Interview Dave Rossum E-Mu, Part four – English Version

The keyboards of the E-Mu IV-Series were regarded as mechanically very accident-sensitively.

The keyboards of the E-Mu IV-Series were regarded as mechanically very accident-sensitively.

Peter:
As far as I unterstood, you didn’t work directly for E-mu then?

Dave:
Even though Creative was highly supportive of E-mu within the music industry, there were undercurrents of resentment toward Creative within E-mu, and sometimes these were counter-productive. I’ll give an example.

In the early 90’s, we developed a 16 bit effects engine for our products, based on an Analog Devices 2105 DSP chip. Because it was 16 bit, its fidelity was limited. At the same time, I was developing the EMU8000 chip for Creative’s sound cards, which included a custom 24 bit effects engine. Internally, the EMU8000 was called the “G0.5” because it used a cost reduced G-chip algorithm for pitch shifting. The EMU8000 cost almost nothing, due to Creative’s volume, and I had carefully designed it so E-mu could bypass the sampler and use just the effects engine with our G and H chips. But I encountered huge resistance to using a “cheap” Creative chip in E-mu’s products. Finally, somebody put together a double-blind test and everybody overwhelmingly agreed the EMU8000 sounded much better than the 2105. But we delayed 2 years in making that improvement simply because a few decision makers thought “Creative” meant inferior sound quality.

Peter:
In 1998, Creative purchased also Ensoniq, right?

Dave:
Creative’s purchase of Ensoniq in 1998 is quite a different story, and really has nothing to do with the music marketplace. As Microsoft promoted “plug-and-play” technology, they forced the Sound Blaster standard that had made Creative successful into obsolescence. In a big meeting, the top Creative engineers discussed what could be done. I asked the Singapore based software team, “Are you absolutely certain there isn’t some clever hardware/software trick that could be used to get around Microsoft’s requirements?” I was told no, they had proved this was impossible, and, to my eventual shame, I didn’t make any effort to dig deeper.

Ensoniq’s engineers figured out that clever trick, and as a result were able to make a sound card that was very competitive with the Sound Blaster. Creative’s response was to buy Ensoniq, and as Chief Scientist I helped pave the way for that acquisition. We all (Creative’s executives, E-mu folks, and most of Ensoniq’s engineers) hoped that Ensoniq technologies, products, and talent could benefit E-mu. But for various reasons, we were never able to effectively use what Creative had purchased.

The Proteus as keyboard with the name "MPS".

The Proteus as keyboard with the name „MPS“.

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