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Lexicon 480L

For more than a decade, the Lexicon 480L digital effects system has retained its status as a standard workhorse in the industry, and with continual hardware

For more than a decade, the Lexicon 480L digital effects system has retained its status as a standard workhorse in the industry, and with continual hardware and software updates, it remains a viable production tool. Here are a few favorite tricks for the Lexicon 480L that we’ve developed over the years at JamSync.


The 480L’s sampler programs that use one machine can capture up to three seconds. This function allows you to tweak without tying up your main playback machine.

Put the 480L in Cascade mode. Load the FWD&REV 1.5 sampler (Bank 7, Preset 5) into Machine A. Load your reverb or effect into Machine B. Set the wet/dry mix in B to 100% dry. Capture a short sample (about 250 milliseconds) by hitting the REC button. Go to page two and trim the head and tail by repeatedly pushing the Cue button while adjusting the HEAD and FWD TIM sliders. Set the “<>” (Play Order) slider to the maximum value. Set the REV TIM slider to its maximum value. Then, go to page three and set the LEVL REV to “off.” Go to page four and set TLV to Continuously. Push the Play button to start playback of the loop. Go to Machine B and set mix back to the normal setting (usually 100% dry).

Tweak the effect. When you have finished, change the machine configuration back to your normal mode.


Try using the Cascade mode and Illusion to create a complex reverb that approximates a natural environment. Illusion is a 40-tap delay effect with randomly modulating voices — sans pitch variation. Feeding it into the reverb creates the illusion of many more sources. Set the machine mode to Cascade. Load Illusion (Bank 5, Preset 1) into Machine A. Load Large R Hall (Bank 11, Preset 1) into Machine B. Adjust the mix control of Illusion to change the feel of space. Warning: This approach requires some fine adjustment to get it right once you’ve found the area of the fader that approximates the sound you need.


You can create almost any desired envelope using Shape and Spread. The effect is similar to the ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release) or envelope generator controls of a synthesizer. Start with Large R Hall (Bank 11, Preset 1) or Large Hall (Bank 1, Preset 1). Set pre-delay to zero. Set spread to 128. Adjust shape. Low values resemble plate reverb, while middle values (around 128) sound more like halls. Values around 190 sound like gated reverb, and above 190, the reverb has a reverse build, with amplitude increasing rather than decaying.

Want something really wild? Go to page two and set the DCO to Effects to unlink the size control. When the size control is linked, it works to keep the reverb sounding somewhat “natural,” and it changes the RT and Spread values. Unlinked, anything goes. Try a very small size with a long decay time.


To make percussion and drum samples sound as if they were recorded in a room, start with Ambience (Bank 13, Preset 2). Turn the RTL Level off. Adjust “size” to get the correct size of space. Adjust wet/dry mix on console to set distance of “virtual microphone” from instruments. Add back RTL Level of reverb as desired.


An interaural crosstalk cancellation program, Panorama resembles listening to headphones, except the sound image is outside the head (unlike most headphones) for a 3-D effect. Material that has a strong out-of-phase component will seem to surround the listener. It’s almost like having virtual surround speakers, so you can use it to create the illusion of surround reverb. Set the machine mode to Cascade. Load a reverb into Machine A. Load Panorama (Bank 9, Preset 0) into Machine B. Adjust Panorama speaker angle (ANG) to change the 3-D impression.


When many people have access to the 480L and they change configurations, it’s easy to start a session with the wrong setting. For instance, if the last person left the machine set to analog, then you won’t see or hear your digital input. Push the CTRL key. Move the STA slider on page one. You’ll see the status of key settings scroll by.

K.K. Proffitt is co-owner, with Joel Silverman, of JamSync, a multichannel surround mixing, mastering, DVD authoring and encoding facility on Nashville’s Music Row.