Test Drive: Lexicon LXP-5 and MRC

LXP-5 and MRC Effects Processing Module & MIDI Remote Controller from Lexicon

by Jerry Vigil

Lexicon LXP-5This month's Test Drive takes a look at yet another digital effects processor, but this one is a little out of the ordinary. To begin with, the LXP-5 from Lexicon is only half the size of your basic one rack-space processor. Frankly, it's not much bigger than a college text book. The second thing that caught our eye was that there is no digital readout of any kind on the front panel. Hmmm. Then we discovered it was nominated for a TEC award for Outstanding Technical Achievement in the Signal Processing Technology category. HMMMM! Then we spotted its mate, the MRC remote control. While this remote control unit isn't necessary, it does have a display screen for the LXP-5, it offers better control over the LXP-5, and the two units together pack a MIDI punch like you've never seen.

Like many digital processors, the LXP-5 offers delays, pitch shifting, reverb, and EQ; and all of these effects can be used simultaneously, so, in effect, you get four effects at once. There are two algorithms in the unit. The first is called PITCH/DELAY. It includes the delay line, the pitch shifter, and two more effects called "ambience" and EQ. The ambience effect is simply a somewhat limited reverb effect, and the EQ is simply a lo-cut and hi-cut filter. The second algorithm is called DELAY/REVERB. This algorithm basically eliminates the pitch shifter and uses the extra processing power to provide longer delays in the delay section and longer decay times and larger "room sizes" in the reverb section. The EQ filters are also accessible in this algorithm.

The unit comes from the factory with an impressive 128 preset programs ready to use. Sixty-four of these programs are factory presets in locations that cannot be written to. The other sixty-four are stored in "user memory" and occupy half that memory, leaving space for an additional sixty-four programs of your own. The busy programmer could end up with a maximum of 192 programs in the LXP-5.

Each of these programs is accessible and programmable from the front panel controls which are reminiscent of the analog days of knobs to twist instead of buttons to push. The left half of the panel consists of an INPUT control, a MIX control for adjusting the wet/dry mix, and an OUTPUT level control. Access to these functions using knobs makes their adjustment simple and quick. The right half of the front panel is where program selection and editing are done. The knob closest to the center is used to select the various banks of factory presets and user memory banks. This control also places the LXP-5 in the EDIT mode and offers a BYPASS mode. Next to this control is the SELECT control. Once a "bank" of presets is selected, the SELECT control lets you choose one of sixteen pro-grams in the pre-selected "bank." This SELECT control is also used when editing a program. More on that later. Finally, on the far right, is the ADJUST knob. This control is attached to various parameters in each program and adjustment of such things as pitch, reverb decay time, delay times, etc. are done with this control. The only other items on the front panel are two level indicator lights in the upper left corner. One light indicates that there is input, and the other lets you know when it's too high. In the upper right corner of the panel is a LEARN light which blinks at various rates to indicate the current status of the LXP-5. Next to this LED is the LEARN button which is used to store and edit programs. It is also used to "learn" patches and select a MIDI channel when an external MIDI device is used.

Four of the preset banks accessible with the FUNCTION control are labeled PITCH, DELAY, CHORUS, and MULTI. When PITCH is selected, sixteen programs utilizing the pitch shifter become selectable by using the SELECT knob. Just about anything a pitch shifter can do is programmed for you in one of the sixteen locations.

Select the DELAY bank and sixteen programs emphasizing various types of delays are available. There are short delays, long delays, stereo delays, and a number of other delay effects.

The same goes for the CHORUS bank of programs. "But you didn't mention chorus as one of the effects," you say. Remember that chorusing and flanging are both effects created by utilizing a delay. An LFO is necessary to get the sweeping effect of a flanger or chorus and the LXP-5 has its own LFO which is adjustable.

The last of these four banks is the MULTI bank. While you might assume that this is where simultaneous effects are stored, that is somewhat misleading. Almost all of the effects in the other three banks mentioned above use more than one effect. In the case of the PITCH programs, many of them use delays and reverb. Many of the DELAY programs use reverb as well as the EQ filters. Likewise, the CHORUS programs include reverb, various delays and even the pitch shifter. The MULTI bank of programs is more a collection of odd effects using various combinations of all the effects available.