In the late 70s and early 80s, guitar effects pedals were introduced that made expensive studio techniques like "flanging" and "echo" affordable for the masses.
Simultaneously, punk rock and new wave guitarists wanted to push the boundaries of what rock music should sound like. Many relatively unknown guitarists (Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Andy Gill come to mind) pushed the edge of what the guitar itself should sound like with effects ranging from syncopated echos to animal sounds.
The more famous representatives of this style are probably familiar to you: U2, The Cure, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel and sometimes Green Day, The Smiths and John Mayer.
Back to the 70s and 80s: the first company to create a programmable drum machine was run by a man named Roger Linn.
The Linn Drum was used on records from Prince, The Cars, Peter Gabriel, Madonna, The Gap Band, Todd Rundgren, and many others.
It cost some outrageous amount of money and had a unique sound that was much better than any other drum machine at the time (IMO).
I might have seen it once or twice in a store, I'm not sure. But even if they had it, they would never, ever let you touch it. It was that sort of thing.
So when I found out a few years ago that Roger Linn had created a guitar effects processor, I definitely wanted to try it out.
Then, when I heard it on the radio:
Red Hot Chili Peppers - By the Way
John Mayer - Bigger than my Body
Morcheeba - Part of the Process
Audioslave - Like a Stone
Green Day - Boulevard of Broken Dreams
I definitely wanted to try it because it did some things that other effects processors just don't do.
But I haven't seen it in any stores. Not the AdrenaLinn, the AdrenaLinn II or the AdrenaLinn III.
So I finally figured out that the only way I could get my hands on one would be to get Sweetwater to send it to me, and then try it as part of our review/giveaway system here.
So here it is, by my own special request:
The AdrenaLinn III by Roger Linn Design
I thought it would be bigger. It is about the size of a thick paperback book. I expected something about 15 inches by 9, and this is about 8 by 5.
It has a small LED, 4 knobs and a few buttons. There are about 50 editable parameters (it does a lot) that you have to control thru this very small interface. The parameters are listed in a grid on the face of it, and you need to press a button on the left to select the row of parameters you want to edit, and then use the knobs on the top. Once you get the hang of it, it isn't too bad, but it is definitely expecting a technical-savvy user.
The back has midi in/out. If you want to use it live, you would definitely want to get an external midi foot controller (an addition $300 or so) to be able to fully control the various effects.
The AdrenaLinn is a beat synched modulation/filter effect, plus a filter sequencer, amp simulator and drum machine.
The main strength of the AdrenaLinn is it can make a guitar sound different from a guitar, giving it tools more often associated with synthesizers. Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and John Mayer's "Bigger than my Body" are excellent examples. Each features extra notes, in time to the music, produced by the effects box, not by picking. Think U2's The Edge taken to a further level.
I will do my best to explain what this device does, but you might want to check out the audio demos on the Roger Linn website to hear for yourself what I am talking about
Before receiving the AdrenaLinn, I was dubious about two of its functions: amp simulator and drum machine.
Why spend time and effort on an amp simulator and drum machine, when what we really want is the arpeggio sequencer and filters?
After 15 minutes, it becomes obvious: it is a great tool for coming up with ideas. The drum machine is necessary to have a time reference for the sequencer, something to "play off of" so the filtering and sequencing make sense in a tempo, not just by itself.
Similarly, the amp simulator is necessary because the sound of the guitar and the sound of the filter effect are so intertwined, that they ought to be together in the same preset. Nobody wants to (for instance) program a great preset in their POD amp simulator and a matching one in their AdrenaLinn and then write it down on a piece of paper somewhere.
So I was soon convinced that the overall concept was smart. How was the sound?
I really like it. I am very much enjoying the current crop of 80s-influenced bands like The Bravery, The Killers and The Fray. This device seems like the sort of thing they would use, and unapologetically lays on a ton of effects to get some really interesting sounds.
Here is the list of effects:
Sci-Fi (science fiction sounds)
The most unique feature here is the arpeggiator. You can use it to make your guitar sound like a dance synth, or you can put it way back in the mix so that it just adds some color to your chords in a way that people might not notice, but will give extra body to your sound.
From the Roger Linn website:
...AdrenaLinn III's exclusive Arpeggio Sequences, as used in John Mayer's 2004 hit Bigger Than My Body. In this case, your guitar signal in processed through a sequence of pitched resonances, superimposing patterns of major, minor, chromatic or other note sequences onto your tone. It's sort of like the resonant frequency you'd hear if playing your guitar in a small tiled room, except the size of the room changes up to 32 times over 2 measures in a pattern of specific resonances.
Any of the sequencer effects listed above can be programmed in this way. Warning: you will need a lot of time on your hands if you want to program the sequencer with this 4 knob interface. I would definitely recommend that you try the windows editor interface (not tested for this review - it looks pretty rudimentary) or if you have sounddiver, there is an implementation for that editor as well.
I am not qualified to comment on whether this amp simulator mimics amps better or worse than any of the others on the market. I like it very much; it sounds the way I prefer. Particularly on the distorted settings, I find a lot of amp sims to be sort of lifeless. These did not give me that impression.
Here's the list of models:
Fender Black Deluxe Reverb
Fender Twin Reverb
Fender Tweed Deluxe
Marshall Plexi Super Lead 100
Roland Jazz Chorus
Mesa Boogie Mark II
Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier
Peavey 5150 MkII
Bass amp: Acoustic 360
Bass amp: Ampeg SVT
Bass amp: Gallien-Krueger 800RB
Bass amp: SWR SM-500
Distortion pedal: Fuzz Tone
Distortion pedal: Octave Fuzz
Clean mic preamp
The AdrenaLinn III also has some standard multi-effects features: a tuner, noise gate, compressor and reverb.
The drum machine is programmable, but again, I did not attempt to program it. I expect it would not easy with the built-in interface.
Overall, I am very happy to have had a chance to try this out. If you win it, you will be amazed at all the interesting presets. If you like guitars with effects, this is really a great unit.
Just reply to this thread to enter the contest.