A huge thanks to Peter Grandl for this great review!
Link to the full review > here
UVI Emulation II and Drumulation review
Posted on June 2nd 2012
I confess – and old Amazona.de readers already know it – but I’ve always been a big fan of the EMU Sampler Series : starting from the Emulator II to the Emu IV XT Ultra. Even when I was shooting for Akai Profesional in the nineties, the big drum for the S-series, I had always secretly loved my Emus. A this time, the choice between these two brands was the answer a faith question, as today for Apple and Windows.
I’ve never played with the original Emulator, but I had the classics Emulator II, Emulator III and the Emax I with resonance filters included. By the way, they all have a dedicated post in this site. The all-digital successor as Emu III (rack), Emax II and the entire EMU IV series were temporarily in my little studio, and today I am still owning a E6400 Ultra.
The original EMU II from 1984
However, the Emulator II had a very distinctive sound that you can still hear today on most of Peter Gabriel’s LPs. Even if everyone was using 12-bits samplers as the Akai S900 serie, a lot a musicians and studio managers went back to the 8-bit Emu sampler. The Emu brand could spread well on the market because their hardware received top marks when it was tested.
Back to the present
When I received the UVI press release saying that an emulation of the Emulator II would be released soon, I couldn’t wait to have Emulation II on my computer.
During installation I found that the mandatory free player “UVI Workstation” is now in version 2.0.3 and without this update the UVI Emulation II can’t be launched. [...]
UVI Emulation II is introduced with a friendly interface, which is a “look-a-like” of the original model. However, the first thing I noticed is that the library of Emulation II matches perfectly with the original library of the Emulator II, but the difference is that the Emulation II libary need 4.7 Gb of free space. We can ask ourselves why this new library is so heavy. The originals 8-bits sounds were stored on 51/4 floppy disks and they are now converted with the EMU II stamp.
Then, the 125KB sounds became 30MB sounds. The advantage is that the sound character of the original model was well kept, simply because EMU II’s engine contributed a lot to the sound esthetics of this cult object.
The sound modules of Emulation II
The ADSR enveloppes have volume and filter controls in each case. Both of them can be fully switched off
or the intensity can be regulated to fit your needs. The filter includes resonance, Q, and cutoff controls.[...] No filter was specially developped for the Emulation II, but only purists will criticize it.
The Stereo module allows the Mono-Samples to be alternately assigned to each key stroke to the left or right channel, or even to be dubbed over in “UNI” mode with the possibility to detune them. These artificial chorus effect that EMU has built in his Sample-Engines always gave the sound more width. The degree of detuning can be freely determined. With Spread function, you can set how far the two samples are in the stereo field. Putting both samples centered on each other, and you’ll notice there is a sort of flanging (and phase cancellations in mono mix). [...]
You can listen to the sound examples. (Only the color is used here as an effect)
Listen Boys Choir with 50% Color
Listen Boys Choir with 100% color
Listen Boys Choir with 50% Color, Spread and Tune
Not obvious at the first glance, but existing : the LFO. This effect is hidden in the Modwheel module and can have an influence on volume, pitch and filter. There’s also a speed and depth controls which affect the LFO, always available as a function of the modulation wheel.
In the Effects module there are a phaser, a delay and a reverb. Of course, the original EMU II had any of these effects, but it’s nice to have a fast access to them right in the plug-in. The UVI rack provides an editing tab, much more extensive than the one on the GUI.
Last but not least : the Bit Crusher, which of course wasn’t included in the original model too. You can also listen to a sound sample to hear what the Bit Crusher makes to the beautiful and old 8-Bit lo-fi sounds. Avoid that time when you thought it an issue with the sample’s low resolution, it’s now a very trendy effect.
Library & sounds
Be sure that the plug-ins don’t affect the quality of the analog freaks from the EMU II. I must admit that I was really excited when I started using Emulation II. The sample’s sounding is very close to the original model. It is a true delight to fiddle around with the few effective parameters.
Breathy pads and choirs sound unusual to me, but the rest is very charming, if you like popular music of the 80s.
Drumulation or Drumulator?
With Emulation II you get for free an emulation of the EMU drum machine, the Drumulator, called UVI Drumulation.
The original Drumulator
There are eight slots for eight samples (two of which are still visible) and they can be run on the classic light programming to assign the beats. Each slot can be assigned to any sample. Pitch, pan, highpass and lowpass filters are available for editing features.
20 drum kits presets are included for retrieval. You’ll find classic presets such as TR and Simmons and especially sets that are reminiscent of the ’80s like “Cameo Style” or as “Art of box”. A few hundred of individual drum samples are then available also to customize your slot configuration.
This is certainly not a NI Battery competitor, but these are not comparable. UVI Drumulation is a fine, small selection of sounds from the 80s.
Listen Drumulation on Art of Noise
More of that, each beat’s volume can be raised with an accent feature, but each slot’s volume control can be as a mixer. That’s it.
Again, the motto is: “Keep it simple and have fun.” There’s hardly anything we cannot understand, and within minutes you’ll have tinkered great tracks. Unfortunately, the pattern doesn’t have a suffle function and we cannot play the individual slots with different resolutions. However, Drumulation is welcome as a guest in my plug-in collection.
UVI Drumulation and UVI Emulation II sound convincing, have a great library on board and are extremely easy to use. After all the countless VAs and synth duo, the Emulator II has now a “different” version and has its own charm, which I personally appreciate very much.
$ 200 > Available here