Soundset has a little bit of everything, and the editing is powerful enough that you can delve deeper into the sounds and fix the ones you don't like. The only problem I've had these days is trying to find one of these boards for sale. If anyone has any info on that, drop me an e-mail.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Feb-17-2004 at 16:28
tommy a hobbyist user from USA writes:
When you add the optional ROM chips (I have the Protozoa and the Orchestral chips) this becomes a fantastic, inexpensive board. There are a few sounds that are mind blowing but most of run or the mill. All in all, a good board.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Monday-Jan-05-2004 at 14:36
Dan a hobbyist user from USA writes:
The EMU PK6 first got my attention a little over a year and a half ago when I saw it featured in a Musician's friend catalog. At the time, it was priced at $899 and that was an attractive price. For various reasons I hesitated to buy it and instead purchased a lot of other synth gear. One of those reasons why I didn't buy it was that I read so many reviews where people were harshly criticizing the PK6/Proteus2000 sounds/samples. Since I didn't have a music shop nearby where I could audition it, I couldn't really form a first-hand opinion. But, when the price recently dropped to $399 I could no longer resist; I had to buy one!

First off, and as others have pointed out (and contrary to EMU's description), you'll be happier with the PK6 if you don't think of it as having a "bread and butter" soundset - It's probably better for electronica.

The good: Many of the pianos are beautiful! I'm not a classical pianist but I wouldn't need any better piano sounds than what the PK6 offers. Honestly, I like the PK6's piano sounds even better than Roland's acclaimed Session piano sounds. (However, I think the PK6's Rhodes EPs are just so-so at best, nothing more.) I'm also no old skool Hammond organ expert but I do think the B-3 sounds are pretty good if you need an occasional B-3 in your music. There are lots of basses and, to my ear, many of them are good. There are some good pad sounds although I wish there were more. "Simplex" is a very nice string pad that should work for almost any kind of music. (Surprisingly, there's no generic "Warm Pad/Pop Pad" included but those are easy to make by just taking a string preset and then cranking down a low pass filter and then lengthening the amp attack and decay.) I didn't notice many (if any?) pad sounds that were prevoiced as chords that some people have complained about. I noticed it on just a few patches in other categories though. IMO, string sounds are among the most subjective of the already highly subjective area of sound preference but, personally, I like the PK6's string sounds. I'm pretty picky about string sounds but I think those on the PK6 are very usable. (I use string sounds for background padding and pop leads rather than for true orchestral arrangements.) There are some good synth brass patches but some of the other brass is a mixed bag. For example; "Bone Glide" is a sad joke but "3 Bones" is decent. (BTW, I played trombone throughout my school years.) There are a lot of drum kits but that's something I don't use so I don't know if they're good or not. There's also a lot of guitar presets, but, again, it's something I don't use. It's hard for me to imagine anyone really using a synth keyboard for guitar parts although I'm sure some people do. (I'd rather the sample space were allotted to something else though.) I've always liked choral voice sounds and I would have to say that the PK6's are mediocre...not horrible but certainly not great. I actually like the original Proteus 1 better for choral voices. The saxophones are so bad that they hurt your overall perception of the PK6 - That's awefully bad!!! The woodwind sounds are poor to marginal at best also. EMU really shouldn't have even bothered including these sounds because they tend to stick in your mind in a negative way more so than the good sounds do in a positive way!

Admittedly, there aren't a lot of "WOW!!!" presets that you notice upon the first auditioning but there are many presets that can be GREATLY improved with minor knob tweaks. There's just something satisfying about feeling like you've been able to improve the factory sounds and it's very easy to do on the PK-6. In this respect I'd say it's similar to the DarkStar XP2 in that it's soooo easy to improve the presets with just a couple knob twists. Two examples of that are a preset called (something like) "Brassitude" - just open up the filter a bit and increase the filter velocity response and it suddenly sounds a lot like the infamous (but useful) Van Halen "Jump" sound. The "Christmas" preset sounds a lot better to my ear by just increasing the amplitude attack time and tweaking the filter and Q settings a bit. I was familiar with the PK6's synth architecture because I already had an EMU XL-1 module. Shallow editing with just the top panel matrix of 4 knobs and 4 function altering buttons would probably be enough to satisfy many users for tweaking the sounds to their liking without ever even having to dive into the deep editing menus. Make no mistake about it though - The PK6 has an extremely deep synth engine far beyond what most users will ever tap. There are more than enough tools onboard to make this a respectable synth.

If you were really distraught about the poor orchestral/woodwind sounds...well, that could easily be corrected for $99 with a purchase of the Orchestral II ROM and you'd still have less than $500 in the board!

The PK6's arpeggiators rock - No deficiencies there.

For the price, I think a strong case could be made for getting the PK6 to use as a controller keyboard. I like the (non-weighted) keyboard action a lot. It definitely beats the Triton LE's and many higher priced synth's key-action! It's also easy to change MIDI channels in live situations plus it has an internal universal power supply. The build quality seems to be reasonably solid albeit "plastic solid" rather than a "metal solid". I'd just recommend using common sense when transporting it and also try not to let it fall off the stand....No rocket science there.

At $399 this was almost a no-brainer purchase for me because I already had the XL-1 and Vintage Pro expansion ROM that will help turn the basic PK6 into a monster.

Like most people I wish EMU would use a bigger display screen but I understand that from a manufacturing/economic standpoint they want to re-use the same display they use for their modules.

On the one hand, my review might be somewhat forgiving of the PK6 simply because I do have a lot of other gear so the PK6 doesn't have to be a "do-it-all" synth for me but on the other hand, it also implies that having a lot of other gear to compare it with speaks well for my overall favorable review of the PK6.

I rate the the EMU PK6 as a very strong 4 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Monday-Oct-27-2003 at 12:14
Warren Miller a hobbyist user from United States writes:
The E-mu PK6 is basically a Proteus 2000 with minor changes and a keyboard. Navigating through the sounds on the PK6 is identical to its rackmount counterpart, so if you're comfortable with E-mu's rack units, then you won't have any problem with the PK6.

I bought my PK6 for $600 and immediately filled the expansion slots with the XLead ROM from my Xtreme Lead 1 rack unit, plus the Peter Siedlaczek Advanced Orchestra and the Sounds of the ZR ROMs. Along with the User section, this makes for a lot of sounds.

However, having said that, the problem is navigation --- the PK6 is a complicated unit and once you get to where you are going, some time might have passed.

Overall, this is a lot of bang for the buck, although definitely not the top of the line. Sounds are generally decent, but not outstanding. There's plenty of room to tweak these sounds and the Audition feature is nice.

Interestingly enough, I find that I use this unit during recording sessions for sounds that are mainly effects rather than for melodies or chords.

If you're on a budget and you want a lot of different sounds, then the PK6 is a good buy; if you're going for something a bit more serious, however, you're better off picking up a Kurzweil or Yamaha.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Wednesday-Oct-22-2003 at 13:14
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