Lexicon 480L Effects System
Put two Lexicon 224Xs in one box, add a sprinkling of new features, and you have the reverb-based effects unit to beat them all. Paul Wiffen has the advance details.
You thought the Lexicon 224X was the last word in digital reverb? You thought wrong. In the sneakest of previews at a Californian recording studio, we got our hands on what could prove to be an entirely new standard-bearer - though as it turns out, direct comparisons between the new 480L digital effects system and earlier Lexicon machines are of fairly limited value.
To start with, the 480L has four processors to perform its functions, which start with digital reverb but certainly don't end there. These are grouped into two stereo in/stereo out machines (A and B) internally, which can be run independently (giving you the power of, say, two 224Xs) or configured together in several ways to provide multiple effects. Perhaps the most exciting of these is the Cascade configuration, which takes the output of machine A and transfers it to the inputs of machine B on digital lines, so there's no need for the signal to be turned back to analogue, sent into the next signal processor and reconverted to digital (with the loss in signal quality that entails).
On the same lines, there's a PCM 1610-compatible digital I/O (input/output) port which allows signals from digital multitrack machines like the Sony and Mitsubishi models to be processed through the 480L without leaving the digital domain. This is possible because the Lexicon's sampling rates (48kHz, 44.1 kHz or 44.056kHz) can be slaved to an external clock.
The 480L's 16-bit system (18-bit analysis, 16-bit replay) can operate at a choice of 44.1 kHz and 48kHz sample rate. Sampling time available is 1.5 seconds per processor, giving a total of six seconds for a mono sample, or three seconds for stereo. Typical dynamic range is said to be 100dB, with a 96dB minimum.
The 480L is controlled by the same remote as the 224X - the LARC (Lexicon Alphanumeric Remote Control). This will be good news for busy studio engineers, who rarely have much spare time to keep up with new programming processes. Both programs and parameters can be accessed and changed using the LARC.
Basically, there are (at the moment) three separate levels of programmable parameters, with complete access between levels possible at any time for each machine. If you want to, you can connect two LARCs to one 480L, so that, say, in a film studio application, the effects man can control machine A while the music engineer uses machine B independently.
The programs stored in the demo 480L sounded very impressive. Besides the traditional collections of Halls, Rooms and Chambers, and more modern gated and reversed reverbs, there were a host of new signal-processing effects which rivalled the Yamaha SPX90 in their range, but had the extra quality afforded them by higher bandwidth and signal-to-noise specs. And just in case the range of facilities becomes too much for over-eager programmers, the entire program memory of the 480L can be dumped onto a RAM cartridge, allowing a library of effects to be built up.
Lexicon have also added their 'Dynamic MIDI' implementation (so successful on the lower-priced PCM70) to the 480L, which means that in addition to changing patches and controlling the pitch of samples from controlling keyboards, you can use varying amounts of velocity to introduce different degrees of treatment. You can also sequence parameter changes via a MIDI sequencer in an automated-style mix.
A brief glimpse inside the mainframe shows a neat plug-in modular system which allows plenty of room for expansion and should make servicing (or updating) a doddle. In addition, there'll be diagnostic routines controlled and displayed via the LARC, so identifying a fault and its location should be pretty straightforward.
By the time of the 480L's official release (September 1), Lexicon plan to have the final basic version of the software finished, which will include new programs in the Single configuration which combines the power of all four programs (from both machines) to achieve powerful, complex audio effects. From there on, regular software updates should continue to expand the range of effects that the 480L can produce.
With this future expandability and a quality and flexibility that have already been proven by the 224X, the Lexicon 480L looks set to take its manufacturers further into unexplored areas of digital technology, and to take musicians and studio engineers/producers with them.
As soon as we have a production model, you'll know more.
Price To be announced
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Preview by Paul Wiffen
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