Lexicon PCM 41 Digital Delay Processor

greenlander

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Anyone still using one currently, in the past, and/or care to share opinions on it?

From researching these I've noticed it's almost always mentioned and discussed in comparison with the PCM 42, which is a much more popular unit due to the 42's design upgrades (longer delay times, the input limiter). Those 42s are also quite pricey even today, about double what the 41 goes for depending on condition.

There aren't many audio demos of the PCM 41 to be found. In fact, there's only one dedicated video on Youtube of some guitar noodling, but no real demonstration of the features. I know it maxes out at 800ms delay in the X2 mode and apparently there's a bandwidth reduction between X1 and X2. Some people also seemed to use them in a pair for a chorus effect or even to serve as a pre-delay for another effect down the signal chain. I've read through the PDF of the owner's manual, looks like these originated in about 1980. There appears to be two versions, one with a block diagram printed on top, the other is just plain black.

So is the PCM 41 an outdated unit nowadays or does it have a sound worth pursuing? How are vintage digital delays from the early 80s holding up operationally? And is there anyone capable of doing repairs on them if needed? Is it any more of a problem to service than the more commonly used vintage Lexicon stuff like PCM 60/70/80?
 
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4,786
The 41 is identical to the 42 in many aspects, except for the input stage limiter and memory size. Some more output connectors on the 42 for clock sync.
Depending on what would be your main applications for the 41, you can be happy for general delay and chorus works. Modulation is based on sampling freq. mod. in both units.
The 42 has some more tonal colors and can be a devastating looping tool if expanded to 20 sec.
So, the real answer is about what you need them for.
As for reliability, these units can be very trusty, provided you try to get the best one possible. Some tech labs still fix them.
I have a couple of TC2290 from that age and they run fine.
Servicing a PCM70 can be a harder job than a 41/42, depending on its motherboard revision #.

Here's a link you will find useful:
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/high-end/107984-lexicon-pcm-42-pcm-41-differences.html
 

Anje

Silver Supporting Member
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2,297
I've had a PCM41 a few years ago that I was using in a wet/dry kind of guitar rig for straight forward slightly modulated delays most of the time, I loved the sound of it; very "warm & fat" tone from what I recall, I even preferred it to the 42 in that particular application as the slightly better "clarity" I was getting from the 42 was not fitting the rig as well.
 

greenlander

Member
Messages
1,260
Thanks, guys.

I'm basically just interested in using it as a general delay to add a flavor along with my other delays (mostly analog BBD pedals, and I just picked up a Strymon DIG). From just even that lone Youtube demo the tone of the 41's repeats are nice, it does sound warm and "analog-like". The modulation controls also seem capable of making some cool outer space robot noises when cranked up to extremes.

Some people using them in a pair also mention doing it for a tape-flanging type effect.

Lately, I've been intrigued by that transitional era from late 70s to early 80s when the first digital effects units were developed. Those were smart and inventive folks working on those machines.
 
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4,786
Thanks, guys.

I'm basically just interested in using it as a general delay to add a flavor along with my other delays (mostly analog BBD pedals, and I just picked up a Strymon DIG). From just even that lone Youtube demo the tone of the 41's repeats are nice, it does sound warm and "analog-like". The modulation controls also seem capable of making some cool outer space robot noises when cranked up to extremes.

Some people using them in a pair also mention doing it for a tape-flanging type effect.

Lately, I've been intrigued by that transitional era from late 70s to early 80s when the first digital effects units were developed. Those were smart and inventive folks working on those machines.



Digital effects units came out in 1971, quite ahead of the late '70s... an no... a PCM sounds like a PCM as it should do.
If common thinking about digital delays sounding analog is about filtering ... well then nope. They have their own personality and are excellent at musical tasks.
When they came out the whole audio community was very happy of getting rid of the many poor artifacts analog echo had back then, noise, bad timing, tape problems, etc.
I would not buy a digital delay thinking about analog. I have had many of them, since early '80s and own quite a good share now.
If I wanted analog I'd have gone analog. These things sound good, musical, precise, massive. Modulation is super.
You may look into old Lexicons (the 3 Prime Time versions), british Bel delays (stunning) and you will have to find another word for them... which is not "analog".
 

greenlander

Member
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1,260
Wow, I had no idea that digital effects began that early (1971). My apologies, I was mistaken. I just listened to a demonstration of the Lexicon DELTA-T. Very interesting.

I went ahead and ordered a PCM 41 so I'll check back in once I've had a chance to test it out.
 

Anje

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,297
Those old PCM sound great in their own way, it's quite hard not to like them! And yes used in pair they can make some amazing stereo / "dual mono" effects.
 

critter74

Silver Supporting Member
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5,461
Thanks, guys.

I'm basically just interested in using it as a general delay to add a flavor along with my other delays (mostly analog BBD pedals, and I just picked up a Strymon DIG). From just even that lone Youtube demo the tone of the 41's repeats are nice, it does sound warm and "analog-like". The modulation controls also seem capable of making some cool outer space robot noises when cranked up to extremes.

Some people using them in a pair also mention doing it for a tape-flanging type effect.

Lately, I've been intrigued by that transitional era from late 70s to early 80s when the first digital effects units were developed. Those were smart and inventive folks working on those machines.

For rack FX, personally, I am. Ore a fan and user of single use devices that are pretty simple and simply laid out (like the PCM 41).

In the last year I have gone through a major purchasing spree of getting all (usually multiple instances of) all of the early 80's Korg SDD and Roland SDE units. I have at least 2, and sometimes up to 4, instances of each delay unit (SDD 1000/122/2000 and Roland SDE 1000/2000/2500/3000. I do not have an SDD-3000 as I feel they are overpriced since the only real difference between a SDD-2000 and 3000 is a $20 preamp and Triangel LFO rather than Sine).

Personally I love the Roland SDE units. I think the 1000 has a crazy good natural warmth to it. I actually like it for day to day guitarbokaying than the SDE-3000, which is the flagship unit used by many pros in the 80's. The 2500 has an insanely good sound as well. They all have the "Roland SDE" sound but each has its features that the other lacks and they all sound good.

I really seem to prefer the older single purpose units, even buying 2 to run in stereo (as many of those don't run stereo).
 

greenlander

Member
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1,260
Funny you mention it. The Roland SDE-1000 is another unit I'm considering picking up. I have a Korg SDD-3000 pedal and like it very much. Would love to own the original rack version but, yes, they're a bit too pricey to justify.

If I like the PCM 41 I might add another for a pair. Maybe think about a PCM 42 as well.
 

critter74

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,461
Funny you mention it. The Roland SDE-1000 is another unit I'm considering picking up. I have a Korg SDD-3000 pedal and like it very much. Would love to own the original rack version but, yes, they're a bit too pricey to justify.

If I like the PCM 41 I might add another for a pair. Maybe think about a PCM 42 as well.

Yeah I will eventually grab a PCM41 as well. I have the SSD-3000 pedal as well and honestly, as this may lose me all credibility in the Rack forum (of which I will lose little sleep over), I find the pedal to be better than the rack unit. Same preamp and the pedal itself is far more versatile.

I'm on the hunt for. 2nd one. I knew I should have bought 2 when sweetwater was blowing them out. They're already developing a bit of a cult following and prices reflecting of such. Great pedal.
 
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Please...
give a listen to Lexicon Prime Time II and Super Prime Time.
Those are unbelievable delays with a different character, pre_PCM.
 

Ian

Senior Member
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1,057
I used to have 2 pcm41s, and I really miss them for their killer sound, and super simple interface.......no programming......set and forget! :)
 

Anje

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,297
Ifever I have the opportunity to raise funds for some new rack units one of these days, those Prime Time Lexicon are among the top of my wish list; but not really in the same purpose/budget/usage bucket as the smaller/simpler PCM41 to me :)
 

Ian

Senior Member
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1,057
I think the prices on PCM42's has been coming down, so at some point in the futures, it would be nice to have a 42........the 41's are awesome too, but the only thing I found that was missing was the read-out display.......and that was not even a big deal as you can set the delay by your ear.
 
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Still expensive, Ian.
Some beaten up 42s are cheaper but a regular one or with full memory installed... still killing prices.
The TC2290 seems to be more reasonable as of lately.
 

Ian

Senior Member
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1,057
Yes, the 2290 seems to be cheaper than previously, but I never cared for its "accuracy".....I always preferred a darker delay with diffusion blurring each repeat.

Cheers
 

2kool4skool

Member
Messages
7
I have 2 PCM 41s and I use them in stereo. I even built a footswitch to control the bypass and hold for both simultaneously. They do have their own sound. A lot of people describe certain digital gear as sounding "analog" and I kind of understand what they mean even though it's not at all accurate. Digital gear from this era has a certain character. It's not an analog character. It's more of a feel or a response. I think it has to do with the VCAs as much as the DACs, but I'm completely under-qualified technically to discuss this in any depth. The PCM 41 has a certain feel which thickens the tone, not in an eq sense but in a dynamic sort of response sense. Playing through it is more satisfying than running a track through it. I actually have one of the units up for sale on Reverb right now. I hope I don't regret selling it.
 

greenlander

Member
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1,260
Well I've had the PCM 41 for several days now and have been testing it out. It's fantastic sounding. Really impressed with the warm tone and clarity of the repeats. For whatever reason I actually prefer the X2 mode, the reduced bandwidth is closer to the BBD-type repeats I'm more familiar with and love. But there are none of the analog BBD artifacts like clock noise, it's just clean and warm. It's great for rhythmic playing (Edge-style). The modulation controls have tremendous depth. The Hi and Lo cut buttons are useful.

The only minor design quibble I have is that the output level control knob is located on the back of the unit. There is also a slight noise floor when the output level is cranked up, but it's not bad.

At the same time I also received a Strymon DIG pedal and it was interesting to compare them. The DIG is a really great sounding pedal and in the ADM mode it sounds closest to the PCM 41, but not quite the same. Of course, the DIG can do stereo out and ping pong but it doesn't have the modulation capabilities of the Lexicon. Two PCM 41s in stereo would probably sound amazing. They are both excellent units, I'm very happy to have them.
 
Messages
4,786
Well I've had the PCM 41 for several days now and have been testing it out. It's fantastic sounding. Really impressed with the warm tone and clarity of the repeats. For whatever reason I actually prefer the X2 mode, the reduced bandwidth is closer to the BBD-type repeats I'm more familiar with and love. But there are none of the analog BBD artifacts like clock noise, it's just clean and warm. It's great for rhythmic playing (Edge-style). The modulation controls have tremendous depth. The Hi and Lo cut buttons are useful.

The only minor design quibble I have is that the output level control knob is located on the back of the unit. There is also a slight noise floor when the output level is cranked up, but it's not bad.

At the same time I also received a Strymon DIG pedal and it was interesting to compare them. The DIG is a really great sounding pedal and in the ADM mode it sounds closest to the PCM 41, but not quite the same. Of course, the DIG can do stereo out and ping pong but it doesn't have the modulation capabilities of the Lexicon. Two PCM 41s in stereo would probably sound amazing. They are both excellent units, I'm very happy to have them.


DIG is a lot more complex. You'd need 4 PCMs to try what it does. There are some very cool delays you can do with it.
 




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