The Linn LM-1 was truly a game-changing piece of technology. How much do you have to spend to get that sound and feel in your music?
In the pantheon of great drum machines, the Linn LM-1 stands tall amongst its peers. It set the gold standard for sample-based drum machines and effectively killed off its analog competitors. Why have a machine trying to sound like real drums? Here’s one that uses recordings of them!
The list of LM-1 users is as long as both my arms put together. It became THE drum sound that everybody wanted. People like Prince took it to another level, cleverly exploiting its tuning features to great effect. Other artists had Roger Linn burn their drum sounds onto EPROM chips.
LM-1 For Sale
They weren’t cheap and they were not produced in vast quantities. This means that when they come up for sale, they typically command a very high price. And one such example appeared on the Reverb retail site just recently. Priced at €35,000 EUR (a smidge over £28,000 GBP), it certainly perpetuates the high-ticket perception.
Little is said about it and there are only three pictures provided. If I were to consider splashing out that kind of money, I’d want a lot more evidence of its condition. Located in Bologna, Italy, shipping would be extra. And trust me, you don’t want to scrimp on that front with something so rare and delicate.
Luma-1 Drum Computer
Back in the real world there are, thankfully, some alternatives to get that classic LM-1 sound. Probably the best option if you’re looking at hardware is the fantastic Luma-1 recreation of the LM-1. The brainchild of wunderkind Joe Britt, the Luma-1 is an incredible recreation of the LM-1 but with modern-day electronics mixed with vintage-design components.
Endorsed by Roger Linn himself, the Luma-1 can do everything an LM-1 can and much more. You can easily load your own sounds in via USB. No more burning of EPROMS. It has full USB and MIDI capabilities and is hand-built in California, just like the originals.
Priced at ¢4,500 USD, this has to be the ultimate LM-1 to have in 2024. Brand new, reliable components, full warranty and support. Why anyone would buy an original over this is beyond my comprehension. Unless, of course, the vintage one had some historic provenance. But even then…
Aly James Labs VPROM
If software is your bag, then I can highly recommend the Aly James Lab VPROM plug in. This incredibly affordable piece of software not only captures the sound of the LM-1 but also the feel. Often overlooked by other sample-based efforts, Aly has managed to properly recreate the nuances of the original hardware, such as the tiny delay on the snare sample and the way the hi-hat cycles the sample all the time.
As well as being a great LM-1 impersonator, you can also “insert” other virtual EPROMs in the shape of ROM files. This makes VPROM a brilliant Oberheim DX, for example.
XLN Audio’s AD2 Reel Machines has some great Linn samples inside…
Consider a LinnDrum Instead?
LinnDrum’s can be a bit more prevalent on the used market. This particular example on eBay is selling for £500 more than a brand-new Luma-1.
And let’s not forget that Behringer has long-threatened to make a LinnDrum clone, which we have yet to see.
Something For Everyone
Deep pockets are not always necessary to get certain special sounds, but for a collector of absolute classic electronic music hardware, this LM-1 might just be what they are looking for. Let us know in the comments what you think of such prices and your other favourite Linn drum machine alternatives.
More about the LinnDrum
- All about drum machines
- Ableton Drum Machines
- Alyjames Lab VProm
- Lindrum from Mars
- Drumkito LinnDrum Sample Pack
- Everything vintage
- LM-1 For Sale on Reverb: Reverb
- Luma-1 Drum Computer: Joe Britt
- Joe Britt & Roger Linn: Joe Britt
- Aly James Lab's excellent VProm, an awesome EPROM-level LinnDrum emulation: alyjameslab
- LinnDrum for sale on eBay: eBay
- Behringer LmDrum: Behringer