LinnStrument, Bus-Powered By iPad Air (Sneak Preview)

Developer Geert Bevin has been working closely with Roger Linn on the firmware for the new LinnStrument, and is testing a new mode that lets it be bus-powered by devices like an iPad.

In the video above, Bevin tests out using the LinnStrument to control ThumbJam on the iPad. 

Here’s what he has to say about the demo:

Last night I made a lot of progress adapting the LinnStrument firmware so that it runs off of bus power from my iPad Air.

This is a demo with ThumbJam’s Bass Bowed sound, played with note-per-channel MIDI, recorded straight into Auria over Inter-App Audio.

The LinnStrument bus-powered mode is still experimental, but there’s a good chance it will end up in the next firmware update. Note that this will only work with iOS devices that have lightning connectors, 30-pin connectors don’t provide enough power.

Bevin use of note-per-channel MIDI control is what allows him to slide individual notes around while he plays, unlike traditional MIDI Pitch Bend, which affects all held notes.

20 thoughts on “LinnStrument, Bus-Powered By iPad Air (Sneak Preview)

  1. Bus powered is nice, but you still need a powered USB hub if you want to use a sound card to get it off device. He is recording it to Auria, which means he has to post-process the sound stem and align it with the video later. For live settings, I’d rather use a bus-powered class compliant MIDI/audio interface and connect the Linnstrument to MIDI in.

  2. @Luke the headphone output of the iPad is quite sufficient for live performance in most cases. Using an Apogee Duet or an iConnectMIDI device obviously yields better results, but outside of the studio it will not be very noticeable

  3. @Geert I would really prefer to have balanced outputs in a live setting. The gain is never right when you’re trying to send headphone level to an unbalanced input on a mixer.

    1. Sure balanced outputs are nice at proper line level, but having traveled with lots of gear more times than I care for, I realized that more often than not, it’s not actually worth the added effort.

  4. Also, didn’t mean to disparage your performance. You’ve got some great performance skills, and this instrument opens up new possibilities.

  5. Good performance, Geert. I’m a bit skeptical about some alternate controllers, but you and Roger have both shown how well the L works with traditional instruments sounds. That seems like the “correct” starting point to me. If it can offer that level of precision with the familiar, then it can make huge strides in electronic-sound expressiveness. The blend is right on the mark. Thumbs up.

      1. he’s only uses one axis 2 axis of expression: z (amplitude) and y (or “x” for pitch), but the other axis expression is ignored

        1. Actually pitch is the X axis, and Z is indeed pressure, I didn’t use the Y axis since there was no need for it in this sound. It’s actually surprisingly hard to simultaneously keep three expression parameters under control and to figure out combinations that work well together for continuous expression. In general it ends up being either X+Y or X+Z, depending on the feel of the sound.

          1. So are those pure pitch bends? Or ThumbJam’s one of a kind pitch+glissando combo? Well… maybe not so much one of a kind, but in the past I had some hard times in finding a sampler that perfoms those glisses in such a natural way. In that sense LinnStrument and TJ seems like a perfect couple.

            1. Not sure what you mean with pure pitch bends, but there are per-note pitch-bends indeed, supported by the LinnStrument as a controller and by ThumbJam as one of the rare synths that has voice-per-channel support.

              1. Ah, by pure I meant traditional pitch bend ie. when bending a note, sampler sticks with the sample assigned to that note and tries to bend it like hell : ) On the other hand, in ThumbJam’s Glide mode, pitch bend “will cause the note to smoothly transition to the next note in pitch” (quoted from its user manual).
                Nice to see a controller utilizing those interesting fearures.

  6. Not to criticise Geert’s sound choice, but my favourite sound I’ve heard controlled by the Linnstrument was during a lecture Roger did, using just a square wave, with (I think) with Y mapped to pulsewidth, z to volume. There was something in that combo which allowed the Linstrument articulation to bring the simple tone to life. That was a selling point to me. Articulation makes the sound alive. On the opposite side, I feel the expressivity available on the controller exposes sample-based instruments in a harsh light. It’s not pretty to my ears hearing a sample bend up, the harmonics don’t/can’t do what they ought to.

    1. I actually agree with you and you explain why very well. There aren’t very many note-per-channel synths on the iPad (PPG has two) and I wanted to shine some light on ThumbJam since its creator is so nice, understanding and forward-thinking.

  7. For those interested, the bus-powered mobile mode of the LinnStrument is now rock-solid after thorough testing and will be in the upcoming 1.0.3 firmware update. This is so much fun, playing expressive electronic music anywhere without power constraints!

Leave a Reply