I was very excited when I heard that Aly James had just finished his version 2 of the Vlinn Linn LM-1 VST drum machine emulator. I did a comprehensive review of Vlinn version 1 a while ago, if you have not already watched that video I strongly suggest you do so before watching this one.
In this video I am going to concentrate on what the new features are in version 2 and how it differs from version 1.
Vlinn 2 Is Now Multi-Format and 64 Bit Compatible
The main and most important upgrade is that it is completely re-written to be compatible with multiple plugin formats and 64 bit systems. It is now available for Mac and PC in VST2, 3 and AudioUnit format.
Vlinn 2 is now written using Oli Larkin’s respected IPlug framework. Version 1 was made in SynthEdit with added custom code, a lot like Variety Of Sound’s free plugins. Many people will be very happy it is now 64 bit. Even though there is no performance improvement, some DAW’s 32 to 64 bit bridging can be problematic.
Comparing the GUI’s
Let’s get right in and compare version 1 and 2 side by side and explore the new features.
On the top we have version 1, and on the bottom version 2. They look very similar, but version 2 has a cool circuit graphic (top right) for your viewing pleasure.
GUI Interface Usability Improvements
There are improvements in the way that you can interact with the GUI.
- Double click resets values to default settings. This is particularly useful with the tuning as you often want to return to a more sensible pitch after experimenting with some crazy ones.
- Alt click enables you to enter values precisely with the keyboard.
- Ctrl drag enables precise control over the knobs and sliders, which is the same as in version 1.
New panning control
The TUNE control can now be clicked and turned into a PAN control. This is very handy if you are not running the plugin in multiple output mode as it enables you to make a full stereo mix from right within the plugin.
Additional Stock Custom Voice
The original Linndrum was famous for having feeling and groove. One reason for this was that the stock snare drum had a little empty space before the sample causing it to sound slightly late. This meant that it had a laid back feel to it.
In the Vlinn version 2 there is now an additional custom voice that is named EXTRA. This has a copy of the stock snare WITHOUT this delay. This enables you to quickly program drum patterns that do not have the laid back snare sound without having to modify your MIDI. The original delay on the snare also got longer as you tuned the sample lower, so the new version is even more welcome in these situations.
New Velocity Modes
The velocity modes change the way the Vlinn reacts to how hard you hit your velocity sensitive keyboard or electronic drum kit. It also changes the way it reacts to programmed velocity inside your DAW.
Version 1 had only 2 velocity response modes, ORIGINAL and FULL.
ORIGINAL emulates the hardware in having only 2 velocity layers. So if you hit your keyboard/electronic drum kit very hard you get the loudest drum sound, anything under that you get the softer sound. It is playing the exact same sound, only at a lower or higher volume. FULL makes the Vlinn fully velocity responsive, unlike the original hardware instrument.
Version 2 add FULL LIN and FULL EXP modes. These are full velocity responsive modes, but they react in either a linear or exponential way. These are just technical terms that relate to how the Vlinn responds to how hard you play your controller. You may have come across these exact same terms in your MIDI controllers manual. The diagram shows what they mean, but you will need to play the instrument to discover the feel.
MIDI Pitch Bend for Global Tuning
Now you can use MIDI pitch bend to globally transpose the entire drum kit. This is really cool for live performance.
Improved EPROM Loading and Management
What the hell is an EPROM you may be asking? An EPROM is a special type of memory chip that retains its contents until it is exposed to ultraviolet light, it stands for erasable programmable read only memory. It is where the drum samples were stored on the old hardware.
As you know, the Vlinn 1 and 2 can both load the EPROMS from compatible drum machines. Now in version 2 all of the EPROMS can be replaced instead of only 7 of them. Also you don’t need to worry about the size of them when loading anymore, this is taken care of automatically now.
We also have a nicer layout and improved graphics on the page along with a handy UNLOAD CUSTOM EPROMS button to reset back to the stock sounds.
What Has Happened to the Electron Gate Linn EPROMS?
The Vlinn has the LM-1 EPROMS built in, but wouldn’t it be nice to have the LM-2 and Linn 9000 sounds too? That was totally possible if you downloaded the EPROMS and loaded them in.
Recently there has been a take down on the Linn EPROMS that have always been freely available from the electrongate website. If you go to the old download page now you get:
“The Linn drum samples have been removed from this web site at the request of the copyright holder. Please contact Forat Electronics for your Linn sound EPROM needs.“
Forat Electronics now seem to own the copyright for these ROMS. I assume they don’t want people burning their own and selling them on Ebay cutting into their business.
The Return of the Linn LM-2 and 9000 EPROMS!
Well, of course this copyright shouldn’t really apply to the samples in another format, after all the web is full of free samples taken from the LM-2 and 9000.
Here is an anonymously supplied bank in .fxb format that will work only in the Vlinn 2 :). It features not only the missing Linn EPROMS but all the classic drum machines that are compatible with the Vlinn ready to go!
Aly James Custom Kit 01
Linn LM-1 early revision
The other machines will of course sound like they were played through LM-1 hardware, but that is not a bad thing for lovers of 8 bit retro drums.
If you are reading Forat Electronics, the EPROM format is embedded into another DATA format inside the bank. It is unusable “as is” to write onto hardware EPROMs. If you demand a take down I will of course comply, but it would be a real shame for users of this software. Really hope you guys are groovy with this.
This is a great update. For many people it will be the first time they get to use the plugin as it was only PC VST 32bit in the past. I can’t really think of anything important it is missing now and encountered no bugs or problems during testing.
If there was one killer feature that could be added in the future it would be tuning the kick drums automatically to note names. There is much debate on if this is overkill, but I have found it is a fantastic technique to get the bass and kick to gel.
There are of course many free and paid for drum samples out there that provide these sounds, but as we spoke about in the original review, they can’t provide the special tuning and filtering that the Vlinn provides.
What is missing from these raw Vlinn sounds that the sample libraries may have included is outboard processing to make them sound like the records we probably want to emulate the sound of. I think that half the fun is doing that yourself and in the process making your own sound. Running the drum bus out through an old consumer cassette deck should get you very close to the 80’s sound indeed, there maybe one lurking in your attic right now!
Vlinn’s GUI and features offer plenty of opportunity to experiment and play about with the drum sounds that sample libraries don’t provide. It is easy to set-up multiple outs from your DAW and process each sound individually. It really is a much more fun experience than using samples, and that is what it should be about!
UPDATE: Kirkwood West has created a VLinn Drum Rack for Ableton Live users to take advantage of. It sets up the VST on a Drum Rack by mapping each pad to a specific drum pad.
If you enjoyed this review please join my newsletter so you don’t miss any in the future! Press a social share button below and show you care…