Lexicon PCM....?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by teestone, May 5, 2016.

  1. teestone

    teestone Mostly Regular Member Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Abilene, TX
    I've decided I would like to try a Lexicon rack unit for my stereo guitar reverb needs.

    I own a Polara that fills the duties admirably now but I want to take it to the next level.

    The primary function of the unit will be provide stereo plate reverb. It may get some other use but my modulation and delay needs are pretty well covered. But I never say never when it comes to effects. The rack unit will be at the end of the chain and reside in the fx loop.

    I know there's some guys out there that do the same thing and I'd appreciate some insight on the different PCM options.
  2. Lution

    Lution Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2005
    At the crack between the worlds
    PCM 81 seems to be a very popular one.
    Imperial_Tone likes this.
  3. teestone

    teestone Mostly Regular Member Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Abilene, TX
    Was looking at the 80/81...what's the difference?
  4. hydroquebec

    hydroquebec Member

    Feb 7, 2012
    Montreal, Canada
    Lexicon reverbs are great. I use mainly rack reverb, so I haven't tried the Strymon stuff, but the only thing I've heard on par with the big Lexicons is the big Eventides. You've got a couple of options here:

    PCM80/81 ($400 - $600 used)
    • Does effects + reverb
    • Does Plate
    • Does Concert Hall (the Lexicon reverb that you hear on recordings, not the Hall that exists in the Digitech pedals)
    • Does serial/parallel routing of any effect/delay with any reverb (PCM80 w/ DualFX card)
    • Does pitch (PCM80 w/ Pitch card or stock PCM81)
    * The main difference here is that the 81 comes with the pitch stuff onboard, but I find the 80 w/cards to be a more open platform.​

    PCM90/91 ($550 - $750 used)
    • Does Rich Plate
    • Does Random Hall
    • Does Concert Hall
    • Does dual reverbs (PCM90 w/ Dual Reverb card or stock PCM91)
    * The main difference here is that the 91 comes loaded with the dual reverbs on board, however like the 80/81 there are other differences in connectors and (perhaps) conversion quality.​

    Overall, I think you'll find the step up to the racks to be a big one. The Polara is a great reverb, but it's more on par with the Lexicon MPX1 or G2.
  5. Black_Label

    Black_Label Member

    Aug 2, 2013
    Los Angeles
    The PCM70 is fantastic also.
  6. BigDiceBuddha

    BigDiceBuddha Member

    May 23, 2011
    Richmond, VA
    Just got mine yesterday! Has both V2 and V3 loaded, and I'm just starting to dig into this beast!
  7. JMMP1

    JMMP1 Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    Additionally, the 80 (not 81) can have its memory expanded to something like 40 seconds with some rather cheap ($10) RAM cards.
    AnalogKid85 and hydroquebec like this.
  8. ThinPaperWings

    ThinPaperWings Member

    Jul 27, 2011
    AnalogKid85 and hydroquebec like this.
  9. splatt

    splatt david torn / splattercell Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    many others, over the years..... and recently, too.
    just a simple search on these user-names' posts/threads:

    italo de angelis hydroquebec AnalogKid85

    ..... and you might also find quite a few other regular contributors' names popping up.
  10. teestone

    teestone Mostly Regular Member Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Abilene, TX
    Is the Rich Plate on the 90/91 worth the extra price of admission?
  11. splatt

    splatt david torn / splattercell Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    only you know if it will have been worth it, to you.
    if you're nervous, i'm sure that --- with some effort --- you can find a way to check one out in depth, somewhere & somehow!

    i have other, pedal-reverbs besides my pcm80 & pcm81: a couple of neunabers (which are in regular additional use in a mono set-up), a digitech, etc.
    the lexicon pcm80 has been in my working, traveling, performing & recording set-up since it was built, which was some time before they were released to the general public; this was a final working prototype.
    i program my own presets, which is (of course) instructive and super-fun and, errrrm, super-instructive, and which has served me very well over the years.

    i've used (& featured the use of, in some cases) this pcm80 on nearly everything i've done --- jeff beck, david bowie, david sylvian, dj logic, madonna, vicentico, tim berne, julie slick, john legend, kd lang, r. sakamoto, tori amos, matt mitchell, all my own recordings on ECM, CMP & etc, too many film-scores to mention, i just used it on a flaming lips/silver lake chorus track, & blahblahblahblahblah.

    getting into a lexicon reverb at these unbelievably low costs (comparatively-speaking) can def be worth it, if you want to design your own great reverbs (to any degree) in order to take advantage of learning how to use them well.
  12. teestone

    teestone Mostly Regular Member Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Abilene, TX
    So I've read through as many thread as I could find about the PCM series of processors.

    I'm having a tough time deciding between the 80 or 90.

    Assuming I would be only using the unit for Reverb, is the 90 the way to go or is the 80 still the benchmark?

    I'm really not sure I would use the other effects in the 80 but I'm also a bit intimidated by the 90. Could it be too much reverb??
  13. DeuxSeaPlus

    DeuxSeaPlus Member

    Aug 16, 2015
    I'd spend a little bit more time, and be willing to spend a bit more, to get an Eventide H3000. Lexicons are great, no doubt, but the old Eventide's are just even more special - yes, even for reverbs.
    tonefreak likes this.
  14. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2010
    Stabekk, Norway
    PCM 80/81 are much more fun than a 90 I'd say.
    AnalogKid85 likes this.
  15. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    The 80/81 are more fun, yes... there is a lot more there. The verbs are stunning and the fx+verbs can be amazing and convert you to some serious delays and modulation FX.
    The 90/91 isn't really "too much reverb"... they will offer 3 more things the 80/81 don't have:
    -Random Hall
    -Rich Plate
    -Cascading Reverbs

    Those 2 algorithms are really beautiful and add value. They come from the old Lexicon tradition.
    Cascading reverbs are a way to create really stunning spaces.

    But the whole point is that you would step in for the first time and you need to consider how much time you want to investigate/tweak to find out what's the beauty of a Random Hall or how a Concert Hall works.
    There's a lot to learn and tweak here... but you may live with such beauty for decades.

    One last BUT not least detail... if you are one of the MONO pedals kids around... don't even worry. Don't use these marvels in a mono setup... it's totally worthless.
    Or convert to your body natural "stereoness" and jump on a PCM. You will thank us later...

    Audioclips for your pleasure are available at a click below...
  16. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

    Mar 21, 2011

    Things YOU may find useful to know... :cool:

    The PCM80 came on the market in the early '90s, replacing the legendary PCM70.
    Owing to dual chips architecture, the unit is capable of multi voice delay effects AND reverb at the same time. Shortly after Lexicon made 2 algorithms/presets cards available:
    -DUAL FX
    This card basically allows any of the multivoice effect to be run with any of the reverbs, in any routing combination like FX>Verb, Verb>FX, FX//Verb, and more. It also adds a submixer to manage all routing possibilities and hi and low cut filters in the submixer. Multivoice number is reduced to 4 from the 6 avaiable in the onboard algorithms. Many presets are added to show the use of routing freedom.
    This cards adds 2 and 4 voice pitch shifting algorithms, combined with a selection of reverb algorithms.

    Get the unit and cards manual from the Lexicon Pro website!

    A couple of years later Lexicon replaced the PCM80 with the PCM81; they are basically the same effect processor with some hardware upgrades and a downgrade.

    -18 bit audio conversion
    -expandable delay memory via 2 SIMMs, taking delay times from 1.3 or 2.6 sec up to 42 sec per delay voice.
    -balanced 1/4" I/O jacks
    -S/Pdif digital I/O
    -optional Dual FX and Pitch cards

    -20 bit then upgraded to 24 bit audio conversion (latest production)
    -delay memory topping at 10.9 sec and NON expandable
    -balanced 1/4" and XLR I/O
    -S/Pdif and AES/EBU I/O
    -Pitch card algorithms and presets on board
    -the Pitch Correction (card) algorithms may already be in the 81?
    -optional Dual FX card

    so, basically, the 81 has more modern hardware features but misses the long delay times expansion capability of the 80.
    Two SIMM sockets provided for either 1 Meg x 9,
    4 Meg x 9 or 16 Meg x 9, 70 nsec DRAM modules
    Both units need the Dual FX card to take advantage of all routing possibilities between FX and Reverb blocks.

    In all, an 80 with both cards and SIMM expansion is more powerful than the 81.
    The 81 has better sonic performance and connections and includes the Pitch Card algos/presets in it.

    80/81 vs. PCM70 ;)

    There's plenty stuff in the 80 the 70 can't do:
    Tap Tempo delay
    Tap Tempo modulation rates for chorus/flanger/panning/phasing/tremolo/vibrato
    Dynamic delay
    Dynamic reverb
    Use input signal to modulate any effect parameter...how about a verb that gets longer when you don't play?
    42 seconds for long delay/sound on sound/old style looping
    Glide delays.... chorus/flanger you've never heard before
    pitch shifting and reverb (w/Pitch card)
    how about changing routing to your chorus/delay & reverb effects
    to do what the 80 & the 70 can do in a single preset, you'd need 5 70s...and still missing a lot of othe features...
    great EQ...using multiband delays as filters... and try that out on verb (verb > banddlys)
    great inverse reverb
    multi-fx capabilities the 70 doesn't have
    what else?

    Lexicon Dynamic MIDI o_O

    Dynamic MIDI is just a TM for a common MIDI application.
    MIDI messages (Prog Changes/Control Changes/System Messages) can be used to control parameters in real time. A smart application for instance is avoiding loading a different preset based on the current preset algorithm and change the parameters to fit the new need....something guitarist have a hard time understanding.
    Say you have a nice chorus on your PCM70. In a song you're going to use that very preset but at some point in the tune you'll need a different chorus, maybe slower and tighter (= shorter delay times) with some echoes added to it and maybe darker in tone. You could simply patch a MIDI CC message to chorus voices delay times, chorus rateand hicut filters, setting the scale for A/B statuses. The smartness of this is simply that you won't need to store 2 tweaks of the same algorithm; using program changes to switch from one preset to another will be time consuming. You know the PCM70 is slow at changes! So, using Dynamic MIDI you'll just modulate the parameters needed to make your preset sound different...as a new preset will be....obviously we're talking about presets based off the same algorithm.
    On the PCM80 the thing expands to more possibilities.
    In a preset you can have chorus/flanger/TapTempo Delays/Reverb... imagine patching MIDi CC messages to turn each fx on/off, like they were pedals (only sounding wayyyyy much better than pedestrian stuff) and/or changing their values so that the preset stays the same for your clean chordal work and your screaming leads...different chorus or maybe chorus off, different delay rhythmic subdivisions with diverse hicuts, verb gets longer and softer in the solo....you get all of this....
    The next step is beyond control...it gets into changing fx aspects according to dynamics (your input signal) and tempo...or footswitches/pedal status (the 80 accomodates 2 footswitches and a pedal)... so you can have a delay panning and ducking according to your playing energy...the harder you play it may pan faster or slower, as you like.... or a chorus whose speed turns up or down on your pedal swells...all sort of control and aesthetic tricks are possible...

    When you turn a PCM80/81 on in reinitialized condition, the preset PRIME BLUE welcomes you.
    Prime Blue ADJUST: Efx/Rvb X 0–127
    A combination of 3 stereo effects: 6 voice chorus, rhythmic echoes, and reverb. You can
    dial-in the exact proportion of each. As ADJUST is turned from 0 to 127 the effect smoothly
    changes from chorus only , to chorus with echoes, to chorus with echoes and reverb, to
    reverb with echoes, and finally to reverb only. Use Tap to set the echo rhythms.
    Instead of the ADJUST knob you could patch the knob to a pedal and do the magic with one foot.

    FSw2 Rotary ADJUST: Width 0–100
    A dual-rotor speaker cabinet with a very wide stereo spin and a touch of ambience. Use
    ADJUST to control the width and direction of the spinning rotors. 0= very wide left-to-right,
    64 = mono, 127 = very wide right-to-left. Foot Switch 2 is patched to the Latch to toggle
    between slow and fast speeds. The AR envelope is used to simulate the inertial drag as
    the rotors speed up or slow down.

    AutoInfinite ADJUST: FX Mix 0–100
    With signal present the reverb time runs long. With signal absent the infinite process is
    switched on. The threshold for the event is set high such that after a source is running
    in the infinite process, you can play softer passages against it which chorus and echo at
    the same time. AR Envelope parameters are included in the soft row. Adjust the threshold
    to suit your application.

    Shuffles ADJUST: EchoSlope 0–127
    Rhythmic delay voices produce a shuffle pattern. ADJUST controls the slope of the first
    six repeats. 0 = loud to soft (normal echoes), 64 = six repeats of equal loudness, 127 =
    soft to loud (reversed echoes).

    Whammy Hall ADJUST: Decay 0–30
    If your guitar doesn’t have a whammy bar, it does now. The AR generator is triggered from
    the mono level source. The AR generator is then attached to the LFO depth which drives
    the two Post Delays after the reverb. The Release constant is set rather long so that the
    depth reaches full scale after 2.2 seconds. ADJUST sets the reverb time.

    Dyna Vibrato ADJUST: Glide 0–127
    Input level triggers a delayed vibrato. The vibrato is created by modulating two pairs of
    gliding delays. ADJUST controls the offset between the delay pairs. Use it to thicken up
    the effect. You’ll find parameters to change the modulation depth and add reverb in the
    Soft Row. A nice effect to sweeten up acoustic guitar, dry sampler or synth tracks, etc.

    Getting into MIDI and internal modulators (lfo/input signal/AR envelope/etc.) real time control is truly a must.
    All those who don't, should be deprived of their MIDI gear and learn to play harpsichord for lifetime.
  17. teestone

    teestone Mostly Regular Member Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Abilene, TX
    italo....your posts are ubiquitous in the Lexicon and rack gear threads I've read here and on Gearslutz.

    Thanks for all of the great information!
    PurpleJesus likes this.
  18. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

    Mar 21, 2011

    Keeping the GOOD flag up... in an ocean of sadness.
    Igotsoul4u, quilsaw and PurpleJesus like this.
  19. quilsaw

    quilsaw Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2014
    Olympic Peninsula
    I hope this little bit of cheer will reach you as you drift out on that ocean....you've got another convert here. Now two weeks in with my new PCM 80 and I'm loving it. Haven't gotten very far yet...this thing is so deep that I'll probably spend a couple of months on my first preset. ;) Having too much fun with the plate algo and I know I've not even scratched the surface yet.

    Many thanks to you (and an equally big shout out to @splatt ) for lighting a bit of my path on this journey. Al bisogno si conosce l'amico.

    I have questions, of course, but will limit this post to immediate practical matters. My PCM 80 is bone stock. Should I upgrade the EPROM and memory...seems easy enough and I'm guessing yes?. Also...I'm having trouble finding a DualFX card anywhere. I'm patient, but do you (or anyone else) make copies or can you steer me to a possible source?

    Thanks again.
    splatt likes this.
  20. italo de angelis

    italo de angelis Member

    Mar 21, 2011

    You are IN for a splendid change and a path of spectacular and emoional discoveries in a quasi endless swirl.
    So have I been for the last 30+ yrs. and still going far.

    Expanding the memory is simple and cheap. Those SIMMs go for pennies now.
    The EPROM for V1.10 can be found or copied. You may want to check HRI forum and ask.
    Algorithm cards... nope. No copies there. You need to monitor the world used market and get it as soon as it pops up. No other way.

    Those verbs belong to your mountain!

    Have all the fun!

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