In this episode of MakeMineMusic, Marc Daniel Nelson unboxes a very special vintage piece of gear. The HOLYGRAIL of Space. Follow along as Marc tests this beauty out in the studio.
The Lexicon 480L is a digital reverb processor that has become a legendary piece of equipment in the music industry. Introduced in 1986, it quickly became the go-to reverb unit for music producers, engineers, and artists. Even after more than three decades, it remains highly sought-after for its unique sound, versatility, and ease of use.
At its core, the Lexicon 480L is a digital signal processor that uses algorithms to create artificial reverberation. It features a powerful processing engine that can generate complex reverb effects with high precision and quality. The 480L can also be used for other effects such as delays, choruses, flangers, and more.
One of the key features that set the Lexicon 480L apart from other digital reverbs at the time of its release was its ability to simulate the acoustics of real spaces. It included a wide range of presets that were based on famous studios, concert halls, and chambers around the world. This allowed engineers and producers to add realistic spatial effects to their recordings, making them sound like they were recorded in a specific environment.
The Lexicon 480L also introduced a unique algorithm called “Random Hall,” which was designed to simulate the natural reverb of large, cavernous spaces. This algorithm used a complex algorithm to create a random, ever-changing reverb tail that added a sense of naturalness and complexity to the sound. The Random Hall algorithm became very popular and was later used in many other Lexicon products.
Another notable feature of the Lexicon 480L was its dual-engine design. The unit had two independent processing engines that could be used simultaneously or in parallel. This allowed for more complex and creative effects processing, such as creating a dry/wet mix or crossfading between two different reverbs. The dual-engine design also made the 480L a favorite for surround sound production, as it allowed for more precise positioning of sound sources in a virtual 3D space.
Despite its digital nature, the Lexicon 480L is known for its warm, natural sound. It was designed to emulate the characteristics of analog reverb units, such as the decay time and modulation effects. The unit also included a set of high-quality converters that ensured accurate and transparent conversion between analog and digital signals. This made the 480L a popular choice for recording engineers who wanted to add reverb to their recordings without sacrificing the naturalness and warmth of the original sound.
The Lexicon 480L had a significant impact on the music industry and has been used on countless hit songs, albums, and soundtracks. It was a favorite of many iconic producers and engineers, including Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, and Flood. Its unique sound and versatility made it a staple in recording studios around the world, and its influence can still be heard in modern music production.
Today, the Lexicon 480L is a highly sought-after vintage piece of gear that is prized for its sound quality and historical significance. While it has been succeeded by newer and more advanced reverb processors, the 480L remains a favorite among purists and vintage gear enthusiasts. Its warm, natural sound and unique algorithms have made it an icon of digital signal processing, and it will continue to be a revered piece of equipment for many years to come.
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Marc Daniel Nelson is a Grammy and French Academy Award-nominated mixing engineer, music producer and creative director. He has been mixing, producing and managing creative content for over 20 years. His Music Credits include Fleetwood Mac, Colbie Caillat, Jason Mraz, Need to Breathe, Eric Burdon / Ben Harper, Francesca Battistelli, Robert Duvall, Ozomatli, Reik and more. As Protégé for both legendary producer / engineer Bill Schnee and Ken Caillat, Marc has carried the torch for impeccable quality sound and production. His film credits include Solo, Blade Runner 2049, The Vietnam War, Mulan, The Expanse, Wild Horses, Point Break, No Manches Frida, Fractured, Amanda, Father Figures, Ya, Ty, Vin, Vona and more. His creative management credits include executive producing the 13 episode PBS television series, creating and executive producing the national video campaign for Guitar Center and creative directing for Alcon Sleeping Giant, ArtistMax and Warner Chappell.