We check out the latest version of PSP’s Lexicon PCM42 emulation.
PSP 42 was one of PSPaudioware’s earliest plug‑ins, and back in the day acquired an enviable reputation, but a revision was arguably overdue. In this new version, PSP have improved the accuracy of their modelling, while also adding some practical feature enhancements. Lexicon’s PCM42 delay, which this plug‑in models, was valued both for its versatility and its musical, non‑clinical sound. Its modulation section comprised an LFO that offered sine or square waveforms plus an envelope follower, which could be mixed with the LFO modulation signal to affect the delay time and pitch. For its time, it was a very impressive device — a multipurpose delay that could also be used as a phrase sampler, and which, by changing the delay time (by altering the sampling rate), could deliver tape‑like pitch changes too.
PSP 42 v2 models the audio path of the PCM42 using one of three operating modes. Clean bypasses the signal path emulation, while Lims brings in emulations of the two optical limiters used in Lexicon’s original circuit, one at the input and the other immediately before the A‑D converter stage. The first works on both the dry and wet signals, while the second affects just the wet and feedback signals. Full mode again brings the limiters into play but also replicates the coloration imparted by the original A‑D and D‑A converters. Legacy engages the pre‑A‑D soft saturator that was found in the original PSP 42 plug‑in.
When used as a phrase looper or very long delay, the extended time of 28.8 seconds is welcome — anybody who fancies a dabble in Frippertronics will have a lot of fun.
The enhancements include an increased delay time (now up to 28.8 seconds). PSP have also added a high‑cut filter, LFO tempo sync and adjustable input level sensitivity, to emulate ‑10dBV or +4dBu operation. Other additions include the ability to invert the envelope controller signal or control it using a side‑chain input. There are also four ‘direction’ modes, offering different forward and backward repeat options that include reverse playback and Bounce, which alternates forward and reverse playback. The delay can also be bypassed to leave the limiters active to add their coloration when you don’t need other effects. These add‑ons appear in an extension panel populated with buttons and three knobs. The reference knob sets the reference signal level for the saturator, limiters and converters.
On the main panel, you’ll find the expected delay controls for level, time, wet/dry mix and feedback plus a DLYx2 button that doubles the delay time by halving the sample rate, delivering a somewhat lo‑fi sound character. Output gain is also provided, along with metering. High‑cut filtering is controlled using a button. It defaults to a first‑order filter at 6kHz, though this can be changed in the extension panel. FB Invert inverts the feedback signal, as you’d expect, while DLY Inv inverts the polarity of the wet signal. Switching occurs at zero‑crossing points in the waveform, to reduce clicks as the switch is operated. When bypassed, the dry signal level is as set by the Mix knob. The mod section is pretty self‑explanatory, with a single control balancing the square, sine and envelope mod contributions, and there’s a phase control for offsetting the start of the LFO waveform. A bypass button on the lower panel does bypass the delay, but leaves the dry signal processed via an input limiter whenever Lims or Full processing mode is selected.
PSP 42 v2 can also be used as a phrase sampler/looper, and the display shows the current delay time in ms or bar/beat values. RPT mode sets the recording length by time, whereas Time mode works in bars and beats, with several subdivision options available. The loop speed and pitch can be changed using the x2 button or by adding modulation. Sonically the switches for bringing in the various coloration result in audible but still subtle changes to an otherwise clean signal.
As a delay/echo, you can get any of the expected single‑head tape‑echo treatments, and the modulation adds a little welcome movement...
The charm of PSP 42 has always lain in both its sound and its functionality, and both are improved in this updated version, while nothing appears to have been lost. As a delay/echo, you can get any of the expected single‑head tape‑echo treatments, and the modulation adds a little welcome movement. Reverse does the usual backwards echo trick but Bounce is an unexpected pleasure, adding an ethereal tail to whatever you throw its way. When used as a phrase looper or very long delay, the extended time of 28.8 seconds is welcome — anybody who fancies a dabble in Frippertronics will have a lot of fun. In short then, this is a very worthwhile update to PSP’s original take on the Lexicon PCM42.
A worthwhile update to a classic plug‑in modelling classic hardware — it both sounds better and boasts greater functionality than its predecessor.