If any synth class has been hit the hardest, it's the sampler. About the only hardware samplers left any more are drum/groove machines like the Akai MPC series. Most people have decided that instrument sampling, where individual notes of an instrument are sampled and assembled into a playable reproduction of that instrument, is too tedious and best left to professionals. The cost of sample collections has come down some, so it's far easier to buy Garritan Strings than sampling a real string orchestra.
In the end, samplers have migrated to softsynths because huge memory and storage make general purpose computers well suited to the task. The remaining hardware samplers are grared, not towards instrument sampling, but to drum and groove sampling. EMU, once the king of samplers, has now been reduced to making soundcards and a soft synth version of there Emulator samplers.
The E-Synth is really just an Emulator IV sampler. It's a pretty powerful sampler with any number of features. It was the last in the line of the legendary Emulators which essentially defined sampling for two decades. (There was an E-IV Ultra that came later, but the synth/sampler engine was the same.) The only thing that gave the E-Synth it's name was a ROM card that gave it some preloaded permanant samples and sounds.
As it turns out I mostly happen to agree with those that found instrument sampling less than efficient. It's nice to have the capability, but I have two E-Synths because they are great, high polyphony, great sounding devices to play back various sample CDs.
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