New Music Gear Monday: Relab LX480 Dual-Engine Reverb Plugin
When Lexicon came out with its 224 digital reverb in 1978 it took the world by storm. When the company followed it up with model 480 in 1986 it became the go-to reverb in studios all over the world. Even today many engineers feel that it’s the gold standard for how reverbs are supposed to sound, which is why so many audio software developers have tried to make its plugin equivalent. They’ve all run into a wall trying to recreate the sound, but Relab has gone to extraordinary lengths to get it right with its latest version of its LX480 Dual-Engine plugin.
Random Is The Hardest
As the name Dual-Engine implies, what made the original 480 hardware unit special was the fact that it had two reverb engines. While that meant that the unit could be used as two separate reverbs and or/delays, what was even better was that it could be used in other stereo configurations as well to make the reverbs even denser. This allows you to use two LX480 algorithms at once in 4 unique engine configurations – single, cascade, mono split and stereo split.
Next comes the reverb algorithms of the classic Lexicon 480L, which includes Random hall, Hall, Room/Plate, Random Ambience, and Twin Delays.
According to Martin Lind, Relab’s Founder and Chief “Reverb Scientist,” Random Hall was the toughest one to crack.
In fact, the secret of the original Lexicon reverb algorithm is the modulation added to the tail of its reverbs. This is important because that’s what happens in nature, but many reverb plugin developers don’t include this or do it poorly. In the case of the original 480 it was random, so very difficult to reproduce, but the LX480 seems to have done that.
According to Lind, “Figuring out this “random” element is the key ingredient to recreating the “distinctive character or sound” of this reverb. And I simply couldn’t get the modulation to sound right. In fact, no one could – ever.
Why? Because this specific modulation is, in fact – “Random”. How do you model something that is not only changes every time… It changes OVER time. You certainly can’t use conventional methods. You absolutely can’t use convolution here (no matter what anyone tries to tell you). You could add your own modulation to “fake it” (which is what most do).” Obviously none of those modulation techniques get you close to the original.
It’s A LARC
The interface for the LX480 looks and acts just like the famous LARC remote used on the 480 hardware. It does go a few steps beyond what the hardware can do though, as you can edit deep inside the reverb types and graphically see what’s happening while you do it. In fact, there’s way too much in this area to cover in a summary like this, so you’ll just have to download the trial version and try it for yourself.
Relab LX480 Complete is currently on sale at an introductory 50% off price of $174.50, and there’s a free trial if you just want to try it. The plugin also comes with a number of additional bonuses like preset packs and reverb workshops. If you don’t want to spend the that much money, there’s an Essentials option for $95 that has some of the same sounds, but is much more limited in terms of editing.
You can find out more here, or watch/listen to the video below for side by side comparison to the original hardware.