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Microphone Month 4

dbx 166XS Reviews

5.0 stars based on 8 customer reviews
Questions about the dbx 166XS?

Questions about the dbx 166XS?

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  • from Tucson, AZ June 17, 2016

    Exceptional Performance

    I own and operate a home studio, where I record, mix and master...and occasionally produce. I have a tube compressor for tracking vocals (and sometimes other instruments when needed), but I wanted something else to provide a different feel and flavor. I am a HUGE fan of Dbx and mix with 160 and 165 emulations (in the box) frequently. I purchased this unit and hooked it up for a vocal session immediately. The results were amazing! I used the Contour setting, set the Auto mode and pushed record. The comp is super transparent and amazingly useful on vox tracks. Dbx never disappoints and makes gear that is just as useful in the studio as it is in live applications. (I used this comp while mixing a band about two years ago, and it was just as amazing!) I am a big proponent of "expensive gear isn't synonymous with great gear." DBX makes affordable compressors, and if you know how to use compression, then this little box is incredible for the price!

  • from RI July 26, 2014Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Live Sound Engineer 20+years

    Best compressor in it's price range

    I bought 2 of these for a live show i had coming up. I didn't expect much for the price(they were on sale) I inserted them into the kick and snare channels and bang they started to really pop! The contour button is really cool use it. if you use the limiter a little on drums it really sounds good. It gives them that crunchy limited in your face drum sound you have been looking for. The gates are smooth and predictable. The other 2 went to the bass and lead vocal. These really shine on those (used auto button perfect! classic DBX compression sound). They sound way different than the 266XS. They retain all the character of the instrument even at 10-15 db of gain reduction! I pushed them really hard and didn't love the sound (started to distort and lose tone) but overall a real solid mid-line live compressor. Bet they would sound great on the left right buss. There still is nothing like the DBX 106A if you have the$$. I liked them so much, I moved them to my studio as backups...

  • from Denver, PA February 25, 2013Music Background:
    Hobbyist, helping with church sound system

    Great microphone control with amateur speakers

    Very high quality; cannot hear any distortion, even when it's attenuating by 20 dB or so on louder sounds. Works excellent as an automatic volume control, even with amateur speakers, (children, etc) speaking. Using a condenser mic (Shure Beta 87), anything within 2 feet of the microphone, it "locks on". They may talk softly, back away from the mic, etc...it all comes through crystal clear. We don't even need to change the settings of the knobs, once set up.

  • from Nogal, NM January 12, 2012Music Background:
    Two-way radio and audio repair tech, Ham radio.

    Very good. Has multiple uses

    It works quite well in the recording input for a CD recorder, to keep unexpected overloads out of the recorder. I also discovered it is very well suited for Amateur Radio receivers -- keeps the QRM and other static crashes out of the audio. Because most ham radio receivers don't have headphone safety limiters, the 166XS fills that need, too.

  • from North East, PA USA June 16, 2011Music Background:
    The Sound Guy

    dbx 166XS: Great for streaming audio

    I am using this unit to normalize the levels of a live Praise and Worship band with single people speaking on a microphone at church. I have the unit set for a medium attack, long release, and 4:1 compression and it works great. No additional noise or distortion. Now the band doesn't overdrives the recording equipment and the Pastor's sermon is boosted out of the background noise. I am using this unit to send compressed audio to the nursery, streamed over the internet, recorded to DVD, and transmitted over an assisted hearing system. What an incredible improvement to sending uncompressed audio!

  • from TX, USA September 30, 2011Music Background:
    Home Studio Sound Engineer


    I'm an experimental artist that you might call "industrial". Using the gate on distorted bass drum combined with EQ and compression is amazing.
    Now...all I need is to sample all my bass drum and snare hits and put them on a sampler...
    It doesn't get a full 5 star rating from me for this reason: running a source in a serial fashion, with the gate turned up to maximum, I can still hear some audio. Not a LOT, but some leakage.

  • from Oregon, USA March 13, 2011Music Background:
    Recreational musician only

    dbx 166xs: Home sudio workhorse

    I am using it in a pair of channel inserts for my microphones in a Mackie SR 24-4. The -10 dbv/+4 dbu switch comes in really handy here, and unlike some other devices, it actually affects the level of internal processing, as opposed to just the meters. The controls are sensitive, and I can really hear the compressor attack and release time controls actually affecting the envelopes of the sound. The semi-detents on the knobs are a nice touch for repeatability. The auto setting for compressor attack/release also seems to work very transparently. The downward-expander type gate works great once dialed in. For me, it does not chatter like a switch gate. The LED metering for compression is odd and takes some getting used to, as the meters reflect the aggregate function of the compressor and the gate. But the logic is growing on me, and it allows you to see how the gate closing process proceeds as you dial in longer gate release times. It is a bit of a gaudy light show, however.

    Best of all, it is absolutely quiet in my studio setup. Another big plus for me is that there is no audible distortion (I hate distortion in studio gear).

    All in all I am very pleased with it, and, as expected, the silver faceplate is easy to read, and looks classy too!

  • from Long Beach NY April 4, 2012Music Background:
    songwriter, studio musician, producer


    Im still learning the art of compression. This two channel compressor has everything I need to compress the signal going into my recording interface

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