Quick question: how much time does your audio spend as an analog signal? If you're one of those vinyl-loving audiophile types, it could be the entire length of your signal chain, and you can safely ignore the rest of my ranting here. If you're using a digital source, read on. That digital signal might only stay that way for a brief trip between the digital decoding mechanism and the D/A converter in your player. As for me, I've got the digital output of my CD player going through some cable into an outboard DAC. From there, it heads over some analog cable to a traditional preamp. Right now, the only purpose that serves is to let me adjust the volume. This requires passing through some switching circuitry and a lovely potentiometer, both of which are fiddling with the audio going through them to some extent. This seems kind of silly to me. I've been trying to get rid of my analog preamp for years now, but it's only recently that good digital preamps have dropped in price enough that I could possibly consider using one. Lexicon's DC-1 is the first really affordable unit in this category I've found. The base version retails for $1,995, which might seem on the expensive side at first. But a single DC-1 combines DAC, preamp, surround decoder, and subwoofer crossover all in one remote controlled box. Considering what an equivalent set of those components can cost you, the price doesn't look so steep. Most of the reviews of this Lexicon unit I've seen have focused on all the surround features available in the top of the line Dolby Digital capable version, priced at $4500. While that's fine, I thought it might be more interesting to look at the far less expensive Basic DC-1 as a budget component for the mostly stereo listener. Doing more in the digital domain has the potential for superior sound quality.
How does the Lexicon DC-1 stack up to combinations of more traditional stereo components? You'll have to wait for the full review in September to find out. Based on the time I've been using it so far, I'm certainly impressed enough that I'd certainly recommend checking this unit out as an interesting alternative in the high-end digital gear market.
With that in mind, I thought I'd let you know about the following promotional offer, which won't be in effect anymore by the time the final review is ready. If you're interesting in Dolby Digital surround, this let's you get a good sized trade-in when purchasing the more upscale $4500 DC-1/AC-3. Do note that if you're looking to decode AC-3 tracks off a laserdisc player with RF output, you'll also need their LDD-1 RF Demodulator. Here's the press release with details of the offer:
Radical Program Gives Home Theater Enthusiasts Attractive Incentive To Trade-In Obsolete Equipment
Bedford, MA (May 6, 1997): With audio/video enthusiasts facing a bewildering array of technologies including AC-3, HDTV, DSS, DVD, DTS, and THX...Lexicon, the industry leader with 25 years experience in high-end digital signal processing, is offering an extremely generous incentive to encourage customers to upgrade their audio/video systems. Effective June 1st through August 30th, 1997, customers can trade in any home theater product for credit towards the purchase of Lexicon's Dolby Digital equipped DC-1 Digital Controller.
Buzz Goddard, Lexicon's Vice President of Consumer Products, states "As the inventor of the first digital sound processors in the early 1970's and with 25 years of leadership in high-end surround technology, Lexicon is committed to bringing the consumer the most comprehensive digital engineering possible. We think the offer to buy back any home theater product will not only show Lexicon's willingness to enhance their customers listening pleasure, but also demonstrates the urge to aid and support consumers in overcoming their trepidation of investing in high-tech consumer electronics products."
Under the program terms, the customer simply turns in their old home theater equipment to the dealer, and the dealer issues a credit of $1,000 towards the purchase price of a new Lexicon DC-1/AC-3 Digital Surround Processor.
Lexicon processors are considered by many to be the standard to which all others are compared. Lexicon processors are found everywhere from the finest custom home installations to the most sophisticated audio/video recording studios worldwide.
Lexicon, Inc., a Harman International Company, has been producing landmark electronic components for both the professional audio and consumer home theater markets for twenty-five years. Today, Lexicon continues to lead the way with acclaimed audio/video products taking the art and technology of home theater another significant step into the future.
For additional information, visit Lexicon's web site at http://www.lexicon.com