Lexicon MC-1 AV Preamp Reviewed

By |

Page 1 Page 2


As in the review of the original DC-1, it's worth noting what all of the nonsense/fantasy modes are, just in case you're the sort of money's-worth who feels that If It's There, Then I Must Use It. The MC-1 controller has the same user-applicable surround modes of the DC-1, each one with its own set-up menu with user-adjustable parameters:
1) Panorama: adds spaciousness by extracting the recording's natural ambience 
2) Nightclub: generates the appropriate early reflections to suggest intimate spaces
3) Concert Hall: as above, but suggesting a large hall
4) Church: uses a reverb algorithm to make you feel holy
5) Cathedral: as above, but holier
6) Music Logic: provides steering to exploit the extra speakers for surround usage for stereo music material, also steering signals at the front
7) Music Surround (THX): as above, but the front left and right channels receive unprocessed L/R signals
8) TV Matrix: provides surround effects for mono, stereo and stereo synthesised TV programmes, helpful for cleaning up dialogue
9) Logic 7 (THX): provides "maximum separation" and "uses intelligent steering to extract wide bandwidth stereo surround channels", can be applied to all modes
10) Mono Logic: and I quote, "takes a monaural soundtrack and sends music and sound effects to the sides and rear through a room simulator mode while keeping the dialog (sic) in the center (sic). Don't laugh: it 
11) Pro Logic: your proper, familiar Dolby Pro Logic Surround decoding
12) THX Cinema: Dolby Pro Logic with icing
13) Party: provides unprocessed stereo signals to all speakers
14) Two Channel: good, ol' stereo...
What's changed from before is that I now leave it in Logic 7 mode at all times, including DTS and Dolby Digital, having discovered that Lexicon's own refined logic-steering technology improves side-fill in non-7.1 systems. So what you must also add to the above, although their application is determined by using the correct 5.1 channel software, are:
5.1 2-channel: down-mixes 5.1 for two-channel playback
5.1 Music: enhances music program
5.1 Logic 7: adds Logic 7 to Dolby Digital
Dolby Digital: straight AC-3
THX 5.1: applies THX side-channel enhancements
DTS 2-channel: down-mixes DTS 5.1 for two-channel playback
DTS Music: enhances music program
DTS Logic 7: adds Logic 7 to DTS
DTS Film: straight DTS
DTS THX 5.1: applies THX side-channel enhancements

In an unrelated conversation with one of the industry's more outspoken pundits, I mentioned that I was looking forward one day to setting up the MC-1 in 7.1 channel mode. You know the drill: I was waiting for seven identical speakers and seven identical amplifiers, having dealt with the first (I own four pairs of LS3/5As) but not the latter. He said, "Why bother? All 7.1 is bogus until we get discrete 7.1 channel source material. Until then, what you'll be hearing is true 5.1, plus a couple of channels of glorified Pro-Logic filling in the sides." I couldn't argue with that one. But I still use Logic 7.

Lexicon's MC-1, like its predecessors, is a wholly digital A/V product and sold as such. I therefore doubt that anyone would buy it with the intention of using it exclusively as an analogue two-channel pre-amp, even though it is likely that MC-1s will see occasional service in two-channel mode; just about everyone with a 'home entertainment room' also employs CD players, tuners and the like. But there's a snag for purists: unlike the DC-1, which had direct analogue inputs, the MC-1 takes every source inserted into its analogue socketry and runs it through the on-board A/D converter.

I have to admit that sources I used during the listening sessions with digital outputs were used in all-digital mode. And why not? The MC-1's DACs are fabulous, and I had no way of checking MC-1 DAC vs a component's onboard DAC because of the lack of analogue inputs which bypass the MC-1's digital circuitry. But I had to try the assorted sources using their analogue outputs, as well as a turntable (Basis/Rega/Grado cartridge/EAR phono stage), in an attempt at deciphering what the conversion did to otherwise analogue signals.

All of the sources with digital outputs benefited from the MC-1's DACs as far as I could tell, but I may have been hearing double the processing when using the analogue outputs. My advice, therefore, is to use the MC-1's digital inputs when possible for the most direct connection. But the results with the Trio L-O1T tuner and the Basis/Rega/Grado package were unusual to say the least. None could argue that the sound of both acquired a veneer of 'processing', if not quite a complete makeover in digitisation. The surprise was that the artefacts weren't wholly detrimental. While neither the tuner nor the turntable were made softer - a slight edge crept in - both were categorically cleaner. This isn't necessarily a good thing, because the whitewash might have taken with it some minor detail and a hint of ambience; conversely, the sound could prove more appealing to ears raised on CD.

We are not talking about anything so offensive as to preclude ownership of the otherwise miraculous MC-1 in an all-manner-of-source-components system. It's just that it would have been nice if Lexicon had included one or two pure-analogue, bypassed inputs for us purists.

Additional Resources
• Read high end AV preamp reviews from Lexicon, Meridian, Krell, Mark Levinson...

Page 1 Page 2

HTR Product Rating for Lexicon MC-1 AV Preamp

Criteria Rating







Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.

Latest AV Preamplifier Reviews

Dec 09
Home Theater Review's Best of 2019 Awards As 2019 comes to a close, we at HomeTheaterReview.com look back at all the products we reviewed this year and pick the best of the bunch, from affordable favorites to flagship products that make us drool.
Home Theater Review's Best of 2019 Awards

Nov 11
Emotiva RMC-1 16 Channel Reference Cinema Processor Reviewed Emotiva's RMC-1 is one of the hotly anticipated AV preamps we've seen in years. But its most oft-discussed feature, it's insane channel count, is probably the least interesting thing about it.
Emotiva RMC-1 16 Channel Reference Cinema Processor Reviewed

Dec 31
Marantz AV8805 AV Preamp Reviewed Brian Kahn puts Marantz's flagship AV preamp through the ringer to see how it stacks up with previous models and the current state of the art.
Marantz AV8805 AV Preamp Reviewed

Dec 10
Home Theater Review's Best of 2018 Awards Here at the end of 2018, we at HomeTheaterReview.com look back at all the products we reviewed this year and pick the best of the bunch, from budget favorites to aspirational flagship products.
Home Theater Review's Best of 2018 Awards

Oct 15
Trinnov Altitude16 Home Theater Preamp/Optimizer Reviewed The Trinnov Altitude16 delivers pure audio bliss, says Dennis Burger, with more configuration features than most people would have any clue what to do with. But sonic perfection does come at a price.
Trinnov Altitude16 Home Theater Preamp/Optimizer Reviewed