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Linn LM-1 Drum Computer

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The Linn LM-1 Drum Computer, manufactured by Linn Electronics Inc., was the first drum machine to use digital samples of acoustic drums and was conceived and designed by Roger Linn. It was also one of the first programmable drum machines.

The LM-1 featured twelve 8 bit 28 kHz samples: kick, snare, hi-hat, cabasa, tambourine, two toms, two congas, cowbell, claves, and hand claps, but no ride or crash cymbals.

The LM-1's many features set it apart from other drum machines of its time, most of which could only play a limited selection of preset rhythms (e.g. Roland CompuRhythm CR-78). One of its most prominent features was its programmability. Although the Linn LM-1 was not the first programmable drum machine (the PAiA Programmable Drum Set was released 6 years earlier), it was the first to use digital samples and gained widespread popularity among professionals. The LM-1 also introduced a Shuffle feature that enabled users to program swing notes into their rhythms. Although this feature has often been imitated, the Linn Shuffle has widely been recognized as the best and most natural-sounding, and is present on every device Linn designed, including the Akai MPC series.

The LM-1 included a built-in 13-channel mixer (one channel for each sound plus the click) as well as individual output jacks. This enabled Linn's machine to integrate with existing recording equipment in a way that had previously not been possible for a drum machine. Unlike the later LinnDrum, the LM-1 also had individual tuning pots for each voice, resulting in many famous users expressing their preference for the LM-1 long after the LinnDrum was introduced. Unlike its younger brother, the LM-1 lacked crash and ride cymbal sounds (which producers easily compensated for by having live cymbals overdubbed onto whatever track was being recorded) and the drum sounds could not be triggered by MIDI or trigger inputs. Nevertheless, the LM-1's sounds are very punchy and prominent.

There are notable differences between the various LM-1 revisions. The Rev. 1 LM-1 is recognizable by its engraved buttons and lack of Shuffle and Auto-Correct LEDs. The drum buttons were engraved with a small symbol of the drum it represented (the bass drum button had a small engraving of a bass drum on it). These buttons were later discontinued because they were too expensive to manufacture. Internally it was different as well. It had single chips for the kick, tom, and conga sounds, and double chips for the clap. The Rev. 1 LM-1's did not have the filter on the kick, toms, and congas that Rev. 2 and later machines had. As a result, it didn't sound as nice as the Rev. 2 and later machines, but the toms and congas could be played simultaneously.

In the Rev.1 LM-1's, the first 10 have no serial numbers or pre-printed, adhesive-backed manufacturer's label on the rear panel, have a single molded metal frame for the front, bottom, and rear panels, have higher quality mixer pots, have two knobs for tempo control (coarse and fine; the fine control actually may have been intended for a rotary switch to program the Shuffle setting), and are screen printed "Linn and Moffett Electronics" instead of "Linn Electronics" on the lower right front of the chassis beneath the drum buttons (Alex Moffett[6] was an early investor in the Linn drum computer development). There are other minor mechanical differences, too.

The Rev. 2 LM-1 introduced two rows of LEDs to indicate the Shuffle and Auto-Correct settings, several additional buttons on the front panel to aid in programming, and a shared filter on the toms and congas, as well as the kick drum. There were a handful of Rev. 2 LM-1's with both engraved buttons and Shuffle and Auto-Correct LEDs but these are extremely rare. To cut costs, on later Rev. 2's, the engraved buttons were replaced with unlabeled buttons. In lieu of the engraved names or symbols, the button names were printed on the front panel.


Type: Digital
Sound Engine: ROM
Pattern Engine
Programming: Real Time, Step
Pattern Notes:
+ 12 parts pattern
+ quantize and swing
+ Pattern chaning
Sounds Per Pad
Sounds Per Pad: 1
Sources: ROM
Sounds Notes:
+ 12 instruments
+ 8 bit 28 kHz samples
+ Pitch tuning
+ 18 sounds:

kick hi
kick low
snare hi
snare low
hi-hat hi
hi hat low
hi hat open
cabasa hi
cabasa low
tambourine hi
tambourine low
tom 1
tom 2
congas 1
congas 2
hand claps
Sampling Notes:
Polyphony & Tuning
Polyphony: 12
Timbrality: 12
Tuning: Standard
Modes: Mono
Patterns User: 100
Storage: Internal, Tape
Case: Desktop
Trigger Pads : Hard Pads
Controls: Buttons, Pads, Sequencer, Sliders
Display Type: LED, Numeric
Display Count H: 2
Display Count V: 2
MIDI / Sync / Trigger
Audio Outputs: 1/4" Phone Jack, Mono Out, Stereo Main, Stereo Headphone
Audio Output Count: 13
Audio Output Notes: 10 x 1/4" Mono outs, 1/4" Click out
DAC Bits: 8
DAC Frequency Rate: 28
Power: 120V AC
List: $5000
Used: $3,500
Released: 1980
Units Made: 500
Used By
Stevie Wonder, Prince, Herbie Hancock, Michael Jackson, the Human League, Peter Gabriel, Kraftwerk
Design Notes:

Roger Linn was a professional guitarist in California in 1978 when he began to develop the LM-1 as an accompaniment tool for his home studio. He had experimented with many of the preset rhythm boxes which were popular at the time, but was dissatisfied and "wanted a drum machine that did more than play preset samba patterns and didn't sound like crickets."[5] Having learned how to program in BASIC and assembly language, Linn set to work on a computer program which could play user-programmed rhythm patterns, as well as chain them together to form a song.

According to Linn, the first to suggest the idea of digital samples was Steve Porcaro of Toto. The drum sound samples were created by Roger & Art Wood, a Los Angeles session drummer, who also played drums with Cher, Bette Midler, Tina Turner, Gary Wright, Peter Frampton, James Brown and others, as well as on numerous movies and TV shows.

Linn achieved his sounds by using a chip, built into the machine, which converted the digital samples into analog audio. His first prototype, manufactured at some time during 1979, was a cardboard box which contained the electronic components of the drum machine. Supposedly, Linn brought this prototype to parties and jobs and marketed it to fellow musicians, including Peter Gabriel, the members of Fleetwood Mac, and Stevie Wonder, who bought one of the first units ever produced. (Wonder can be seen programming his LM-1 in a 1981 BBC documentary.)

In total, somewhere between 500 and 725 units were built and sold between 1980 and 1983, when the LM-1's successor, the LinnDrum, was released. The first 35 units were assembled in Linn's home, before manufacturing and distribution was taken over by 360 Systems, run by Bob Easton. The first 10 of these 35 units have distinctive features, as described below.

It was introduced in early 1980 at a list price of US$4,995, climbed to $5,500 when additional features were incorporated, fell to $4,995 as cost-cutting measures were introduced, and later reduced to $3,995 before it was discontinued after the release of its successor, the LinnDrum. Somewhere between 500[2][3] and 725[4] units were built.

It is prized by amateur and professional musicians alike for its rarity as well as its characteristic sounds, which can be heard on the recordings of such famous artists as Prince, Herbie Hancock, Michael Jackson, the Human League, Peter Gabriel, Kraftwerk and countless hits of the 1980s by other artists.

Product Sites & Reviews
Company Product Sites:
[+] www.rogerlinndesign.com

[+] en.wikipedia.org
References & Sources

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