FLASHBACK: Lexicon PCM 42 Digital Delay Processor

Year: 1981-82

Category: Enhanced Signal Processor

Background: The Lexicon PCM 42 was designed by Gary Hall in the early 1980s and is still one of the most prized and sought-after delay processors. They are no longer made and still sell for between $700-1,000 used. It is a mono unit that offers up to 2.4 seconds of delay (4.8s if you have the added memory). It has a very distinct sound, due to the proprietary A/D converters used by Lexicon as well as the two stages of limiters on the input. PCM 42s are most commonly used on vocals, but also sound amazing on guitars.

How It’s Used: The PCM 42 especially shines on vocals. If you push the input, the limiters on the input really add a distinct character and if you engage the x2 button, this lowers the bandwidth and makes it almost sound like a tape echo. There is really no other delay like it.

Modern Equivalent: PSP makes a plug-in version of the PCM 42, but it just doesn’t capture the tone imparted by the hardware version’s dual stage limiter on the input.

About the Author:

Terri Winston is the Founder and Executive Director of Women’s Audio Mission, a San Francisco-based non-profit dedicated to the advancement of women in music production and the recording arts. Dissatisfied with the representation of women in pro audio (less than 5%) Winston established WAM in 2003 during her tenure as a professor and Director of the Sound Recording Arts Program at City College of San Francisco.

Today, WAM seeks to “change the face of sound” by providing hands-on training at their San Francisco studio, as well as experience, career counseling and job placement to women and girls in media technology for music, radio, film, television and the Internet. For more information, visit www.womensaudiomission.com

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