Part 4 of our CEDIA wrap up covers what I felt was by far and away the coolest new audio concept I have seen/heard in years. It’s also probably the most long awaited as well. As you may know, Lexicon is part of the Harman family, which means they have billions of dollars behind them to allow for some pretty serious R&D. The Lexicon MC-12 surround sound processor was a long time favorite for Audio Advice. Rumors of a replacement have literally been flying around for close to 5 years. Last year we were able to see what the replacement might look like, but there was nothing to demo. This year, things have moved ahead with an actual demo and a ship date range that is mid to late 2012. Even though this will be pretty far out, I thought you might like to learn a bit about the great technology inside the upcoming MP-20. They do have a ways to go as the demo I heard was a few circuit boards being run on a computer, so it’s obviously not all buttoned up yet.
Dr. Gil Soulodre who holds 18 patents on audio processing technology over his 30 years of working in the acoustics area has been working on the technology called Quantum Logic for many years. Quantum Logic is able to look at music in the digital domain and decipher it down to individual voices and instruments, while at the same time detecting what is the original sound of the voice or instrument and what is reverb added either by the recording environment or the mixing engineer. The processing power required to accomplish this is huge. Lexicon’s sister company, JBL Synthesis has a new room EQ technology called ARCOS. This gives them the ability to really see what a room is doing to the sound and make adjustments. Are you starting to see where this is going? Imagine a technology that could figure out how the original recording was supposed to actually sound. Then, it has the data from the ARCOS system that tells it what effect your room will have on that recording. It can then make adjustments to what will come out of your speakers to get you as close as possible to the original recording. The most exciting part about this, is it does not add anything to the signal, it just moves it around. In the past, to make a stereo recording multichannel, reverb and other effects were added. With Quantum Logic the actual recording is not changed, but parts of it are moved around to the multiple speakers in your room! The new MP-20 is a 7.5.4 speaker based system. It has the normal 7 channels of left, center, right, left surround, left rear, right surround, right rear, but adds a left, center, right, left back, and right back “height” speaker system, along with up to 4 subwoofer tracks. Harman also consulted with a very famous recording engineer, Nathaniel Kunkel, who you may have seen as the recording engineer for Sting, BB King, James Taylor, Crosby Stills Nash, and many more. They wanted to make sure the Quantum Logic process was true to the source and used his input to make sure the adjustments done by Quantum Logic had only positive impacts on the reproduction chain. His comments on Quantum Logic on the CSN track they played were- that is the way I remember hearing it during the recording session!
The first thing they demoed was its ability to extract what they call “streams”. They played a very old recording of Frank Sinatra singing with a big band. With one button push, his voice just totally vanished. Then with another, the band disappeared and it was just Sinatra singing and with another Sinatra with and without reverb. So they blew me away with the technology, but I then wondered what they could do with it.
They next played a cut from Crosby, Stills, Nash, that had been originally mixed by Kunkel. The effect was just simply amazing of how Quantum Logic vastly improved the enjoyment of the music. I felt like I was in the room with CS&N!
For the kicker, they pulled out an old Led Zeppelin cut and showed us how you can fine tune Quantum Logic to totally envelop you. This one had everyone in the room smiling and asking them to turn it up!
I can not wait to play with one of these in my house, even though I will have to add 5 more speakers. The projected price point of the MP-20 is around $17,000 and like in the past, Lexicon will be offering a trade in program for older Lexicon gear, but we have no details yet.
I just think it is great to see companies making music even more fun to listen to!
Oh- and it's equally amazing on movies!