Lexicon Omega Studio
High-quality computer recording made easy and affordable
By Nathan Levine
The hardware unit is the key piece in the system. Most interfaces are basically digital versions of a patchbay filled with converters. What Lexicon has ingeniously done with the Omega is incorporate an eight-input mixer with four computer sends and two computer returns.
The Omega Desktop is a 8x4x2 USB front-end mixer that records up to four channels at once. Its eight inputs assign to these four channels, in either mono or stereo. This allows incredible flexibility for both routing and recording. You can record multiple sources mixed onto one track or you can assign four inputs to each of the four tracks to maintain more potential for mixing later on the system's 32-track software mixer. It is equipped with level and assign controls for each channel, which is all you need to mix and lay raw tracks. All the EQing and processing happen inside the computer.
The mixer has two XLR mic channels and both are equipped with dbx® Silver Series preamps (really good ones) with phantom power and TRS inserts. The preamps are as critical to getting really high-quality vocals as the microphones you use. A better mic will give you better results, but the preamps will bring out the best in whatever mics you do use.
Six channels feature 24-bit analog-to-digital converters for pristine, high-resolution sound, plus an additional two channels of 24-bit S/PDIF input. S/PDIF output is also available for streaming to an external DAT machine or other S/PDIF-ready gear.
Other features of the mixer include peak indicators on each input and a bar graph meter for overall signal- level monitoring of the four computer sends. It monitors signals at the A/D converters which is preferable to software-level monitoring that can miss clipping. The hardware unit gives you everything you need for laying down tracks and because it has high-quality components at the critical points, it gives you the kind of results you would get from a much costlier mixer and interface combination.
Pantheon: DX plug-in for PC
No system would be complete without effects, so Lexicon has included its Pantheon Reverb. It gives you a full palette of Lexicon-quality reverbs, the best in the world, for sweetening your tracks. Pantheon is composed of six reverb types with 35 factory presets customized for many applications including vocals, drums, and instrument ambience. Its intuitive user interface gives you 16 editable parameters for fine tuning and the ability to add your own user presets.
The overall system is ingenious in design, first-rate in its components, and wonderfully easy to use. And its low price makes it unbeatable. It gives you a great place to start with a high-quality system that can do it all as is, and can also be expanded with added plug-ins. Whether you are setting up your first computer-based recording studio, or are looking to add additional capabilities for your existing studio, the Omega is what you need. Don't waste your time considering any other option.