Choosing an EFX Unit


Well-Known Member
I found a Lexicon MPX 550 at guitar center at a price I can afford. I wanted to know if anyone has used it before? What are your reviews for it? Also, what about the TC Electronic M-OneXL Which one would you suggest. I've narrowed it down to those two. I know the Lexicon name, but not the other, and they're pretty comparable in price. I just wanted some third party input before I shell out $400 for an EFX unit.

By the way, thanks for the input for the dbx Driverack, I wound up getting it for my birthday. I love the thing! I've used it for our theater, church, room, and it's worked flawlessly.
Tough choice...what is your application for this effects unit? (i.e. live, studio, vocals or multi-fx processing for various things? Will this go into a house system or your house rack and need to meet a rider in the future for a Verb unit?)

I own the top line Lexicon PCM series--but even the cheaper Lexicons still put out a stellar reverb sound especially for studio or in-house user.. But keep this in mind--Lexicon is the king of the reverbs and you can hear their verbs on most recordings everywhere--but TC is a close second in quality and sound IMO and their M-one has been a very very impressive unit and is also rider friendly, and is a big score for the money in quality FX processor. Lexicon delays and other FX tho tend to be lesser in transparancy and quality in these cheaper units IMO. But in the M-one--they do all of the Effects very very well. I also own an M-one..and its performance is also stellar in quality. About the only thing the Lexicon does that the TC M-One does not (and i wish it did sometimes) is pitch shifting for an effect--otherwise they both offer chorus, flange, reverbs, halls, funky effects presets and so forth on dual input/output independant engines..

If you need to meet a rider--the 550 won't make the cut from any pro user (they will want PCM series 98% of the time)...but the M-one will make the cut and be listed on many riders about 95% of the time. If you need a processor to do a wide variety of effects in applications for theater or vocals or instruments or recording--its a slight toss up between the two as they are both good units. But Given the choice--I would go with the M-One by TC electonics for versatility and acceptability and I feel I would be getting a higher quality unit and sound from the M-One in all iots effects over the 550 where i know the Verb will be excellent but some of the other effects may not be very good.. While Lexicon is well known all over for their verbs, I would get the TC now and then hold out and save the $$ up for the PCM series later on for the best possible verb.

Just my opinion....
Well, I'd use it in my FOH rack (driverack, power, EFX unit, and wireless recievers) for live sound in church, and for a few local bands. I like the MPX b/c it has 1/4" connecters which is what my mixer has, and, from the look of it, the M-one only has XLR, and it looks like the lexicon is easier to use (less clutter on the front). I don't have the money for the PCM series (though I would love one), I still have more PA gear to invest in. I'm sure I'll get it someday, just not today.
Eboy87 said:
Well, I'd use it in my FOH rack (driverack, power, EFX unit, and wireless recievers) for live sound in church, and for a few local bands. I like the MPX b/c it has 1/4" connecters which is what my mixer has, and, from the look of it, the M-one only has XLR, and it looks like the lexicon is easier to use (less clutter on the front). I don't have the money for the PCM series (though I would love one), I still have more PA gear to invest in. I'm sure I'll get it someday, just not today.

Well both units use balanced connectors--XLR or TRS 1/4"...either way it will work with your system whether you use 1/4 TRS-1/4 TRS for your outs and ins, or 1/4 TRS to XLR M or F cables--and when coming back into a console and mixing these on a set of open channels--most use the XLR to easily go back into the console channel strip so you can take advantage of the channel EQ, trim pots and output assigns with the reverb outputs. But consoles know your system best and what will work best for your needs..

As for the ease of use--again I have used the M1 and the Lexicons (most all lexicons are set up very similarly for user interfaces--all that changes are FX parameter flexibility/selection and the display)--and both units are VERY user friendly and easy to use, dial up and program or save for the parameters you want. You will be up and comfortable using either in 1 minute from plugging it in. Like I said--its a tough choice between the two because they are both good quality units and will serve you well, which ever you choose. I just tried to point out some of the other things to consider in riders, sonic transparancy in other effects and so on that you may wish to have or need to think of.. Either way it is a win-win situation....

Best of luck on your choice and I am sure many other readers will have opinions and user-experiences to share on these units to help you decide. I hope my comments were helpful :) and I look forward to hearing your future comments on your new FX unit and how it is working out for you... Either way I don't see how you can lose given those two choices...

If you don't mind used, check out some yamaha. You can certainly find a yamaha spx90 (which works fine and is much nicer than the m-one) lying around much cheaper than $400, heck you could buy three or four for the price. What's nice about buying these units used, is they always tend to be in excellent condition. People don't seem to beat the heck out of these things. The spx90 is just the earlier version to the spx990, which is an earlier version of the late model spx2000. The 90 is just like it's siblings, it has so many effects and options that most of the time you won't have enough time to play with. If you want something more modern check out the 990, you could probably get an older model easily in your price range.

As far as sound, I prefer lexicon preset reverbs over the yamaha's. The yamaha tends to sound more flerby and processed, but that's not necessarly a bad thing. Some people like a cleaner digital sound. I am a fan of analog effects, there's nothing like the spring reverb on a silver face fender twin. But I like the yahama because it has a lot more than just reverb. Every once and while you'll get a guy who has a "vision". And they'll explain "I want to make it sound like something has sprung from a steamy valley, blah blah...." The yamaha units have so many options and allow me to create my own or even edit the presets. It allows me to reach the "vision". If only need reverb, you'll be set with lexicon. The PCM is so simple and can sound soo good. It's not hard to get good sounds out of it. But it's just 'verb. On the other hand you have the yamaha with it's flexibility and versitility, but it's reverbs aren't as good as the lexicon's. That is probably why I'll often see both of these units in racks together.
We use Alesis Midiverb 4's. They are easy to use( though I am the only one can get into their more complex settings because nobody else cared to learn) They produce great full effects are affordable,have 1/4" connectors and are decently rugged.
I also own an Alesis MidiVerb 4, and as avkid said, its a very good reverb unit and fairly simple to use. It should be noted however, that while it does use 1/4 connectors, they are unbalanced like much of Alesis' other products. It wouldn't make a huge difference on short lengths, (desk to rack) but its something to keep in mind when considering the MidiVerb.
Innovative solution avkid, and no disrespect to you, but if you think about the cost of at least 2 decent direct boxes, more than likely 3 for stereo thats adding somewhere near $90 to $120 to the price of the $200 MidiVerb. Throw in extra cables (3 1/4 patch cables and 3 XLR to TRS and we are very close to the price of both units.

EBoy87 if you are stuck between these two units only, then I would suggest you get the TC Electronic unit even though it would be a little extra for cables. I have seen the unit many more times in professional situations than the lexicon unit.
Just because it's unbalanced doesn't necessarly mean it's a going to be a super high impendance signal. Most LINE-IN's on mixing consoles accept BOTH balanced and unbalanced signals. But take note their is only a certain level of impendance a console can take when accepting an unbalanced signal. Most passive insturments are too hot, or are too weak and noisy by the time the signal reaches FOH. Heck, your not getting a good signal past 40 feet or so. In some instances, you can lose as much as 1-2db for every 10' of unbalanced cable. It'll still work, but the longer cable lengths make the signal prone to interferance. Believe it or not, but a surprising amount of audio processing gear can be ran unbalanced without any troubles. A majority of people run their CD players unbalanced (rca and many 1/4" outputs are unbalanced. Anytime you hook up a serial effect via an insert with a TRS y-cable, you're running unbalanced. About 95% of the time when I use compressors/dynamic processing, I run it unbalanced, because I connect it up as a serial effect. No direct box needed here. Usually you don't need a direct box when using unbalanced processing gear because they usually have a relatively low impendance (low enough so it's not going to fry your console). I see analog guitar effects used on vocals at front of house all the time. Usually, it's an analog delay, tape echo, or some sort of reverb/reverb tank. In sound it seems like we're always taught to destroy those unbalanced (I try to run every balanced as much as possible) signals and whip out that direct box asap. We were probably all told this because it's not a smart idea to run an unbalanced signal from the stage to FOH, which can 150'+ run easy. But there are some instances when you work with unbalanced signals peacefully. I know this can be confusing, but there isn't always a rule of thumb you can follow by. The best thing to stick to is to find out whether it's balanced or unblanced, then figure out wht the device's impendance is.
I have looked at the MidiVerb, and I don't like it. I made a trip to demo the three, and tried it alongside the Lexicon and TC unit, and they sounded better. I've actually decided that both are going to have a home in my rack, but I'll get the Lexicon first. I also need a better mixer if I want both EFX units (I have a crappy Mackie DFX. I'm thinking either the 1604 VLZ or saving for whatever it was i used at Guitar Center, A&H maybe). So, thanks again for the input.
Not to shoot down your guitar center plan or anything, cuz you may actually get good deals through them. Check out some of the mail order guys. You get a rep and save money in the long run by keeping things loyal and establishing a relationship. In my experience guitar centers prices tend to be a bit marked up when compared to the pro dealers. Check out Full Compass, B&H, MarkerTek, All-Pro Sound, etc. You'll save a lot more and you don't have to deal with the commonly unknowledgible guitar center dudes who probably have to sell x times their salary. Another thing about guitar center is they don't give you quotes, you can never take their word on pricing. The price is always different depending on who you talk to there. Guitar center is a nice show room and all, but it's not good for anything but demo'ing gear (which still can be tough trying to hear anything over the kid playing on the marshall stack) and the occasional bargain when they need to sell stuff.

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