The DBX 160 uses program-dependent compression, combined with multiple gain stage components to create a sound that is uniquely its own. Smooth, natural and amazing on bass, kick and snare but is also devisable enough to ride vocals, control electric guitars and warm up keyboards.
The DBX 160 was the first Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA) compressor made, using a transformer-less, solid-state design that has endured for decades.Since its introduction in the mid 1970's, the 160 series has been the one of the world's most popular line of audio compressors.The original design sports an unusually prominent VU meter for a VCA model, exhibiting distinct nonlinearities, and like many other early compressor models other early compressors, has a simple face panel with only three dials for threshold, compression and output gain.
The DBX 160 produces rough and warm tones with a subtly gritty ‘punch’ that goes particularly well on lower bass frequencies, such as that of bass guitar or synths. It is versatile in application: providing a gentle yet resilient lift for vocals; brings warmth and life to keys; and has a good handle on electric guitars.
The 160 is most favorably used for drums – more specifically kick, snare and overheads (but no need to rule out drum buses!), bringing out ‘knock’, body and substance, and beautifully shaping transients.
There are a variety of 160 models with slight variations, some of which have different sound qualities and other’s simply incorporating different components or features.
The 160A features ® and hard-knee compression functions, curving along with extremely wide-ranging threshold, ratio and output controls to uphold its versatility and durability. True RMS (root-mean-square) level detection provides natural-sounding dynamics, ranging subtle compression to "brick wall" peak limiting. The 160A's Hard Knee compression and high ratios protects against overload distortion in digital recordings. The 160A also features a unique "INFINITY +" inverse-compression mode which can decrease the audio output level below unity gain when the input exceeds the set threshold.
The original classic 160 VU has a lower output gain, ranging from -20 to +20 attenuation. It is an ongoing favorite among recording engineers due to its renown soft knee/smooth compression sound and ease of operation, but requires a bit more maintenance and user attentiveness than some of the later models. The 160 VU is particularly killer on kick, snare and bass guitar but maintains versatility when applied slightly gentler to more musical instruments. These are considered to be sought after, vintage pieces of equipment.
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