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Lexicon 12.4 Channel MP-20 "Media" Processor Preview

Lexicon 12.4 Channel MP-20 "Media" Processor

Lexicon 12.4 Channel MP-20 "Media" Processor


  • Product Name: MP-20 "Media" Processor
  • Manufacturer: Lexicon
  • Review Date: August 23, 2011 04:35
  • MSRP: $14,000+
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

People that listen to the AV Rant podcast know that I don't give high end audio companies much love. Not that I don't think they put effort and technology into their products, just that they usually way behind the times in terms of features and, instead, expect you to buy them based on their "heritage", or sound, or other mystical, unquantifiable, quality. So when a high end company puts out a product that truly comes across as cutting edge, I sit up and take notice.

Harman has decided to put out a new high-end pre/pro through their Lexicon brand, dubbed the MP-20. The MP-20, Lexicon's first product labeled a "Media" Processor, is the followup to the MC-12 Cinema Processor. The MC-12 commanded $11-$14k and the MP-20 promises to ask for more. The reason for the name change to "Media" over "Cinema" is because the MP-20 will include video-processing technology. The Lexicon sports the Sigma Designs VXP GF9452 chipset in a dual channel configuration with independent signal paths, transcoding and 1080p scaling (including 1080p video up-scaling of analog and digital video sources).. The device also supports 3D and 4K video pass-through on all inputs and outputs.

While we don't have a picture of the Lexicon MP-20 from the back, we do know it has eight HDMI 1.4a inputs with 3D pass-through, two composite-video inputs, and two component-video inputs. While many receivers these days have dual HDMI outputs, most are dual mono. As you'd expect with a product of this price and technology, that isn't the case with the MP-20 which features second-zone HDMI with stereo audio and second-zone on-screen display. The MP-20 also splits HDMI audio from video so users can listen to an audio source instead of a video source's soundtrack while watching the video.

One of the complaints of the MC-12 Processor was that it didn't natively decode all the latest HD audio codecs. It did fine with Linear PCM, but you'd need your player to do the decoding for you for MLP or SACD. The MP-20 includes native Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD Master decoding, and Dolby Pro Logic IIz front-height-channel post processing. There was no mention of the new DTS Neo:X decoding.

While all this is interesting, it doesn't explain why at $14,000+ processor has caught our eye. Well, Lexicon is including their new QuantumLogic Surround 3D (QLS 3D) post processing, which delivers up to 12.4 channels of surround sound from mono, stereo and multichannel sources. This includes two rear-height channels, two front height/width channels, and a center height channel. Lexicon suggests that the front height/width channels be mounted above and just to the outside of the main speakers. According to the Lexicon press release:

Unlike other up-mixing technologies, QLS 3D works in the frequency domain rather than in the time domain, enabling it to up-mix stereo to multiple channels without interfering with the artist's original intent, he said. "We don't add to the original signal," [marketing manager Jim] Garrett explained. "We deconstruct the signal by spatial slice and reverb extraction processing to obtain the direct and reverberant components. Then using only those original components, QLS is able to reconstruct a previously unachievable surround experience that remains true to the original recording."

The QLS 3D will widen the sweet spot to cover a larger seating area while also optimizing it for specific seating locations. According to Lexicon, it can also digitally compensate for non-optimal speaker placements and move listeners from an audience location to an on-stage location and back. This sounds like a room correction system on steroids, though that is not specified in the released materials. Keep in mind that in the world of pro audio, Lexicon has long held the title for some of the world's most advanced and highly sought-after DSP. Additional features include four (count 'em!) independent subwoofer outputs and a front panel interface which can rename buttons as you change functions.


Okay, it is expensive, but what did you expect? It's a Lexicon. But, looking at the feature set, it appears that Lexicon is priming the MP-20 to be the premiere large home theater processor. And who has large home theaters? People with money. The QLS 3D processing will make every seat in even huge rooms sound great. The four independent subwoofer outputs will make evening out the bass in such rooms much easier, and the decoding and video processing will eliminate the need for external processors. The only feature that we wish we would see specified is video calibration options. Then again, we're all but certain that this system would be paired with a very capable display. We'll know more after CEDIA.

For more information, please visit www.lexicon.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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