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E-mu Audity

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E-mu Audity

image courtesy of Kevin Lightner

In the late '70s, "E-mu received a large development contract from Peter Baumann [who had just left] Tangerine Dream. Baumann wanted a computer based synthesizer that used analog tone-generating technology. So [Dave] Rossum, [Scott] Wedge, and their crew came up with a very large, fully programmable analog 'voice card,' and built 16 of them for Baumann. E-mu then built a proprietary computer card to run the voice cards, and wrote software to make the whole system work. By 1979, this had all been shipped to Baumann.

"Next, Dave and Scott decided to package their newly developed technology as an integrated, computer controlled synthesizer. They dubbed their new instrument the Audity and prepared to unveil it at the May 1980 Audio Engineering Society [AES] convention. They knew that it would take at least a year or two to promote and sell an instrument as large and expensive (about $50,000 for a typical configuration) as the Audity. And a lot of money would have to be invested in advertising and education before the Audity line would be profitable. Dave and Scott figured that with the income from the royalties on their digital scanning keyboards that Sequential Circuits was paying them, E-mu could survive until sales of the Audity picked up. So at the AES convention, they presented the Audity as an instrument that was fully designed and ready for production. They generated a lot of intrest and identified some potential customers.

"Three weeks later, after the AES convention, Sequential Circuits notified E-mu that they did not believe that they owed any more royalties. The royalty payments stopped! What to do now? Without the cash flow from Sequential, it would be very risky for E-mu to try to develop the Audity into a product line. So Rossum and Wedge proceeded to design a new instrument from scratch, one that would be cheaper to put into production and easier to sell."

[excerpted with permission from the book Vintage Synthesizers by Mark Vail, copyright Miller Freeman, Inc]

In effect, the Audity was shelved for the ground breaking Emulator project. Only one Audity was ever made.

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