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Lexicon MC-1 review

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by nathan_silly, Apr 30, 2003.

  1. nathan_silly

    nathan_silly
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    Features...

    Decoding- Stereo, Dolby Pro-logic, Dolby Digital, DTS, Logic 7. THX Surround EX.


    ---------------------------------------
    Settings per Input…

    Analogue input gain, adjustable for low-volume output devices.
    Input name (chance Aux name to PSX etc)
    What effect to use for PCM (for CD input, 2 channel only, or maybe Logic 7 Music)
    What effect to use for DD (for CD input-none)
    What effect to use for DTS (for CD input say a DTS 5.1 music CD, DTS Music)
    Input stream (DD only, DTS only, Auto)
    Audio input (analogue or digital 1-8)
    Video input (None, selectable input)
    Rec/Zone2 (analogue, digital, blocked)
    Trigger (enabled, disabled)

    Non-specific video inputs & digital & analogue audio inputs. Plug a DVD player analogue into Aux, digital into coaxial 3, S-Video to LD.

    -----------------------------------------------
    Speaker settings

    THX mode (all small, 80hz sub crossover, rears none)
    Surround EX (all to 80, enables sides & rears)
    Small
    Large
    Dipole (sides)
    Rears
    Variable 5.0 speaker crossovers- large (down to 20hz) small- 40hz, 80hz, 120hz
    Variable Subwoofer crossovers- large (down to 20hz) small- 40hz, 80hz, 120hz.

    -----------------------------------------------
    Individual effect settings…

    For stereo only you might have subwoofer off- or on, but volume somewhere along the slider. Also individual effect setting on bass/treble controls.
    For DTS Film you might have the default settings
    For DTS Music (ie a Concert DVD) you might have decrease the subwoofer channel slightly. Or increase/decrease rears
    For Dolby Digital Film you might have the default settings
    For Dolby Digital Music (ie a Concert DVD) you might have increase the subwoofer channel slightly. Or increase/decrease rears
    Logic 7 Modes (Music/standard) again settings for each mode.


    ------------------------------------------------
    I/O

    Three direct digital connections (bypasses processing)
    Eight S-Video inputs. Eight Composite video inputs.
    Eight Analogue RCA inputs.
    Monitor out (no OSD) with S-Video & Composite
    Zone 2 output (analogue RCA)
    Two Record outputs (2x Analogue RCE, 2x S-Video, 2x Composite)
    8 Channel pre-out (L,R,C,SR,SL,RR,RL, Sub)
    Five coaxial digital inputs.
    Three optical digital inputs
    One coaxial digital output
    RS 232 input/output
    12v Trigger- on DIN & bare-wire. IR connector input.

    ---------------------------------------------------------
    Volume settings

    Mute Level- setting for your mute level- ie very low or totally muted.
    Power-on volume. Last level, or various low-levels (slider)
    Zone 2 power-on volume. Last level, or various low-levels (slider)
    Loudness. Useful for when listening at lower levels- increase bass output when volume is set low. Enable/disable.

    ---------------------------------------------------------
    Speaker Adjustment

    Speaker distance.
    AV sync delay, upto 60ms.
    Panaroma mode, creates a 5.1 mix from a mono source.
    L/R balance, in digital domain.
    Front/back fader, adjustable per Effect mode.
    Zone 2- adjustable. Fixed line level, or pre-out (adjustable via Shft & Vol +/- on the remote) Zone 2 L/R balance.
    Channel adjustment.
    Digital bass/treble/tilt controls, done in the digital domain.

    Internal & external pink noise test (internal bypasses all preset DSP adjustments-except for channel level) - external pink noise noise is with your set DSP mode adjustment.

    Sub peak limit- a useful feature to protect your subwoofer. This has another test tone, which is separate to the channel adjustment tones. You increase the sub peak volume slider until your sub woofer starts to sound bad- ie cone bottoming out, distortion etc. Reduce by a couple of dB to sound it's best-say your sub outputs 110dB before breaking up. Now say you increase the master volume to max. With a normal processor the subwoofer output would no doubt be higher than 110dB, possibly damaging the sub. With the sub protect enabled, the sub WILL NEVER go above 110dB.

    -------------------------------------------------------------
    Useability

    Onscreen display, adjustable (position, NTSC/PAL, timeout, on/off)
    Front panel/logo, adjustable (contrast, timeout, on/off)
    Lockable settings. Custom name upon switch on.
    AC-3 display status (data rate, channels, LFE level etc)
    Restorable effects only (only restores you messed up effect, and not a whole reset!)
    -------------------------------------------------------------

    I will update with a sound quality post soon. If any MC-1 owner's spot any mistakes or additions, please PM me and I'll update.

    Previous Processors- Harmon/Kardon ADP-303, Denon AVD-2000, Rotel RSP-966.

    Logic 7 creates a very good ambiance effect from 2 channel PCM, Pro-Logic (even with stereo rears) Dolby Digital & DTS.
     
  2. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Looks more like a feature list than a review nathan.....IMHO....
     
  3. nathan_silly

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    In-depth features review first... then sound quality review once I've used it a bit..

    Strange the first poster to this thread is a Tag owner....hmmm...
     
  4. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Nothing strange there nathan...always open to other people's opinions on equipment,even if its something I don't particularly want or need.
     
  5. JimmytheSaint

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    I've also got an MC-1. Did a side by side comparison with a similarly equiped Tag last year and prefered the sound from the Lexicon. The Tag, although having excellent separation, seemed a little more brashy, especially in regards to the treble settings, (no doubt this is partly due to the Sonus Faber speakers that I use).
    I think it is crucial to test both models depending on your systems speakers. Generally what I've found is that if you have large bass heavy speakers (e.g. Kef Reference 4), the Tag will sound better. With less bass heavy speakers (e.g M&K monitors) the Tag is too shrill and the Lexicon just right. The Logic 7 on non 5.1 material just blew me away as well! (this is just my opinion, but I did fairly comprehensive research on both).
    The other thing in deciding was also the cost involved. Although the Lexicon may not be as flexible in upgrading as the Tag (although both now require you to upgrade the actual unit), the Tag is considerably more expensive if you want the same spec as the Lexicon.

    Anyhow, I'm sure you'll be very happy with your new purchase and look forward to your review!

    :smashin:
     
  6. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    KEF Ref4 bass heavy, I am not sure I buy into this, KEF role off the bass on the old Ref series with a capacitor!! Sod all under 35 Hz for the Ref4.2, I have bookshelf speakers that go lower here! Big they may be but they are no bass fiends and they have actually one of the most linear of any loudspeaker freq response tested by any UK magazine, with +/- 2 dB tollerance routinely, class leading.

    Lex considerable more expensive for the same unit:nono: I just can't buy into this at all unless you are talking about the £1500 MC1s that have been traded in as the units, cannot and have never been updated in either software or hardware. There is little between the 562/568, AV32R and MC1 in serious specs. I would happily understand if you argueD you prefered the MC1, it is a fine processor (I have said so repeatedly here) but cheaper? How? I seem to remember getting an processor and DVD for the same money as the MC1.
     
  7. JimmytheSaint

    JimmytheSaint
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    Yes Beekeeper, I am refering to the fact that the MC1 is £1500 NOW ( & what I paid for it months ago) and a similarly speced Tag is more expensive.
    Don't get me wrong in regards to the Kefs, they are better speakers than mine, but in comparison to the Fabers they are heavier and more powerful. The tests I did were with both Tag and Lexicon (and to a lesser extent the Meridian) with my Fabers the Kefs and the M&Ks.
    The Tag was perfectly matched with the Kefs, but not at all with the Fabers and M&K's. It sounded too shrill. Perhaps that is not, as I stated earlier, a reflection of the bass of the Kefs, but moreso the fact the Kefs handle the higher frequencies better than the other two. However, whilst using the Kefs, there was much less reliance on a sub; therefore I assumed it was more bassy.
    All in all this was not a put down of the Tag or Kefs, but an opinion based on tests I did when I was deciding which processor to go with and a vote of confidence for a new owner!
     
  8. nathan_silly

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    I was hoping this wasn't going to turn into a Lex v Tag slanging match...so I'll end it now :)


    THE TAG IS RUBBISH, THE LEX IS BRILLIANT :) :p
     
  9. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Much you have still to learn my young padawan.

    Steve.
     
  10. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Jimmy

    I think the MC1 at £1500 is a bargain but was just a little confused by your post, hence my questions.

    Never done the slagging bit, this site is littered with good things written by me on the Tag, Meridian, Arcam and even this Lex ;)
     
  11. nathan_silly

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    I just checked the firmware of the MC-1. Ver 1.12. I thought CSE upgraded the units to full spec?

    My dealer is sorting out for a EEPROM. Is that all that needs doing to it? (plus my units is missing the THX Surround EX badge)

    Just a quick comment reg. the MC-1 sound quality....awesome. VERY atmospheric. And the new firmware should make it even better. Great low stuff from the sub in Pro-Logic (previous processors always sounded amemeic in Pro-Logic)

    Rotel can't even compete.
     
  12. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    ah welcome to the serious club:cool: I am surprized they are not selling more of these at £1500
     
  13. tk2001

    tk2001
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    nathan_silly, what processor did you previously have and does the Lex sound that much better?

    BTW, what does your home cinema set-up consist of?
     
  14. nathan_silly

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    Rotel Harmon Kardon ADP-300 (DD only) Denon AVD-2000 (DPL & DD) Rotel 966 (Pro-Logic, DD, DTS)

    Rather not give my system details away, Fairly good equipment that is not too far from the Lex. Better than your system. :)

    Regarding use, then the initial post shows about 10x the level of customization over a bog-standard Processor (Rotel) Even the new Rotel processors are very limited- not bad, but not great.

    The Rotel buzzed and hissed (in Pro-Logic, DD & DTS). 2 channel stereo was flat and boring, like a Yamaha AV Amp. In AV the hiss/hum concealed fine detail. The Denon was much better than the Rotel (dead silent) but sounded thin as a 2 channel pre-amp, and a bit harsh for AV- not bad for £100 sec/hand though. I would guess a Denon AVD-2000 and a decent poweramp- Rotel 1095 will be better than wasting money on a medium-end korean processor with a 1075 poweramp. Keep the Denon for a few years and replace with a MC-8 etc and you'll have a awesome system.

    For stereo the MC-1 is neutral. My amps are a bit forward sounding, the MC-1 does not push this over the edge to become harsh & too forward (ie with a Tag AV32 it would) In AV the Lex is dead silent. Pro-Logic Logic 7 with Akira (Jap mix) sounds great. The Subwoofer with the other processors never kicked in during the action sequences. The MC-1 does. With Dolby Digital Logic 7 it is improved over the Denon. Centre sounds much clearer, also noticed front panning sounds more sweepy. The Sub peak feature alone is worth spending £500 over the 1066. I'll be getting a very good subwoofer soon, so less likely to reach the limits- but it's still useful to set the maximum SPL output anyway.


    I'll be getting some speaker cable soon to go into 7 channel. Got the rear speakers and poweramp already.
     
  15. CarlB

    CarlB
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    I have the Denon KAVCA1SE which also has a sub limiter, but I wouldn't recommend setting the peak level limit once you upgrade your sub. Personally I have never made my M&K sub bottom out, and it isn't even one of the best in their range.
     
  16. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Things like the old Audiolab amps always were a bit forward,and being fair,wouldn't be a good match with a Tag processor,even taking into account the price/quality mismatch.
    I expect that's the reason for Tag making their current range of amps somewhat recessed in the treble,to make up for earlier excesses.
    There's no doubt the MC-1 is a fine processor,but like all things,the choice of pre/pro is governed as much by the rest of the system as it's own qualities and sound.
    System synergy is more important than brand names,IMHO
     
  17. garmtz

    garmtz
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    Nathan, I would advise you to upgrade your MC-1 to the most recent v4.0. You will get you THX Surround EX, but I bet you will like Logic-7 better... ;) It might solve some other problems as well, although I am not extremely knowledgeable to all the changes from version 1 through 4.
     
  18. nathan_silly

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    Yeah asked my local dealer for the V4 EEPROM, CSE better not get farty regarding payment- it should have been updated. I will not pay for the chip- if they refuse I'll take the MC-1 back.
     
  19. nathan_silly

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    I've used the MC-1 for several hours now.

    Detail is improved- for example The Professional- Gary Oldman shooting the glass (old woman) is much much better. Also intro to Toy Story II- when the robot heads land near buzz- THUNK THUNK, before it lacked impact. The subwoofer channel just seems to integrate better, before the occasional sound now the it's part of the whole soundtrack.

    Logic 7 music sounds great for CD PCM audio, rather than a naff DSP like Yamaha which adds un-natural sound or a 6 identical speaker mode, it sends most to the centre, a bit to the left and right, and a little to the rears. The subwoofer sounds very good, and of course settings for Logic 7 music modes for reduced subwoofer output if desired.

    It lacks the detail & forwardness of a Audiolab pre/power system- but in a way that's good as badly recorded CD's sound bad on the Audiolab, although really good CD's sound fab on the Audiolabs. I like my music system slightly forward.
     
  20. garmtz

    garmtz
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    Nathan, make sure to follow the Official Lexicon Forum at http://www.smr-forums.com. Stuart Robinson attents that forum quite frequently as well as I.
     
  21. z5461313

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    Nathan

    Can I ask, did you have an integrated amp before and if so, what are the differences you notice with the MC1?

    Do you hear things more clearly you didn't hear before?

    And for music, is it HiFi quality?

    People used to say the MC1 was the Rolls Royce of cinema processors and had the greatest sound stage and detail there was
     
  22. nathan_silly

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    I had a basic Pro-Logic AV amp with 5.1 input, I used the built-in decoder in the DVD player. After that- Denon AVD-2000 with poweramps. The biggest upgrade is the poweramps after a certain level (the AV amp was pretty poor in the poweramp area)

    Having a AV amp that shares 7 channels in one small transformer plus video switching, processing, pre-amp is not ideal.

    If you upgrade from a decent AV amp to the MC-1 or similar the difference will be STAGGERING.. even good quality AV amps IMO are lacking- too much in one box- processing, poweramps.

    The MC-1 is almost Hi-Fi, but lacks the very high level detail of a very good pre-amp & poweramp setup. The MC-1 is better than a Arcam pre-amp for example (course depends what poweramps you're using with the MC-1) Upgrading from the Arcam pre-amp to the MC-1 will be an improvement for hifi, plus have DPL/DD/DTS & Logic 7 to boot.

    I have no reply from CSE yet. I'm not very happy having a old revision when others have got the latest chip.
     
  23. sounddog

    sounddog
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    nathan ... other than the AV8 ... do Arcam do and pre-amps? (Yes I know there is an FMJ one launched soon)
     
  24. nathan_silly

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    Comparing it to the Arcam Alpha 9 pre-amp stage, which is pretty bad. The Arcam Alpha 9P poweramps are much better than the pre-amp stage -sound quality wise, compared to other pre-amps- (using Arcam pre/Arcam poweramp, Arcam pre/Audiolab poweramp, Audiolab pre/Arcam poweramp, and Audiolab pre/Audiolab poweramp)

    Cannot check with newer Arcam gear.


    The Arcam pre-amp stage sounds boring & lifeless, good for background music. The MC-1 is more detailed. Audiolab pre-amp stage more detailed & forward than the MC (slightly) and alot more dynamic than the Arcam's


    Three people's opinion (not just me) One previous owner of Arcam, now Audiolab owner.
     
  25. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Nathan ... its helpful when making comparisons if you're clear. Most pre-amp stages of integrated amps are worse than similar level dedicated pre-amps. (I've not compared a Alpha 9 to anything so not commenting on how it sounds specifically)

    Yes the Alpha series are quite boring ... but thats the characteristic that marked the whore Alpha series of amps - and in it's day it was applauded for it (IIRC).
     
  26. nathan_silly

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    Well I have, over a week, and a mate's compared over a week. Compared the Arcam Alpha 9 integrated amp in pre-amp only mode, and in integrated mode.

    And a Audiolab 8000S integrated amp in pre-amp only mode, and in integrated mode, with Arcam 9P & Audiolab 8000SX poweramps. Granted the Audiolabs are slightly more expensive, but are in a totally different league.

    8000S- £700
    Alpha 9- £500

    8000SX- £550
    Alpha 9P- £400

    Only a total of £350 more for both, well worth it.
     
  27. NicolasB

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    I think the Arcam AV8 in analogue bypass mode is rather a good pre-amp.

    The MC1, to my ears, is really not very good at all when it comes to stereo music. The lack of an analogue bypass is part of the problem, but even when using the processor's DACs after a few minutes I really didn't want to listen to it any more. (I didn't rate the MC12's bypass much either, but by contrast with the MC1 the MC12 sounds lovely using the processor's DACs).
     
  28. nathan_silly

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    You're too fussy Nic!

    I think most people will be happy with the MC-1 for everything- AV & Music, if it's their first step into audio/visual system.

    Wheras if someone has a very high quality Transport, DAC pre-amp & monoblocs they will probably notice the downgrade in performance in Hi-Fi.
     
  29. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    I'm partially deaf. On the face of it you would have thought I would be less sensitive to distortion, noise, interference, etc. than many other people.

    (shrug)

    I suppose with MC1s selling for £1500 these days, the stereo quality isn't much of an issue. It will probably sound as good in stereo as an original Tag AV32R and nearly as good as a Meridian 568 mk I. But if I'd paid £5.5K to have it sound like that when playing back music I'd have been furious. Even an Arcam DV88 playing through an Arcam AV8 in bypass mode leaves an MC1 in the starting gate as far as music quality is concerned.
     
  30. nathan_silly

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    Suppose. Although I really don't care about the stereo side of it, but the only use I'm using it for is Pro-Logic, Dolby Digital & DTS for DVD's. And not stereo Hi-Fi. If you want decent stereo sound- get a seperate Hi-Fi system..which I have.

    In that regards the MC-1 is probably the best Home Theatre Processor around, for the money & performance.

    If you're slightly deaf- have you considered Quad gear? These are tailored to older people- who have lost upper hearing frequncies due to age.
     

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