Test Drive: Lexicon LXP-5 and MRC

Article Index

The sixty-four programs in these four banks are stored in read-only memory. An additional sixty-four different programs are stored in user RAM in four of the eight USER banks selectable from the FUNCTION knob. All 128 of these programs have parameters (as many as five) that have been "pre-attached" to the ADJUST knob which, like the SELECT knob, has sixteen positions. So, with the twist of the ADJUST knob you get sixteen variations of each of the 128 factory programs. That comes to 2,048 different effects available from the LXP-5 right out of the box. Of course, if you count the various parameter settings of other digital processors, one can say they have thousands or even an infinite number of effects; but what is special about the LXP-5 is that these 2,048 various effects can be accessed by turning only three knobs. This makes programming and editing programs in the LXP-5 practically un-necessary. Just about every conceivable and useful combination of effects and parameter settings has been done for you.

Now, if you want to edit a program, this is where the LXP-5 is a little stranger than most digital processors. You don't have a screen to display which parameter you have selected for editing. Instead, there are three EDIT positions on the FUNCTION switch. Two of these three EDIT positions (A and B) give you access to twenty-eight parameters which are selected using the SELECT knob. The third EDIT position (C) is used to create MIDI patches which we'll touch on later. The FUNCTION and SELECT knobs are used to select a parameter, and its value is changed with the ADJUST knob. When you're happy with the setting, the LEARN button will store the new program in one of the 128 user memory locations. Since there is no screen to indicate which parameter is selected, you must keep the LXP-5's very handy reference card nearby. It tells where each of the parameters are.

The EDIT C position of the FUNCTION switch is where we come to the aspect of the LXP-5 that probably is responsible for its nomination for a TEC award for Outstanding Technical Achievement. The possible MIDI applications of the LXP-5 are more extensive than any we've seen on any other digital processor. It would easily take two pages to get into even a little detail. The EDIT C position of the FUNCTION knob accesses the LXP-5's ability to write "patches" so that any of the unit's parameters can be controlled by an external MIDI controller. While external MIDI control of processor parameters is not uncommon on many other processors, other available MIDI functions include things only the most intense MIDI user would have use for. If you're a MIDI enthusiast, you won't have any limitations with the LXP-5.

Lexicon MRCBeing on the subject of MIDI brings us to the MRC remote control box, the other part of this review. This remote control doesn't connect to the LXP-5 with a special remote control cable. The connection is made with any MIDI cable, and communication is done using MIDI messages.

The MRC provides the familiar LCD display we've grown accustomed to seeing on our digital processors. With the MRC, the LXP-5 itself can be stashed in your desk drawer. All programs in the LXP-5 are numbered. Selection of a program is done by entering the number on the numerical keypad of the MRC and hitting ENTER. MIDI program change data is sent to the LXP-5 and the program is selected. An EDIT button on the MRC takes you into the parameters of the program. The screen shows you which parameters are available for adjustment and a PAGE button lets you page through the parameters in groups of four. Below the LCD screen are four sliders and four buttons which are called switches. The switches and sliders are used to make adjustments to their respective parameters, and adjustment with the sliders is very fast. This is a definite advantage over other processors where you have to hold a button down for ten seconds to go from one extreme to another.

The MRC also has its own memory for storing sixty-four user "setups" for the LXP-5. These setups are simply more programs for the LXP-5. The difference is that they are stored in the MRC. The MRC comes with thirty-two pre-programmed setups in locations one through thirty-two. The remaining locations are empty and available for storage of your own creations. The setups are accessed by pushing the SETUP button then entering the number of the desired setup with the numerical keypad, the sliders, or the switches on the MRC.

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