We’ve been treated to hardware reboots of countless classic drum machines over the past few years, but one in particular has remained in the rhythmic history books: Roger Linn’s LM-1. Now, though, it looks like it’s coming back, this time as the Luma1.
Although this isn’t being built by Roger Linn, it is being created with his consent. Luma1 is in fact the work of Joe Britt, a Silicon Valley CEO who set about the task of not only emulating but also enhancing the LM-1 for a new generation.
And this really is a love letter to the LM-1: no corners have been cut, it would seem, with every circuit board reverse-engineered then redesigned with the new features. Oh, and the new boards are purple, something that Roger Linn, quite reasonably, believes notable LM-1 lover Prince would have loved.
Writing on his website, Linn says: “A few years ago, a friend of [Joe Britt] gave him one of my old LM-1 drum machines. He enjoyed playing with it, but he wished it had a few extra features like loading alternate sounds from files, and pitch and pan knobs on the front panel. So he decided to make his own enhanced LM-1.”
For Britt, the project has been a labour of love: "For me, as a kid growing up in the ‘80s, the sound of the LM-1 was the sound of my people,” he says. “The Human League, Heaven 17, Yazoo, Gary Numan - so many of my favourite bands from that time built their sound around the LM-1. And of course Prince, who used the LM-1 to create the ‘Minneapolis Sound’. So I started with a very emotional attachment to work created with the LM-1.”
Released in 1980, it’s believed that only around 700 LM-1s were made before it was superseded in 1983 by the more affordable LM-2 LinnDrum. In fact, Britt was originally working from some incomplete schematics, and only got hold of a real LM-1 in 2021.
For LM-1 obsessives, the good news is that it’s been confirmed that a limited number of Luma1s are set to go on sale. They don’t come cheap, though: the target price is a whopping $4,995 (the same as the original). DIY kits will be announced later this year.
You can find out more and message the manufacturer via the Luma1 Instagram page.