Prepare for a few controversial decisions as we run down our list of the best drum machines of all time.

4 – Linn Electronics LinnDrum

Launched: 1982
Original RRP: $2,995 (around £1,900)
Current price: £700-1,200

The sleek orange and black LinnDrum was the second machine from Roger Linn’s emerging Linn Electronics, an updated version of the LM-1 but with additional crash and ride cymbals.

Unlike Roland’s TR machines, the LinnDrum used samples of real acoustic drums rendered at 28-35kHz. As such, the LinnDrum was nothing short of revolutionary, offering beat makers real sounds for the first time ever. Linn’s machines found fans among electronic musicians and also among all manner of bands and drummerless line-ups who didn’t want the synthetic sounds of the 808 or 909 but thirsted for genuine thumping kicks and snares instead (and let there be no doubt: this beast really punches).

15 sounds were bundled in all, including tuneable snare, tom and congas, with programming taken care of by way of 56 user patterns (with quantise and accent options).

Although hardly cheap, its unique sound assured success and the list of A-class users reads like a Who’s Who of 80’s hitmakers, including a-Ha, Stevie Wonder, the Human League and, notably, Prince. More recent fans include Kindness, who showcases the LinnDrum alongside a Korg Poly800 and Hohner Pianet in the video for ‘House’.

Author David Felton
1st August, 2012

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