The 160X is a single-channel compressor - probably the best-known of the classic dbx 160 series. The original 160 was a half-width 2U box and the 160X was the first of the 1U dbx rack compressors. It was superceded by the 160XT which added XLR connectors.

The 160X is famous as a drum compressor. It adds punch & attitude to kicks & snares and is excellent for squashing overheads and ambience mics. Use a pair for drum bus parallel compression and you’ll have instant punch to beef up the drum mix. The 160X is superb for synths and, especially for bass guitars as it sits the bass just where you want it without killing the dynamics. The 160X is also a great tool for parallel compression. What's more, it’s also worth experimenting with the dbx and another, softer, compressor in the signal chain.

The 160X is super-simple with just three controls: threshold, compression ratio and output gain. Threshold and output level are self-explanatory. The compression ratio is infinitely variable from 1:1 through 4:1 and 8:1 all the way to ∞:1 and beyond, to negative ratios, where output decreases with input. This allows for some pretty extreme compression effects

The front panel also has an Over Easy switch, to change the shape of the threshold knee, meter input / output switch, bypass switch and a slave switch for stereo linking. Metering is via two horizontal LED bargraphs, one for input or output level and one for gain reduction. Dynamics of the LED displays are excellent and it’s easy to see what the compressor is doing, even from a distance and under poor lighting conditions.

The Gear Rack

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