It's hard to get anywhere in making 80s music without at least hearing about the Linn series of drum machines, the most successful of these being the Linndrum. Aly James Lab has taken this nostalgia and made an extremely accurate recreation of the first of these machines: the LM-1.
Sadly, there is no official video I made showcasing the VST or its sounds yet, though expect this post to be updated later with that. In the meantime, here is an mp3 of a few rhythms using mostly custom sounds sampled from the output of the VST.
The VLinn recreates the grittiness of this drum machine, going as far as to emulate the variable bit-rate interpolation representative of early samplers and sample-based drum machines. This becomes particularly obvious when your drum sounds are tuned very low in pitch, a lo-fi quality that cannot easily be recreated even in Kontakt, the standard among modern software samplers. The sounds are also processed in real time, meaning that it's almost guaranteed a single drum sound will not sound exactly identical to the last time it was played.
In addition, unlike traditional vintage emulations, the VLinn has kept the EPROM storage factor in mind by utilizing binary dumps of these EPROM's. While they couldn't provide all of the sounds made for the Linn machines with the VLinn due to legal restrictions, they were granted permission by Roger Linn himself to include the stock LM-1 sounds, including a looped hihat and some drum sounds with unique lowpass filters.
Earlier today I confirmed that it's possible to legally use other Linn sounds. Using a bass drum chip provided by Forat (the current copyright holder of the Linndrum and Linn 9000 sounds) and an EPROM programmer, I managed to dump the sound into my computer and then load the .bin file into VLinn without any problems! While an expensive route (the programmer I have cost nearly $200, and the smallest chips offered by Forat are $25 each), this is definitely the best way to go legally if you want to use sounds from the Linndrum as well as the LM-1, though you'll still need to look hard for .bin files of the ride and crash cymbals, which were a whopping 8 chips per sound!
As for the VLinn, there's only one major feature of the LM-1 and its successors omitted from the VST: a sequencer. Thankfully, this software is meant to be used in Digital Audio Workstations with sequencers built into them, so an internal sequencer wasn't absolutely necessary to recreate, anyway.
My only gripe about it, personally: the only reason I was able to mess around with it at this time is because I also have VMWare Fusion: it's currently only Windows-exclusive and 32-bit. The good news is that Aly James Lab plans to make both 64-bit builds and Mac-compatible versions of the VST, though neither of these will be until next year.
Overall, definitely recommended, especially if you have a 32-bit DAW for Windows, though you can sample the output of the standalone version if you don't.