Expander MK2, the second-generation effects box from Black Corporation, packs loads of analog and classic digital effects into a single epic processor, covered in controls and with a dedicated routing matrix. Here’s a first look.
The Expander MK2 answers the question of what if a greatest-hits list of vintage effects processors could exist in one unit, with push-button routing and dedicated faders and knobs for everything. Plug in line or HI-Z inputs, route through programmable stereo and dual-mono processing, and get whatever effect chain you can imagine. In addition to the onboard controls, there’s even complete MIDI CC mapping and foot and expression inputs, so it’s eminently playable.
That is, this is not just a studio tool – it’s a studio-grade tool you could take onstage. And it is mostly analog, with digital control and some recreations of your favorite Lexicon digital classics.
While they can’t namedrop the originals, I can – analog and digital options for delay and reverb and multiple flavors for almost everything:
Digital and analog delay. Digital delay based on the Lexicon PCM42 with input from its engineer, Gary Hall – think modern CPU and memory but with the same 12-bit ADC/DACs as on the original. Analog BBD up to 820ms. Both with panning.
Digital and spring reverb. Meris has made a digital delay based on the Lexicon 224 or use a spring reverb with dual 17″ tanks, each with EQ and digital pre-delay.
Chorus. BBD chorus with speed and depth, and yes it can sound like a Roland Dimension D if you want (via presets for its push-button operation).
Ring modulator. Quadrant multiplier ring modulator, plus a vintage-style transformer and diode ring modulator.
Phaser. OTA-based 12-stage phaser, plus an optical phaser.
Insert / Resonator. Patch outboard effects into any part of the effects chain. Actually, I’ll just copy-paste here, as this is cool:
The resonator component can be used as a subtle EQ to sculpt the tone or can be modulated by the LFO section to create animated resonant or panning effects. The insert returns and sends can occur pre or post-resonator and can also be used as an extra input and output to route multiple signals. When used in parallel, these can turn EXPANDER MK2 into a 4-channel effects processor.
Overdrive. Based on KORG Nu-Tube micro tube.
LFO. Multiple LFOs routable to “nearly any destination.”
Balanced inputs and outputs.
Stereo send and return (including DB25 connector as well as 1/4″).
Total cost – US$4999.
(US$1499 due as preorder; the rest on delivery.)
That’s not cheap, but this might well be the “dream gear” of the week to fantasize about. Let’s see if anyone can unseat it before Superbooth is done.