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Lexicon LXP Native Reverb

Reverb Plug-in Suite
Published November 2010
By Sam Inglis

Two of the real‑time display options in action: the Plate plug‑in, left, is showing the simple frequency plot, while the Chamber at right displays a scrolling 3D 'waterfall'.Two of the real‑time display options in action: the Plate plug‑in, left, is showing the simple frequency plot, while the Chamber at right displays a scrolling 3D 'waterfall'.

Lexicon's flagship PCM Native Reverb bundle is highly desirable, but also costly. The cut‑down LXP Native Reverb offers a more affordable, yet still powerful, alternative.

Many of the established manufacturers of digital effects and processing hardware have been cautious about making their algorithms available in plug‑in format; and even when they have made the switch, the likes of Eventide have often stuck to the high‑end Pro Tools TDM protocol rather than create native VST or RTAS plug‑ins. So when Lexicon launched their PCM Native Reverb bundle earlier this year, it represented a major change of policy, and one that was widely welcomed by studio owners. The classic reverb algorithms that had previously been tied to rackmounting hardware were now open to anyone who had an iLok key, a suitable plug‑in host, and £1174 in the bank.

This last feature was still likely to prove a sticking point for many project‑studio owners, so Lexicon have followed up their flagship launch with the more affordable, cut‑down bundle under review here. LXP Native Reverb features four of its brother's seven algorithms: you get the basic Hall, Plate, Room and Chamber, and miss out on Vintage Plate, Random Hall and Concert Hall. There are also a few other features missing, such as reverse and tempo modes, control over tail width, and the full freedom to EQ early reflections and tail independently. The preset library is correspondingly smaller, too, hosting a modest 200‑and‑something entries, as against PCM Native Reverb's 900‑plus. LXP Native Reverb is still authorised by iLok key, and supports VST, RTAS and Audio Units on Windows and Mac OS. The four algorithms are, like those of the PCM bundle, supplied as separate plug‑ins, which is annoying if you want to audition different reverbs.

In Action

The LXP user interface looks rather different from the PCM one, but embodies the same design principles. So, for example, there is still a Soft Row of assignable controls that brings your most‑used parameters together for editing, but they are presented as knobs rather than the PCM's sliders, and there are only six of them to the PCM's nine. The Soft Row controls are chosen from a total of 27 parameters covering all the usual stages of reverb generation, from pre‑delay to master wet/dry balance, and including the all‑important Spin and Wander modulation parameters. It's enough to give you genuine control over the shape of the reverb, without getting lost in editing, and of course you always have the option of using other plug‑ins such as EQs and de‑essers in series with these. Visual feedback is provided by an animated graphic display that can show either a 3D, 'waterfall'‑style plot, a simpler FFT‑style frequency readout, or a scrolling waveform.

Lexicon have made budget offerings before, both in the hardware field and in things like the Pantheon plug‑in bundled with some versions of Cakewalk's Sonar. While useful, these have often been severely compromised by comparison with the 'full strength' PCM hardware. By contrast, I think the feature set in LXP Native Reverb is pretty well judged, making it flexible enough for most rock and pop production without overwhelming the new user with endless parameters.

Most importantly, LXP Native Reverb undoubtedly possesses 'the' Lexicon sound that us poor plug‑in users have lacked for so many years. It's not real in the way that convolution reverbs can be real, but it has a richness and thickness that we're not used to hearing in the plug‑in domain. At one end of the scale, you can create small tiled rooms that provide brilliant slapback and width enhancement; at the other, the halls are impossibly forgiving and warm. In between, the chambers are appealingly retro, yet not at all lo‑fi. Finally, there are other reverb plug‑ins that sound more convincingly like an actual plate than LXP Plate — Universal Audio's Plate 140 springs to mind — but that isn't really the point: Lexicon's algorithm will often prove the more usable precisely because it doesn't clang and honk in the same way as the real thing.

Cut Down To Size

On the whole, I think Lexicon have done a pretty good job of creating a cut‑down product that will nevertheless meet most people's needs. Anyone engaged in serious sound design, film and TV work, or high‑end classical recording will appreciate the extra algorithms and control available in the full PCM Native Reverb, but for mainstream rock and pop production, LXP will cover all your bases unless you require authentically retro plates and springs. Sonically, it's a huge step up from the reverbs bundled with DAWs, and a noticeable improvement over all the other non‑convolution native reverbs I've tried to date.

If I have a reservation, it's that even though LXP Native Reverb represents the 'lite' product in Lexicon's range, it's still more than twice as expensive as the full versions of Sonnox's Oxford Reverb, Overloud's Breverb, Magix's Variverb Pro and 2CAudio's Aether, to name but a few potential rivals. Lexicon will no doubt argue that LXP is more than twice as good as these contenders, and I wouldn't quarrel with that assessment, but the fact remains that £558 will be a stretch that many project studio owners simply can't make. It seems that although the Lexicon sound is still the standard to beat, it's destined to remain a luxury not all of us can afford.  

Published November 2010