Linn Electronics LinnDrum

Linn Drum Image

The LinnDrum was the second machine from Linn Electronics. It's basically an upgraded version of the original LM-1 with added crash and ride cymbals to the kit. The LinnDrum uses samples of acoustic drum sounds. At the time, they sounded great and much more realistic and they were a fresh alternative to the analog drum sounds of the '80's drum machines. The LinnDrum also had a handy upgrade option, a well designed layout and interface, and live drum trigger inputs.

The LinnDrum had beefed up the sampled sounds from 28 to a 35kHz sample rate. It features 15 sounds including bass, snare, rimshot, hihat, crash, ride, three toms, cabasa, tambourine, high and low congas, cowbell, and clap. Up to 12 sounds are available simultaneously. Individual controls are available to tune, pan, and mix each drum sound via dedicated knobs and sliders. An Accent is available for the kick, snare and hats. The handy upgrade options involve inserting new chips containing new sets of sampled drum sounds created by many session drummers of the time.

Linn Electronics LinnDrum Image

The sequencer had some innovative features (for the time) such as swing, quantizing and memory storage! Two-bar patterns can be recorded in real or step time, with or without quantizing. There are 56 user patterns for storing your drum patterns. There are also 42 preset drum patterns. Patterns can be arranged into Songs for which there are 49 memory locations. Old songs and patterns can be off-loaded to cassette tape for storage. Designed for the studio, there are 15 individual outputs for each sound around the back as well as external sync and trigger but no MIDI (unless modified by a 3rd party). The LinnDrum's features made it the most professional drum machine of its time. It was widely used throughout the 1980s and there are about 5,000 of them which have been used by professionals (such as Sting, Prince, Jean-Michel Jarre, Sheila E., Todd Rundgren, Jimmy Edgar, Jan Hammer, Peter Gabriel), hobbyists, and educators alike!

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36 Visitor comments
July 20, 2014 @ 11:37 pm
In the spring of 1985, I worked for Accurassembly, a small electronic assembly shop in Chatsworth, California. I assembled many boards for these machines. We were hired by Linn Drum to do these subassemblies which were then delivered to their location in Encino, California. There, their technicians did the final assembly. The primary tools we used for board assembly included a Royonic machine for component placement, followed by wave soldering and hand finishing.
June 30, 2014 @ 2:48 pm
were they midi? I have seen an interview where phil collins said the output was used to trigger chords for mama via midi. its actually cv/gate isnt it?
May 19, 2014 @ 2:41 pm
bobby h: Genesis only used a Linn LM-1 on their 'Genesis' album in 1983. They later used one on 'Invisible Touch' in '86.
bobby h.
April 6, 2014 @ 4:39 pm
Mike Rutherford of Genesis had one of these which he programmed for 'Mama'. The band made use of it pretty heavily during the 'Genesis' album and 'Invisible Touch' period and it can be heard on the first Mike + The Mechanics album as well.
Benjamin Edwards
March 31, 2014 @ 8:11 pm
Truly an amazing drum machine. It was used by almost every band and musician in the 80s, so this machine is what people think of when they talk about the 80s drum sound. It is probably my favorite drum machine, and I use one in my own band, The Cover-Up Operation, from time to time. Our first two albums have about 6 tracks that feature it. It has a certain type of character to it that you can't get with a modern digital drum machine. Roger Linn said that its unique sound came from his lack of knowledge when it came to audio engineering. I guess his mistake was a blessing in disguise.
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Rated 3.67 (276 Votes)

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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 12 sampled sounds
  • Samples - 35kHz Samples: bass, snare, rimshot, hihat, 3 toms, crash, ride, cabasa, tambourine, high and low congas, cowbell, claps.
  • Patterns - 42 preset, 56 user patterns
  • Songs - 49
  • Keyboard - none
  • New & Cool Functions - Quantizing (96 ppqn), real-time programming and digital metronome
  • Control - Tape, Sync, and Clock
  • Date Produced - 1982 - 1985

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