Lexicon Super Prime Time

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They don't make them like this any more

[ Lexicon Super Prime Time front panel ]

The Lexicon 'Super Prime Time' Model 97 is IMHO the most cosmic and inspiring digital delay ever created. On my first day of using it, it has changed the way I think about echoes. To quote some insightful comments from an eBay auction:

The Lexicon Super Prime Time is a serious classic and it's destined for revival. This box is not just a simple delay for the non-rocket scientist as some may claim but is actually a rich well of complex tonal joy. Like an old Minimoog it is inspiring to use and has real-time easy-to-grab and manipulate controls. Enjoy leading yourself into wonderful sonic landscapes and rich complex loops that would use up all of your left brain on any other box. Forget the TC 2290 with its less than pleasant up and down nudge arrows buttons and under-the-hood controls where the fun is "In The Box". The Super Prime Time has the fun is "On The Box". Just grab and go. A real time roller-coaster of pure audio enjoyment.

Yes, other delays from AMS, TC, Ursa Major, Bel, MXR, Roland and others may be nice, but the SPT is the most musical. I also own the TC D2, a very fine modern unit which extends the features of the 2290, but like the 2290 isn't as hands-on in use as the SPT, with all those faders and knobs on the front panel allowing realtime level mixing of the various delay ins+outs. Front panel settings can be saved in 32 memories. It has funky LED displays. There are two balanced inputs and separate Delay A/B outputs for ping pong panning madness; I use the Aux Input from a console Aux send, and feed the Main Input from a DAW bus output. Despite being made in 1982 (according to the manual), the bandwidth is a full 20kHz even at 1920ms delay time (mine has the 97/MEO Memory Expansion Option upgrading from the standard 480/960ms). It does everything you could want, even through-zero flanging if you have two SPTs! It doesn't have a cooling fan like the equally stunning Model 200 reverb (or the classic 480L for that matter); that is the only thing that's stopped me getting one of those beauties, as well as the fact that their front panels, while similar, are hardly lined up to look good together. Lexicon, like many companies, knew how to make gear look good back then (and so it should, since it cost ££££s!). Sadly no longer...

The Model 97 is an intuitive player's delight, especially when hooked up with modular gear. Here are the rear panel connectors...!

To be on the safe side, I invested in a Survival Kit of spare parts, but haven't installed them yet. Maybe some new capacitors might help people who reckon the M97 is noisy? Mine does have a noisy power supply transformer hum though, but that just causes an audible hum in the room like some other gear, and doesn't affect the audio signal. I will check though... Anyway, if you just need a pristine 24-bit clean echo, do it in the DAW or use a D2; the SPT is a more fun box for sound design where character and control is more important than noise specs.

"When I first worked with Eno we had very limited equipment to create those sounds. We had an AMS harmonizer, Lexicon Primetime, and an EMT 250 which is essentially a reverb type of unit. So we made the ambient sounds by re-routing back through the initial processing equipment. So let's say we do a bit of processing on a piano, we would print that sound onto the multitrack, which would then free up the processing devices to handle another job. We would send the already printed processing back to the original boxes. That's when it starts getting interesting. That's when you start adding VCO on top of VCO and you get these little irregularities. The best of ambient music has that in it. The constant motion of nature that never repeats. Like when a sunlight shimmers on something it won't be the same in a minute. It keeps moving. So introducing irregularities and the bits of flow that life has to offer within, that's what gives ambience its trembling effect. There are lots of instant ambient sounds available at music stores. When you take them to the workplace and challenge them with process on top of processing that's when you get something really organic." - Daniel Lanois

Comparing the differences between Super Prime Time M97 and Prime Time II M95:

Super Prime Time has:

Prime Time II has:

I'm not sure if the Prime Time II Model 95 has the same audio bandwidth as SPT. The original Lexicon Prime Time Model 93: [quoting from another eBay auction]

"...came with a stock memory that allowed 128ms of delay time, with a multiply factor to 256ms, 512ms and 1024ms respecitvely. The audio bandwidth is cut in half for each multiplier: 128ms = 12khz, 256ms = 6khz, 512ms = 3khz, 1024ms = 1.5 khz. There was an optional memory upgrade that double the possible range of the delay times to 256ms, 512ms, 1024ms and 2048ms respectively."

So basically the M93 is only good for short delay times or lo-fi :-(

[ Lexicon Super Prime Time outdoors | Sony MU-R201 + DPS-R7 in good company with Lexicon M97 | Shiny Sonys MU-R201 + DPS-R7 with Lexicon M97 | Sony MU-R201 + DPS-R7 with Lexicon M97 and little fluffy clouds ]

© copyright Malcolm Smith 2009-03-25 - last updated 2010-11-01 - links verified 2010-11-01