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Hands On – Emu Proteus (part 1)


I don’t think that the Emu Proteus, in all three of its versions, has
yet achieved the classic status it deserves. But in a couple of pages I hope
to show how this humble module demonstrates that it is possible to have power
and performance in one truly usable package. If you are an observant reader
of the dealer adverts in this magazine (and you should be!), you will have noticed
that – due to manufacturing economies apparently – Proteus prices have taken
a tumble, down to a level which makes each of them a real bargain, and also
makes the acquisition of a full set of three a distinct possibility for the
serious user of sampled sounds. I hope that the Proteus tradition will continue
and Emu will bring out a Proteus/4, /5 and even a /6 perhaps. And I also hope
that other manufacturers will consider what Emu have achieved in making the
Proteus so versatile in a MIDI sequenced system.

What's a Proteus?

If you read the recent review of the Proteus/3 you’ll have a good idea,
but let me explain once more in outline. Each version is basically a sample
replay module, stocked with 4 Megabytes of real sounds which are deployed in
modified forms as a variety of presets. The three versions differ (almost) only
in the types of samples they contain. Proteus/1 can be expanded up to 8 Megabytes
with a board either from Emu themselves which contains a selection of Proteus/2
samples or a Protologic board which has 4 Meg of completely new sounds. Proteus/2
is already fully expanded, which is why it costs more, and I would imagine that
an expansion board for Proteus/3 will become available in due course.

All three versions of Proteus are available in two types, standard and XR
– a fact which causes some confusion. The standard Proteus has 192 presets of
which 64 are user programmable, the XR version has 384 presets of which 256
are user programmable. Note that the XR version has no more samples than the
standard version. The advantage of the XR is that you can store more of your
own creations within the instrument. If you have a sequencer which can store
MIDI System Exclusive dumps easily then the standard version can be used with
very little loss of versatility.

I’m sure you know something about the sounds of the three Proteus versions
already, but here’s a quick guide for the sake of completeness:

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  • Proteus/1: Piano, rock sounds, string and brass ensemble.
  • Proteus/2: Mostly orchestral.
  • Proteus/3: Ethnic/exotic.

So with three Proteuses (Protei?), and possibly the closely related Procussion,
you would have a pretty good range of sounds to cover almost any musical style.
More on this later.

David Mellor

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David Mellor



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