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Hands-On Review: Lexicon Lambda USB Desktop Studio

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Stable, powerful, affordable USB recording

By Marion Bletchley

With the Lambda desktop recording solution, Lexicon has brought its world-renowned signal quality and operating stability to home-studio computer-based recording with a rock-solid system that's super-simple to use. This bus-powered USB audio I/O mixer and MIDI interface comes complete with Cubase LE for 48-track audio recording and Pantheon VST reverb plug-in for studio-quality sound conditioning. The mini-tower hardware interface includes two XLR mic ins, two TRS balanced outs, two TRS balanced ins, 1/8" headphone jack, and 1/4" high-impedance instrument input. It works with Macs as well as PCs.

A Rep To Protect

Pro recording engineers all know Lexicon for its high-end digital signal processing equipment, found in the best studios around the planet. It was a bold move for a company with an impeccable reputation in premium studio equipment to delve into the home recording market. A bold move but not a foolish one. This unit bridges the quality gap left by similar systems on the market.

Gone are the telltale clicks, dropouts, grainy signal, and line noise that have plagued many of these entry-level interfaces. Instead, the Lambda produces a pristine, super high-fidelity signal from the instrument, mic, and line inputs alike.

Fabulous Front Door

Apparently somebody at Lexicon shared my wonder at manufacturers who skimp on the most critical links in any recording interface--the mic preamps and A/D converters. The mic preamps on the Lambda are clearly first-rate. The dual XLR mic inputs feature switchable +48V phantom power, TRS inserts, individual level controls, and peak meters. The inputs are summed to the A/D bus where professional-grade converters turn audio excellence into dynamic digital.

Two balanced 1/4" TRS line inputs have individual level controls and peak meters. Like the mic ins, they're also summed to the A/D bus. Two balanced 1/4" TRS outs are ideal for driving powered monitors. And if you don't have any monitors, the high-powered 1/8" headphone jack provides very good headphone monitoring (provided you have very good headphones).

Sweet Software

The included Cubase LE software is a tried-and-true workhorse digital recorder that's had all the bugs worked out. Cubase LE has gotten progressively better since its introduction and now offers near-professional capabilities. It can handle 48 tracks of audio and a whopping 64 MIDI tracks. Practically speaking, this means that your multitracking capabilities are limited only by your CPU. Up to eight VST instruments, two inserts and four aux sends per channel, and ASIO drivers let you get as deep into digital recording as you want.

The included VST version of the Pantheon Lexicon reverb plug-in is a true delight to work with. Editable factory presets and a dead-simple menu system let the rankest newbie get great sounds in no time. I was astounded at the quality of these reverbs. Particularly for vocal enhancement, they're definitely pro quality. Used judiciously in mixdown, they can really help unify the tracks and imbue them with a live energy.

Lexicon Lambda USB Desktop Studio

Fantastic Functionality

With this hardware/software package, you can record two tracks at a time from up to four simultaneous inputs. Zero-latency direct monitoring allows you to listen as you record overdubs with no annoying lag. Normal stereo or mono monitoring is also provided.

The Lambda can stream four channels of 44.1 or 48kHz audio at either 16-bit or pristine 24-bit resolution through the USB port of your Macintosh or Windows-based machine. A two-channel, four-segment LED VU meter indicates input level. There are also indicator LEDs for the USB connection and phantom power.

Lexicon has a real winner in the Lambda. Discerning home recordists will love its incredible signal quality and the included software makes home-producing demos and even finished pieces easy and fun.

Tags: Recording Audio Interfaces

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