Hands On - Emu Proteus (part 1)
I dont 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 youll 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.
Im sure you know something about the sounds of the three Proteus versions already, but heres a quick guide for the sake of completeness:
- 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.