Bobby Nathan's

Keyboard Magazine "In The Studio"

Article # 17

What Happened to The Linn 9000

To start off with, I was inspired to write this article to clear the air about a great tragedy that has befell us all. I’m speaking about the loss of Linn Electronics. If it had not been for Roger Linn’s invention the drum machine, I would not be here to tell this tale. Below are excerpts from a letter received by us shortly after Linn Electronics closed it’s door’s for good. It is being posted here to help Linn owners understand the difficulties encountered by Linn Electronics and Roger Linn. -------------------------

Dear Linn Dealer or Service Center: Linn Electronics has ceased all operations, at least temporarily. I am sorry I have not contacted you until now, but as you can well imagine, things have been very hectic. I will keep you informed as more news becomes available but for now this letter should answer some of your questions. WHAT HAPPENED? We simply ran out of money and were unable to get more. Why? There were a number of reasons. The 9000 had technical problems early on and was expensive to re-engineer, manufacturer and service; we had strong competition; we had no investment financing; and we were experiencing all the classic “growing pains” of a new business. WILL LINN START BACK UP AGAIN? It is possible; if I can raise enough money. It’s too early to tell. WHAT ABOUT THE SOFTWARE UPDATE WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR? On our last day of business, we sent out one copy of the new version 5.17 software ROMS for the 9000 and LinnSequencer to about 25 of our biggest dealers and service centers world wide. I’m sorry we weren’t able to do better than that but we thought at least that would allow people to make copies and sell them. The new software is a major improvement: Nearly all known bugs were removed, many new features were added, operations is about four times faster, and it is much easier to use. However, we were not able to completely finish it so some bugs still exist. If you didn’t receive one of the copies and don’t know of anyone who has one, you can purchase a set from Musician’s dealer Service in Chicago (312) 282-8171, Forat Electronics (818)-763-3007, Brad Cox (818)-708-1645 or from Unique (212) 921-1711. ARE THE WARRANTIES FOR EXISTING LINN PRODUCTS VALID? HOW WILL WE GET PARTS? Since neither Linn Electronics or myself has any money at this point, I am extremely sorry to report that warranty service is simply not an available option. However, I am doing my best to organize a sale of any existing service parts to a major service organization who would then re-sell parts as needed to local service centers. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE NEW PRODUCT, THE LINNDRUM MIDISTUDIO? No Midistudios were ever shipped. If I cannot re-start Linn, there is a good chance that some other company will purchase the designs to both the midistudio and the LinnSequencer and then manufacture and distribute them. In that event, there is also a chance that the company might make further software updates for the 9000 available since the software for all three products is nearly the same. WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE OF LINN PRODUCTS? It’s too early to tell, but among the possibilities is perhaps an association with one of a number of companies in this industry which would allow future Linn products to not only be innovative and answer the musician’s needs as before, but also to be more competitively priced, profitable to the dealer, reliable, delivered on time, and better supported. I am committed to achieving this goal and will do the best I can to support the dealers in the future who have supported Linn in the past. I would very much appreciate it if you would pass this information on to your Linn customers. As I mentioned earlier, I will keep you informed as more news becomes available. Thank you for your time.

Best Regards, Roger Linn Linn Electronics ---------------------------------------

NOTE: Mail addressed to the old Linn address is being forwarded to Roger Linn personally. During the recent NAMM show in Chicago I spoke with Roger Linn and he is now working with Akai. He is working on a new product, which he would not divulge what it would be, my suspicions would lead me to believe this new product to be a spin off of the Midi Studio.


NEW FEATURES AND KNOWN BUGS OF 5.17 SOFTWARE I’ve selected a few of the more important new features and improvements and bugs from a comprehensive list of 5.17 software updates explained by Brad Cox, ex-Linn Customer Service Manager. The following categories are actual quotes by Brad Cox. For additional info, repairs, consultation, mods, custom and alternate sounds for all Linn products call the Brad Cox/Linn hotline at (818) 708-1645. *Select Sequence Bug : When sequences are changed in play mode, selecting a sequence that is set to stop at end will stop playback at the moment that sequence starts instead of waiting until it has played. Leave blank bars at the end and stop the machine manually to get around this. *Drums and Synth mode Selection : A new feature of 5.17 is that you can select both Drums and Synth modes at once. You do this into “Both” mode and both the Drums and Synth led indicators will light. This does not allow recording or editing on both at once - one mode or the other is selected depending on which button was pressed first. the BUG above applies regardless of which sequence (Drum or Synth) is set to stop at the end. *Create Song : Create Song is essentially the same except data entry is more automated and the BUGS from 4.16 have been fixed. Enter now automatically advances the cursor to the next field. *End:Stop/Loop : Up/Down arrows now turn looping on and off. Second line of “On” screen is bar to loop to. BUG: Sequences with a loop will start playing from the loop point when selected in play mode. *Insert/Copy/Merge : There are two new options. Replace All - replaces the “move to” sequence with the bars specified in the “move from” screens. Replace Bars - replaces selected bars in the “move to” sequence with the bars specified in the “move from” screens. In either Replace operation you can not move bars to the same sequence that you are moving them from - you will get the error message “Cannot Replace Source”. Also note that in Synth mode, the midi channel assignments will be copied from the source when using Replace All or Before Bar 1 options. Bug : When using Insert/Copy/Merge on a sequence with more than one time signature, do not copy material from a sequence to itself - copy to another sequence first then copy from that sequence to the original one. This bug can happen with all 4/4 measures, so it is always advisable to copy from one to another and back. *Function 1: Memory test should report that memory ends at 1240:lCOO in a standard unit, 1240:DCOO in a 48K expansion unit and 3240:DCOO in a 48+128K unit. Beep on/off is the same. *Enter Tempo : Operation is the same except when in Auto (Drum) mode you cannot change tempo in Synth mode and vise-versa. BUG : When in Auto mode, using Enter Tempo or the tempo field in Select Sequence gives erratic results. Use Programmed Tempo Changes. *Programmed Tempo Changes : To use Program Tempo Changes, you must be in Auto Tempo mode for the type of sequence [Auto (Drum) or Auto (Synth)] in which you will be programming the changes. Press Programmed Tempo Changes - you are given the option to Add a Change or List Changes. When adding a change, you are first asked for the tempo you want to change to, then the bar at which the change is to take place. The next screen asks for the number of l/4 notes over which the change will take place for gradual changes. This number can only be as large as the number of quarter notes in the bar and depends on the time signature. To only be as large as the number of quarter notes in the bar and depends on the time signature. To carry a gradual change over several bars you must program changes on those bars. *Click : Operation is the same with one addition. In the intro field, there are now three options: Off, On (intro in both play and record) and RCD (intro in record only). *Memory Status: Now displays an approximation of Midi note capacity unused as well as the percent of sequence memory remaining the amount in K(ilobytes) of sound memory remaining. BUG: Sound memory display is incorrect on units with 48K and 48+ 128K memory expansions. More on this in Custom Sounds. *Sync Input Options: Once you get past the first screen by entering 1 for Tone, (SMPTE is disabled) operation is the same. l/l92=48 pulses per l/4 note, l/64T=24 pulses per l/4 note. Also, the Sync Output is now a square wave signal rather than a pulse wave-reliability sync to tape is improved. This will probably require you to record sync tones at a lower level. *Midi Parameters: Additions here are Aftertouch, a “Sending” prompt for Tx Omni Off - Y? (Pressing Yes transmits a Midi code to turn off Omni mode in synths that respond to this code.) *Transpose: When in Play mode, operation is the same. Pressing Transpose while stopped displays a new screen that selects one of two transpose operations Temporary operates the same as in 4.16. Permanent allows you to specify one or all tracks to transpose, the first and last bar to be affected (defaults to first and last bar of the sequence.) BUG: With Midi Drums Input on, transpose will not accept a note to indicate interval. *Custom Drum Sounds: The Names option now uses the Enter key to erase the displayed drum sound instead of the drum pads. Audio now has 10 steps in the Level field. Also, when assigning a sampled sound to a pad with Stop, Audio continues without returning to Select Sequence. Any other function key will terminate the Audio program. BUG: With 48K and 48+128K memory installed, Custom Drum Sounds thinks it has more memory than is actually in the machine, so it will sometimes try to store new sample or a sample from disk in this nonexistent area of memory. This produces a blast of noise on playback. The partial solution is to try loading the sounds in a different order, or exchanging one or two for shorter samples. Standard and 48+256K units are not affected. *****************************************************************

Below are Tips that I’ve quoted from some of the leading Linn 9000 programmers I know of in the field. By no means is this to say that there are not many more competent programmers out there. If any of knowledgeable Dudes would care to share some other tips with the readers of Keyboard Magazine write to me here c/o Keyboard. *****************************************************************

LOOP TO BAR FUNCTION When using the loop to bar function to any other bar than bar 1 the sequence will work fine so long as it is in memory. However, if you save the sequence to disk with the loop to bar function enable later when you load the sequence from disk the sequence will crash when you get to the bar that you are supposed to loop to. You can avoid this by documenting the bar you wish to loop to and turning the loop to bar function off before saving your sequence to disk. After you reload the sequence from disk you can re-enable the loop to bar function.

USING THE 9000’S SYNC TONE TO TAPE When using the linn 9000’s sync tone to tape it is advisable to print the sync tone on one track and simultaneously print a mono mix of your drum pattern in mono on another track just for reference. Now you are ready to record your drums and/or sequencers to tape. Because of a bug in 5.17 software concerning external sync, you have to experiment with boosting the level of the sync tone to tape to get the linn 9000 to sync up perfectly with the reference track. Too low of a level into the sync input will result in the 9000 slipping time. Compare the drum track you are printing with the reference drum track.

QUASI AFTER-THE-FACT QUANTIZATION You can achieve AFTER-THE-FACT QUANTIZATION results by utilizing a master clock (such as Dr. Click, SBX-80 or Masterbeat). Example: Set your master clock to time base 12. Set the Linn 9000 to receive 30 sec. note triplets. The Linn 9000 will not play any note values smaller then a 30 sec. note triplet. This is because the rate of the beats per quarter note of the external sync affects the way the 9000 quantizes. GROUNDING Although it is still wise when reading external sync to unplug anything connected to the 9000’s MIDI in, I have found that ground loops are the biggest problem and not incoming MIDI data. Try using the sync out of the Linn 9000 into a direct box and then through the console to the tape recorder. This usually isolates ground loop potential that can be recorded onto tape. If you have all the faders muted and you still hear the sync tone it is probable that there is ground loop potential. The above tips courtesy of Billy Cobin former East Coast Linn Electronics Rep. ******************************************************************

MAKING THOSE TRIGGER OUTS WORK! I use the trigger outs as multiple sync outputs. In this way I can read external sync and generate two other clock rates out of each trigger out. This is handy if you are trying to avoid spending $500.00 to $2,000.00 on a master clock box. (Such as Dr. Click, etc.) I found also that setting the trigger out 1/92nd note clock is more reliable than the sync out. I usually print the 1/92nd note clock from the trigger out.

MAKING A SETUP DISK I found that making a setup disk with your favorite track assignments, midi channels and bar lengths works well. It gives me greater speed when working with clients with the sequencer half of the Linn 9000. Time is money.

ON SYNCING If the sync on tape is questionable I usually use Dr. Click or Masterbeat to regenerate the sync and/or create a quarter note click. I found a quarter note click to be the most reliable. SMPTE is great too but the quarter note click is the easiest especially for fast punch ins or flying in fills.

USING THE FILTERS I’ve had Forat Electronics put variable filters on the conga and toms cards which allow me to contour the amount of filtering needed. I often put custom kick samples on the conga channel instead because of the digital aliasing that can be heard on a kick sample through the kick channel. The standard filtering on the tom and the conga cards was too much. The variable filter mod allows me to tweek just the right amount of filter. Here’s a trick that has worked well for me. When you want the tom toms to sound simpatico to the snare put your custom snare sample also into the toms channel. The filtering on the toms card hollows out the snare sample and filters off the buzz of the snares themselves. This makes for tom toms that sound very much like the snare. When I heard Linn went out of business I bought another one right away. Nothing else out there still comes close to the 9000’s programmability. New York session player/programmer and fellow Keyboard Player columnist Jimmy Bralower whose credits include Madonna’s Like A Virgin album.


CREATE SONG MODE When you create a song using create a song mode you are in effect creating a duplicate number of sequences in the form of one long sequence. This of course uses up twice the memory. To avoid this waste of memory instead use the insert/copy/merge mode. It is always wise the save separate sequences first to disk before you use the insert/copy/merge mode and alter the original.

SAMPLING BUG OVERSIGHT As many of you know if you forget to name the sample while in sampling mode you do not get a second chance. This happens quite frequently in the heat of a sampling session and what happens is the sound is default named “custom sound ?K”. the only way to remedy this after the fact is to store the custom sound to disk and then go to store it again onto the same disk. Since the software won’t store a file with the same name it asks whether you would like to rename it. At this prompt you can then rename the sample then use the erase a file function to delete the original “custom sounds” on the disk.

COPYING SEQUENCER TRACKS WITHIN A SEQUENCE Since the software doesn’t allow you to copy sequencer tracks within a sequence you can get around this by using either of the following methods. 1) Mute all tracks except the track you wish to copy. Next, assign the track you want copied and the track you want to copy to to the same MIDI channel. Turn off the midi echo function or this will cause midi feedback. Plug a midi cable from the 9000’s midi out into the 9000’s midi in. Then put the 9000 into record. 2) The second method is the same as the first but requires a midi channel filter/channelizer type box (such as a J.L. Cooper or Roland MPU-103). The procedure is identical as No. 1 except that you do not mute all the other tracks. Instead, set the channel filter to read the midi channel of the track you wish to copy from and set the channelizer to the midi channel of the track you wish to record on. The channel filter/channelizer is inserted between the 9000’s midi out and midi in.

SAMPLING MEMORY VERSUS SEQUENCER MEMORY Although 5.1 software was supposed to make the sampling memory independent of the drum machine/sequencer memory this is still not true. A good idea if you want to hear the maximum amount of drum sample memory and complex sequencer sequences at the same time would be to erase any unnecessary sequencers from memory. Of course, be sure they are stored on disk first. You still may experience a glitching sound on your custom drum samples. To avoid this when transferring to tape dump the drums to tape in one pass with no synthesizers loaded into memory and then on the next pass erase the custom drum sounds and drum sequencers. Load the synthesizer’s sequences and transfer them to tape.

ERASING ALL MEMORY It is a standard practice at Unique to blow out (erase) all the memory out of any drum machine, sequencer, etc. before starting a programming session. When using the Linn 9000, instead of holding erase and record upon power up I recommend using the function 1 command which performs a automatic diagnostic test on all the internal modules and then prompts you to erase all memory. From Jeff Neiblum staff programmer/sampler at Unique Recording Studios, NYC.


CREATE SONG TIP: 1. When your memory is insufficient to record a “Create Song” into a sequence, exit and re-enter “Create Song”; Go to Step 1; press play; then press stop; then press play again. You’ll hear your song. But it won’t save to disk that way.

PSEUDO-SONG POINTER via SBX-80: With your SBX-80, record the song into memory. This is usually accomplished by printing a ¼” click on tape and recording it into the SBX-80’s click. Once this has been accomplished you can then read bar #’s via the SBX-80’s internal micro-processor. Roll the tape up to point where you would like the Linn to start playing at. See what measure the SBX-80 indicates. Next rewind tape to a cue point ( usually a couple of bars earlier than where you want the Linn to start playing from). Set the SBX-80 to start at that measure #. Locate the Linn to that Bar # and roll ‘em! If you have an early rev of the Linn sequencer and the click’s intro tempo bears no resemblance to the actual sequence tempo, fast foward to the last bar of the sequence to be recorded ( or last two bars if you desire a two bar count-in) and go into Record. After 1 or 2 bars of click ( your intro), you’ll be recording at Bar 1. You can re-initialize a sequence ( cancel the name of an erased sequence) by changing the # of bars in the time signature. Tommy Mandel .. Programmer/Keyboard Player Bryan Adams


SAMPLING BUG When sampling user drum sounds on the 9000, if you complete a sample and attempt to assign it to a pad which already has a sample attached, the system will give you a rude message after the fact, cancel your sample, and worse, refuse to de-assign the sample that you just tried to assign! By this, I mean that if you select option “1” from Custom Drums Sounds, you will not be able tohear sample you tried to assign over the first one. Bruce Nazarian .. Owner/Programmer - Gnome Sound Detroit, Mi *****************************************************************

Defending the honor of the 9000 has not been an easy task but it certainly has been worthwhile. I can’t say enough good things about my machines even though prior to rev 5.17 I did put my foot through one. Great unit. It should have been released,at worst, with the current rev of software and some of Bruce Forat’s mods. CUSTOM DRUM SAMPLES VS MEMORY Don’t forget to unload any custom samples from 9000 before powering down. With current software rev, 9000 crashes when powering up with samples in memory. If you haven’t saved your data—oopps!! Bye Bye SYNC PROBLEMS The omnipresent sync problem. Cutting sync tone first at a level as close to -3 as engineer will let me, certain lower than -6 on (I prefer track 23 - not an edge track) on an isolated track, while cutting a ref drum track than going back cutting the drums for real - making sure they sync is one way I’ve tried. Using my doctor Click II to generate 48 clock pulse from a click is another. Usually used when Linn sync is completely out. There is a thought that the sync may be modulated by the actual striking of the drums. While listening to sync from the Linn while monitoring drums, sync fluctuates sometimes seemingly with a snare hit or other drum. So, I’ve been successful in laying a reliable sync by playing a blank pattern to lay sync. Therefore eliminating the possibility of modulating the sync one.

MIDI TRACK ASSIGNMENTS When copying a pattern in the sequencer with fewer MIDI track/ch. assignments to a pattern with more MIDI assignments, i.e. Pattern 05 has five channels being used 1-1 2-2 3-3 4-4 5-5 and you want to add pattern 06, which has two channels used 1-1 2-2. You get playback of all parts on channel 1. You must then go thru the new pattern and reassign all respective tracks. I should mention that this only happens when adding the lesser MIDI used pattern to the FRONT of the greater MIDI used pattern. Jim Salamone - Drummer/Programmer Phila., Pa Recently completed tracks for Sheena Easton’s new album. Currently working with Grover Washington on his new record.


COPYING DRUM PATTERNS WITHIN A SEQUENCE Many times as in the case with Jimmy Bralower needing to load his custom kick drum samples into the toms or conga slots because of the filtering available the kick pattern of a particular sequence or a whole song must also be transferred to that conga slot also. Here’s is a nifty way to do it. Take the audio out of the original kick drums direct output and plug it into the trigger in. Assign the trigger in to the slot you wish to move the kick drum pattern to (in this case the high conga channel). Put the Linn 9000 into record and you can transfer a sequence or a entire song with this technique. Note: this procedure works well on patterns that do not have note values smaller than 16th note triplets. I’ve also used this techniques to transfer patterns from other drum machines without midi into the Linn 9000. Set the trigger out to the clock value of the 9000 to the clock value of the non-midi drum machine and feed the individual audio outputs of the non-midi drum machine into the Linn 9000 (you may have either 6, 12 or 18 trigger ins depending on how may trigger cards you have installed in your 9000). Set each trigger in to the corresponding drum channel (for example: kick, snare, toms etc.) Again as I mentioned earlier this procedure works only up to a 16th note triplet. Also, when making a transfer slow the Linn 9000’s tempo down so that each event can be recorded into the 9000’s trigger ins more accurately. *****************************************************************

PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE One thing you should watch out for is the rubber pressure pads for programming drums on the 9000. If you are rough with them they will break. As of this writing there are no more. So if you are a heavy hitter use your SDS9’s or the Roland Octapads via midi instead. The disk drive is another delicate beast. Keep a dummy disk in the 9000’s disk drive when transporting. This disk drive can be replaced but it is quite expensive. Be aware that cleaning the disk drive regularly as with any disk drive is also most important. Marty Strauss - chief keyboard technician at Unique Recording Studios, NYC *****************************************************************

CUSTOM CHIPS Gand Sound has bought out the entire remaining inventory of over 3000 factory alternate sounds. If you are looking for alternate sounds for your Linndrum or Linn 9000 contact Gand for a complete list of what sounds are available. We have been burning custom sounds at Unique for some time now and also can be of service to anyone wishing their own custom sounds for the Linndrum and Linn 9000. Contact Marty Strauss (212)-921-1711.


Below are some currently available Mods that will enhance a stock factory Linn 9000 beyond the realm of mere mortals. *****************************************************************

LINN 9000/MASTERBEAT INTERFACE CARD Kmuse Electronics and Garfield Electronics have announced the Garfield 9000 Card. List price $449.00 installation included, requires a Garfield Master Beat. “The Garfield 9000 card gives the Linn 9000 the power of smpte lockup via midi clock and song pointer. Something that was very important to the original buyers of the Linn 9000”. Kevin Kent, former director of Marketing Linn Electronics presently President of Kmuse Inc. (Photon Midi Guitar). *****************************************************************

SAMPLING ON ALL PADS MOD Forat Electronics has an extensive mod that will enable sampling on all 18 of the Linn 9000’s pads. To accomplish this, all the Eproms (sound chips) in the 9000 are removed and instead more memory is added. Memory protect switches are added to rear of the 9000 so that Custom Drum Samples loaded into memory can be protected against accidental erasure. The mod cost $1300.00 and requires shipping your 9000 to Forat Electronics for about 3-5 days. VARIABLE FILTER MOD This mod is also available from Forat Elec. and can be installed on either the Toms or Conga slots or both the cost is $125.00 per slot and usually can be installed in the same day. ******************************************************************


For those owners that would like to get 5.17 software or repair on your Linn 9000 don’t despair—many dealers and local service centers are still servicing the Linn 9000. If you get into a situation that you have to send your unit back to the factory because the repairs are more complex than your local service center can handle, contact Forat Electronics at 1-818-763-3007 or Brad Cox at 1-818- 708-1645. *****************************************************************

In closing, I hope that you the readers have enjoyed these handy household hints. Knowing the secrets will keep your Linn 9000 from turning into a Hal 9000 “Dave, my memory’s failing, Daisy , Daaaaaay....... szeeeeee.

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