Lexicon has been at the helm of cutting-edge, high-end reverberation for nearly 40 years. The company made a short-lived entry into the plug-in market with Lexiverb back in 1999, yet the algorithms have mostly been limited to its own hardware devices.
While Lexiverb sounded good, it was generally met with criticism for not sounding like Lexicon's high-end boxes. The release of the PCM Native Reverb Plug-In Bundle — a plug-in suite comprised of seven unique reverb plug-ins — brings true Lexicon processing to Pro Tools, Logic, and every other VST, Audio Unit, or RTAScompatible platform.
The Lexicon PCM Native Reverb Plug-In Bundle is both Mac- and PC-compatible; minimum CPU requirements are Power PC G5 1.8 GHz or any Intel Mac with 1GB RAM and 500 MB of available disk space running OS X v 10.4.10 or later (Mac) or, on the PC side, a 1.6 GHz Intel or AMD processor w/1GB RAM and 100 MB of available disk space running Windows XP, Vista or 7. All seven of the bundle's plug-ins utilize the same interface, making it easy to jump between algorithms, but since they are seven separate and unique plug-ins, they must be loaded independently.
Each of the plug-ins (with the exception of the Vintage Plate) are based on Lexicon's PCM96, so fans of this device (as well as high-end Lexicon boxes like the 300, 480, and 960) will immediately feel at home jumping between the Chamber (LexChamber), Hall (LexHall), Random Hall (LexRandomHall), Plate (LexPlate), Vintage Plate (LexVintagePlate), Concert Hall (LexConcert-Hall), and Room (LexRoom) plug-ins. The PCM Native Reverb suite doesn't provide algorithms for the PCM96's delays, modulation, pitch, etc., but this won't concern most users, since reverb has always been and still is the primary attraction to Lexicon's products.
Once a plug-in has been opened, it's quick and easy to scroll through its general categories (e.g., the LexPlate plug-in categories include Short Plates, Medium Plates, and Long Plates) and then select a more specific preset, which can be used as is or tweaked for a specific application. There are multiple variations of the majority of the presets, which saves significant time in editing. In most instances, these variations share the same general characteristics with different equalization creating dark, light, band-pass and notch versions of the presets. Presets within the Short Plates category include Small Plate 1, Small Plate 1 (Dark), Small Plate 1 (Light), Small Plate 1 (Band), Small Plate 1 (Notch), etc.
The plug-in layout is straightforward and intuitive, especially for users familiar with Lexicon methodology. The algorithm name is displayed in the top left corner followed by the Preset Category and the Preset Selector, making it quick and easy to get close to the desired setting, which can then be fine-tuned to taste.
The plug-in window is packed full of useful information. Level meters provide quick visual reference to input and output levels, the Realtime Display includes three unique visualizations that make it easier to see exactly what the reverb is doing, and the EQ window provides control of the output equalization.
Along the bottom of the plug-in window is the fader area, populated by up to nine faders providing the virtual feel of the classic Lexicon LARC (Lexicon Alphanumeric Remote Control). The default fader layout is the Soft Row, which offers up the reverb parameters that most often require tweaking such as decay time and pre-delay. If you find that there are parameters that you typically adjust that aren't included in the Soft Row, you can change the Soft Row assignments and store the preset as a User preset. Clicking the Edit button at the bottom left corner of the plug-in reveals a submenu that allows the faders to control various other parameters such as Input and Mix settings as well as the reverb parameters that are pertinent to the selected algorithm.
The download, installation, and activation of the 174 MB (Mac version) bundle was quick and easy. I know a lot of people complain about the iLok copy-protection scheme, but I happen to love it. If I'm working at another studio, I can have their staff download the plug-ins I want to use ahead of time and then, when I show up with my iLok, I'm ready to go. I also found it nice being able to use the Lexicon bundle on my Pro Tools rig at my studio during the day and then bring my iLok home with me so I can use the same reverb on my home studio's Logic rig at night.
It was a pleasure digging into the bundle and putting the plugins to work. The quality of the algorithms is utterly amazing and — for the first time ever — I've been able to attain the reverb quality in a plug-in that before had only been available in a hardware device. With more than 900 easy-to-navigate presets built into the bundle, I found that, in almost every instance, I was able to find a preset that required very little or no tweaking.
While I'm sure the results will vary greatly from user to user, I found the Chamber and Plate plug-ins to be my favorite on vocals. The Vintage Plate and Concert Hall plug-ins work wonderfully on strings, horns, and acoustic instruments, and the Room plug-in was undoubtedly my favorite on drums and most percussion (the Vintage Plate plug-in is also wonderful on percussion).
My only complaint about the bundle is that since the package contains seven independent plug-ins, there is no way to quickly switch between the algorithms when selecting the right plug-in for a specific application; you have to completely close one plugin and then reopen another one to compare algorithms. Therefore, until you are familiar with the sound quality of the various algorithms, you end up spending more time than you would like loading and closing different plug-ins. I wish all seven algorithms were contained in a single plug-in, but I suspect this was something that Lexicon considered and then nixed likely due to a system resource issue. Nevertheless, the sounds of all seven algorithms are amazing, and I'm pleased to say that I now have a new favorite reverb plug-in; it isn't trying to emulate the Lexicon sound, it truly is the Lexicon sound.
I was initially a bit taken aback by the bundle's $1,899 price tag, but when you take into consideration that the PCM96 is a box priced at $3,499 that allows only two stereo reverbs to be processed simultaneously while the software version allows you to run as many plug-in instances as the system can handle, its value becomes quickly apparent.
Lexicon has finally delivered a plug-in bundle that lives up to the Lexicon name, and it has been worth the wait. Pricey, yes — but no other reverb plug-in can match the quality of the Lexicon PCM Native Reverb, making this bundle the best option for anyone wanting the highest-quality in-the-box reverb processing available.
Russ Long is a Nashville-based producer, engineer, and mixer and Pro Audio Review senior contributor. russlong.ws