Roger Linn’s LinnStrument is coming soon!?

Roger Linn is a visionary in the world of electronic musical instruments. A couple of decades ago he revolutionized the drum machine, adding the 4×4 pad configuration, loop recording, timing quantization and swing. Just a few years ago, he brought to market the AdrenaLinn, “the award-winning beat-synced filter effects processor.” Most recently Roger teamed up with old friend, Dave Smith, to create the Tempest, a performance oriented 6 voice analog drum machine. Now, as we beat makers and MPC heads await the arrival of the much-anticipated “Linndrum II”, Roger Linn preps the long-awaited “LinnStrument”.

Just recently, I attended a small gathering at the SAE Institute Los Angeles, “The Respect Series: Roger Linn.” During the event Roger discussed the LinnStrument, its many iterations, its peaks and valleys of progress and set backs and its imminent release. At the time of the event Roger Linn hadn’t made any hard decisions about price and release date but he is insistent that we are closer to seeing LinnStrument come to market than ever before.

When asked about the delays on bringing the LinnStrument to market Roger exclaimed “Roger Linn Designs is a very small company. When I say small I mean there’s just me.” Roger went on to explain that there have been several set backs in acquiring/developing the proper sensors, “LinnStrument requires a special sensing surface that is able to sense the position and pressure of multiple fingers, independently and simultaneously, at high-speed and at high accuracy. Given that this is something very complex and expensive to design, my intention was always to use such a commercially available sensor from another company and merely adapt it for my musical purposes. However, every time a company attempted to make such a sensor, it was bought, shut down and taken off the market.”

Pre LinnStrument

Roger says, “Before I envisioned LinnStrument in its current form, a company called Fingerworks created a product called iGesture, a multi-touch input surface that could sense the position and surface area of each finger, which is not true pressure sensing but a close second. I had considered simply buying these and repackaging them with custom music software to use as a musical input device. Then Apple bought the company, shut it down and took it off the market.”

LinnStrument Infancy stages

Roger speaks about his next phase of development in which LinnStrument began to take shape. “Later, once I had envisioned LinnStrument in its current form, a company called TouchCo announced a true pressure-sensitive multitouch input surface, and I was in discussions with them to use a custom version of this sensor in LinnStrument. Then Amazon bought TouchCo, shut it down and took it off the market.”

LinnStrument in-progress

The 3rd time is a charm. Lets see what Mr. Linn has to say about his 3rd attempt to adapt an existing commercially available multi-touch device for his purposes. Roger says, “I then discovered a small Korean company that was developing a pressure-sensitive multitouch surface, and began working with them on a version of this sensor that would be suitable for LinnStrument. After working with them for over a year, then they ran out of money and acquired a new investor, who cancelled the project for the sensor I would have used.”

Onward and Upward: The LinnStrument Cometh… Soon?!

So, what is a guy to do when Murphy’s Law sets up a road block at the intersection of “outsource avenue” and “multi-touch input surface blvd”? I believe the saying is “If you want something done right, do it yourself!” That’s exactly what Roger Linn decided to do. As he puts it “After these setbacks, in summer 2012 I got tired of waiting and decided to spend the money and time required to design my own sensor. Now in summer of 2013, it’s starting to work well and I’m currently refining it and other parts of LinnStrument.”

As it stands the arrival of the LinnStrument is imminent but there are obviously a few details still to work out. One thing is for sure, I’d rather Roger Linn Designs take the time needed to develop a product that performs to their exact specifications. This will insure that when it hits the market the consumer ultimately wins. Besides, Roger also mentioned that he prefers to work on one thing at a time, therefore the LinnDrum II is up next and will get his undivided attention. So I don’t know about you but even if I never use the LinnStrument, I’m rooting for it. If for no other reason besides the fact that once it’s done and on the market, “LinnDrum II cometh… soon?!”


For more information about the Linnstrument, head over to Roger Linn’s website


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