Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

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Straight2Vinyl
KVRist
307 posts since 10 Mar, 2017

Post Fri Dec 14, 2018 7:31 am

pdxindy wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:17 am
deastman wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:27 pm
The Continuum is amazing. If you have piles of cash lying around, you should get one. It is incredibly sensitive, and that comes paired with a very unique and powerful internal synthesis engine, designed from the ground up to utilize the raw touch data. My intention is to use mine strictly with the internal synth, and possibly as a CV controller for my modular somewhere down the line.

If you aren't willing to go to that extreme, I think the LinnStrument is still the winner here. I've found that I love the grid layout with guitar voicing. It offers a totally different approach to the traditional piano layout found on both the Continuum and the Seaboard. The touch response is fantastic. This is now my go-to controller for in the box synths. It plays amazingly well with the Audio Modeling instruments, Cypher 2, Equator, and really most other synths if you don't need MPE.
I recently bought the half sized Continuum as well.

It is indeed incredibly sensitive. The feel of the surface was not what I expected after watching various videos (that is not a bad thing :)). I am also planning to use it mainly as a standalone hardware synth. I don't 100% love the internal synth engine. I would say the basic sonic quality is a step down from my favorite VST synths. Of course it is amazingly expressive, but the engine often has some 'digitalness' to it. So I consider it something of a tradeoff with the expressiveness making it worth it. I have not even begun to do any sound design yet so I might well find more sounds that satisfy me. I also have not tried using it as a controller for VST synths.

The Continuum is excellent for sounds where you are using pressure a lot. For quick plucks and strikes, I find it a bit hard to play because it is more about the pressure, not the initial strike. I think that will improve with more practice but the different designs lend themselves to different results.

I also find the Y axis on the Continuum not entirely pleasing. With more pressure, the Y axis is smooth and even... really good. But with a very light touch it isn't as much. A quirky, beautiful instrument it is.

If I could only have one or the other, I would take the Linnstrument over the Continuum. It is so versatile, so easy to use and configure right on the surface and it meets a wide variety of needs effectively. It does all that while being plenty expressive. Roger has done a brilliant job with the Linnstrument!

Having the Continuum, it made me think that it would be interesting if Roger made a second controller more aimed at pressure driven sounds with a softer more squishy surface offering highly subtle control over Z axis. I think it is not possible to have one device be able to do everything well... just as a flute and a guitar have different strengths as controllers.

I doubt however that there is yet enough of a market to make that financially viable... so just thinking out loud here :hihi:
There is a recent video clip of Roger where he mentions getting back to work now on his next MPC/drum/sampler type instrument. He talks about bringing in the expressive functions to it as well. It's been in the works off and on for a very, very long time so expectations among some of the MPC/drum sampler crowd will be insanely high. Of course, the man tends to meet and exceed expectations whenever he releases a new product.

GruvSyco
KVRist
471 posts since 2 May, 2002 from Kalispell, MT

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Sat Dec 15, 2018 11:03 am

bkanzelmeyer wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:53 am
GruvSyco wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:01 pm
Anderton wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 3:44 pm
GruvSyco wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:58 am
Can the linnstrument do scales without spaces? I love grid controllers and love this feature on the Push.

As Roger pointed out, no. However, somewhat of a workaround is that some DAWs and MIDI plug-ins allow constraining input to particular scales. So even if you hit a note "between the spaces," it will end up in the space of a particular scale/key. Not the same thing as what you want, but in some cases, may obtain the desired results.
Thanks for the additional reply Craig. I'm shopping new controllers at the moment and appreciate all the input.
I can describe one possible scenario for this to happen.

1. Acquire Scala (http://www.huygens-fokker.org/scala/), a freeware, very powerful program for defining scales that is capable of outputting .tun and .mid scale definition files, among other things. In Scala, define the exact flavor of 12 EDO (Equal Divisions of the Octave) that you want, major, minor, modal, etc and then define the key by specifying the fundamental or base frequency (Scala has over 4,000 predefined scales already available, and what you are looking for may already be there). Name this scale as D Major, for example, and create a .mid file.

2. Download a VSTi plugin that can import scale definition files, like Xen-arts (http://xen-arts.net/xen-arts-32-bit-vsti/), very nice freeware synths and Soundfont player and synth. These VSTi plugins play nicely with Bitwig, although they are not MPE compliant. The scale definition .mid file can then be loaded into IVOR2, for example, a great subtractive FM synth, in Bitwig, and presto, consecutive pads on the LinnStrument play only D major.

I believe/hope that the ability to import tuning files into DAWs and plugins will become more commonplace in the future, but even so, there are many ways currently to experiment and work with microtonal scales. And the Linnstrument is absolutely the most powerful MIDI input device available today to work with alternative musical scales.
I decided to upgrade from Push to Push 2. I think it was just a better match for my needs. Ultimately the only thing the Linnstrument offered that ticked any boxes for me was extended range. All of the other features the Linnstrument offers while impressive just weren't that high on my list of wants.

deastman
KVRAF
7231 posts since 7 Aug, 2003 from San Francisco Bay Area

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Sat Dec 15, 2018 12:07 pm

GruvSyco wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 11:03 am
bkanzelmeyer wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:53 am
GruvSyco wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:01 pm
Anderton wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 3:44 pm
GruvSyco wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:58 am
Can the linnstrument do scales without spaces? I love grid controllers and love this feature on the Push.

As Roger pointed out, no. However, somewhat of a workaround is that some DAWs and MIDI plug-ins allow constraining input to particular scales. So even if you hit a note "between the spaces," it will end up in the space of a particular scale/key. Not the same thing as what you want, but in some cases, may obtain the desired results.
Thanks for the additional reply Craig. I'm shopping new controllers at the moment and appreciate all the input.
I can describe one possible scenario for this to happen.

1. Acquire Scala (http://www.huygens-fokker.org/scala/), a freeware, very powerful program for defining scales that is capable of outputting .tun and .mid scale definition files, among other things. In Scala, define the exact flavor of 12 EDO (Equal Divisions of the Octave) that you want, major, minor, modal, etc and then define the key by specifying the fundamental or base frequency (Scala has over 4,000 predefined scales already available, and what you are looking for may already be there). Name this scale as D Major, for example, and create a .mid file.

2. Download a VSTi plugin that can import scale definition files, like Xen-arts (http://xen-arts.net/xen-arts-32-bit-vsti/), very nice freeware synths and Soundfont player and synth. These VSTi plugins play nicely with Bitwig, although they are not MPE compliant. The scale definition .mid file can then be loaded into IVOR2, for example, a great subtractive FM synth, in Bitwig, and presto, consecutive pads on the LinnStrument play only D major.

I believe/hope that the ability to import tuning files into DAWs and plugins will become more commonplace in the future, but even so, there are many ways currently to experiment and work with microtonal scales. And the Linnstrument is absolutely the most powerful MIDI input device available today to work with alternative musical scales.
I decided to upgrade from Push to Push 2. I think it was just a better match for my needs. Ultimately the only thing the Linnstrument offered that ticked any boxes for me was extended range. All of the other features the Linnstrument offers while impressive just weren't that high on my list of wants.
I had a Push 1 and still own a Push 2. I’ve always hated how hard the pads are, and I actually find it painful on my finger joints to play for any length of time. Also, Push 2 is not even remotely comparable to LinnStrument. The extended range is probably the least of its advantages. What you’re really getting is an incredibly expressive controller with which to perform intricate melodic lines, full of variation and personal expression. Looking at it as simply “more pads” is missing the point entirely. On the other hand, Push 2 is a GREAT way to interact with Ableton Live, and I love it for what it offers.
Incomplete list of my gear: 1/8" audio input jack.

TobyB
KVRer
18 posts since 18 Dec, 2018

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:17 am

I am a mandolin/fiddle/guitar/etc player with poor keyboard skills. I have found Push2 and LaunchPad Pro very useful ... and the Roli Blocks looks like a very attractive idea at the price, but it's still a keyboard setup ... so the Linnstrument is something I hope to acquire in the new year, very encouraged by all the videos, reviews, etc I have seen ... but in the UK it may well be a blind faith purchase as demo's not easily found.
But ... amongst the predominantly keyboard/drumpad alternatives discussed here, on Roger's site, etc ... what about the guitar-like options, things with strings? I wasn't impressed by the Roland/Boss hexaphonic midi guitars, but I have a Fishman TriplePlay pickup on one of my guitars which is better (for me), and also used the Sonuus i2M that led to a whole lot of interest in synth's for me ...
I am really interested in the FretSense+RadioPick technology of the Industrial Radio guitars by Steve Chick (http://industrialradio.com.au/products/fretsense.html), and wonder if this might be an alternative step forward for instuments?
Anyone had any experience?

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3073 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:27 am

TobyB wrote:
Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:17 am
...
I am really interested in the FretSense+RadioPick technology of the Industrial Radio guitars by Steve Chick (http://industrialradio.com.au/products/fretsense.html), and wonder if this might be an alternative step forward for instuments?
Anyone had any experience?
I am an owner of a Peavey Midi Base, which was using a fret sense technology some 20 years ago. Back then this was my goto controler to play synths in the shop I was working for...
For me it was a bass with all its physicality playing synth sounds. I later got addicted to my fretless bass which was much more expressive, as it did not have the frets. So the expressivity of sliding was more important to me than the sheer endless choice of sounds. Also the expressivity of the Midi Base was restricted to the bends I could do (certainly harder than on a guitar).
This only came back to me with the LinnStrument. I got now 5 parameters of expression vs. 2 (pitch and velocity).
I still play my fretless bass as it is a different physical approach to play. But my Midi Base is settling dust most of the time...
My LinnStrument is, since I got it, my core goto instrument...
And I bet Roger will connect you to a LinnStrument owner in your area to give you some hands on experience...

A_SN
KVRian
979 posts since 6 May, 2008 from Poland

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:03 am

Roger_Linn wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:29 pm
A: It is fundamental to LinnStrument’s design that each of the eight rows always contains only chromatic scales. While it is true that some controllers (like my Tempest drum machine) permit you to set consecutive pads to play only scale notes (for example, only major scale notes, skipping accidentals), this is really only useful for controllers with few pads like drum pad controllers or Ableton Push. However, LinnStrument has 200 or 128 note pads so it is not necessary to delete any notes of the chromatic scale. The problem with removing the notes outside of the scale is that you can't play them, which is useful in all but very simple music.
:tu: I support this philosophy. I cringe when I see all those electronic instruments force you into a scale, it really shows how musically impoverished electronic music must be if that's not a major limitation for the users. In music that's beyond baby level it's ridiculously common to play both the minor and the major 7th in the same tune, sometimes even next to each other (the latter note as a diminished 8th).

Now someone should do such a controller with keys that can display a label, I'd love to have the offset in semitones from the root (like "7" for the fifth, "5" for the fourth, "11" for the major 7th and so forth) shown on the keys, that would be really cool. I play with a major thirds tuning on the guitar (that means every string on the same fret is 4 semitones apart, octaves repeat every 3 strings, and most triads line up nicely to make helpful shapes, it's much better than 4th tuning, except for range of course), and I've always been looking for a controller that can do this.
Developer of Photosounder (a spectral editor/synth), SplineEQ and Spiral

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3073 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:37 am

A_SN wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:03 am
I play with a major thirds tuning on the guitar (that means every string on the same fret is 4 semitones apart, octaves repeat every 3 strings, and most triads line up nicely to make helpful shapes, it's much better than 4th tuning, except for range of course), and I've always been looking for a controller that can do this.
That made me immediately try out the +4 tuning and I was able to get familiar pretty fast. It has similar advantages as the +6 tuning, a more regular distribution where the octaves are just above each other. I guess with this its easier to grab all sorts of chords if you play the Linnstrument with a strip like shutterdownmax does it...

A_SN
KVRian
979 posts since 6 May, 2008 from Poland

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:08 am

Tj Shredder wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:37 am
That made me immediately try out the +4 tuning and I was able to get familiar pretty fast. It has similar advantages as the +6 tuning, a more regular distribution where the octaves are just above each other. I guess with this its easier to grab all sorts of chords if you play the Linnstrument with a strip like shutterdownmax does it...
I'm glad someone else sees the charm of that tuning system! I think of it as the layout that is least linear and makes the best use of our sense of 2D geometry since it only strictly requires 4 frets to be used and the octave is spread over 4 strings, that makes a whole chromatic octave fit neatly inside a 4x4 square. It helps you think of everything in terms of 2D shapes and positions, each triad having its own simple and easily recognisable shape (a minor triad and its inversions being 2 notes on the same fret and 1 to the right, a major being the opposite) since intervals between adjacent notes in basically all triads are separated by 3 to 5 semitones. It can also highlight the geometry in scales, for instance it's easy to see the symmetry in the double harmonic scale when it's laid out like this:

Code: Select all

11  0↑
 7  8
    4  5
    0  1
(the numbers being the number of semitones from the root, 0↑ meaning 0 of the octave above, in other words 12)

Oh and since it took me some time to figure it out here's my favoured way of playing the natural minor scale, since there's a few different possibilities:

Code: Select all

10     0↑
    7  8
 2  3     5
       0
Although depending on the situation I might play the 10 (the minor 7th) to the right of the 8.
Developer of Photosounder (a spectral editor/synth), SplineEQ and Spiral

Taika-Kim
KVRian
1052 posts since 15 May, 2002 from Finland

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:33 am

Great thread, and I like the idea of expert reviews.

I've been having my eye on the Linnstrument since it came out, but I've been both low income and wary of new products from small manufacturers and companies essentially ran by single persons. Ever since Gravis Ultrasound lost to Creative Labs I've had a bad habit of jumping in with superior products that struggle with success. So I've been kind of waiting, and now it seems that there is enough interest to keep the instrument floating, which is great to see!

It's also funny, half of the posters here are Bitwig users :) that's why I'm also particularily interested, the BW system seems like a great match for a MPE controller, since I'm pretty neck deep in building stuff for BW.

I apperenticed once with one of the probably most legendary and skilled instrument builders in Finland with decades of experience, who was also studying interface design at the university at his old age. Being that he built traditional Finnish instruments, he had a pretty acrid view on musical traditions. His opinion was, that he could for example build a better piano any day, if the players would just accept change. But there's the problem of hundreds of years of tradition from one teacher to student generation after generation... Leading to bone deformations of player's of western "marching style" violin, etc. Since it takes usually years or even decades to become proficient in an instrument, and even longer for a musical vocabulary to develop for an instrument, all new inventions face challenges. Electronic music is still somehow swimming in this post-big bang-soup, where things are quite undeveloped. With a cello you have somewhere close to 40 parameters you can control while playing, it's very hard to program sounds and even less a controller with such intricate, and still useful amount of control. But to hell, if we don't even try!

So I'm happy these products are being developed :)

Long story short: I finally took up a full-time job and can again partake in the Great Western Dream, spending! A Linnstrument or a Soundplane are definitely in my shopping list. I found already somebody (hi Ilmai!) who could let me try the Linnstrument, about the Soundplane there's much less discussion or reviews anywhere, I think I'll wait until the new version comes out before I decide on either.

The thing is, I'm a craftsman, and quite sensitive to materials, I would really enjoy the wooden construction of the Soundplane. Then again I'm slightly worried about the dependency on external software. OTOH it outputs OSC, so even if Madrona Labs folds, I think some kind of support would go on on a voluntary basis. This is a big selling point for the Linnstrument too, I congratulate on the decision to go open source! I've been forced to abandon at least three audio interfaces over the years when the manufacturer artificially decided to drop support and refused to release the instructions to let people develop their own firmware.

I don't really play any instruments, I've been building many but only can kind of improvise on them, I was always too busy producing electronic music to have patience to concentrate on training. So I'm in a happy position of having no heavy baggage from other instruments.

Recently we moved to this small cabin because I chose nature and a quiet and minimal down to earth lifestyle along with the low rent that comes with a small house over living the city, so I don't have a studio space right now, and I even gave away my keyboard to save some space since all my gear lives on one desk now. I've been using the Quneo as a emergency solution meanwhile, and I realised that actually playing a note matrix makes a lot of sense, even though it's super limited to play on a tiny 4x4 grid. So the Linnstrument would probably be my only controller, I really dislike the layout of the harpsichord/piano. For god's sake, there's no strings anymore in the instrument, and the hassle with the black keys is insanity IMO :D

Anyway, just my thoughts. Maybe in the future I will post again about my observations if I really finally decide to get one :D

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3073 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:51 am

I‘ll just welcome you here. Its not only that a lot of LinnStrumentalists are Bitwiggers also I found in general those who look beyond the standard approach to electronic music are more often LinnStrument than lets say Seaboard users.
I love your work with Bitwig, it has always been a source of inspiration, your blog is high up in my bookmarks list...

tapper mike
KVRAF
5065 posts since 20 Jan, 2008

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Fri May 10, 2019 7:36 am

I thought I'd posted on this thread...


I'm a bitwig user because of the Linnstrument, not the other way round. My greatest facination with the Linnstrument has to do with Harmony. I've been playing guitar since the 70's And while I have dabbled on the keys sufficiently enough for a cover band or two I never really got into the instrument to where I wanted it to take me. There are certain piano chord voicings that simply can't be achieved on guitar as they are expressed on keys. I'd played ztars for a decade as a means to an end and while it did quite a lot to bridge the gap. The instrument itself was very hard to play.
As well I've dabbled in traditional instruments through the years trying to get the articulation which was only achievable via the instrument. Not well mimicked on synth/sampled environment.

The Linnstrument has been a great means to an end. Prior to owning the linnstrument my two main daws were Mixcraft and Ableton live. However once you realize the potential of mpe it's hard to look back. I'd attempted using chainers as a substitute for mpe enabled gear but it was always a hassle to set up. Bitwig's seemless integration with mpe made it happen for me.

davelp
KVRer
1 posts since 12 May, 2019

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Mon May 13, 2019 4:55 pm

Hi all-
I've just purchased a LinnStrument and am having issues getting it to work with Bitwig 8-track. I followed Roger's set-up instructions, and installed MIDI-OX and Bitwig, running on Windows 7. MIDI-OX shows that the LinnStrument is connected and streaming correct midi messages, and Bitwig recognizes the LinnStrument as a midi input device, but will not produce any sounds when the Linnstrument is played. I can produce sounds using the LinnStrument style touch keyboard in Bitwig, and can connect a midi keyboard to the computer, assign it as midi in and out to the LinnStrument controller in Bitwig and successfully produce sounds. Has anyone else experienced this issue, and/or have any ideas on how to solve the problem? Thanks!!!

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3073 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: Roger Linn Design LinnStrument - by Craig Anderton

Post Wed May 15, 2019 5:55 am

Welcome, there is also a dedicated Roger Linn forum here at KVR.
You have to check two things. One is the LinnStrument will send on Midi Channels 2-16 in MPE mode or on Midi Channel 1 in non-MPE mode. If "normal" (boring switches) keyboards play, that might mean its only listening to Channel 1 and ignoring the others...
Of course, track monitoring has to be on. (the little speaker icon...(Looks different on the Bitwig 3 beta...))
On the Track inspector there is an area to map incoming Channels to whatever. It should be set to from All to Same. Best play the internal synths like Phase-4 or Polysynth (they know that the LinnStrument wants to play them in MPE mode). VSTs might need to be set to receive MPE in the instrument inspector...

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