Author Topic: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81  (Read 4382 times)

jmars

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Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« on: July 05, 2012, 01:05:13 PM »
OK guys, I just purchased a used Lexicon PCM 81 about a month ago.  I've been trying to find some info on the net about what algorithms/settings/parameters to use for ambient music.  Not much luck as usual.  Here's what I have found so far...  The Concert Hall algorithm is great for ambient because of the modulated reverb, although I don't know much about tweaking it to get the sound that I'm looking for.  The Pitch algorithms are fairly obvious, although I need practice with using them.  The Resonant algorithms, I have NO clue how to use.  So basically I'm asking for tips and tricks for Concert Hall and the Pitch algorithms and pretty much a complete education for the Resonant algorithms.  If anyone has any personal knowledge or internet resources that they can point me to, it would be highly appreciated.  The sound that I'm trying to achieve is the Steve Roach sound for synth and the Jeff Pearce sound for guitar.  Have I overlooked any other algorithms that are useful for ambient?

Thanks,
John Marshall

Seren

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2012, 02:42:32 PM »
I don't have a lexicon, but I suspect it is like any reverb/effects unit - you need to explore and play with it for some time to find sounds you like - whether reminiscent of other artists or finding your own.

Does it have a manual?

and I suspect many artists use a mixture of effects to get their signature sounds.....

Have fun. 8)

jmars

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2012, 11:06:07 PM »
Hey Seren,

Thanks for the response.  I do have a manual, but it's not much help.  I know how to use the unit, just not how to utilize it properly yet.  Although I appreciate the response, I need some advice from people who have experience using this unit for ambient music.  Like I've told others, I know how delay and other effects work, I am just not very fluent in how to apply them to this specific genre of music sometimes.  One good example is reverb.  Most of the time it is used to simulate a space and is used at the end of the effects chain.  It can also be used somewhere else in the chain to wash out or blur the sound before the next effect in the chain.  This "non-traditional" use of a common effect is an example of what I'm looking for.  You are correct though that artists use a multitude of effects (among other things) to achieve the desired effect.  I guess what I wanted from the forum was for someone to pop in and say, "Ooo, this algorithm sounds great if you tweak this setting", etc.  I WILL have to dig in and learn the unit in order to be fluent, but I'm finding myself having to look up terms like "allpass delays" and such, just to understand how the thing works.  It may be a lust for instant gratification, but I'm just getting frustrated having spent lots of money on something that I can't use.  Thanks again for the response, as I was very happy to see one at all after 3-4 days!

Take Care,
John Marshall

Seren

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2012, 12:52:36 AM »
Hi John,

If I had a Lexicon I'd happily throw in some specific advice and given that you know how to use effects/reverb it's difficult to know what to suggest.

However as far as 'non traditional' use - I quite often use this approach - but then I've not tried to emulate the artists that you were asking about.

Sometimes I just have a constant sound and then just change the reverb or tweak the settings till I find what I want.

Sometimes I use more than one reverb - a long one to get the wash/drone base you describe and then others to emphasise certain aspects of that sound.

Seren

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2012, 09:01:21 AM »
PS - keep us updated on your explorations.... 8)

jmars

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2012, 10:14:50 AM »
Seren,
I had the same idea about the constant sound input to the device, great advice!  I have also heard of using two reverbs as well.  The reason that I had asked about these two artists in particular, is that I have been trying to "back engineer" their sound rather than emulate it.  I just want to know how they get the sound that they get with this specific unit, so that I can incorporate it into my own music.  As an example, Steve Roach had stated in an interview that he used the Lexicon PCM 70 to create his "soundscapes".  My PCM 81 is basically an update to the PCM 70.  Jeff Pearce told me that his album Summer Solstice was created using a Roland GP-100 into the PCM 81, of which I have both.  I guess I just need to take my setup to a remote cave somewhere and explore!  I will make sure to keep you updated!

Thanks Again,
John Marshall

mgriffin

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2012, 10:55:16 AM »
i think the reason you haven't seen more replies to your inquiry is that what you're asking is almost impossible to do any justice in a brief written response. I can only say set up some sounds playing (leaving a synth loop going as Seren Ffordd suggested ins  good idea) then start with one Lexicon preset after another and start tweaking. You'll start getting a sense of how each parameter affects the sound. Some are quite subtle, while others you'll hear right away. Some parameters might be more or less apparent depending on how OTHER parameters are set.

It's the same answer I'd give if someone said "I want to make ambient music - how do I program my synthesizers?" You just have to experiment a lot, pay attention to what results you get when you change various parameters, and if you come up with something cool, save it. You might be able to get some good sounds out of unaltered presets, but I really doubt you can come up with your own sound until you've learned to tweak and adjust. Don't be afraid to try forcing your equipment into doing things it doesn't seem designed to do.

Lastly, chaining effects is a good way to create a complex sound even if you haven't done a lot of customizing of your effects patches, but if you're not careful you can easily overdo it and muddy the sound.
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Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2012, 11:25:22 AM »
Good advice coming at you from Seren & Mike......also be mindful  when you come across presets named "Echo Space of God", a favorite of mine,  you don't though to much in there. Odds are it won't come back. ;)

Seren

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2012, 12:15:55 PM »
I also suspect artists in general use a number of different reverbs (programmes and tweaks) in their sound pallette to create a subtle but definite variety of sound - using the same one all the time would make it all sound too much the same.

deeper, longer reverb for deeper sound and less, possibly more early reflection for closer, clearer sound.....

jmars

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2012, 01:28:59 PM »
Thanks guys!  I guess you're right Mike, I may be asking for the impossible.  I just wanted to see if anyone could point me in the right direction, if they were already familiar with the unit.  One of the problems is that the presets are not blank presets, so they are already panned this way and that for example.  I think that the Dual-FX cards have blank presets, but I don't have one.  Like I told Seren, I guess I'll just have to hole-up and dig deep.  Thanks for the great advice and thank you to Seren, Mike and Julio for your responses!

Take Care,
John Marshall

LNerell

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2012, 03:46:45 PM »
My PCM 81 is basically an update to the PCM 70.

The PCM 81 is not an update to the PCM 70, it was never marketed as one. It was intended to be an all in one box for various effects including reverb. The PCM 90/91 was the PCM70s replacement as a dedicated reverb.

I've never used an 81 before, but from people I know who are fans of this device they suggest getting the dual card for the 81 which I guess makes the  reverbs sound much fuller.

As for what Steve Roach uses for his reverbs, yes the PCM70 is one reverb he uses, but over the years I known him he has used reverbs from Sony, Yamaha, Alesis, Eventide, Art, Digitech, etc. And he normally uses more than one reverb at a time.
Take care.

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jmars

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2012, 08:26:58 PM »
Thanks Loren,
...and that's what happens when you don't know what you're talking about.  You get one of your favorite artists like Loren Nerell calling you out and embarrassing you in front of the whole forum! ;)  I knew that remark would come back to bite me in the a$$.  Thanks for the response!  Loved "Intangible" by the way!  And I was sorry to hear about Barry.

Thanks,
John Marshall

LNerell

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2012, 10:26:51 AM »
You get one of your favorite artists like Loren Nerell calling you out and embarrassing you in front of the whole forum! ;)

 ;D Sorry John not trying to call you out and embarrass you, just trying to set the record straight. Heck maybe I am wrong, I just seem to remember it that way. But more importantly I wanted to let you know about the dual card, as I have been told it makes a big difference with the reverbs in the PCM80/81 unit. Some people who have both the PCM81 and a PCM90 say it really opens it up once you add the dual card. Good luck with your reverb hunt, any Lexicon is a good place to start in my book.  :)
Take care.

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hdibrell

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2012, 01:15:11 PM »
You get one of your favorite artists like Loren Nerell calling you out and embarrassing you in front of the whole forum! ;)

  Good luck with your reverb hunt, any Lexicon is a good place to start in my book.  :)
I have to agree with that. I just have the LXP-15 II and I really enjoy it and still have a lot to learn about it.
Never regret money spent on old books, old dogs or old friends.

mgriffin

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2012, 01:36:45 PM »
My first Lexicon was a Vortex. Kind of a weird box, not high-end like the more famous/popular Lexicons. Anybody remember that one?

I have a PCM 91 and I love it. I still feel like I haven't really explored the programming to the degree it deserves.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

jmars

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2012, 09:17:42 AM »
No worries Loren, I just thought it was funny.  I now have three Lexicons including the PCM 81.  I have a LXP-1 and a Reflex as well.  Love them all.  Thanks Loren,  I will have to look into the cards.  Mike, I do remember the Vortex.  I haven't had the pleasure of working with one, but David Helpling has one and seems to like it.  Like you said, not high end, but I know of very few units that morph from one effect to another!  I may have to look into the dedicated reverbs like the PCM 91.  I have been looking into the early high end units like the 224 and 480 as an option as well, but they are still expensive.  Thanks for all of the advice!  I will let you all know what I discover with this new unit.  Maybe I can help some people that have similar questions about the unit by posting my findings.  Thanks guys, take care!

John Marshall

Premonition Factory

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Re: Help?! My new Lexicon PCM 81
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2012, 05:34:20 PM »
When I started making Ambient music, I always thought hardware determines the sound at the end. In other words, buy one of the known reverb units like a PCM 70, tweak some parameters and you sound like Steve Roach. Well.....it doesn't really work like that. It took me a while before I understood that it's more about your FX chain and how to use each individual effect in the chain itself. I think I started with something simple like a delay + reverb in series. Nowadays, I'm using multiple stomp boxes and 19" FX units. I think I'm able to create a classic ambient sound pretty quickly but you don't want to know how many hours I have spent to get there ;-) But if you ask me to recreate particular sound of an artists or one of my own tracks, it is impossible to exactly nail it or even come close. I have developed a useful set of FX patches during the years by experimenting a lot. People like my live sound, it has become part of my "trademark" and thus a critical component of a live performance and studio recordings. Example:

I often use the following chain existing of 4 elements: short delay -> reverb/delay/pitch/distortion multi FX -> 2 long delays with feedback control -> reverb. So basicly pre-looper FX feed a looper and is post processed with reverb. Lexicon is indeed a good starting point for reverb, I use a PCM 91. Another interesting Fx unit I use is the Eventide Space: it offers very good editable sounds based on H8000 patches. But there are many good and useful FX boxes out there.
premonitionfactory.com -  Ambient drone music