dbx 166 Compressor Limiter Leveler
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Two Channel Gated Compressor Limiter
The purpose of a compressor is to reduce the dynamic range of a program and give you control over its dynamics. The 166's Ratio and Threshold controls can produce a wide variety of dynamic-range-reduction effects, from gentle taming of overall dynamics to limiting of peaks to squashing all dynamics.
For example, at low compression ratios, a very low Threshold setting can be used to reduce gently the overall dynamic range of a program. Higher ratios with low thresholds will provide leveling for instruments and vocals. High thresholds generally are used for limiting program levels overall. Ratios of 6:1 and higher effectively prevent outputs levels from much exceeding the threshold (assuming the Output Gain is set to 0).
Note that compression of the entire program (produced by low thresholds) tends to sound less natural at high ratios. Ratios of perhaps 4:1 and lower affect dynamics to a lesser degree, and are often used to tighten up a Bass Guitar
, snare, and vocals. Moderate settings typically are used during mixdowns and for leveling the program in a broadcast.
The 166's OverEasy circuit prevents compression at high ratios from sounding too unnatural. This is because as the signal rises above threshold, the ratio changes gradually, from 1:1 (no compression) to that set by the front-panel knob. You can put this feature to especially good use in those situations when you need protection from excessive peak levels but desire gentle compression on most of the program. By setting the threshold at a moderate level and using a moderately high compression ratio (6:1, 10:1, etc.), you will provide limiting for signals well above threshold and gentle compression (much less than that set) for signals at or below threshold. See the OverEasy curve, p. 2, to understand how this works.
It's always useful to watch the gain-reduction LEDs to see the amount of processing taking place. With practice, a glance will confirm what your ears tell you — that things are going okay, or that there's a little too much or too little. Your 166 can achieve desirable effects with proper settings derived from experience; when it's used too liberally, the unusual results may be suited to special effects only.
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01 Januar 1993
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15 August 2019
Preliminary Service Manual