Go back and read the Mirage’s specs. Now compare that to the Emulator’s 8-bit, 27kHz sampling rate, 128Kbyte of sample memory. The Emulator comes up a bit short. More so when you consider that the Emulator provided no filtering without a third-party retrofit from JL Cooper. In fact, without the retrofit, the Emulator didn’t even have a proper envelope generator. There wasn’t even a release mode; when you triggered a note, the sample would play through until the end. Egads!
Oh, and the display? Well, it didn’t actually have one of those, either. All programming had to be done by ear. You could loop and truncate samples and they could be stored two each to 5 1/4-inch floppies.
So what did all this power cost? A staggering eight thousand beans. Consider, though, that the only other option at the time cost five times as much, and you can understand why the Emulator made the industry stand up and take notice. Limitations aside, nobody had heard anything quite like this. However, that also meant that no one had ever tried to sell anything quite like this, so the history of the initial Emulator is really a chronicle of a company trying to figure out exactly what musicians might need from this new type of instrument. Hence the retrofits.
E-MU, to its credit, divined that an included library of quality sampled instruments could help to sell the Emulator, and quickly wrangled up a more significant collection of factory sounds, some of which are familiar even today.
E-MU was very much traversing unmapped territory with the Emulator, and the lessons it learned would serve it well with the much more advanced EII and subsequent EIII, never mind all the other manufacturers that would benefit from E-MU's pioneering volley. Just as the Minimoog shaped all of the synthesizers that followed it forevermore, so, too, did the Emulator serve as the blueprint for future samplers. A truly seminal instrument.