● Codecs: DD, DD-EX, DPL-II, DTS, DTS-ES, DTS
Neo:6, DTS 96/24, Logic 7
A/D Conversion: 24/96
D/A Conversion: 24/192
● MFR: 10 Hz - 20 kHz +0.05dB/-0.1dB
THD + Noise: < 0.008%
● S/N: 108dB
Input Sensitivity: 200 mV
Input Impedance: 100 kOhms
Output Level: 6 V Maximum
Output Impedance: 100 kOhms
5 Composite (RCA), 5 S-Video,
and 3 Component Video (RCA)
1 Composite (RCA), 1 S-Video,
and 1 Component Video (RCA)
3.8” H x
17.3” W x
Weight: 17 Pounds
Also read reviews of this product written by consumers, at AudioReview.com.
Lexicon is definitely not a new name in the home-theater
world. The company has had a long successful history in making various
wonderful products, most notably digital surround controllers.
legacy product, the DC-1, which I've owned for many years, still can compete
and beat many of today's surround controllers in terms of surround
performance. The product reviewed here, the MC-4, is the latest digital
surround controller (Surround Sound Processor, SSP) in Lexicon's lineup. It is the little brother of the
highly regarded MC-12 and MC-8, and the most affordable at $4,495. It shares a
similar look and also carries some of the design elements of the MC-12 and
As with most of today's digital surround controllers, the
Lexicon MC-4 packs an extensive set of features.
The MC-4 is a THX Ultra2 certified eight-channel surround processor, which means
it can handle the current state-of-the-art 7.1 surround formats. The MC-4 is
also software-upgradeable. It has 8 configurable inputs, each of which can be
assigned to its 8 digital audio (4 coaxial and 4 optical), 8 analog audio, 5
composite video, 5 S-Video, or 3 component video input connectors. In default
configuration, the MC-4 has a set of 5.1-channel analog inputs, for connection
to a DVD-A or multi-channel SACD player. Its other analog connectors, however,
can be configured to provide an additional set of 5.1-channel analog inputs.
Pretty much most popular surround encoding formats for home-theater
applications today can be handled by the MC-4. It is capable of decoding Dolby
Digital (DD), DD-EX, Dolby Pro Logic (DPL), DPL II, DTS, DTS-ES, DTS 96/24, and
DTS Neo:6. In addition, the MC-4 offers THX enhancement (Ultra2 and Surround
EX) and the latest version of Logic 7, which creates a 7.1 channel output
signal from stereo, 5.1, and 6.1-channel sources. The 7.1 version of the DPL
II (called DPL IIx), however, is not included. I don't know if Lexicon plans
to add this as an upgrade in the future, but even if there is no such plan, I
don't consider it as a serious omission. The Logic 7 is a capable substitute
and will give you comparable performance to DPL IIx.
The signals from 5.1 channel analog inputs are sent directly to the volume
control and audio output connectors. These signals do not go through MC-4
internal processing. Therefore no tone control or bass management can be
applied to these signals. Also, these signals cannot be redirected. This is
somewhat short of my expectation. If you are planning to use the MC-4 for
channeling the signals from DVD-A or multi-channel SACD and don't have a
full-range set of speakers as these formats require, you should be aware of
this limitation, and should get a DVD-A or SACD player that provides bass
The processing power of the MC-4 is quite impressive and can rival the best
out there. Four Analog Devices SHARC DSP engines are utilized to perform high
resolution processing with sample rates up to 24 bit/96 kHz including custom
Lexicon processing, such as Logic 7 decoding, bass enhancement, dialog
enhancement, bass management, and digital crossovers. A Cirrus Logic DSP
engine is added to handle the decoding of multi-channel compressed audio
sources, such as DD, DD-EX, DTS, and DTS-ES. 24 bit/192 kHz digital-to-analog
(D/A) converters are utilized for all audio channels.
To convert the analog
signal to digital domain for further internal processing, 24 bit/96 kHz
analog-to-digital (A/D) converters are used. To satisfy purists, a direct
signal path from the input to the output connectors that bypass the A/D
conversion and internal processing is also provided.
On the video side, the MC-4 features two video switchers: a wide-bandwidth
(>150 MHz) component-video switcher that can pass analog component or RGB
video signals as well as HDTV signals, and a composite and S-Video switcher
for NTSC, PAL, or SECAM video signals. In terms of number, the MC-4 has
sufficient video connectors to perform switching in most situations. No
digital video switching (DVI or HDMI), however, is provided on the MC-4, which
makes it a step behind in terms of video switching features compared to some
other high-end processors currently out there.
Besides the audio and video connectors, the MC-4 rear panel also sports an IR
input connector, two trigger outputs, and two RS-232 connectors. According to
the manual, one of these RS-232 connectors is for performing configuration
downloads and flash memory software upgrades, while the other is for
supporting future developments. Lexicon's excellent history in maintaining
updatability of its products ensures that the
MC-4 won't be obsolete soon.
In terms of appearance, the MC-4 looks elegant and contemporary. Its brushed
silver front panel is complemented nicely by black top, side, and rear panels.
Overall, build quality is excellent. Only essential operational buttons, e.g.,
inputs, power, mute, mode, and volume, are present on the front panel. Hence,
the front panel looks clean and non-cluttered. Its display has blue lettering
with good enough size to read up to about 15 ft or so. In normal operation,
the display shows the status of the input, mode, and the volume level of the
processor. In setup mode, the display shows the setup parameters. The
display's brightness is adjustable and can be turned off if desired.
The remote control of the MC-4 is similar to the remotes that comes
with the Lexicon's legacy products, like the DC-2 and MC-1. In the MC-4's
price range, most processors come with a universal remote control, and thus
the supplied remote was short of my expectation. However, the remote
is good ergonomically and quite easy to use. It features buttons with
various size and shapes, and also it has a back-light, hence it is useable in
First of all, the MC-4 comes with a very extensive user
guide. It explains set-up, mode adjustments, and operation of the MC-4 in good
details, and it goes miles in providing technical description on what some of
the adjustments do. Not only that, it is printed on a good quality heavy
paper. This is a good example of how a user guide should be. I understand if
some users would be deterred initially by the amount of information given in
there, but I'm sure they would appreciate it once they walk through the set-up
Speaking about se-tup, the Lexicon MC-4 offers the level of flexibility that is
rarely found in surround processors from other brands. In fact, the flexibility offered by Lexicon
in its products is legendary, going back to its early models.
flexibility can be analogous to complexity if not properly designed. Fortunately, Lexicon has an extensive experience in this very aspect, and it
shows. The MC-4 menu tree is logical and simple. Thus, even though
it carries layers of controls deeper than most processors now available, setting
up the MC-4 for basic operation is relatively easy. Of course, advanced
adjustments need some effort, but even then, the clarity of the user manual
helps in smoothing out the process. I didn't encounter any glitch or
difficulty in setting up the MC-4 for my evaluation. The MC-4 doesn't offer
auto-calibration like its big brother, the MC-12, but this is not a big deal,
since manual calibration can easily be done using the internal test tones and
an SPL meter. In terms of set-up and flexibility, the MC-4 definitely scores
very high in my book.
Once everything is configured to your needs, the MC-4 is a breeze to operate. Its input
auto-detection worked flawlessly during the evaluation, locking correctly to
the right digital formats quickly. In operating the MC-4, novice
users need only to know which input to choose and then adjust the volume.
Therefore, the MC-4 will satisfy not only the tweakers, but also the
minimalist users. If you worry that someone might accidentally change your
carefully adjusted setup, you can lock the settings.
Awesome seems to be the right word to describe the MC-4
performance. I found no obvious weaknesses in any settings. No matter what I threw at it, the results were always satisfying.
As a video switcher, the MC-4 was very competent. It passed video signals, be
it interlaced or progressive, with no obvious degradation, even when observed
on my 75" diagonal projected picture. Hence, Lexicon's claim of broadcast
quality video switching was substantiated.
For music applications, the MC-4 delivered a very respectable performance,
whether in stereo or multi-channel mode. The difference between stereo (with
digital processing) and stereo bypass mode was very subtle when played through
a set of full range stereo speakers. The bypass mode painted a darker
background and sharper focus compared to the non-bypass one, but I noticed
this only through critical comparison of certain music. It was not a big deal
if you ask me, and I could easily live with the non-bypass mode for stereo.
In my system
with the default tone control settings (neutral position for all controls),
the MC-4 produced sound with excellent tonal balance and neutrality. But even
if you don't get the desired result with neutral controls in your system, you
can always try to tailor the controls to produce the desired sound for your
room acoustics. That's the kind of flexibility that the MC-4 offers. Lexicon does a very good job in eliminating the coldness in sound due to
digital processing that has plagued many digital surround processors in the
Where the MC-4 really shined, though, was in delivering surround sound. I have
always considered Lexicon to be high up there in terms of surround
performance. And after listening to the surround performance of the MC-4, I
could say without hesitation that Lexicon is still one of the very best in
this regard. The MC-4 surround steering is accurate, and the conveyance of the
sound transition (either from side to side or from front to rear) is very
smooth. All these translated into convincing surround envelopment which
elevated my movie-watching experience.
I tried the MC-4 in both 5.1 and 7.1 speaker setups, and the MC-4 handled both
setups with equally impressive aplomb. Even in a 5.1 setup, its Logic 7 mode brought in
a noticeable improvement. It expanded the surround envelopment without
smearing the image. In fact, with any type of inputs (digital or analog), I
preferred to have the Logic 7 enhancement engaged in surround mode. Lexicon
includes several kinds of Logic 7 enhancements with the MC-4, customized for
various program materials. For example, Logic 7 Music is customized for music
listening, Logic 7 TV is customized for TV programs, etc. In my opinion, all
these Logic 7 enhancements alone are worth the price of admission.
The Lexicon MC-4 is a wonderful product that is elegantly
designed and solidly built. A few features are noticeably missing (as is the
case with any product), but even without them, the MC-4 is still very
feature-laden and offers adjustment flexibility that rivals anything out there. Most importantly, the MC-4 delivers
high quality performance that justifies its price. That proves once again that
when it comes to surround processor, Lexicon is still on top of the game.
- Yongki Go -
CD playback: Shanling CD-S100
DVD playback: Toshiba SD-4700
Other pre/pro: Meridian 565, Lexicon DC-1
Amplifier: Sherbourn 7/2100A
Speakers: NHT Evolution T6, Rocket home theater system (RS-750, RS-250,
RSC-200, UFW-10), Hsu Research VTF-3R
Cables: MIT Terminator 4 interconnects, MIT Terminator 2 speaker cables,
Cardas Crosslink speaker cables, Audioquest GR8 speaker cables.
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