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MC-1 & DC-2 New Product Q&A

Buzz Goddard, formerly Vice President of Consumer Products at Lexicon (now sailing boats around Buzzard's Bay) was responsible for the introduction of the DC-2, successor to the much acclaimed DC-1 and the then flagship MC-1 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 1999.

We took the opportunity to char broil him (makes a change from a grilling) about the features of the new processors and their impact upon Lexicon DC-1 owners. Questions and comments can be directed through SMR Forums.

Buzz Goddard

SMR: Buzz, those of us looking at the details of the new products on-line appreciate that both DC-2 and MC-1 have more inputs than the DC-1, but more importantly, do the new processors sound any different?
Buzz Goddard: Both the DC-2 and the MC-1 offer significant audio, video and ergonomic performance gains compared to the DC-1.
SMR: So the DC-2 is superior to the DC-1? Apart from the introduction of v3.00 software how is that possible, DC-1s have been shipping with updated DACs for some time?
Buzz Goddard: True, but all 24 bit DACs and certainly their implementations are not created equal. We actually delayed the introduction of the DC-2 so we could implement the configuration we decided on.
SMR: Is the MC-1 able to accept a 96kHz 24-bit PCM input from DVD-Video and if so, which of the processing modes are available?
Buzz Goddard: Many people have asked about the three coax connectors labelled "Expansion Ports" on the rear of the MC-1. These give a direct "purist feed to the DACs. The mode is basically a pass through, so you get "purist two channel" which is in keeping with the handful recordings issued in this interim format. Of course most players will not output a 96/24 bitstream, so its a fairly moot point.
SMR: In a similar vein, have the number of effects which operate with 48kHz PCM, 2/0.0 and 1/0.0 Dolby Digital been increased? Specifically, is Mono Logic now available?
Buzz Goddard: No, the effects number for each stream is the same.
SMR: People get hung up on specifics, sooner or later youll be asked which A/D and D/A chips are used in the MC-1, so we might as well make it sooner.
Buzz Goddard: I dont subscribe to that point of view. Ive no intention of giving out competitors who monitor your excellent site a jump on it.
SMR: While were in the area of technicalities, can you divulge the MC-1s signal to noise ratio and frequency response characteristics?
Buzz Goddard: Were seeing 100dB to 102 dB worst case analog I/O , 110dB Typical w/ digital source.
SMR: Is it true to say that the new operating software (v3.00) in terms of ambience extraction, steering and decoding is the same across all three platforms and only operating logic is different, or does the MC-1 implement more advanced decode algorithms for modes such as Logic 7?
Buzz Goddard: Currently they operate on the same base code. Of course the MC-1 will be released after the DC-2 and the DC-1 upgrades, so there may well be other enhancements.
SMR: The MC-1 is said to have effects and settings that are "extensively customisable by owners and/or installers, for tuning to room acoustics, system configuration, and personal preference". What does this mean over and above what we can already do with the DC-1 v2.10 software? Can we now store a number of different configurations of each effect?
Buzz Goddard: Its certainly more similar then different. I dont believe in different speaker config settings for different modes, but there are enhancements to make it easier to dial in different relative levels.
SMR: In these changing times, the ability to upgrade an expensive decoder such as the MC-1 so that it can process the likes of MLP and/or SACD is important. Can the MC-1 be upgraded, and if so, how is this done, by way of an internal daughter-card in a similar vein to the DC-1 and DC-2?
Buzz Goddard: I expect getting a "usable" digital signal out of a DVD Audio player or SACD machine will require an external processor to unpack, decrypt, deal with watermarking if needed and reformat.
SMR: The DC-2 rear panel and the MC-1 rear panel both include RS 232 ports what are they for?
Buzz Goddard: Control. Both control of the processor by an external system, like AMX, and control of future products we are planning (video switchers, EQ, dynamics processors, Cuisinarts&).
SMR: What about FireWire? Would not have been prudent to include a FireWire terminal somewhere on the rear of the MC-1 at least?
Buzz Goddard: If that were a reality for audio today. Even the most promising systems look to be a year from silicon. Again, the expansion ports using a known standard are the safest bet for now.
SMR: Will it be possible to update the operating software within the MC-1 and DC-2 by using an RS 232 link to a personal computer?
Buzz Goddard: No. Im loath to do that for piracy and interfacing headaches. We do it on other products, so it was considered (and rejected).
SMR: As the DC-2 and especially the MC-1 will be used in high-end systems with DVD or HDTV sources, why dont either include component inputs, outputs and switching? If the MC-1 is to be 100% user-friendly then hitting the DVD input should engage Dolby Digital Logic 7 and route the component feeds to my projector. Another use for the RS 232 ports perhaps?
Buzz Goddard: Sure. But of course youll still have to switch your TV, so it wont have gained you much, and you might even have lost some quality as the component signal is relatively fragile. If your TV supports component video, Id run directly to it.
SMR: Id personally like some sort of digital parametric equaliser for use with the MC-1 along the lines of the z-Systems components which can only be used with Meridian processors or strictly two-channel systems. Does Lexicon have any plans to introduce such a thing or does the MC-1 have the processing power on-board to accomplish the task itself?
Buzz Goddard: Weve been studying EQ and small room acoustics for quite a while. A product that effectively attacks the problems we know of is probably going to be thousands of dollars at this point and weve no wish to burden the MC-1 with that cost. Keep it optional.
SMR: Two words. Trading in. Lexicon owners have been lucky enough to realise the value of products they currently own when moving up the Lexicon line why werent details of an upgrade scheme, specifically the costs involved, announced along with the products themselves?
Buzz Goddard: We want to give our partners (distributors and retailers) a chance to provide input on the process. We got a lot at CES and are evaluating it now. Its also difficult to get an exact product cost until the production and test lines are up to speed.
SMR: You have stated that upgrades from DC-1 to MC-1 will be part of the forthcoming trade-in program, but DC-1 owners who wish to change to a DC-2 will not be accommodated. Why is that when not only does the DC-2 offer more inputs but also a sonic advantage?
Buzz Goddard: People are welcome to make any deal they can with their local retailer. Obviously the DC-2, given the features and performance, is priced quite aggressively It may come as a shock to some people, but we cant afford to loose hundreds of thousands of dollars satisfying everyones processor lust and still continue to ring out new high performance products. Its important to realise the DC-1 is far from obsolete and the performance that owners and critics have been raving about didnt decrease over night simply because a new product was announced.

Those who have to have the latest and greatest must be willing to pay something for it. And as several people have pointed out, trade-in programs are not a given right, nor even common. Most companies offer no upgrade path at all!

SMR: What if I had a THX DC-1 and wanted to add discrete decoding would it not be preferable to upgrade to a DC-2 at the same time? If so, have you considered a pricing structure for doing so?
Buzz Goddard: That would depend on what kind of trade in deal you can strike with your dealer, but as I mentioned earlier, Lexicon is not underwriting trades from the DC-1 to the DC-2. However if you choose to upgrade your DC-1 to DD or DTS it will include the new software enhancements and the new remote, for $1,000 (Dolby Digital) and $1,500 (DTS).
SMR: If I were a DC-1 owner& which I am& and I only had $600 to spend, would it be better to update the software in my Lexicon to v3.00 or change the 20-bit DACs to 24-bit? Will I be able to hear the added resolution the DACs can theoretically provide?
Buzz Goddard: Id get the software and $300 worth of music to enjoy it with.
SMR: Now that the DC-2 has superseded the DC-1, can we expect future software developments to also be applied to the DC-1 platform? If so, when do you envisage the DC-1 no longer being supported in this regard?
Buzz Goddard: Well continue to offer upgrades to the DC-1 provided they can be fit onto the processing platform at a reasonable cost.
SMR: Ive seen a photograph of the new remote control its pretty cheesy-looking if you want my honest opinion. Is the same design supplied with the MC-1?
Buzz Goddard: I guess wed best fire the photographer. People who have actually held it and used it like it very much. The MC-1 uses a nice blue back-lighting to compliment the front panel display.
SMR: Any chance of giving MC-1 owners a free Lexicon 700T?
Buzz Goddard: Sure, if you dont mind paying way over retail for the MC-1
SMR: Thank-you Mr. Goddard for taking the time to answer these questions and on behalf of the site and the Lexicon owners who visit it, good luck with your new products.
Buzz Goddard: Thank you, and Id like to take the opportunity to thank you for developing your web site to such a high level of performance and the participants for all the feedback weve received. A lot of it has directly influenced the feature set weve developed for these products. It really is a unique forum for direct manufacturer/customer communication. Id like to see more manufacturers provide this kind of contact as I believe it helps both the manufacturer and the consumer (and can be quite entertaining as well). Back to product development&

 

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