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Hands-On Review: Lexicon Omega Desktop Recording Studio

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High-quality computer recording made easy and affordable

By Nathan Levine

Lexicon Omega Desktop Recording Studio

Setting up a computer recording system can be daunting, especially if you're on a tight budget. The list of equipment needed to set up even a basic system is long, including: an audio interface with high-quality 24-bit converters, a MIDI interface, a mixer for routing signals, and recording software. For a more complete setup you will need an interface that can record more than just a basic stereo signal. You'll want S/PDIF digital I/O capabilities, high-quality microphone preamps with XLR inputs and phantom power, and you'll want to invest in high-quality signal processing plug-ins for enhancing and finalizing your project into a professional sounding recording. Now Lexicon has solved all these problems by putting together a complete recording solution so that anyone with a fairly up-to-date computer can set up to record for an affordable price. It's a system that is both easy to use and capable of professional results for both PC and Mac computers.

The Omega solution

The Lexicon Omega Studio gives you everything you need to start laying tracks for the accessible price of $350. It is an incredible buy. Any other setup capable of similar results will cost you twice or even three times as much. Omega is hands-down the most affordable way yet into real recording capability. For Windows, it consists of three parts: a hardware piece-the Omega Desktop-and two software pieces: ProTracks Plus and Pantheon Reverb Plug-In.

Lexicon Omega Recording Studio Side View

The desktop

The hardware unit is the key piece in the system. Most interfaces are basically digital versions of a patchbay filled with converters. What Lexicon has ingeniously done with the Omega is incorporate an eight-input mixer with four computer sends and two computer returns.

The Omega Desktop is a front-end mixer that records up to four channels at once. Its eight inputs assign to these four channels, in either mono or stereo. This allows incredible flexibility for both routing and recording. You can record multiple sources mixed onto one track or you can assign four inputs to each of the four tracks to maintain more potential for mixing later on the system's 32-track software mixer. It is equipped with level and assign controls for each channel, which is all you need to mix and lay raw tracks. All the EQing and processing happen inside the computer.

The mixer has two XLR mic channels and both are equipped with dbx Silver Series preamps (really good ones) with phantom power and TRS inserts. The preamps are as critical to getting really high-quality vocals as the microphones you use. A better mic will give you better results, but the preamps will bring out the best in whatever mics you do use.

Six channels feature 24-bit analog-to-digital converters for pristine, high-resolution sound, plus an additional two channels of 24-bit S/PDIF input. S/PDIF output is also available for streaming to an external DAT machine or other S/PDIF-ready gear.

Other features of the mixer include peak indicators on each input and a bar graph meter for overall signal- level monitoring of the four computer sends. It monitors signals at the A/D converters which is preferable to software-level monitoring that can miss clipping. The hardware unit gives you everything you need for laying down tracks and because it has high-quality components at the critical points, it gives you the kind of results you would get from a much costlier mixer and interface combination.

PC and Mac recording

ProTracks Plus is a comprehensive studio program for Windows created by Lexicon in partnership with the folks at Cakewalk. It gives you up to 32 stereo tracks to work with and all the modules needed to edit, process, sequence, and mix your masterpiece. Non-linear editing, plug-in support, and acidized looping are featured. It also contains a powerful MIDI sequencer with exceptional automation and editing features plus support for soft synths. Overall, it is intuitive and easy to use.

Lexicon Omega Studio Rear Inputs & Outputs

BIAS Deck SE is a complete solution for the Apple user: up to 64 tracks, 999 virtual tracks, VST plug-in support, punch-in and punch-out, and support for all major file formats including AIFF, SDII, WAV, SND, and Quicktime.

Pantheon: DX plug-in for PC

No system would be complete without effects, so Lexicon has included its Pantheon Reverb. It gives you a full palette of Lexicon-quality reverbs, the best in the world, for sweetening your tracks. Pantheon is composed of six reverb types with 35 factory presets customized for many applications including vocals, drums, and instrument ambience. Its intuitive user interface gives you 16 editable parameters for fine tuning and the ability to add your own user presets.

The overall system is ingenious in design, first-rate in its components, and wonderfully easy to use. And its low price makes it unbeatable. It gives you a great place to start with a high-quality system that can do it all as is, and can also be expanded with added plug-ins. Whether you are setting up your first computer-based recording studio, or are looking to add additional capabilities for your existing studio, the Omega is what you need. Don't waste your time considering any other option.

Features & Specs

Omega Desktop Features:

ProTracks Plus Features:

  • 2 XLR microphone inputs
  • dbx Silver Series mic preamps
  • +48V phantom power
  • 2 TRS insert inputs
  • 4 TRS balanced/unbalanced line inputs
  • 1z4" mono instrument input
  • 2 TRS line outputs
  • MIDI interface 5-pin DIN connectors for MIDI in and MIDI out
  • Coaxial RCA S/PDIF I/O
  • 24-bit D/A and A/D conversion
  • Integrated 32 multitrack recording, editing, and mixing of audio and MIDI
  • Unlimited MIDI tracks
  • Professional 24-bit recording, mixing, processing
  • Full-featured editing capabilities
  • DXi soft synth support
  • Import General MIDI files
  • Unlimited realtime locate markers

Pantheon Reverb Plug-In:

  • For Windows
  • 35 factory presets
  • 6 reverb types
  • 16 user-adjustable parameters
  • Floating-point DSP processing
  • 16- and 24-bit compatible
  • Sample rates up to 96kHz

Tags: Recording Mixers Audio Interfaces

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