PSPaudioware Lexicon PSP 42

Originally introduced in 1981, the Lexicon PCM 42 digital delay quickly became a staple in professional recording studios and guitarists’ rigs, and secondhand units still fetch big bucks on the vintage market. Why? Because the comparatively inexpensive PCM 42 delivered many of the sonic capabilities found in Lexicon’s larger processors, and, more importantly, it had lots of character. Steve Morse, Pat Metheny, and David Torn are just a few of the many guitarists who relied heavily on Lexicon delays while crafting their distinctive sounds.

Now transformed into a software version by Poland’s PSPaudioware, the company’s Lexicon PSP 42 stereo digital delay and phrase sampler ($149 retail/street N/A) captures the essential vibe and functionality of the original PCM 42—including its distinctive

control panel—while updating the design to handle VST automation, tempo sync, MIDI control, and other audio software capabilities (such as letting you save settings as presets). The plug-in also uses a tape-saturation algorithm to simulate the analog components in the PCM 42’s signal path (only the delay line itself was digital). The results were so impressive that Lexicon gave its approval—along with its name and logo—to the product.

The PSP 42 shines on standard delay functions such as doubling, repeats, chorusing, and flanging—but that’s just for starters. The plug-ins’ Delay Invert, Feedback Invert, Delayx2, Hi-Cut, and Infinite Repeat buttons can be manipulated to craft numerous cool and unusual effects, as can the modulation Waveform knob, which sweeps between smooth sine-wave, angular square-wave, or envelope follower modulation. The PSP 42 also operates in Clock mode, where delay time is determined by a combination of your sequencer or drum machine’s tempo value and fractional settings that subdivide the rhythmic pulse. (This isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds.)

The PCM 42 was a favorite of looping guitarists because of its relatively long delay time (2.4 seconds at “full” 8kHz bandwidth/4.8 seconds at 4kHz) and Infinite Repeat function, which allowed you to lock in whatever was currently playing and solo over it. The PSP 42 gives you twice the delay time (9.6 seconds), but otherwise faithfully recreates the performance of the original—including the pop that sometimes occurs when engaging the Infinite Repeat button. When in Clock mode, the PSP 42 doubles as a tempo-locked phrase sampler, and it performs beautifully, without producing any annoying artifacts.

Another popular feature of the PCM 42 was its ability to instantly change the pitch and duration of delayed signals by engaging the Delayx2 button. You could create, say, a 2.4-second loop, and then drop it down to a 4.8-second loop pitched an octave lower—or vice versa. By switching between these settings as you overdubbed new material onto the loop, all sorts of complex sounds and textures could be created in real time. The PSP 42 not only does all this, but its MIDI implementation allows you to control all key parameters remotely, making it a powerful live-performance tool, as well.

As a former PCM 42 enthusiast, I was delighted to discover the Lexicon PSP 42. It’s like encountering an old friend who has become wiser and more versatile with age, while retaining their essential nature. I love this thing!