E-MU was once a beloved moniker in the music gear business. Now owned by Creative Labs, they’ve made a new name for themselves with software versions of their sound modules and value-priced keyboards and interfaces — but Mac users haven’t been invited to the party. So I was surprised when I heard Mac users coming back excited about E-MU gear on the Macworld floor.

It seems E-MU is releasing Universal Mac driver support for their full keyboard line and external USB audio interfaces, both of which were previously Windows-only and lacked cross-platform class-compliant compatibility. (PCMCIA and PCI interfaces are evidently no-go, but all the rest of their hardware is). They’re certainly worth a look on the Mac now. The keyboards aren’t terribly pretty, but they have a great action for the price and include aftertouch. Mike Gallant loved them at Keyboard. (See PDF of his review) And the audio interfaces have been a good buy, too.

Now the big question is what happens to E-MU’s software; the software bundle is a big part of what makes these a value. An E-MU rep on the floor said, while there’s no official date yet, the popular Proteus sound modules are on their way. I haven’t used these since they were hardware modules, so I like the idea.

The driver download page is a little spotty for now, but will hopefully improve:

E-MU Public Preview, Drivers

E-MU Home Page

On the Windows side, incidentally, Creative has a great relationship with Microsoft, so it’s little surprise they’re out in front with support of 64-bit — both XP and Vista. Any E-MU owners / fans out there? Give us a holler.