Interview: Dave Rossum E-MU, Part Two – English Version

Golden Years, Whap Whap Whap

3. Juli 2015

E-MU-Man-2 englV



Dave Rossum absolutely has to be mentioned in the same gasp as synthesizer-pioneers like Bob Moog or Dave Smith.

Thanks to you have the chance to follow Dave’s journey through time within the next 4 weeks and get some very interesting and personal insights to his life.

In the second part of our interview-series we talk about the early 80s.

You find the first part of the interview HERE.

The development of an Emulator in 1981 was your next big thing. I’ll just get that straight, first you developed modular, then keyboards and then you started with sampler? Why didn’t you stay with the synthesizers and keyboards?


We loved serving the high end synthesizer market, selling to universities, studios, and a few big name musicians. Tom Oberheim used to tell of the troubles of preparing for NAMM shows, handling dealers, volume production, etc., and how envious he was of our ability to avoid it all.

Still, in addition to the E-mu Modular, we were doing other things in the synth world. I developed, with Ron Dow, the SSM analog integrated circuits used in the Prophet 5 and other synthesizers. Roger Linn hired E-mu to do a design review of the LM-1 drum machine before it went into production.

Was digital synthesizer technology relevant then?

I was also experimenting with digital synthesizer technology; the sales of analog modular synths were beginning to dwindle. While I loved (and still do) inventing great sounding analog circuits, we knew that DSP was key to our future, but it wasn’t quite ready in the late 1970s.

We thought we had won it all when we started getting royalties from SSM, Oberheim and Sequential – we were making good money and were able to invest it in cutting edge development. While DSP couldn’t yet build a competent synthesizer, excellent digitally controlled analog synthesizers could be built. We had done the analog design of the Prophet 5 for Sequential Circuits.


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