Relab Development are a Danish company that specialise in plug-in coding. They were founded in 2004 and, while you may not have heard their name before, you’ll almost certainly have heard (or heard of) the fruits of their labours: IK Multimedia’s Classik Studio Reverb and SSL’s X-Verb (for their Duende DSP processors) are but two of the plug-ins they’ve had a hand in.
Now Relab have released the first plug-in under their own name, and it promises to be something rather special. The LX480 is, as its name implies, a model of the revered Lexicon 480L, one of the most iconic digital reverbs ever, and one that still gets used today despite being over 20 years old!
Of the modelling process, Relab’s Martin Lind has commented that, while they didn’t have access to the raw algorithms used in the real thing, their experience in studying digital reverbs means they have “developed methods to determine the exact structures” employed by the original — which bodes well for the emulation! He goes on to say, however, that recreating the algorithm isn’t even the hardest part of the process: mapping the user controls (which are styled to closely resemble a Lexicon LARC) to the algorithm parameters is apparently much more time-consuming. Presumably, the end result of this effort is that the LX480 won’t just sound like a 480L — it will behave like one too.
All of which sounds rather enticing already, but Relab’s quest for accuracy didn’t end there: as well as the actual reverb generation, those clever Danes also saw fit to model the analogue side of things. By looking at the service manuals and schematics of the 480L, Relab were able to observe the behaviour of all the analogue components and model, with relative ease, “everything from internal clipping to quirks in the feedback loops”.
Of course, DSP technology has moved on quite a way since 1986, and modern processing is capable of achieving much more than was possible back then — a reality that Relab have taken advantage of, by incorporating a few enhancements: a ‘HD’ mode is present in the plug-in, and this apparently increases the reverb’s echo density. There are more delay lines in the early reflection stage of the reverb, the crossover filters offer more options than the original, and all controls are continuously adjustable, in contrast to the 480L.
Like the 480L, the LX480 is a dual-engine processor, and it allows you to configure the two engines in one of four ways: Single, where only one engine is used; Cascade, where the two engines are linked serially (so the output of one engine is fed to the input of the other); Mono Split, where the two engines work independently of each other (each in the traditional mono-in, stereo-out configuration); and Stereo Split, where both engines receive the same stereo input, and both output an independent, processed stereo signal.
At present, the LX480 is available in a ‘Lite’ version, which includes only the Random Hall algorithm, and its HD variant (the parameters for which are still fully adjustable). From this Autumn, however, the full version (LX480 Mk2) will be available, and this includes the Random Hall, Hall, Plate/Room and Effects algorithms, along with HD versions of each. The Lite version can be bought (in VST/AU format) from www.plugindiscounts.com for $199, while the LX480 Mk2 (which will include an RTAS version) will set you back $499. Upon its release, the full version will be available to owners of the LX480 Lite plug-in for $300, so early adopters needn’t worry about spending over the odds.
Though this is the first product that Relab have released under their own name, the company say that they intend to develop more high-end plug-ins under the Relab Development brand in future. For more information on the LX480, and their future developments, check out the Relab web site, below.