The dbx model 119 Decilinear was originally marketed as a dynamic range processor aimed at the Hi-Fi market. Its main purpose was to enhance (namely to counteract) the dynamic range of pre-recorded material thus offering a more realistic impression of the musical performance by making use of its compressor and expander sections. However, the unit employs the same VCA as the 160VU model and thus its use as a program-dependant audio compressor grew in popularity.
The 119 comes with a single knob to control compression or expansion, one threshold control, and a “mode” switch that lets you choose between it s ‘normal’ compression behaviour and ‘linear’ mode.
In use, light to moderate (1.2-1.3) ratios, combined with a threshold that just tickles the signal can result in a tight sound useful for vocal tracks. The attack on the 119 is slow enough to let the peaks prevail without adding any smearing effect. With moderate to extreme settings, the effects can become pretty wild. The 119 does a good job at adding some punch to bass lines; electric guitars and drums (snare and overheads, in particular) sound great when squashed through this 119 as the pumping effect it produces is a very musical one.
The Gear Rack