Roger Linn’s LinnStrument – Updated Prototypes

Saturday Synth Porn: Roger Linn has posted some updated images and details of the prototype of his rather awesome LinnStrument electronic music controller.

The LinnStrument is designed to offer what Linn calls ‘3D Note Expression’. On Linn’s new instrument, movement of each finger is sensed in three dimensions continuously and simultaneously :

  • Finger pressure for note loudness (or strike velocity for percussive sounds)
  • Finger left/right position for note pitch
  • Finger forward/backward position for note timbre

It’s polyphonic, so it’s able to capture this 3D note expression for all fingers simultaneously.

Why is 3D Note Expression important? Here’s what Linn has to say about it:

Software synthesizers have made tremendous advances in their ability to produce the subtle, humanlike solo note expression normally associated with traditional acoustic instruments. However, when played from midi keyboards, they tend to sound somewhat stiff and unnatural.

If you’ve ever tried to play a midi keyboard with a software synthesizer or sampler in order to simulate a convincingly human sax, clarinet, violin, cello or guitar solo, you’re probably aware of this limitation. It turns out that their key pressure and bend/mod wheels aren’t quite up to the note expression capabilities of acoustic solo instruments…

Linn’s design for the LinnStrument is flexible for it to be used in piano mode, guitar mode, hex mode or as a MPC-style controller.

Unfortunately, the LinnStrument is still in the prototype stage – no pricing or availability date is available.

13 thoughts on “Roger Linn’s LinnStrument – Updated Prototypes

  1. this looks amazing. I am still really interested in the Soundplane by Madrona labs too.
    This kind of controller is going to revolutionize everything. Especially when it is affordable.

    Now all I need is more DSP power in my computer.
    The day when CPUs are powerful enough to run U-he ACE and Madrona labs Aalto like they run Synth1 today is the day I am waiting for.

  2. The guitar layout touch synth will displace everything, primarily because it is pitch isomorphic… you can retune by consistently playing sharper, you can have dynamic refretting rules and have full access to all of the scales that have been inaccessible on 12tone instruments, and other instruments with mechanical limitations. You can have a chromatic funadamental pitch but adjust higher parts of chords to lock in Just ratios. The layout will stick because from the mundane normal music to the highly experimental, the music theory and fingerings are more consistent. This layout…even on something as small as an iphone can make it easy to play difficult music with lots of bends, arpeggiation, modulation,and scales. People who are not used to thinking beyond piano layouts are in for a big shock. The explaination of how there isn’t an explicit envelope is really interesting…the area where ios isn’t completely up to the task yet.

  3. "Now all I need is more DSP power in my computer.
    The day when CPUs are powerful enough to run U-he ACE and Madrona labs Aalto like they run Synth1 today is the day I am waiting for. "

    Amen to that. I have a fairly decent dual-core and just one instance of either of those synths (while awesome) just hog the crap out of it. But things are moving quickly. Softsynths of today are getting more and more powerful, and the hardware will catch up. You wouldn't have been able to run most of them on anything 5 years ago.

  4. finally something truly musically innovated. not just another cheap knockoff ipad app. but something that really can change the game. something that a lot of people will want to own. all depending of course on the cost. the quality and design is top notch coming from mr. linn, no doubt.

    this is something the ipad has a long way to go to mimic. full touch sensitivity is a long way off for cost and practicality. more technology based instruments with android open source and it's larger user base seems ready to go. just waiting on the processor power to go up and the prices to come down. star trek isn't far off, sheesh we have virgingalactic already.

  5. ive been using softsynths for over a decade… and there will always be software that needs "better" hardware, thats just the way things are done

    granted, i really enjoy running 5 year old plugins on my modern machine, because its like 15% cpu load.. but current devs will always push the limits of current hardware, so get used to that

  6. Definitely a cool controller, but it's not exactly a very live music orientated device, is it?

    I can't imagine being very impressed seeing anyone on stage with one of these.

    Still, I would love to get my hands on one.

  7. Utterly failing to see the point.

    It'll also prolly be priced at $2000 – which will make it even more of a boutique instrument for pretty dilettantes (see: OP-1). lol.

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