Roger Linn Design AdrenaLinn Sync 2.0

Why this relates to beats: The AdrenaLinn stomp box is my favorite hardware guitar effect—so much so that I once did a sample library based entirely on sounds created with the original AdrenaLinn.

Why this relates to beats: The AdrenaLinn stomp box is my favorite hardware guitar effect—so much so that I once did a sample library based entirely on sounds created with the original AdrenaLinn. When doing dance music gigs in Europe, it’s the only box I take; what with amp simulation, delay, dynamics, filtering, and other effects—all controllable with synced LFO and stepped modulation—it’s a complete effects setup for beats-oriented music. AdrenaLinn Sync 2.0 is a VST/AU/RTAS plug-in that provides most of these functions, as well as some the hardware box doesn’t have.

First contact: AdrenaLinn Sync’s readable, clean interface is stellar. The signal flow is presented unambiguously (in true 3D), and the color choices make it easy to parse settings. The window takes up a fair amount of screen space, but there are lots of parameters, and it’s still legible with high res monitors.

The plug-in concept makes sense. One of the biggest problems with any rhythmic hardware device is that if it’s not receiving a MIDI clock, it’s difficult to sync precisely to tempo. The plug-in doesn’t have this issue, as it can sync to the host DAW’s tempo (and even track tempo changes).

Digging deeper: The AdrenaLinn Sync’s heart is arguably the filter (which offers highpass/lowpass/bandpass/ flanger/phaser responses), coupled with a 32-step sequencer that provides modulation. The pair produces the pulsing, distinctive AdrenaLinn sound that imparts motion and rhythm to guitar parts.

However, level and panning can tie to the sequencer too, as well as to a very complete LFO (six waveforms with range and phase controls) that can also modulate the filter, level, or pan. Furthermore, three types of synchronized delay offer yet another rhythmic element.

The sequencer incorporates two distinct modulation sources: a series of steps with adjustable levels that can repeat over two bars, and an envelope at each step with adjustable attack and decay (global for all envelopes). Step size choices are 1/8-note, 1/8-note triplet, 1/16-note, 1/16-note half-swing, and 1/16-note full swing; the 1/16-note options use all 32 sequencer steps, the 1/8-note options use every other step, and the 1/8-triplet options use the first three of each group of four steps. LFO and sequencer modulation sources are available simultaneously for all destinations.

One very cool feature is the ability to snap the signal controlling the filter to any of 14 scales. With resonant filter settings, this adds a “pitched” quality, although you need to specify the scale—AdrenaLinn Sync doesn’t figure out the key automatically.

Note that you won’t find the multiple amp models or drum machine from the hardware box, because the plug-in is all about the beat-synced effects—the assumption is that most musicians who use a computer will have amp sims, reverb, a drum instrument, etc. Nonetheless, the Distortion section lets you dial in many satisfying distortion sounds. There are also several improvements over the AdrenaLinn III’s beat-synced effects: analog-modeled lowpass filter from Way Out Ware’s ARP 2600 emulation (as well as analog-modeled bandpass and highpass variations), added phaser, stereo signal path, eight-measure stereo ping-pong delay, LFO phase adjust, random LFO peak level, random sequence levels and envelope probability both in real time or writing to sequence, and limiter attack/release times.

The bottom line: AdrenaLinn isn’t for everyone. Guitarists can be pretty conservative, and this is definitely not a Tube Screamer: It’s a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, marriage of synthesizer control/processing and organic guitar audio. However, one reason I’m an AdrenaLinn fan is that it fits the kind of music I play like a glove—in fact, a lot of AdrenaLinn’s functions duplicate (and improve upon!) hardware units I put together back in the ’80s because I wanted these kinds of sounds.

You may think you’re not into rhythmic guitar warpage, but play with the free trial—you might find yourself becoming addicted to the exceptional creative possibilities that AdrenaLinn offers. Often, just playing through it is enough to give you compositional ideas.

Price: $99

Availability: Download from