Presented by Doug Marhoffer, Lexicon
Meeting held March 21, 2001 at Glenn Sound studio, Seattle
One of the ubiquitous names and products in the studio is Lexicon and its 480 reverb. The PNW Section was treated to an overview of Lexicon's new successor to the 480, the 960L digital effects system. Over 35 attendees met in the main studio of Glenn Sound in Seattle to hear Lexicon's Doug Marhoffer speak and demonstrate. Committee member Rick Chinn opened the meeting and had all attendees introduce themselves.
Lexicon has been in business for 30 years, begun by Harvard and MIT professors doing varispeed recorders for the hearing impaired. They have about 90 employees, two-thirds of whom are engineers. They won an Emmy award for their time compression processor (Prime Time). The discontinued PCM-42 delay processor was good enough that there is demand to build it again. The single channel 224 reverb became 2 channels with the 480. The last 480L was built several months ago, and many parts are no longer available to make more.
Doug described ways of creating digital reverb; ray tracing and real room samples. Apparently Lexicon feels that real rooms are not always as pleasing as something they can create. They call their variation on ray tracing "3D perceptual modeling." Their trick is to not allow the source to get lost no matter the reverb.
The new control box (called LARC2) sports motorized control sliders and a joystick. The hardware was designed with the future in mind, with upgradeable features for a digital world in transition. A CD-ROM drive facilitates firmware upgrades. Note that it is meant to control 5 channels instead of 5.1. No effects are normally done to the subwoofer channel. The 5 channels are correctly created for each channel that accurately simulates the room reflections, rather than using the same reverb in all 5 channels like a cheaper system might.
Doug played many examples of CD material and manipulated them through the processor. A temporary 5 channel demo system had been set up in the studio with a Mackie D8B and 5 Mackie monitor speakers. He described some terms they like to use to describe reverb characteristics, such as shape (how far you are from the source), spread (how big a space you are in), spin and wander (what happens in the tails of the sounds), ambience (space without reverb tails). Doug related a story about the demo of an early 960L. Lexicon's chief designer, Dr. David Griesinger, had modified some of the algorithms without telling the demo team, increasing early reflections to 100% at 20mSec. Some confusion resulted in the field demos, because the reverb sounded like it had a lot of dry signal in it.
Steve Goegebuer won the door prize drawing, a Lexicon denim shirt. Lexicon also gave out sampler CDs with songs from Steely Dan's "Two Against Nature" album.
Thanks go out to Glenn Lorbiecki of Glenn Sound for the studio, and
Lew Barrett of Northshore Marketing for refreshments.
Written by Gary Louie (PNW Secretary) with Dan Mortensen (PNW Treasurer)
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Last modified 11/4/2001.