Adventures In Audio
Hands On - Emu Proteus (part 5)

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Thursday January 1, 2004

There can be up to eight ‘patchcords’ here. You can easily trace the modulation options for yourself, but let me give you an example. Suppose the creative muse told you to add amplitude modulation (tremolo) to a sound such that the amount of modulation increased from a small amount to maximum as you went up the keyboard. Follow these steps…

  1. Set KEYBOARD CENTRE to C1 (the bottom note on a five octave keyboard).
  2. Set LFO 1 to a small non-zero value of your choice (I suggest 003).
  3. Under KEY/VELOCITY CTL set K>Lfo1Amt to a non-zero value of your choice (I suggest 100).
  4. Under REALTIME CTL set Lfo1>Volume
  5. You may need to ‘disconnect’ other MIDI patchcords under KEY/VELOCITY CTL and REALTIME CTL.

That’s it - you have created your first MIDI Patch and undoubtedly you will have already acquired a taste for further experimentation. I haven’t explained everything here so there is scope left for a read of the manual, and if you take your time to understand everything in a methodical fashion you will be on your way to getting the best out of Proteus.

A Proteus System

It’s one of the world’s best kept secrets that you can build a pretty wonderful MIDI system out of Proteus modules for less money than using any other instrument. Although Proteus is comparatively inexpensive, it’s top class equipment whereas other manufacturers’ products in the same price range tend to be cut down versions of their best instruments. Let me outline a simple system which keeps cost down to a minimum, and one a little more adventurous for the experimenter.

My example of a simple minimum Proteus system would consist of an Alesis MMT8 sequencer, Proteus/1, five octave MIDI keyboard, Alesis Microverb III and headphones. With prices taken from adverts in the September Sound on Sound this comes to around £1200 and it will give results of a fully pro standard over a narrow range of sounds. Remember that that the polyphony of Proteus is sufficient to provide really good possibilities for arrangement.

For the more adventurous I would be tempted to recommend this set up:

This will come to around £2700 and once again it’s a professional sounding system but this time offering many more possibilities, and of course you may boost the amplification and monitoring to your taste. “But where’s the mixing console”, you may ask. The answer is you don’t need one to begin with, although you would probably find it coming high up on your acquisition list. Proteus has three sets of stereo outputs and two of them actually incorporate stereo effect return inputs. Emu’s idea is to allow you to add reverb to certain sounds in your multitimbral mix. I had the idea of mixing in a completely separate instrument and with my S1100 plugged into the Proteus it works perfectly. I see no reason why two Proteus modules shouldn’t be connected into a third in this fashion and the whole of the mixed output processed to add overall reverb. “Why the Mac instead of an Atari”, you may further ask. Well apart from the fact that I have become a convert to the Mac since their prices fell to sensible levels, it’s the easiest way I know to control thirty-two MIDI channels, hence the two MIDI Translators. You would really want forty-eight channels for three Proteus modules, but that would entail a big step up in costs, and you don’t have to use all sixteen channels on each one.

Something to think about...

What I would like everyone to think about, particularly manufacturers, is how to make equipment easier to use. Although the Proteus is a little tricky in some respects, at its simplest operational level it is just so right that I can’t understand why other pieces of equipment, naming no names, have to be so difficult. Even though there are clever samplers such as the Akai S1000 and Roland S750 on the market, it’s good to have something like Proteus available with good solid sounds, and a user interface which, for multitimbral operation, is better than any other I know.

Instructions to other Manufacturers

1) Buy a Proteus.

2) Find how easy it is to use multitimbrally.

3) Imitate!

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