Lexicon MC-12B Home Theater Processor with Superb Balanced Audio Connections

$2,499

If you're like me and don't see the point of connecting HDMI sources anywhere but directly to the TV, then this might be the single best sounding surround processor you can buy at this price level.

More from a great online review by HomeTheatherHiFi:

"The perfect surround processor still does not exist. But, the Lexicon MC-12, in my experience, comes the closest to the golden apple. Its excellent sonic performance in both stereo and multi-channel applications, sensibly designed ergonomics, and impressive host of features set a very high standard for what a surround processor can and should be. There are many uncertainties when it comes to shopping for a new surround processor, but the Lexicon MC-12 certainly removes most of the doubt.

Lexicon's foray into the home theater market began back in 1988 with the introduction of the CP-1, which in addition to featuring the then new Dolby Pro Logic, possessed what has become Lexicon's staple - proprietary surround modes. Through the years the CP line evolved up to the MC-1 that, prior to the MC-12, was Lexicon's flagship. While the MC-1 was, and is, an incredible success, its architecture could not handle all that Lexicon wished to implement with its newest design. With all the knowledge gained from their past efforts, Lexicon decided to create a processor from the ground up that could not only handle the needs of today, but had the flexibility/scalability to maintain relevance with any format update that was developed later on.

The MC-12B is fully balanced, with dual differential 24/192 DACs in each channel.

The MC-12B features eight pairs of analog audio inputs, three of which may be used as a 5.1 analog input (they can be set to be used as a pass-through or converted to digital for internal processing and bass management). The video side is also well represented with four component video (3 RCA 1 BNC - A special thanks to Brad Marcus from Better Cables for the loan of a BNC-RCA component cable), eight S-Video and five composite video inputs. The inclusion of a BNC component input is a nice touch, as it is rarely seen on processors, and is a preferred method of connection.

On the digital side, the Lex includes six coaxial, six Toslink (5 standard, 1 mini) and an AES/EBU input. Four microphone inputs are provided for future expansion that, I can only hope, could be used for an automated calibration routine via microphone(s). While the MC-12B has two RS-232 ports, only one is currently active and is used for connection to a PC (my poor Macintosh gets no respect) for software downloads. The second is provided for future expansion. An IR input is also there, for connection to external control boxes.

In the Main Zone there are ten pairs of analog audio outputs, available in single ended, and on the B version (reviewed here), balanced as well, labeled Front L/R, Center, LFE, Sub L/R, Side L/R, Rear L/R. A balanced L/R auxiliary out is, once again, available for future expansion. Video outputs consist of a component via BNC, two composite (1 for the on-screen display) and two S-Video (1 for the on-screen display).

There is no transcoding across the video signal types (i.e. composite is not converted to component), It should also be noted that when using the component output, the user must choose either the on-screen display or the standard output, because the OSD circuit is disengaged during normal use. This can easily be remedied by having either the composite or S-Video output as an OSD source, but I did find that having to switch between sources was a bit annoying. When I inquired about this, Lexicon's Andrew Clark explained that in order to maintain the highest level of video performance, the OSD circuit needed the ability to be cut out of the loop.

Zone 2 outputs are available in both single ended (variable and fixed) and balanced operation (variable only). The Record Zone features two video and audio outputs. Video is handled via S-Video or composite, while audio is available in either fixed or variable mode via RCA. A coaxial and optical digital output of up to 24/96 resolution is offered with no altering of the digital signal.

For those who enjoy automation, the MC-12B features three trigger outputs (1 on/off 2 programmable). Of all these wonderful goodies, what caught my eye the most was the unnamed vertical panel above the IR input. Once again, Lexicon is thinking forward, as this slot allows for additional inputs. While this slot could be used for any application, its immediate purpose would be for a high-resolution digital connection to DVD-A and/or SACD players. As it stands now, the Lexicon's architecture is capable of handling 12 channels at 24/96, so a DSD stream would have to be converted to PCM, while a 24/192 signal would be truncated to 96 kHz resolution. While this may seem less than future proof keep in mind that the MC-12B has three internal daughter cards capable of improving processing power by a factor of four, as well as the ability to upgrade its DACs. Having spoken with Andrew Clark at length regarding these matters, I had the distinct impression that whatever/whenever a definitive strategy is established by the content providers, Lexicon will be their to support its customer base."

Specifications:

  • LOGIC7®
  • Dolby® Digital
  • Dolby® Pro Logic II
  • Dolby® Pro Logic
  • THX Surround EX™
  • DTS® ES Discrete
  • DTS® Neo:6
  • 3 Independent Zones (Main, Zone2, Record)
  • THX® Ultra Certified
  • Broadcast Quality video switching
  • 4 Analog Devices SHARC® 32-bit DSP engines
  • 24-bit/96kHz internal processing
  • 24-bit/192kHz D/A converters
  • Cirrus Logic's Crystal® CS49326 DSP decoder
  • Analog pass-through
  • RS-232 upgradeable software
  • 3 internal slots and rear panel options plate
  • 3 trigger outputs (2 programmable triggers)
  • rack-mount option
  • Dimensions: 17.3"W x 5.2"H (6.65" balanced version) x 14.85"D
  • Weight: approx. 36 lbs. (approx. 42 lbs. balanced version) lbs.
  • MSRP: $8,999 ($9,999 Balanced Version) 
The SkyFi Testing Process for Preamplifiers and Processors:

We start with a visual inspection of all internal components to make sure there are no signs of stress or aging. Capacitors are checked for telltale sings of bulging or leaking, resistors are checked for signs of overheating or cracking, and transistors are checked for signs of stress or damage. Special attention is paid to the power supply which is the most common source of failure for preamps. We then power up the unit and run a simple 1k sine wave while monitoring the low voltage output on an oscilloscope for signs of distortion or noise to get a baseline.

At this point we will lubricate and clean all switches and potentiometers (that are not sealed) with a high quality contact cleaner, and then re-test all functions for any signs of noise or scratching.

Final testing involves putting actual music through the preamplifier We have learned over time that some issues are only noticeable to a trained ear while listening to a familiar source material. Our test bench has reference vintage KEF speakers that we are super familiar with which will quickly reveal any discrepancies. Some preamps will then move into the listening room where they will be tested with our in-house reference system.

Please click here for detailed specifics regarding our specialized packing process that separates us from the rest.

Item

Included

Original Box

No

Manual

Yes

Remote

No

Cables

Power

Physical Condition

9

Working Condition

10

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