Hands-On Review:Lexicon MPX G2 Guitar Effects Processor and MPX R1 MIDI Remote Controller
Guitar players are a deeply divided, quarrelsome bunch. The Clapton Crew thinks Beck blows. The Hendrix Hordes spit upon the Van Halen Visigoths. The Les Paulverizers rumble regularly with the Stratroholics. And last but certainly not least, the Stomp Boxers would rather be damned to an eternity of fiery agony (not to mention dead batteries) than be caught dead in the company of the Rack and Rollers.
Leave it to Lexicon, the company legendary for its ultra-lush, top-of-the-line studio reverbs, to try and broker peace between these last two warring factions. The logic behind the MPX G2 guitar effects processor and MPX R1 MIDI remote controller is solid. But can a light-flashin’, preset-stashin’ rack unit and high-tech footswitch really convince a diehard stomper to part with his pedals? As this converted pedal pusher will attest, the answer is a resounding, “Hell, yeah!”
In simplest terms, what sets the MPX G2 apart from its predecessors and competitors is its ingenious signal routing. While other processors make players choose whether to run a unit through their amp’s effects loop (which is ideal for reverbs, delays, choruses and other time-based effects) or through the input of their amplifier (a must for distortion, compression, fuzz and all “retro” effects), the MPX G2 judiciously routes the different effects from its many wonderful presets to the effects loop and the amp’s input. Thus, a preset like “Little Wing,” which combines a vintage fuzz effect with a luscious Univibe simulation and reverb, sends the fuzz effect to the front of the amp (where any red-blooded rocker would want it), while the time- and pitch-based reverb and Univibe are routed through the loop for maximum spatial wallop. If your amp is old-school and doesn’t have a loop, don’t worry: Lexicon has prepared 50 presets for you as well, and there are also a bevy of direct-recording patches designed to go directly into a mixer (the MPX G2 even has recording-friendly balanced stereo XLR outs).
But the MPX G2 and its clever signal path maneuvers are only half the story. It’s the rack unit’s rugged partner in crime, the sturdier-than-a-brick-shithouse MPX RI MIDI controller, that truly makes using this set-up a conversion experience. In addition to performing run-of-mill functions, like allowing one to call up patches remotely, it can also act like a traditional effects pedal board with a simple toe-tap of the FX switch located on its upper right-hand corner. In this mode, each of the controller’s buttons can be used to turn individual effects within a preset on and off. This degree of control is de rigueur for stompbox users who might call up the “VH Rig” patch and use the “Orange Phase” (Lexicon’s absolutely faithful model of the MXR Phase 90) during the verse and kick in the totally swooshy “Grey Flanger” (also inspired by MXR) on the chorus.
In addition to doing double duty as a stompbox arsenal, the MPX RI has a 1/4-inch relay jack that allows you to channel-switch your amp as part of a patch change, a display for the MPX G2’s built-in tuner and an expression pedal which, depending on the preset, serves a variety of functions, from wah to volume, and has the same throw and height as the oh-so-familiar Crybaby Wah.
Needless to say, the Lexicon sounds fantastic. The vintage replications (Fuzz, Screamer, Red Compressor, Univybe, Rotary Cab, etc.) are all top-notch and on par with the plethora of boutique stompbox effects currently flooding the market. The reverbs and echo effects are superior, which should go without saying on a Lexicon unit.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Will the MPX G2 bring brotherly love to the war-torn Guitar World? Probably not, but it certainly deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. Sure, the unit is a bit pricey, but hot damn!—it sounds priceless.