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Interesting Posts Series:

Lexicon Vortex Looping



From: "ToddM"
Date: 10 Sep 1996 17:52:07CST6CDT

Anyway, the Vortex I bought recently for about $150 new and I found a neat addendum to the owners manual that was sitting elsewhere in the music store I bought it, so I grabbed it and it has all sorts of hints on using it as a looping sampler among other things, it has several cascade loop effects which is quite nice and in combination with tap tempo delays I like it quite a lot.

I intend on publishing that little manual addendum for loop-addicts soonly, Lexicon willing (like they'd care, right? Maybe so...I like their stuff...)





From: Dave Stagner

The Vortex is a really neat little box. Basically, it's just two delays, two modulators, and an envelope follower. Lexicon gives a number of programs putting these effects in various orders, in heavily interactive ways. Many programs feature cross-feedback for the delays, or series delays with feedback loops going from one delay to the other. Tempo is tapped in, like the JamMan, and the delay "time" is actually set as a fraction of the tap. So it's easy to set up consistent polyrhythmic echoes with this thing. Some of the programs also use the envelope follower to modulate delay feedback, either fading out old sounds as new ones come in, or modulating the volume of the echoes relative to the input signal. In other words, it's the most dynamically responsive low-cost rackmount effect I've ever used. Unfortunately, total delay time is limited to around a second. But there are LOTS of cool things you can do with that! I really like using the Vortex to build a short, complex atmospheric sound, and then feeding that into the JamMan and letting it loop and modulate.

Here's a technique I use with the JamMan to get a more flexible, improvisational feel from it. When I first got it, I tended to use it to start a loop, then punch in more layers. But what I found was that things just got bigger and louder and bigger and louder. It had a very one-way dynamic. Now, rather than using the looping functions, I usually prefer to just use its delay function. There are 16 delay feedback levels, controlled by the knob on the front. Turn the feedback up high and start looping. At 16, you effectively have infinite repeat. As things build, you can turn the feedback down and let a loop fade, then turn it back up and add more to the loop while the older material floats in the background. This makes for a much more dynamic and rewarding looping improv, I think.

I just have two problems now... first, I don't get to do nearly enough looping. I don't have a studio space safe from my two toddler children, and they like to play with knobs altogether too much. The only way I can play is to go through my long setup process after the kids go to bed, and tear it apart before they get up in the morning.

Second, I'm primarily an acoustic guitarist, not electric. I don't play electric much and I'm not really comfortable on it. Hopefully, I'll be getting a new acoustic with a pickup soon, and I'll see how that works as a tone source. I rather like the idea of sending the warm, woody sound of an acoustic guitar through my effects and seeing what comes out!

Maybe, if I can get my new guitar and build a safe studio space, I'll get better at this. :}





From: ToddM@LaserMaster.Com
Date: 11 Sep 1996 14:46:18CST6CDT

DStagner said:

> The Vortex is a really neat little box.

Yep.

> Basically, it's just two delays, two modulators, and an envelope follower.

It sounds so simple, but there's really a lot to it. I also like that ultimately, though it effects your signal, it doesn't ruin your tone or change it significantly, it just effects what is already there. And the effects are warm and organic sounding.

> Lexicon gives a number of programs putting these effects in various orders, in heavily interactive ways.

I especially like the dynamic changes just the slightest touch (in terms of guitar) can effect.

> Many programs feature cross-feedback for the delays, or series delays with feedback loops going from one delay to the other.

This is one of the more powerful features - it's especially good for drum machines since you can create powerful polyrhythms with it.

> Tempo is tapped in, like the JamMan, and the delay "time" is actually set as a fraction of the tap. So it's easy to set up consistent polyrhythmic echoes with this thing.

Yep. You can create pseudo "Discipline"-era King Crimson interlocking guitar parts with just one guitar this way, too.

> Some of the programs also use the envelope follower to modulate delay feedback, either fading out old sounds as new ones come in,

Especially good if you start finding that the building of your loop is starting to generate tons of noise from the older signal and you want it to evolve a bit. It's also great for drums since it takes older signals out as new one comes in and makes it sound much more natural than drums going through a delay unit.

> or modulating the volume of the echoes relative to the input signal.

It won't get in your way, although you can shut the dynamic response off and make it spew all over your signals too if you want.

> In other words, it's the most dynamically responsive low-cost rackmount effect I've ever used.

I can't believe that Guitar Center was all but giving them away for $150 a pop. They were selling about ten a day towards the end.

> Unfortunately, total delay time is limited to around a second.

Actually, 1946 milliseconds to be exact. Anyone who can modify this thing to have longer delays will be practically deified. Any takers? What does Lexicon say about that?

> But there are LOTS of cool things you can do with that!
Indeed.

> I really like using the Vortex to build a short, complex atmospheric sound, and then feeding that into the JamMan and letting it loop and modulate.

Or, you could work it the other way around - take a long loop from the JamMan and process it to death in the Vortex...

> Loopers are pretty esoteric; very few people know what they are, and most of the few that do don't have the right combination of interest and finance.

Probably why Guitar Center was selling Vortex for $150 and JamMan for somewhere in the $300 range....most musicians, despite their reputation are a conservative lot and the marketing campaign for Vortex kind of made it sound like a WACKY effect (BLEEN and AEROSOL and FRACTAL effects notwithstanding).

My theory is I'd bet most people didn't try it because of that.

Most people are reluctant to buy $478 (list) rack effects that don't do anything useful for them..or are gimmicky. It's far from being gimmicky, but the marketing was weird for that product. I'd bet a lot of musicians thought it was a strange effect just in the descriptions.

I watch people test the VG-8 by Roland in Guitar Center and there are few that seem to "get it". I see a lot of people using it to make goofy guitar sounds, but few "get" the possibilities therein.





From: ToddM@LaserMaster.Com
Date: 12 Sep 1996 9:51:18CST6CDT

The person who wrote from France who was distressed due to the $150 price tag on a particular rack effect (he thought it was the JamMan) was actually distressed about this price on the Vortex.

The Guitar Center in Minneapolis was blowing out Vortex processors as fast as can be this past month and I got mine for a ridiculous $149.95, brand new in the box with footpedal and manual.

Now it's not the JamMan, but it's still very nice and I'll likely be picking either that or the Echoplex up within the next year, now that I find out the Echoplex was available from Sam Ash for $559...





From: The Man Himself

All of this talk about Vortex units at rock-bottom prices has piqued my interest, so would someone be willing to give a more in-depth account of the thing? More specifically, what exactly can it do, how does it compare to other single-rack-space units, how's the MIDI implementation, etc... One personal interest question: How slow can the sweep rate of pitch-modulation effects (i.e. phasing etc) be set?

Thanks in advance, and sorry if this is too off-topical for the list.





From: Dave Stagner

I don't think you can compare the Vortex directly to any other multi-effect in its price range. All the boxes coming from companies like ART and Digitech are basically a bunch of generic effects in series. Compression feeds distortion, feeds chorus, feeds delay, feeds reverb, blah blah blah. The Vortex is completely different. The "effects" are actually sets of controls for various points in complex programs. Internal feedback loops pass the signal in various patterns through the modulators and delays. It also has an envelope follower that controls key parts of each program. And an assignable expression pedal input can be used to control any parameter.

As far as MIDI goes, it has none at all. If you're MIDI dependent, forget it. Controls consist of two stereo plugs for footswitches (a rather flimsy dual switch is included, that I usually assign to tap and A/B switching), and another input for an expression pedal.

But like I said, it's the most MUSICAL multi-effect I've ever used. Sound quality is phenomenal, better than any reasonably-priced digital device I've heard. And the effects are mostly musically useful (as well as a few really weird ones).

If you can get one cheap, I'd highly recommend it. These days, the Vortex is pretty much the only effect I use.





From: Jon Durant<74074.1316@compuserve.com>

Now, about this Vortex thingy: Thanks to Dave for the very kind review. A couple of notes about what it can do: It's basically a modulating delay. So you've got chorusing, flanging, tremolo, rotary speaker-ish stuff, and that sort of thing. (Gerneric useful stuff with odd names like Choir, Shimmer, Aerosol, Orbits) But the hook is, as Dave noted, they're dynamic--they respond to your playing. (or not, if you so choose) Then you have a whole host of ridiculously weird effectoids. Bleen, Fractal, et al. These things do ring modulaty or looping echoes with death flange that mutates into the oddest sorts of things. Useful on a daily basis? You decide. On my first record (Three if by Air) this kind of oddity is most clearly audible on the last cut where an e-bow driven guitar is sent through a very odd pitch shift thing on the LXP-15 (Evil 3rds in the V2 software, my program) then sent through this bizzaro Vortex thing that I created from Fractal and Bleen. The sound will rip your head off in headphones. Way twisted.

The beauty of Vortex is how easily you make the sounds your own. The morphing thing is really happening, and some of the halfway points are really fun. There's a bunch of oddities on my next record (due in Fuebruary, will be mixed by Mr. Torn) from the Vortex beast.





From: Dave Stagner

Someone here suggested trying to put my Vortex into the feedback loop of the JamMan manually, using a mixer. I tried it and it was interesting, but hard to control. I couldn't get a good balance between looping and feedback, and distorting the input on the JamMan is NOT pretty.

I'm hoping to rewire things tonight to split the output from the Vortex and send it to the mixer and the JamMan separately, then mix the JamMan back in at the output. That way, I could control the JamMan's delay feedback without always sending signal into it. Ideally, I'd like to do this with a couple of stereo volume pedals, so I can control both the input to the JamMan and its output.





From: The Man Himself

WARNING: This is a post regarding the Lexicon Vortex, and is not 100% loop-related. Those easily offended by non-topicality are advised to delete now or suffer the consequences!

Anyway, I'm posting here since there's been much discussion regarding Vortex on the list as of late. I snatched one up at the legendary Guitar Center "Trying Not To Lose Our Shirts Over This Fringe Technology" $150 sale. (When I went in to pick it up, the guy at the counter grabbed one from atop a very large stack of Vortexes and quipped, "So how many do you want to pick up today?")

At any rate, I'm not entirely conviced of the unit's possibilities. It's very nice sounding, but a lot of the distinctions between different effects seem to be along the order of different sorts of delay tap patterns and so forth -- pretty subtle things that would sound interesting in a headphone studio mix, but not so useful in a more performance-oriented application. There are one or two wonderfully hideous things I've run across (ring-mod and envelope-detune), but I'm wondering just how deep the thing is.

So if any Vortex users would care to share some editing/operating tips,. I'd be most grateful. At the moment, I'm not sure if I'll hang on to it or take advantage of GC's return policy. Even at this cheap of a price, I don't know if it's worth it for two or three cool effects.

So please offer some hints if you have any, preferably by e-mail so as to avoid taking up more bandwidth with non-topical material.

Thanks very much, and sorry for the non-loop content.





From: "Todd Madson"

I'll put a transcription of the looping specific stuff from the manual addendum that only I seem to have here on Monday, in the meantime I'll give you some general VORTEX thoughts which may or may not help since I've only owned the unit for a bit more than a month. The looping specific stuff, especially in the manual addendum are rather complex and specific where my stuff tends to be more general.

Andre:

> WARNING: This is a post regarding the Lexicon Vortex, and is not 100% loop-related. Those easily offended by non-topicality are advised to delete now or suffer the consequences!

The device loops in at least two of the programs, I'd say it's on topic. 1946 ms is nearly two seconds of recording time, David Torn said it was a good place to start so it's good enough for me.

> Anyway, I'm posting here since there's been much discussion regarding Vortex on the list as of late. I snatched one up at the legendary Guitar Center "Trying Not To Lose Our Shirts Over This Fringe Technology" $150 sale. (When I went in to pick it up, the guy at the counter grabbed one from atop a very large stack of Vortexes and quipped, "So how many do you want to pick up today?")

Heh. In a way I wished I'd picked up another since I'll probably shelve the SGE I have (well, I may keep it just for the compression, EQ and harmonic exciter but it's heavy [to carry] and I'm not sure I want to keep it around just for that - half the fun of the Vortex is the dynamic control [like a fine tube amp] and a compressor just quashes that kind of fun, plus the Vortex audio quality is significantly better than that of the SGE, putting the SGE at the front end just "coldifies" the sound [sucks the warmth out]).

> At any rate, I'm not entirely conviced of the unit's possibilities. It's very nice sounding, but a lot of the distinctions between different effects seem to be along the order of different sorts of delay tap patterns and so forth -- pretty subtle things that would sound interesting in a headphone studio mix, but not so useful in a more performance-oriented application.

Use the fractal, duo and shadow (shadow is more like a long tape echo patch than anything else) programs for looping porpoises: the fractal B program is especially interesting in that if you play a broken chord (or sound the individual notes that comprise a chord individually) you'll find that it starts feeding on itself and the notes sound faster and faster until you have a chord that comprises the notes. It's a neat effect for human voice and guitar.

I've used duo to create pseudo King Crimson discipline interlocking guitar parts. Dynamic control can be a help and hindrance here. Experiment. Drums with this can be kind of disorienting but cool with the tap tempo. If you have a drum machine, you need the tap tempo feature to give you on the fly polyrhythms that do not sound robotic.

Since I don't have an echoplex yet, this is my main looper for now. I'll probably use it as a treatment inducer for loops I create on the big boy when I get one.

(Does anyone have a phone number and/or contact person for Nadine's music and do they ship? A $500 echoplex I could deal with.)

How do I control this Vortex thing anyway?
Well, the first thing you need to do is use the knob on your left (I forget how its labeled as it's not here in front of me, it's the one directly to the right of the input level control) and adjust your mix and echo effects levels properly for looping, which will vary if you're using it instrument- to-mixer-to-amp or in the effects loop of a mixer - the manual has a bit regarding this.

The way the unit comes stock where your instrument is very prominent in the mix and the effects can be too subtle... I've mentioned that I want a live, swirling whirligig frenzy of sound when I play, so you might want to up the ante with regards to the echo level in the mix. There's also a mix parameter that allows you to adjust the instrument/effect ratio.

These have been key for me to making more prominently noticeable loops, or to have a instrument prominently audible on top of a loop.

Also, the knob is expression pedal controllable so that's real nice too. But I'm not sure what kind of expression pedal I should get or what's available. Suggestions anyone?

But I should talk about the dynamic control:
As an example, if you use the choir-B program and strum and open E chord and then silence your guitar strings, you get a heavily effected afterimage with the delays - you probably want to make that swirly effectoid stuff come forward somewhat. If you hit the strings harder, the effected image becomes louder. The dynamic control is the key here. When looped, the dynamic control becomes a very interesting aspect of this.

> There are one or two wonderfully hideous things I've run across (ring-mod and envelope-detune), but I'm wondering just how deep the thing is.

It looks like a petri dish that happens to be a very deep ocean when you jump into it. I'll show you on Monday.

> So if any Vortex users would care to share some editing/operating tips, I'd be most grateful. At the moment, I'm not sure if I'll hang on to it or take advantage of GC's return policy. Even at this cheap of a price, I don't know if it's worth it for two or three cool effects.

I'll be forwarding more practical and useful info on Monday...

> So please offer some hints if you have any, preferably by e-mail so as to avoid taking up more bandwidth with non-topical material.

It's on topic, trust me!

> Thanks very much, and sorry for the non-loop content

It's on topic!





From: "Louis Collier Hyams"
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 17:56:10 -0400

hi all,
quick comments on the vortex...
I tried it out when they were introduced and decided it didn't do enough of a great thing and left it alone. You're right about the headphone mix... it sounds great and effective(put that in quotes!) in a lab setting... but much of that gets lost in live situ's.

so, with that said comes the next stage. I spent 4 days in a brooklyn recording studio with lots of hi end gear and etc. Started working on a tune that had acoustic guitars atop reggae bass and socha drums with a guitar ambience pad.

tow of the acoustics were 12 strings(one being ebowed) and the other was an old martin six string. in the mixing things were very subtle and smooth but with very small testi-cleez. so as a last resort we patched in the lonesome and barely used vortex (they probably got a blowout deal on it too) and began tweeking and found a few surprises in almost reverby non linear and detuned areas. it's like the thing is almost this and almost a that, but not much of a real person. But, I did use it to do a rotovibe/leslie/hammondy thing to one of the 12 strings and it sound fairly smooth and natural. For 150 it's cool. I'll wait till I find one in a pawn shop for 35-50 clams and then pickit up.

Just push the function and start jerkin' o the knob (no MAX programming skills needed). It's a neat box, but the jamman is more valuable to me and it's not satisfying either at the momentum.

I found that when you start tweeking, the interaction between functions was interesting. and the AB neat is a quick way to do things that I've been doing with 2-3 processors. So, use it(or you can give it to me anad I'll find a use for it). LEXI shoulda just put vortex, jamman, and one of the reverbs and sold that. I woulda bought it.





From: The Man Himself

WOAH! Many thanks to all for contributing some recommendations on the Vortex, especially Todd Madson. I do have one question for right now, though:

> Use the fractal, duo and shadow (shadow is more like a long tape echo patch than anything else) programs for looping porpoises

Wouldn't this constitute unusual cruelty to aquatic animals? Is PETA going to raid the Lexicon lab in protest?

Just wondering...





From: ejmd@erols.com (Ed Drake)
Andre said:

> So if any Vortex users would care to share some editing/operating tips, I'd be most grateful. At the moment, I'm not sure if I'll hang on to it or take advantage of GC's return policy. Even at this cheap of a price, I don't know if it's worth it for two or three cool effects.

One way I use the Vortex is for rhythmic looping with the nifty little feature of each delay line can be set to subdivide the tapped pulse evenly to a different number such as one delay 2 ,the other 3, a nice simple polyrhythm to generate a rhythmic loop improv, which can then be looped by Jamman or (Echoplex), and soloed over. You can set the echoes to bounce around in really weird subdivisions too ( each delay can be set from 1-64).The max delay time for one echo is 923ms , but you set a tap interval which Vortex then keeps dividing in half until it comes up with a valid delay time. Try presets 9- Deja vu and 13 -Shadow. Its tricky to recreate some of the rhythmic things you come up with. Preset #10 Choir is a great starting place to tweak a really nice Chorus /Delay sound (one of the best I've heard).I really love the warm, lush sound it has. Lexicon recomends using Vortex inline and adjusting the dry/effects mix in Vortex but have any of you Vortexers tried using your vortex through the effects loop on mixer? Guitar Player Magazine generally liked Vortex but they did say it probably sounded best in stereo and unless you have a stereo rig it might not sound as good live. To me one of the best things about its' sound is its use of the stereo space.





From: finley@ecst.csuchico.edu (Matthew F. McCabe)

Figured I'd add my 2 cents on the Vortex....which just arrived last night! :-)

My initial response was on of disappointment. "Does this thing do anything?" I soon realized that it helps to have it patched into the mixer correctly!!!

With a nice ambient loop looping in the JamMan I set about spinning the dials on the Vortex to see what it could do. Two hours later I concluded that the Vortex is a nifty little box (can't beat it for a 150 bucks). My favorite patch is the Deja Vu (b)....which is a looper. When used in conjunction with the JamMan (set in Echo mode) you can get some really cool loops happening that are always changing. Nice. The Reflexion 1 patch (when tweaked) is cool too.

Someone asked where in the signal chain we place our looper of choice and various processors. Here's what I'm doing.... My Digitech GSP-2101 pre-amp feeds my Rane SM-82 mixer. The right effect send of the Rane feeds the JamMan (which is routed to channels 1 and 2) and the left effect send feeds the Vortex (outputs routed to the effects return). In this way the Vortex can process both the guitar and the loop simultaneously.....or one and not the other.

Anyway....back to looping.....





From: Dave Stagner

It is definitely more a studio than a live instrument. This is no big deal for me. I hardly ever play live, and mostly monitor through headphones anyway. The subtleties are generally lost live, especially if you play in mono (yuk!). The user interface pretty much sucks for live playing, too. It's a shame it doesn't have MIDI support.

But those subtleties are its strength in the studio. Personally, I can get lost in the abstraction of interacting delays, panning, and spatialization effects, and I'm sure I'm not alone here. :}

> So if any Vortex users would care to share some editing/operating tips, I'd be most grateful. At the moment, I'm not sure if I'll hang on to it or take advantage of GC's return policy. Even at this cheap of a price, I don't know if it's worth it for two or three cool effects.

Heck, it's worth it just for clean delays and chorus effects. If you have a typical ART/Digitech/Zoom multi-effect, try A/B'ing it with the Vortex. Lexicon's sounds are lush and warm, and don't sterilize your sound.

But really, don't judge the Vortex by a few hour's fiddling. It's a VERY deep box, and like all deep instruments, it can't be picked up in a few hours of play. Keep working with it, and learn to appreciate its strengths and weaknesses.





From: The Man Himself

Thanks again to everyone who's contributed advice on the Vortex. After having spent a couple of evenings putzing with the programs in a clinical headphone environment, and about five hour's worth of live ensemble playing this afternoon with the Vortex in a stereo guitar rig, I can safely say that this is one of the *wierdest* boxes I've ever run across.

It's almost like the bastard child of an Eventide Ultra-Harmonizer and a Delta-Lab Effectron II. There's a certain analogish funkiness to the sound and its responsiveness remeniscent of the latter (at certain settings you can even hear the pitch-mods hissing in the absence of a singal), while the morphing options and delays place it in a more modern context. Very odd. No wonder Guitar Center has to practically give them away.

I must say that the presets don't even hint at the possibilities of the unit. Using the presets as a jumping-off point, I was able to come up with some extremely bizarre (and highly effective) patches that elicited no shortage of raised eyebrows from the other musicians I tested it with today; the factory presets may be designed for subtle studio orientation, but there are some obscenely blatant and eye-popping possibilities for live performance, particularly in a stereo rig with wide separation.

One thing that surprised me was the way you can *play* the box in a very musical way. I spent much time in rehearsal today setting up a loop and then tweaking the Vortex for a minute or two. Some of the tones that came out of the amp were not only hair-raising, but more importantly, they were dynamic and animated -- they made the loops sound less like loops and more like a constantly evolving texture. I may be something of an anomaly among loopists in that I tend to like loops that don't just replay the exact sound over and over, but which constantly mutate in unpredictable ways. I've been wanting a processor that would do that for a while now, and the Vortex fits the bill perfectly.

One other thing that I was taken aback by is how "familiar" some of the sounds in there are. Feeding one ambient loop through a chorus-and-delay patch, I suddenly found myself thinking, "God, this sounds *exactly* like _A Blessing Of Tears_!" Other patches bore a strong resemblance to _Polytown_-era Torn. This (along with other considerations) has raised some odd philosophical issues for me, but that's another post altogether.

At the current Guitar Center rate of $150, it's an absolute steal -- for about what you'd pay for an average stompbox you get an utterly bizarre thing that seems pathologically incapable of functioning in any predictable way. (And yes, Olivier, I'll send you the phone number and address for Guitar Center very soon.)





From: Jon Durant<74074.1316@compuserve.com>

Glad to hear you've seen the light with Vortex. I've been slow in responding, but it seems that there's a bunch of people on this list who actually "got" the box. If a single dealer had people working for them who got it, the box might have sold. Vortex was a major black eye for Lexicon, because it was so badly misunderstood. My favorite experience was the day I walked into a dealer in Nashville (I didn't tell them who I was) and asked for a demo of Vortex. I knew they had been trained less than 2 weeks prior, so I figured that it might be interesting. I asked what it was, I had seen some ads, but couldn't quite get a handle on it, etc. The response was: "it's a trick reverb". (There are no reverb algorithms in the box. Just delays.)

> There's a certain analogish funkiness to the sound and its responsiveness remeniscent of the latter (at certain settings you can even hear the pitch-mods hissing in the absence of a singal), while the morphing options and delays place it in a more modern context.

This was *exactly* the intent of the box. Some of the effects were modeled after analog effects--tape delays, vintage tremolo, etc. But then we weirded them out. While the presets were being developed, the project manager kept calling me downstairs to hear some new bizzarre sound and say, can you do something with this? (which invariably I could, though nobody would want to hear it!!!). In the end, though, we settled mostly on generally useful sounds (choir, atmosphere, orbits) with a coupla weird ones to freak people out (bleen, fractal).

Some critical pieces of the equation:
1:The Expression Pedal is the key to unlocking this box. (We always used the Roland EV-5) Once you start working with it, it opens up all kinds of things. For example, you can do simple, useful things like swelling in echoes after a phrase, or even bringing the whole effect in from a pedal. Or you can morph in real time. Which brings up point

2: Morphing can occur between ANY two effects, so you're not limited to morphing between the preset A/B pairs. Try setting up a register pair of Fractal and Bleen and assigning the pedal to morph. Hold down a note (e-bow is great for this) and morph. It's whippin cool.

3: When using a pedal to morph, you can stop anywhere along the way. I happen to know that Torn's primary Vortex sounds are in between points from a couple of tweezed effects. He watches til he gets to the magic 41 (or whatever it is) and that's his sound.

4: There's so much to do in editing, you never have to feel restricted by the presets. Every one can be as weird or normal as you want. And you can do both, and morph between them as you need.

Andre, since I know some of your work, I can say with assuredness that you're going to have tons o'fun with this box. I'm glad there are others on the list who agree...





From: ToddM@LaserMaster.Com
Date: 23 Sep 1996 11:02:22CST6CDT

Here's something for all you loopologists out there.

(By the way, the Vortex loops in STEREO, short though those loops may be! Think on that and be dismayed!) ...

Here's an excerpt from the Vortex Manual Addendum:

Vortex...it's a looping sampler!

Deja Vu B is a looping effect. In the present, the envelope is used to create an overdub looper. Here's how to create a loop sampler that can be controlled with the A/B switch.

Save a copy of Deja Vu B in both the A and B locations of any register pair. For this example, we will use Register 3A and 3B. Select the preset Deja Vu B. Push and hold the Store button. Turn the Preset Knob until the display reads 03. While still holding the store button, push the A/B button so the display LED is on A. Now release the store button.

Since you are storing the same effect in both locations, you can simply push and hold the Store button and push the A/B button to select B. Deja Vu B is now stored in both Register 3A and 3B.

In Register 3A, turn the Parameter knob to envelope and turn the value knob until the display shows 01. Turn the parameter knob to morph and turn the value knob until the display shows 64. Press store.

In register 3B, turn the Parameter knob to envelope and turn the value knob until the display shows 01. Turn the parameter knob to morph and turn the value knob until the display shows 64. Turn the parameter kob to feedback 1 and turn the value knob until the display shows 01. Turn the parameter knob to echo fx lvl and turn the value knob until the display shows 01. Press store.

You're all set to go! Use the A/B switch (front panel or footswitch) to turn the sampler's record function on and off. When A is selected, the sampler is recording - the input passes through to the output unchanged. When B is selected, the sampler plays an infinite loop of whatever was previously recorded. The size of the loop is determined by the tap. While the loop is playing, the input is passed through the Vortex so you can play on top of the loop.

Have fun!





From: ToddM@LaserMaster.Com
Date: 23 Sep 1996 13:21:36CST6CDT

Ever have one of those experiences where one of your loops takes on a life of its own and becomes this THING that sounds like it was put together by decisions you guided, but is now its own THING?!?!?

Saturday I started doing a loop based on single notes of a guitar arpeggio. Then I started adding the added notes an octave below the root. Then I added notes two octaves above the root just to add a smooth texture.

All of a sudden I had this very animated, interesting loop. I just kept listening and listening and was amazed. Sometime this happens, but not typically this amazing - I was like "this should be on an album or something.."

I put my instrument down and just sat and listened. For a long time.

I walked off into the next room and my wife was saying "I really like that ..." so we just left it going.

My wife and I had some errands to do, instead of shutting the Vortex off, I shut everything else off but the looper and came back about two hours or so later.

When we came back it was still going...I figured if it was still interesting that maybe it was worth recording.

I checked it out again to see if I still liked it and did. I figured it was time to really mess with it. I then plugged my cheazo swell flanger pedal into the effects loop of my 4-track's mixer, then added the Boss DD-3 pedal after that set to maxdelay (800ms) and about 90% regeneration and added to it and mixed it about 50-60% to the original signal.

I had the most amazing animated texture going......I was like "sheeeesh! I need to get this recorded before it goes away..." shoved a blank tape into the deck and started recording until the tape ran out, all the while neat little variations on the main loop were occurring at the molecular level no doubt.

I'll probably add some sparse synth or guitar bits to it, but it's amazing how this technology can take something as mundane as a simple chord and make it this eerie thing of beauty.

Now I'm really hooked on this loop thing. Let's just say the Vortex turns out to be the best $150 I ever spent in terms of "best inexpensive musical addition".. now I have to get some more stuff to make bigger loops.





From: ToddM@LaserMaster.Com
Date: 23 Sep 1996 17:26:49CST6CDT

Here's some more stuff from the Lexicon Applications Notes for Vortex.

I've also added these to my homepage and select [LOOP].

For the sick and twisted: Vortex also provides some very outside effects. Bleen B and Fractal B are completely outrageous. Bleen B is an echo diving into ring modulation. Play a melodic line and listen to how the effect takes it over.

Fractal B is a looping echo that devours itself. Play a melodic line through the effect, and as the echo continues, the notes stack up to form a chord. This pair also makes for an amazing morph.

Set the two effects up as a register pair. Hold down a chord or single note (E-Bows are great for this) and morph between the two! Also try experimenting with Deja Vu A and B for Techno looping effects.

One great trick is to use Deja Vu B as a looper. An expression pedal is very helpful here, though not necessary. Assign the expression pedal to adjust the envelope. Then, with the pedal in the Up position you can capture a phrase for infinite looping. By pushing the pedal all the way down, you can play over the top without adding to the loop. In the middle you can add music at different levels. This configuration can be saved in a register so that the pedal is assigned within the register.





From: kflint@annihilist.com (Kim Flint)

Todd said:
> Ever have one of those experiences where one of your loops takes on a life of its own and becomes this THING that sounds like it was put together by decisions you guided, but is now its own THING?!?!?

[Todd's description of a cool loop from the ether]

Yes, I love that sort of thing! This used to happen to me sometimes at g-wiz while testing new soft versions in the echoplex. Usually meant the testing got delayed a bit while I enjoyed the loop!

A couple really stand out:

One time I looped a little sound made by scratching the sixth string of a Les Paul with my fingernail, then letting it ring a bit. I reversed it, and suddenly it was a completely beautiful, mesmerizing noise. Hard to describe it. Sort of a cross between the om sound for meditating and a digeridoo. People walking by my office were transfixed, stopping for a listen. I let it go for a couple of hours while I did other work. Amazing how something so simple could sound so perfect.

Another time I was testing midi sample triggering. I had a max patch set up which randomly triggered one of the nine loops in the echoplex at some defined interval, which was sort of a stress test to see if pops would appear or anything would go awry after lots of triggering. I played a note into each loop and started the patch off. Trouble was, I forgot to set the delay between triggers, so MAX was sending the triggers at its maximum rate! The mac totally locked up and I couldn't stop the damn thing. I think max clocks every millisecond, so that's probably how fast the triggers were going.

And then I noticed the sound.....

It sounded like some strangely harmonic storm, with wind blowing and rain on the roof. Always evolving, yet always in a similar sound space. Really extraordinary, yet totally unexpected and quite beautiful. I'd like to try that one again, but somehow I think it won't come out so well. Maybe its better as a memory....

In case you're wondering, the 'plex survived all this. When I finally stopped it, all the loops were fine, and nothing bad had happened. It probably switched loops several hundred thousand times....





From: Ray Peck

Spent my first hour with the Vortex last night. It's darn cool.

I was playing with the two delays set at, say, /2 and /3, feedbacks up at 64 (100% -> infinite sustain), 100% wet. You can build some pretty darn dense sustained loops. One neat thing is that if you add some percussive sounds (clacking the strings against the fretboard, say), and you get nice 2 against 3 patters (or whatever the ratio is), by dropping the feedback for one of the two delays and then cranking it back up, you can control the level of the two rhythmic parts of the loop.





From: Ray Peck

Kim Flint writes:
> One time I looped a little sound made by scratching the sixth string of a Les Paul with my fingernail, then letting it ring a bit. I reversed it, and suddenly it was a completely beautiful, mesmerizing noise. Hard to describe it. Sort of a cross between the om sound for meditating and a digeridoo.

That's funny: the last few nights playing with the Vortex, I've spent quite a lot of time looping sounds made by scratching the strings with my fingernail, a very stiff pick, a screwdriver, muting the strings and banging on them with a screwdriver, banging on the strings above the nut, etc.





From: Joe Cavaleri

I purchased the Vortex a while back and found out quickly that I have very little patience for programming. I use the Vortex presets mostly.. I might tweak them sometimes. Overall the sound quality is very good. I use the Vortex,one of the channels of the Jamman, along with a direct feed from my preamp and more or less process these in parallel. Anyway back to the Vortex. I find that I use it to add color my sound. The unit itself is capable of some truly unique sounds. Also the capability to morph into different sounds can add subtle...or not so subtle sonic contrasts. Plus preset #16 (and other presets) give you the ability to set up ambient loops. Considering that the price has dropped to $150,(Guitar Center), it's worth some consideration. Worse case --- You,ve got a tap-tempo delay line.

I would like to hear from other looper's about this box... maybe swap some ideas or programs/programming tips?





From: "Todd Madson"

You can see the looping sampler instructions for Vortex on my web page. Click on "[LOOP]" and you'll go right there.





From: Dave Stagner

On Mon, 14 Oct 1996, Rob Martino wrote:

> Is polyrhythmic looping something we might see soon on a future version of the Echoplex or other device? The possibilities sound fascinating, but I couldn't really afford multiple Echoplexi to do it (I'm still on the verge of just buying my first one!)

I don't know about the Echoplex, but you could probably do some short polyrhythmic looping with the Vortex. Depends on what sort of "polyrhythm" you're trying to get.





From: Rob Martino

> I don't know about the Echoplex, but you could probably do some short polyrhythmic looping with the Vortex. Depends on what sort of "polyrhythm" you're trying to get.

King Crimson "Discipline" sort of stuff. Record a phrase in 7/4, then overdub a phrase in 4/4 or 3/4, so you get a continual shifting effect. Like someone just mentioned, I guess the best solution for now is to record each phrase until they converge. In the 7/4 and 4/4 case, I guess that would be 28 beats, if I'm picturing this correctly.





Date: Mon, 14 Oct 1996 13:35:41 -0700 (PDT)
From: The Man Himself

As has been mentioned here before, the Vortex has two independent delays, which are programmed as subdivisions of a basic pulse rather than in terms of milliseconds. Each delay can be subdivided from 1 to 64, which lends itself to all sorts of wierd polyrhythmic possibilities. (At last I can cop those chart-topping 17 against 33 polyrhythms. Get Glen Ballard on the phone now!)

The one drawback is that the maximum delay time on the Tex is less than two seconds, meaning that the higher-increment values tend to be less discernible as much more than a slap-back type of effect.

One interesting application I've found is setting up a loop and then altering the tap tempo subdivisions while the loops is spinning. It chops the loop in all sorts of interesting ways, and sets up numerous polyrythmic/odd metered possibilities.





Date: 24-Oct-96 00:18 CET
Sb: Todd's VORTEX Patches...Free for the Asking.
From: ToddM@LaserMaster.Com

Here ya go, kids. Useability: Works for me.
Caveat: If they don't work, don't say I never gave you anything.
Warning: Massive Processes.

The first two patches concern Atmosphere 2. The third uses Choir 2.

ATMOSPHERE2 ATMOSPHERE2 CHOIR2
Wirey Clean Guitar Synthy Echo Guitar Burbly
Mix 43 64 49
Output 64 64 64
Mod FX Lvl 50 64 45
EchoFX Lvl 55 64 45
Morph 64 64 20
Envelope 22 10 35
Echo 08 08 02
Echo2 08 06 06
Feedback 40 64 34
Feedback2 47 40 29
Rate1 04 30 28
Depth1 41 29 26
Rate2 03 08 34
Depth2 23 50 29
Res2 28 64 14

Okay kids, this is it for now. If the formatting went to hell, I'll have to find some other way of doing it, but this works for me, try it out.





Date: Thu, 24 Oct 1996 09:34:04 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Olivier Malhomme

When we say we can't trust these people.....

I've been buying since the extensive chat we had about the Vortex, an unit to Guitar Center of Hallendale (florida, i think). This post is intended, although off topic, to warn people like me that were stupid enough to buy things in the states, but living elsewhere (I'm french). The price was really interesting compared to french prices.

Unfortunately, the unit I received is dead. The knob that is supposed to let dial between the programms only offer half of them (you have again 16 on position 1, 15 on 2, 8 on 3, etc) Besides, if you use a pedal to switch between registers, what you get is the unit jumping every 20 seconds from the pedal set programm to the knob set programm. Complete disaster.

But the funny thing is Lexicon told they won't support any warranty in my case. What i'm supposed to do is have someone repair it and pay. Just nice. I've checked on my warranty card. Nowhere is written that the warranty is void in such circumstances.

Of course Guitar Center claim no responsibility too, and they are... sorry! So i'm stuck with a unit costing 234 bucks with shipping, and that was dead....

Warning to all people who'd consider to buy in the states:
Don't unless you are of course american





Date: 24 Oct 96 04:32:19 EDT
From: Michael Peters<100041.247@compuserve.com>

Olivier wrote about the Vortex,

> The knob that is supposed to let dial between the programms only offer half of them (you have again 16 on position 1, 15 on 2, 8 on 3, etc)

Exactly the symptom my first Vortex had which I got 2 weeks ago!!
Fortunately, I bought it here in Cologne and could give it back to the shop, where they gave me another one last week. Now, for my second Vortex ...

> if you use a pedal to switch between registers, what you get is the unit jumping every 20 seconds from the pedal set programm to the knob set programm.

Exactly what my *second* Vortex does !!! (Aaarrgh) It *is* still usable with this symptom, but I think I should give this one back too because it just isn't stable and might get worse anytime. I'm afraid though that they give me a third Vortex which has the first (worse) symptoms again ... or both :-(

Seems like when Lexicon decided to stop producing this thing, they didn't feel like testing and controlling any longer.

Thanks for the warning Olivier, and good luck.





Date: 24 Oct 96 08:54:37 EDT
From: Jon Durant<74074.1316@compuserve.com>

>But the funny thing is Lexicon told they won't support any warranty in my case. What i'm supposed to do is have someone repair it and pay. Just nice. I've checked on my warranty card. Nowhere is written that the warranty is void in such circumstances.

International sales by US delaers is a subject of incredible controversy at Lex land, and I'm sure at many other companies as well. The reason is really quite simple: Every unit sold by Sam Ash or Guitar center is a unit *not* sold through the distributor. Which means he's losing money. Which means he's bitching. Which means they have to slap Guitar Center on the wrist. But wait, Guitar Center is GOD. You can't slap them on the wrist. So, what to do? Well, to cut down on trans-shipping, the company policy is just what you've stated: They can't offer warranty service to a customer in France: only the French distributor can. Which means if you bought it from a French dealer, you'd be covered. But you didn't, so you're paying the price. Ugly, huh?

Ultimately, it boils down to an age-old problem: too many hands in the middle. (This results in several issues, not the least of which is price.) I had suggested that Lexicon do a Cambridge Soundworks, i.e. sell direct. Cut everyone out of the middle. Yeah, it makes for a major shift in company structure, but let's face it: your customer support doesn't change. Who goes to their dealer with a question? No one. So why should they get 40 points (plus another 8% rep comission)? To put it on the shelf and not have a working unit? Then when they *do* demonstrate it, make a mockery of the product? (See an earlier diatribe about my experiences in dealer hell...)

As for the problems you're experiencing: The program select knob appears to be slightly problematic. Apparently there's an issue regarding this knob, the details of which I know nothing, but I experienced the same difficulties on my Vortex, JamMan and Alex (all of which use the same pot). I thought it was just my prototypes, but apparently not... Word is, it's an easy fix, and they turn it around pretty quickly.

>Seems like when Lexicon decided to stop producing this thing, they didn't feel like testing and controlling any longer.

Actually, they were all tested ages ago: they've been sitting in a warehouse for many many moons...


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