Expressive digital music creator gets smaller, cheaper sibling

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As its name suggests, the LinnStrument 128 has a playing surface made up of 128 RGB-backlit note pads in a 16 x 8 grid(Credit: Roger Linn Design)

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During his Grammy acceptance speech in 2011, Roger Linn admitted playing a central roll in the dehumanizing of modern music with the introduction of his LM1 drum machine in the 1980s. To try and make things right, Linn released a digital music interface in 2014 called the LinnStrument that was designed to offer players as much feel and expression as an acoustic instrument. Now the electronic instrument designer has created a smaller and more affordable version called the LinnStrument 128.

The LinnStrument actually entered our radar four years before release, with a design prototype based around a pressure sensitive control surface. But the TouchCo pad was withdrawn from production just as Linn began considering the release of the new expressive digital instrument. Frustrated by an unsuccessful search for replacement components, Linn opted to create his own. The 200 note pad was finally launched in late 2014, and is currently has a list price of US$1,799 (though is available direct from Linn for $1,499).

Like the original, the new LinnStrument 128 comes in a steel top panel, aluminum chassis and cherry side pieces and supports X, Y and Z axis touch sensing, together with both strike and release velocity. The playing surface up top has been reduced from 18.75 x 6 in (476 x 153 mm) to 12 x 6 in (305 x 153 mm), giving 128 RGB-backlit note pads in a 16 x 8 grid instead of 200 pads spread over 25 x 8.

The number of available octaves is down from five to four and the smaller instrument is also a pound lighter (at 4 lb/1.8 kg). The smaller sibling is powered over USB only and runs the same software as its bigger brother, which includes a swing arpeggiator and the recently-released two-track polyphonic step sequencer.

The LinnStrument 128 is due to ship on November 14 and carries a list price of $1,199, but can be had for $999 direct from its maker. The ticket price includes free global shipping, though doesn't include taxes outside the US.

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