Power to the plug-ins
By Oscar Sommers
Random Access Memory. RAM. Computer memory. There is never enough of it. Once upon a time, you thought you had plenty of RAM. Emails were sent, web pages were viewed on the Internet, budgets were balanced, and school book reports were written with amazing speed and power—all on your computer. But that seems like a long time ago now. Back when your computer was merely a benign beige device resting on a pleasant-looking wood-finished desk in your home. Not the evil, willfully malfunctioning device constantly harassing you for more RAM. So what happened to cause such a shift in fortune? You decided to start recording music on your computer.
While everything started innocently enough, things soon turned sour when you delved into the world of plug-ins. While plug-ins are amazing little pieces of software, nothing can bog down a system faster than plug-in abuse. You added a little delay to this track, a little flange to that one, some rotary speaker plug-in for the organ parts and your guitar lead. Of course, the drums and your vocals both needed compression . . . it was a never-ending spiral of software effects with your computer getting slower and slower until it froze like a popsicle. You rebooted (the hard way), tried to start again, then had to reboot again . . . and again. One more restart and you were ready to boot your computer—out the door.
A better way
If you’ve found yourself fighting your computer to get the sounds you want, then Lexicon has an effects unit for you. The MX300 is a stereo effects processor in the MX series from Lexicon. It delivers stellar Lexicon-quality sounds for live or studio work, but is also equipped with a USB port so you can plug it into your computer and use it as a PC VST or Mac AU plug-in with your audio software. The best part? You can get authentic Lexicon reverb without draining your RAM because the effects are powered by the MX300’s processor, not your computer.
Not only is this a genius idea, but with Lexicon, you know you’re going to get good sounds. When the first Lexicon effects processor debuted in 1971, it quickly set a standard for audio processing and rich, precise reverb that left others in the dust. More than 35 years later, Lexicon is still considered at the top of the digital audio game and the flexibility and high quality of Lexicon’s MX series proves it. The MX300 provides a nice selection of features that places it squarely between its predecessor—the MX200—and its more upscale cousin—the MX400—both of which have been enthusiastically embraced by musicians.
Full of sound features
The MX300 is a stereo unit offering two-in/two-out operation through balanced XLR and 1/4" TRS jacks available on both channels. The USB port and S/PDIF I/O allow you to connect with your computer to take advantage of the Hardware Plug-In feature. You also have 1/4" footswitch input and MIDI in and pass-through jacks. The MX300 delivers quality audio at 24-bit resolution with selectable 48kHz/44.1kHz sample rates whether you’re using it in your rack or in your DAW.
And it has plenty of sounds you’ll want to use in both places. You get 16 legendary Lexicon reverbs from small halls to large plates to arena-sized ’verbs and beyond. You also get seven separate delays; compression and de-essing from dbx; and a boatload of modulation effects: chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo, rotary speaker, vibrato, pitch shift, and detune. This impressive lineup will cover almost every need for the home recordist or gigging musician. In fact, these are the same algorithms and sounds used by top-shelf touring acts every day. Lexicon also designed the MX300 for flexibility, with five different effects routing setups that can be easily controlled from the front panel. You can choose from dual mono, series cascade, parallel dual stereo, mono split, and stereo routing.
When you set up the MX300 with your computer using a USB cable or the S/PDIF I/O, you can control all the parameters and programming for it like any software plug-in. The only difference is you’re using the MX300 for audio processing. That extra computational horsepower for recording is especially useful when it comes to reverb. Reverb is one of the hardest effects to get right and often uses up the most computer resources. But with the MX300, you get the pure, powerful, effective reverb sounds you want without bogging down your computer. And it’s not just any reverb, it’s accurate, detailed Lexicon reverb.
There are 99 factory presets full of dialed-in sounds that are easy to apply. They’re also easy to edit, thanks to the included MX-Edit Librarian software. It lets you store and recall your own custom presets and gives you access to a bunch of bonus settings from Lexicon. There’s room on the MX300 itself for up to 99 of your own custom presets. The MX300 is just as easy to use for live sound and is designed to handle all the physical and electrical hijinks music gear faces in clubs, theaters, and bars. All of this makes the MX300 an incredibly versatile and powerful effects unit. If you need world-class reverb sounds as well as more juice for your computer setup or live rig, do yourself a favor and check out the MX300.
Features & Specs
- 2-in/2-out configuration
- 16 legendary Lexicon reverbs
- Lexicon delays & modulation effects
- dbx compression and de-essing
- 24-bit, 48kHz/44.1kHz sample rates
- Input Gain Control for stereo inputs
- Intuitive Navigation
- Large LCD screen
- Page/Select Wheel
- 3 top-level parameter controls
- Exit, Tempo, and Bypass selectors
- 5 effect routing options
- 99 Factory/99 User programs
- Hardware Plug-In feature with
- VST and Audio Units plug-in software
- MX-Edit Editor/Librarian software
- S/PDIF Digital Input/Output
- 1/4" footswitch jack
- MIDI IN and THRU
- XLR and 1/4" TRS balanced I/O