Friday, December 6, 2019

E-mu Systems Inc. Morpheus "Z-Plane" synthesizer brochure, 1993

E-mu Systems Inc. Morpheus "Z-Plane" synthesizer two-page colour brochure from 1993.

"From one of the few companies still committed to developing new methods of sound synthesis, the Morpheus promises much. Does it deliver?"

That's the first line in Music Technology magazine's January 1994 review of the Morpheus.  And E-mu was indeed coming up with some interesting stuff.

The same year, Alesis launched the QuadraSynth.

Kawai the K11.

Korg the X3.

Roland the JV-90 and JV-1000.

In Roland's defense, they also came out with the JD-990 - still one of the best sounding digital synths in my opinion. It just sounds fantastic. I can't explain it any better than that.

And, well, there was also the Waldorf Wave. A little... okay, a lot out of my price range.

BUT E-mu's Morpheus hit my sweet spot between three of the main factors I use to determine whether I buy a synth or not - it's fun, interesting and a great price. Of course, related to price is a fourth factor - how much money is in my wallet at the time. Luckily it had been over a year since Korg had launched the Wavestation A/D and my wallet was recovering nicely.  :)

It was just by chance that I started thinking about my currently-packed-away Morpheus when I came upon Mu:zines recent tweet announcing the addition of MT's November 1993 issue on their website which included this lovely little introduction to the z-plane synth. And then when he tweeted out the January 1994 issue, which included a full Morpheus review, I just knew I had to dig out my brochure for Morpheus, as well as a wack of other 90s brochures.

Now, I was gonna try and explain Z-Plane, but while going down that rabbit hole I came across an amazing bit of E-mu Morpheus history - the ORIGINAL Morpheus marketing product VHS tape that someone has digitized and slapped up on YouTube!

You may not recognize the face that pops up after the minute and a half intro, but you should recognize the name - Marco Alpert. He was the long time marketing manager at E-mu and played a big role in some of E-mu's rather fun and intriguing ads that I've featured on the blog, including the decision to run the Japanese Emulator ad in Keyboard Magazine for shits and giggles, and the EPIC Arthur C. Clarke "Any sufficiently advanced technology" ad.


There are actually five parts to the E-mu tapes, so I've included the first bit below, and you can find the others while running uncontrollably down your own rabbit hole:

The video goes on to give an introduction to the Z-Plane filter, and the four videos that follow delve even deeper into the synthesizer.

So after watching the video(s), if that all sounds great to you, AND you happen to be a Eurorack fan, you should definitely check out Rossum Electro-Music's Stereo Morphing Z-Plane Filter module. Your head will explode.

Your own sounds.

Through the Morpheus's filter.

A Morpheus filter ON STEROIDS!

From the webpage:
"Due to processor limitations back in the day, the original Morpheus was capable of real-time morphing in one dimension, but interpolation in the frequency and transform dimensions were set at note-on and remained static for the remainder of the note. But even with that limitation, Morpheus offered sonic capabilities that are unmatched to this day.
With the MORPHEUS filter module, you now have simultaneous real-time CV control of all three dimensions, for dynamic timbral effects unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. In stereo."
There is a video tab on that page that provides a great little demo.

Last, but not least, if you wanna hear a few sounds from the original, check out YouTube.

Lots there, including this one...