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dbx® 166xs

Dual-channel compressor/limiter/gate

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Our take on the dbx® 166xs

by Steve Kindig
DBX

What does a compressor/limiter do?

A compressor/limiter is a type of processor that controls the dynamics of your audio signals. One of our resident sound engineers describes them as an invisible hand on the volume knob, automatically reducing, limiting, or maintaining signal levels. A compressor/limiter can be a really helpful tool for creating a polished-sounding mix.

A compressor that can do much more

The 166xs compressor/limiter/gate gives you such precise control of dynamic qualities that it can single-handedly make your mixes sound cleaner, tighter, and more polished — in other words, more professional. The 166xs makes a great addition to a live sound rig whether it's in a club or a church. And its transparent, uncolored sound makes it a great choice for the studio, too. For starters, the sound-shaping power of compression means you can smooth out uneven levels, add sustain to guitars, and fatten up your drums. You get great control without any "pumping" artifacts.

To protect your valuable amps and speakers, dbx's PeakStop® limiter responds quickly to provide an absolute ceiling for peak excursions or large transients that could otherwise damage your equipment. The 166xs's expander/gate circuit includes a release control which will help you clean up the sound of your mixes a couple of ways. Slow settings are useful for gating out noise behind vocals and acoustic instruments, while fast settings help with tightening up the sound of percussion (like kick or snare drum), and drying up leakage from other instruments into percussion tracks.

Choose from automatic modes or full manual

If you're tired of having a surprise transient peg your meters and mess up an otherwise perfect recording, you'll appreciate the 266xs's capabilities. Its patented OverEasy® compression technology provides smooth and musical performance while the AutoDynamic™ attack and release controls, found only on dbx compressors, puts great sound within easy reach. If you're the "set and forget" type, classic dbx "Auto" mode makes smoothing out levels nearly 100% foolproof. Choose from stereo or dual-mono operation, and there's a "link" button to operate the two channels in concert to prevent stereo image drift.

Bright and easy-to-read LED indicators and backlit buttons let you easily keep an eye on levels and gain reduction.

Highlights:

  • pro-quality dynamics control for any type of program material
  • error-proof operation to smooth uneven levels, add sustain to guitars, fatten drums or tighten up mixes
  • selectable OverEasy® or classic "hard knee" compression curves
  • PeakStop® limiter provides control of maximum peak output levels to protecting downstream equipment
  • expander/gate circuit with new gate timing algorithms to ensure the smoothest release characteristics
  • separate 10-segment LED displays for gain reduction, compression threshold and gate threshold allow quick, accurate setup
  • stereo or dual-mono operation
  • balanced inputs and outputs with 1/4" TRS and XLR connectors
  • side chain insert lets you fine-tune threshold sensitivity via optional frequency filtering or EQ
  • compressor threshold range: -40dB to +20dB
  • compressor ratio: 1:1 to infinity:1
  • attack time: variable program-dependent; 3mS to 340mS for 15dB gain reduction
  • expander/gate threshold range: off to +15dB
  • expander/gate ratio: 10:1
  • frequency response: 20-20,000Hz (±0.5dB)
  • 19"W x 1-3/4"H x 6-3/4"D (1U rack space)
  • weight: 5 lbs.
  • warranty: 2 years parts and labor
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
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