Emax & Emax II

User's Group

Emax Information
Emax II Information
visitors since 09/05/1996

Upgrades: The Emax II was designed to be expandable. You could add memory and use a variety of storage media.

Disclaimer: You should never perform any repair on an Emax or Emax II if you are not well-experienced in electronic repairs.

Diagnosis Mode: The Emax and Emax II have a hidden menu where many of the hardware diagnosis procedures are kept. Select the MASTER module. Choose option 9. The display will give you a choice of 1-8. Again, press 9. When prompted for a password, enter 3629 ("EMAX" on a telephone touchpad). These functions include disk and memory testing functions.

Disclaimer: Be warned that most of the hard drive utillities will erase anything stored on your hard drive. Use at your own risk.



The following information on Memory for the Emax II is mainly for archival purposes now. At this point E-mu no longers offer any upgrade kits. There is only one source I know that can provide Emax II memory and that is Sound Logic. They offer the 2Mb upgrades for those user's who already have an Emax with the memory daughterboard (typically means you have a minimum of 3Mb or 4Mb already). The key to this is that they have the fabled install disks. the cost is $98 per 2Mb kit +s/h.

The Emax II memory upgrades do not simply include some DRAMs and an install disk to write to the E-prom within the unit like originally thought. They also require the addition of some memory expansion PAL's and if your upgrading a 1Mb or 2Mb unit you also must install an expander daughterboard.

Checking how much memory

To check how much memory you have in your Emax II first you will need to Erase All Memory (MASTER 4) and then check your Memory Remaining (MASTER 2). The remaining memory will be displayed in 16 bit SAMPLES, not bytes, so double the numbered displayed to determine the amount of memory in bytes.

Example: my Emax II displays, Sample: 2097108, which means I have a 4Mb unit.

OOP E-mu Memory Kits

The prices given were current back in Aug. 1, 1996 and were based on installing them at home. It required a Phillips Screwdriver, Wire Cutter, IC Remover, and Needle Nose Pliers, (some upgrades also require Soldering Iron and (2) 10 ohm resistors). E-mu no longer offers any kits.

KIT 2208 2-meg expander kit ($180.00)
(16) 44256 256K X 4 DRAMs (E-mu PN IM387)
(1) Programmed PAL (E-mu PN IP439)
(1) Programmed PAL (E-mu PN IP440)
(1) Memory Install Disk 2.14 (E-mu PN ZD413)
(note: the install disk can only be used once.)
KIT 2216 2-meg expander kit w/board assembly ($250.00)
(1) 2Mb expander board (E-mu PN AH103)
(1) Programmed PAL (E-mu PN IP436)
(1) Programmed PAL (E-mu PN IP437)
(1) Programmed PAL (E-mu PN IP 438)
(4) 6-32 X 1/4" screws (E-mu PN HS339)
(1) Memory Install Disk 2.14 (E-mu PN ZD413)
(note: the install disk can only be used once.)
KIT 2232 6-meg expander kit w/board assembly ($450.00) Only 50 kits left
(1) 6Mb expander board (E-mu PN AH103)
(1) Programmed PAL (E-mu PN IP436)
(1) Programmed PAL (E-mu PN IP437)
(1) Programmed PAL (E-mu PN IP438)
(4) 6-32 X 1/4" screws (E-mu PN HS339)
(3) Memory Install Disks 2.14 (E-mu PN ZD413)
(note: the install disks can only be used once)

There also was a KIT 2217 which is needed only for the 1Mb Emax II. The kit replaces the 64K RAMs on the motherboard making it 2Mb and costs the same as a KIT 2208. If you have a 1Mb or 2Mb Emax II you must purchase either the 2232 or 2216 kit before you can install the 2208 kit.

User Experiences

From E-mu Samplers List member Arturo Morales regarding his recent KIT 2216 installation.

Well, I made it... it took a call to EMU and waiting on hold for about 20 minutes, but now I have 4 megs of RAM... Here's the scoop: I got:
1 disk
1 board
4 chips (never used) All I had to do in order to go from 2 -> 4 was to remove a chip in the motherboard and put the daughter board in... that was easier said than done. The board did not really fit too well and I was not seeing the memory at all. I saw the right amount of memory twice but as soon as I put the screws in, the memory would dissapear... Since the disk gave me an error when I booted with it, I thought that something had gone wrong, so I called EMU. They tried doing the manual install (by providing a code in response to what the EMAX asks during adjust) but it did not work, so we realized that the board was either not installed or just bad. I then sat patiently and removed the ribbon cable that kinda gets in the way and played with the board until it was recognized, and then put the screws in (BTW, they say that the screws are included, but mine got lost somewhere before getting to me) After putting each screw in, I rebooted to make sure that it was still working... it did and now I have 4 megs of ram :) It was not painless, but it worked...
I also from another list member, Caesar, and he agreed about the difficulty in getting the board installed.

Arturo was not alone in his problems installing the board. I had the same experience trying to get the Emax to reconize the board. After spending 2 days inserting and reinserting the board I finally had to drive to EMU and have their service dept. insert it for me for which they charged me $25.


Most Emax LCDs are dim or out by now. They should be bright blue! I know of two sources that provide replacements. Backlight-UK in the UK and Telesisgear in California.

If a high pitched hum is being generated by the LCD. It's caused by the backlight portion vibrating so fast that it actually produces an annoying whine. There are two things you can do. You can either purchase a new display or you can do a little mod to the display.

If you place a little piece of cardboard (like a matchbook cover) between the LCD display and the board it sits on, the whine will disappear. The only bummer is, its really hard to get to the LCD. You will need to take the keyboard assembly out, then the main CPU board, then the front pannel board. Basicly everything but the output board.


Floppy Drive

the DS/DD floppy drive of the Emax and Emax II is not a standard PC floppy drive. The main difference here is that they can have their ID# set to 0 where standard drives nowadays are hardset to ID1. Your best source for replacement floppy drives is Route 66 Studios. They also offer blank DS/DD diskettes $11 for 50.

Hard Drives

The Emax II has an internal power cable for a drive, and a 50 pin SCSI connector is located on the edge of the digital PCB, near the external SCSI connector. Adding a drive is simply a matter of plugging it in and formatting it.


Beware of some drives, in particular Maxtor drives. Some drives seem to be too slow powering up and if the drive is not ready when the Emax II looks to it for the operating system, so the Emax II won't boot up. I had one of these drives and the best work around I came up withwas to assign a SCSI device number not in use as the boot drive (SCSI 0 is the floppy drive and SCSI 1 is your internal drive.) What will happen is that the Emax II will try to locate the non-exsisting SCSI device for approximately 10 seconds and when it fails it will default back to SCSI 1 and by that time the hard drive is powered up.

Warning! The Emax II can only format up to 540Mb on a hard drive, anything over that will go unused. Originally it was thought that if you had 8Mb of memory and since the Emax II can store 100 banks you could go up to 800Mb, this is incorrect. This is a Operating System limitation and since E-mu have no plans of anymore software revisions any space over 540Mb will not get formatted although the drive should still be usable.
Someone at E-mu reported that they had a lot of luck with old Mac drives especially out of Mac II's and Quadra's.


Drives submitted by fellow users:

  • Quantum Lightning 730 (730Mb, but remember the 540Mb partition limit)
  • Quantum ProDrive 210S (210Mb?)
  • Quantum ProDrive ELS170S
  • IBM WDS-380S (80mb)
  • Maxtor MXT540S 540MB (bit hot and noisy)
  • Conner CP-340 40MB (the original drive used by E-mu)
  • Conner CP-30540 540MB, nice and quiet

Removable Media and CD-Rom


These drives are known to be compabitle.

From E-mu Systems UK:
  • Sony CDU-6211-10
  • Toshiba TXM-3201-A1
  • Toshiba TXM-3401-B (double speed)
  • Toshiba TXM-3101 (single speed)
  • Apple CD150 (single speed)
Submitted by users:
  • Sony CDU-8003A (double speed)
  • Sony CDU-6211-10 (single speed)
  • Toshiba XM-3101BME (single speed)
  • Toshiba XM-5201TA (quad speed)
  • TEXEL DM-5024 (FCC ID EQNDM5024) - available factory installed in an external case.
  • SONY CDU-541-41 (single speed). Roland once sold this unit as the "Roland CD-5"

Removable Media

WARNING! do not try to replace your floppy drive by installing an internal removable media drive, the power supply of the Emax II can not handle the demands and will burn out.

  • Iomega Zip 100 and 250
  • Syquest EZ-135 and EZ-Flyer 230 drive
  • Syquest RM45

I have had several reports from users who say they continue to have intermitten problems trying to use a Zip drive. Syquest went out of business. To get one you need to check out online auction sites like Ebay and UBid.


The Emax II was originally mono and though most were upgraded a few out there are still only mono. There is no way to upgrade a mono unit to stereo. So before buying making sure you know what you have. The only sure way to tell is to power up the unit and press the Sample button. At this time a stereo Emax II will say "Calibrating ADC," where as a mono unit won't. If you still aren't sure you can then go into 2 - Place Sample. You should be able to choose Pri (primary), Sec (secondary), or Ster (Stereo). If you only have Pri and Sec you definently have a mono unit.


But let's say you find one used and they don't have an OS disk to boot from. Right before the Emax II was discontinued E-mu ran a "factory upgrade" program where you could send in your Emax II and they would bench test the unit and upgrade it to stereo and/or upgrade the RAM. A fellow Emax II users says that when he "played dumb" and asked E-mu how he could tell if his unit was mono they said all of the earliest produced Emax II units had the blue lowmount SCSI connector mounted below the output jacks. Of course, this test doesn't work if the previous owner had the factory upgrade performed because they didn't replace the SCSI connectors.