|Lexicon DC-1 AV Preamplifier/Processor|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers AV Preamps|
|Written by Kim Wilson|
|Wednesday, 01 October 1997|
Page 2 of 2
In Twister (DVD, Dolby Digital, Warner Brothers) I found the standard Dolby Digital setting almost too localized. Movement from front to rear (and vice versa) tended to jump. Using the THX 5.1 setting, the 360 degree imaging was overall more coherent, creating a wash of sound that did not effect the stereo surround localization. (This was also true of the DTS THX 5.1 versus the DTS Film setting with the Laserdisc of Crimson Tide [Buena Vista].)
On Evita (DVD, Dolby Digital, Hollywood Pictures), I compared the THX 5.1 setting with the 5.1 Music setting that is recommended for soundtracks with a strong musical content. I still preferred the THX 5.1 setting, as there was more separation to the front left and right speakers, resulting in a wider soundfield. This result proved to be strange in that the two modes are almost identical, spare a slight shelving EQ on the THX mode. Vocals and solo instrumentation were locked onto the center channel and the surrounds were enveloping. In 5.1 Music there was more of an equal blend of the left, center, and right speakers. It was more like a wall of sound without as much separation. The THX 5.1 setting seemed more in line with the director's original intent.
The DC-1 as a preamp
As a stand-alone preamp, the DC-1 performs exceptionally. Whether you want to play your stereo recordings with or without DSP environmental enhancements, you'll appreciate the overall sound quality of the DC-1.
The track "Into the Dark" from Jesse Cook's 20-bit Mastered CD, Gravity (Narada Equinox), demonstrated a transparent and delicate quality with finely detailed articulation in his fast guitar runs. The saxophone on the title track from Ernie Watts's (XRCD) "The Long Road Home", was smooth, smoky and sexy without any mid-range emphasis that can cause a honking-like tone. The ethereal, "Skin" from Madonna's Ray of Light (Maverick), delivers a blend of synthesizer textures and multiple layers of guitars and vocals. The spaciousness and airy quality between instruments was very impressive.
I liked the Panorama effect on several of the two-channel recordings. The image exceeded the boundaries of the front left and right speakers. Solo instruments were locked to the center channel with just a hint of ambience in the rear channels, increasing depth without any artificiality. (The rear channel volume can be adjusted for this effect.) The Concert Hall effect on "In My Time of Dying" from Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti, transformed this rather dull and aged 1975 recording into an exciting, open "live" performance. Guitars sounded rich and fat, while vocals had a great, saucy "reverb," a Lexicon Trademark from its pro audio roots.
I used the DTS Music setting for Vince Gill's DTS-encoded CD of his album, High Lonesome Sound (MCA). Compared to the DTS Film setting, the DTS Music setting had a wider and slightly more robust soundfield. There was a greater concentration of directionality to the center channel. The title track isolated the solo instruments in different channels for a unique and enveloping 3-D musical experience.
Unfortunately, I was physically unable to test the Logic 7 mode with seven speakers. Logic 7, much like Dolby Pro Logic, creates a five-channel signal from as few as a two-channel source. Logic 7, unlike Pro Logic reproduces full bandwidth (20 Hz to 20 kHz) signal as well as discrete rear channels, unlike Pro Logic's mono rears which roll off at 7 kHz. Logic 7 basically is a surround format that digitally `rides the gain' over the 4 to 8 (or more) speakers, in order to give your less than state-of-the-art surround sources a performance boost over Pro Logic. The DC-1 also uses the Logic 7 type algorithms in its music surround formats. Depending on your software collection, you may find that the Logic 7 feature is the closer for you on a DC-1.
The LDD-1 isn't the most beautiful add on piece. It was designed to use a short run of RF cable and sit behind a Laserdisc player in a rack. It is separated from the DC-1 to provide extra value for the majority of DC-1 customers who opt to go without RF inputs from a Laserdisc Player. If you have a large collection like me, you may want more sex appeal for your $699.00.
I wish there were more coax type digital inputs. With everything going digital, even four inputs aren't enough. Moreover, many people prefer the coax to the toslink connectors, limiting the potential inputs even further.
The basic DC-1 starts at $1,995. The fully loaded model with Dolby Digital, DTS or THX tops out at $4,995. The LDD-I is an additional $699.00 (only required for Dolby Digital encoded Laserdiscs). It's definitely not the cheapest solution, nor is it the most expensive. Still, for its extraordinary and unique features, surround parameters and sound, the price seems quite appropriate.
The DC-1/LDD-1 combo is a serious contender for anyone developing a high-end, home theater system. Its flexible and varied adjustment parameters allow you to contour the DC-1 to fit your specific needs. The DC-1 does lack some of the subtle nuances in sonic performance that can be heard in pricier units, like the Theta Casablanca. However, if you consider the price-to-performance ratio of the Lexicon DC-1, you'll understand exactly why it is worth every penny.