E-MU Romplers vs Zen-Core

Or sell the EMU’s and replace them with http://www.rossum-electro.com/products/morpheus/
To combine with the MC-707 and you are up to date :wink:

…I’m somewhat passionate on this subject of E-MU romplers. There is something special about EMU DSP. I also have observed that the used price of the ROMs and good-condition hardware seems to always be going up. So I’d recommend not selling if possible even if its just an investment.


100%. One of the things I really appreciate about the Roland D-05 boutique is that they modelled the original DAC as part of the reproduction, and you can choose in the settings whether you want the “lower quality” original sound or a clean modern DAC. What’s really interesting is that on some patches (to my ear at least) the vintage DAC sounds much better and on some the clean modern one is the winner.


Wow ! did not heard about that one, thanks for letting me know :slight_smile:
Not (yet) in eurorack though. Just looks like a rabbit hole to me that I would probably never be able to escape.

Interesting !

So true. I often think part of the signature sound of dub techno is the noise floor on Quadraverb. :smile:


20 at least pedantic count. E-Mu P2000 line was launched in 1999, Zen-Core – in 2019.
18 if we take into account that P2500 line is not the same as P2000, and it was launched in 2001.
and at least half of those 18 years everyone was sure that hardware synths & grooveboxes are doomed and will die away soon.


My bad thanks for fixing this

For sample-based sounds like electric piano, horns, strings, etc. the ZenCore tones are more pristine to me. The Emu equivalents have a quality to them indicative of their time, whether it’s because of the sample rate, the DAC in the Command Station, etc.

One of my favorite XL-7 pad tones has some filter movement - something in the way the sweep is happening - that I haven’t been able to reproduce on VA synths. Maybe it’s possible with Zen-Core, but I haven’t tried and frankly, that’s not the reason I bought my MC-101. In general, the Emu’s Z-plane filters have something about them that to me sounds unique, and not easily copied on other synth platforms, except maybe by god-level sound designers.

I’ll probably ask a friend to take a look at my XL-7. He repaired a broken switch on my Lyra-8 and repaired and upgraded his own Memorymoog with various bling. He’ll probably give me some grief over asking him to work on a rompler, but maybe he’ll enjoy the challenge. If he won’t do it, I’ll try another friend who, unlike the other person, repairs synths for a living.

Zen-Core OTOH has a bunch of patches for emulating Roland synths, plus there’s the option of getting Daren’s DA-303 preset pack - for those who want better acid tones. So ZenCore is the better bet for those sounds, and not just because of the Roland brand name.

I really haven’t thought too much of the Zen business, but the latest video Dr. Mix did on the Jupiter X was pretty nice. I think it sounds pretty decent. I think the ACB stuff is better where analog type sounds are concerned though. A friend that’s had the System 8 and Jupiter X side by side said the System 8 blows the X away for all that. However, for the ROMpling, it seems quite good. I’ve had JVs, JDs and an XP80 in the 90s, and prefer them to the EMUs that I had.

If you work on computers at all though, I think some of the bigger software ROMpler type things might be even better.

I haven’t used anything of the sort in years though, so take my opinions with a few grains of salt.

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I’m eagerly watching this conversation evolve. I love the sound of early romplers and have been looking at some JVs but that addition voice cards make something cheap quickly become expensive. I’m not into software. I’ve kind been eyeing the Korg Wavestate as something that goes well beyond rompler but can be used that way as well…

Confusing, isn’t it, that Roland uses two different types of modeling tech in their analog modeling synths and drum machines - ACB and ABM. ZenCore is a hybrid of rompler and ABM.

Nu-Trix Guy’s summary:

Roland invented the ACB (Analog Circuit Behavior) algorithm to recreate in precise details the ways the circuits of a analog Roland classic synth and drum machine reacts. As a reminder, the ACB is found in the Roland Boutique series and in the Plugout synths (System8, System1, System 1m). The Plugout concept is really cool: you can have a VST plugin using ACB in you computer and send the exact same ACB plugin into you compatible synth, hence Plug-out. Then is runs on a dedicated machine! That already is a cool computer / hardware integration. But now, they go further.

Roland came out with ABM (Analog Behavior Modeling) that runs Zen-Core hardware and Zenology software. This algorithm does it emulation in a different way. It look at how you play and tweak the instrument and will emulate the global result of the circuit. Where ACB would even calculate circuits not being used in the sound the ABM optimize the code to get a great sound with lest CPU.

Source: https://www.nu-trix.com/the-zen-universe-of-roland-expained/


Based on these descriptions, I can see why a noob would think “ACB is obviously better”. But based on reports posted here and other places, some people who bought both ACB and ZenCore/ABM products actually end up preferring the ZenCore over the ACB. Example: a fellow forum member who had a TR-06 (ACB), then got rid of it because he decided the ZenCore versions of certain drum sounds were preferable.

What I was told is that ACB simulates the entire analog signal chain of the synth model in question. The way the Zen version works, is that it models the oscillator, and filter, but the rest is not based on analog circuitry. That would chop out the behavior of the VCA, mixer, envelopes, and possibly other components.

There is also DCB as used in the D-05 boutique:

DCB also pops up in some of the Cloud VSTs like the SRX series.

In terms of the 707, at least, you have the option of modelled voices and filters but you can also use PCM samples and digital filters in those slots (which will save you voices). The rest of it (amps, envelopes etc) is basically a sampler-/rompler-like interface. I find that the digital LA-style filter often sounds better than the modelled ones, and the modelled VCOs are decent but don’t bring anything particularly special. I think what’s interesting about the 707 is the rompler angle, the huge set of waveforms and the scope for multitimbral setups. It can do reasonable semi-VA voices, but I find it more rewarding exploring the PCM side.

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Sounds like you were told the same thing NuTrix Guy was told.

Before I bought my MC-101, I read numerous posts from longtime Roland product users like darenager and others. Some of them are on the 707/101 thread. I didn’t really get what the talk about ACB vs ABM/ZenCore, so I just sort of brushed that off because I wasn’t super worried about getting the latest and greatest virtual analog(s).

I then heard darenager’s DA-303 demos for the first time. I thought “Wait, isn’t ZenCore supposed to be rompler tech? How come these DA-303 sounds for 101/707 sound so good?” That’s what inspired me to learn more about what ZenCore is about.

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Hey, thanks for the information. Interesting to know about these piano, horns and such.
That was my impression too from the demos so it’s good to know.
Glad that you know someone that will be able to work on your XL7 too :slight_smile:
But hey I am confused now about your explanation of ACB and ABM.
I know ACB is different from Zen-Core but.
Is ABM using PCM or not ?
What do you have at your disposal with a mc-707 ?
PCM + VA + ABM ?
Or is ABM the VA part of zen-core ?

Confused… you and me both my friend.

NickD is the guy on this thread who has an MC-707. I have the little MC-101. What he said about MC-707 (ignoring his personal opinions about sound quality/character) is probably correct.

My understanding is the VA sounds of ZenCore are generated by ABM.

Your question has me watching the NuTrix’s video interview with the Roland guys again. Of course you should watch it too, so we can compare notes.

I agree. I wouldn’t be going for the Zen based devices for VA. Maybe as a byproduct, but if I wanted a VA, I’d go for a pure one like a Waldorf, Modor, Modal, etc. Having those abilities in an otherwise ROMpling device though is nice as a supplement IMO. I don’t think it has to be state of the art either necessarily as long as it’s decent.

The person that I mentioned that gave me the comparison is highly critical of this sort of thing. I very much trust his opinions, but I’m a little more forgiving in general. :smiley:

Rewatched the video interview with the Roland guys. A recurring theme I’m hearing from them is saving CPU load so that ZenCore can run on lower powered machines and devices (ZenBeats on IOS also uses ZenCore, via ZC-1 plugin). ACB is more processor-intensive, and not as versatile because, by its intended purpose, it doesn’t “do rompler”. ZenCore is better suited for those who need more versatility, more polyphony, etc.

Here’s Daren’s DA-303 demo. As I said, Daren is a longtime Roland user. He has vintage TB-303s and gods know how many Roland drum machines. I forgot which ACB devices he got but I know he got at least one… He has posted his thoughts on ZenCore pros and cons, and comparisons to analog and whatnot, several times on the 707/101 thread. His opinions are about as balanced as you’ll ever find on analog, ACB, and ZenCore - no sweeping generalizations, all based on experience working with these things.

I think DA-303 sounds great - you might have a different reaction and that’s fine. Otherwise I’m still with you on VA tones being a secondary consideration for the MC units.