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E-mu Xtreme Lead-1 Rackmount Synthesizer Module (XL-1)

The Xtreme Lead-1 gets a

BEAT MODE 8 STAR RATING.

Review of the Xtreme Lead-1

Is it E-mu or Emu?

This will be a long review with a long story... We'll come back and add more info after we get a chance to fully digest this orange box. Let's just preface this review by saying this reviewer started with an Audity 2000 which I loved, but after 2 defective units, I decided to go for what E-mu called the new replacement, the Xtreme Lead-1. I've had it a few weeks now and after the initial disappointment have grown to enjoy it more and more.

While this Xtreme Lead-1 is certainly one sweet & hefty tone module with a lot of sounds and great features, there is something about the Audity 2000 I miss in it... Call it psycho, but it seemed the Audity sounded better and had better sounds??? Well, enough of that let's focus on the Xtreme... It is a great little synth after all...

BEAT MODE RATING SYSTEM

0 to 1 star - SUCKS - BARELY USABLE - Not RECOMMENDED

2-4 stars - SOME REDEEMING VALUE, BUT NOT MUCH TO SHOUT ABOUT.

5-6 stars - DECENT - worthwhile for some applications.

7-8 stars - VERY GOOD product with many pluses, highly usable.

9-10 stars - INDISPENSABLE - must have - the cream of the crop!

The E-mu Xtreme Lead-1 Rackmount Synthesizer Module is a kick ass little orange dynamo of a box with beats, arpeggiators, pads and some really harsh nasty industrial sounds (that's good, right?). It appears to be a melding of the Audity 2000 (discontinued) and the Proteus 2000.

Great diversity in the included factory sounds is enhanced even further by the extra ROM slot enabling insertion of Proteus 2000 format sound ROMS. We got the Protozoa ROM sound set which we thought was wimpy and weak, but soon yanked that out and replaced it with Techno Synth Construction Yard which kicks ass! We have an expansion board on order so we can install up to 4 ROMS instead of the 2 in the standard release, so eventually we'll give the Protozoa ROM another shot. You will also get the extra OUTS with the expander which is missing in this box versus say the Audity 2000 which has multi outs stock. Hence the lower price on the Xtreme Lead-1 we reckon.

The preset sounds of the E-mu Xtreme Lead-1 (XL-1) are DIVERSE and we can't help but wonder why they call this the Xtreme LEAD??? Better for the marketing of it??? The sounds are far ranging and can be used in many a genre of music... Not just leads or in techno - but in all types of music. It is extremely easy to edit and tweak sounds and we LOVE the ability to tweak knobs as the sounds play. You can even record the knob movements quite easily into your sequencer like we do in Cubase VST. Pain free to set up.

The Xtreme Lead-1 boasts the new and improved SUPER BEATS MODE, although we still kinda prefer the old BEATS MODE. Maybe we just haven't exploited this feature enough. The arpeggiators kick ass baby! You can have loads of them going simultaneously too and best of all you can record the data into your sequencer! Now that be power!

Tweaking sounds is a breeze and this Xtreme Lead-1 thang has a nifty feature: Preset Randomizer which will generate an all new patch! Just push a button and go! While our results with the randomizer were not as fruitful as with the Audity 2000, the results are amazing! New useful patches with the push of a button. Just be warned though that some of the resulting patches are capable of blowing your speakers. Let's just say the results are not predictable, but if you have the patience and keep pushing that button - you will get some great sounds you may never have been capable of generating yourself. Also of note is that it appears that the randomizer will give you different generated sounds if you have extra optional ROM expansion installed. We installed the PROTOZOA ROM and suddenly the RANDOMIZED patches seemed dull and lifeless... Hmmm... when we removed the ROM the magic came back... That has a bit to do with the PROTOZOA ROM, as we didn't exactly flip over it in the first place. Upon inspection the randomizer did in fact utilize instruments from the extra ROM.

So, in summary we say this is a great little box with awesome sound and great features. The effects can be a bit heavy on the presets but you can always tone them down a bit with the push of a few buttons. All in all great sound - great beats - nice arp capabilities and a heck of a fun time to edit & mutate sounds with. We love it! Can we have some more ROMS please???

More on the features later in the full review, but lets just say this is a sweet box that deserves a listen.

Beat Mode's review of the add on sound rom PROTOZOA.

E-mu Xtreme Lead-1 Product description at the E-MU site

Xtreme Lead-1 Playground - excellent site with loads of info.

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