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Chase Bliss Audio CXM 1978

Reverb Stompbox By Simon Small
Published April 2022

Chase Bliss Audio CXM 1978

This modern take on the Lexicon 224 may be a pedal, but it has applications that go way beyond guitar.

The CXM 1978, a joint venture between Chase Bliss Audio and stompbox pioneers Meris, is based on a classic studio reverb processor: the Lexicon 224 which, along with its instantly recognisable white LARC remote controller, started to appear in recording studios in 1978. I work in a studio that has a vintage 224 and its appeal to me is obvious. But while the CXM 1978 does set out to replicate that sound, there are also some welcome modern touches, including many features not found on the original device.

Overview

Those familiar with the brand will recognise Chase Bliss’s Automatone format from their preamp collaboration with Benson Amplifiers. It’s an elegant design, this time with a white/cream body and complementary side panels, and as with all Chase Bliss Audio products I’ve used it’s sturdy and has been built to a high standard. As well as the footswitches, there are plenty of finger‑friendly controls and it caters for balanced line‑level I/O, with separate TRS jacks for the left and right channels. The whole package is only marginally wider than a LARC too, and it will just as happily sit on a desktop or mixing console as it will on a pedalboard. The pedal accepts a 9V centre‑negative DC input (250mA), but internally this is stepped up to provide ±15V power rails.

The CXM 1978 can operate with stereo balanced line‑level I/O and supports MIDI, CV and expression pedal control.The CXM 1978 can operate with stereo balanced line‑level I/O and supports MIDI, CV and expression pedal control.Probably the first thing you notice is the bank of six faders, for which there’s an optional dust cover/protector. They feel gorgeous, and are motorised and fully automatable; they react to preset changes, MIDI, control voltage and expression pedal inputs, and give you a helpful visual indication of what’s happening behind the scenes.

Chase Bliss provide an extensive list of CC messages for MIDI, control voltage and expression, so that side of things is incredibly easy to configure, and the full‑size MIDI In and Thru DINs make it easy to hook up. I used an LFO on my Empress ZOIA pedal to control the reverb parameters, but it could just as easily work with a MIDI switching system or be controlled by your DAW. The pedal can store/recall up to 30 presets spread over several banks, all of which are accessible via the footswitches or MIDI.

The CXM 1978 shares the Automatone format of the company’s preamp, and an optional fader protector is available.The CXM 1978 shares the Automatone format of the company’s preamp, and an optional fader protector is available.The CXM 1978 has an interesting approach to controlling the reverb time. Rather than offer a single decay control, it adopts a split‑band approach with EQ‑style and crossover controls. Adjusting these faders does more than you might think: as Chase Bliss put it, they allow you to “set...

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