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Microphone Month

dbx 266XL Reviews

4.0 stars based on 7 customer reviews
  • Joe ''Masterjoe'' Abrego
    from Montreal, Canada August 17, 2007Music Background:
    Sound Tech, Musician


    This is the first compressor i used for a small project I had to do when I was in the Sound tech school and it works great, no complaints, very nice quality and very easy to use and understand.


  • Sam
    from Waverly, IA March 22, 2008Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    Big difference, Small Price

    I engineer DIY gigs that my friends and I set up. I decided to blow a little money on one of these and renting a legit P.A. system for a show I did earlier tonight. Without this box, it seems nearly impossible to find the right levels for vocals in a live mix. But WITH it, the vocals leaped out of the speakers with a punchiness that could compete with all the guitars wailing and a really bezerk drummer. Bonus points: one band's vocalist went from a scream to a whimper and back again in the course of a word, but with the magic "auto" button on this device the transition was buttery smooth---you really can just press that switch and leave. My only gripe: no off switch-but I can make due.

  • Mikey
    from PA March 6, 2008Music Background:
    Professional Engineer

    Best in $ range

    Better than other comps I've heard in this price range. I like and use the overeasy setting a lot. Nice job DBX.

  • Jason
    from St. Louis January 19, 2007Music Background:

    Great Home Audio Compressor

    I've been using the 266XL for 7 years now inline with my CD player. After years of disappointment with the sound of CDs and yearning for a full and robust sound I was thrilled to add the 266XL to my system. This unit does a great job at giving poorly mastered CDs some much needed punch without pumping or seriously degrading high-end detail. Even as a mono-band compressor I don't notice any serious degradation in mid or high range material when the energy in the low end is high.

    This rack mountable box was certainly not designed with this kind of application in mind. There is no power button. However that is common for studio equipment which is often rack mounted and plugged into a power strip. The gate function is not needed and there is a very loud pop when the unit is first plugged in or unplugged. I always power up or power down with the amp turned off for this reason.

    The user has full flexibility to adjust the compression ratio and attack and decay times. However I have found the built in algorithims do a superb job adjusting the attack and decay times. I normally leave the compression at a 2:1 level. The music is vibrant and robust filling the room with sound but without sounding trashy or smashed as many FM stations do. Bypassing the compressor is as easy as pushing a couple of lit buttons. This is handy for SACDs which often don't need any help and for a few rare CDs whose engineers knew what they were doing. The output level is adjustable and there is an overeasy feature which does make the sound a bit mellow. In my opinion, the overeasy setting attenuated the highs and made the music less bright; so I don't use it.

    If you're used only to home audio components you should know the inputs and outputs of the 266XL are balanced XLR connectors. I purchased 4 XLR to RCA cables to plug from the CD player into the compressor and from the compressor to the amp. Other than that it's as easy to install as any other component.

    The LED meters make set-up easy and add some pizazz to the aesthetics of my system. My Klipsch KG4s sound better than ever now that I can hear the details often hidden in many CDs. I prefer a well mastered SACD to using the compressor. But since SACD seems to be the one product Sony doesn't want to advertise it doesn't look to promising. (I could go on about the lack of contemporary material available in SACD, or how much of what is available was recorded decades ago and doesn't fully demonsrate SACDs abilities or how a world in love with MP3s doesn't care or know about it's existence but that's another soapbox for another time)

  • Phil LaDue
    from Owego, NY June 21, 2006Music Background:
    Live Sound/ Theatre


    This comp really takes it up a notch from the common budget choices. The controls are smooth and the automatic settings make it easy to use for almost anyone.

  • Blahzay
    from Savannah, Ga March 8, 2008Music Background:
    Producer/Recording Engineer(per say)

    The expander/gate is a BEAST!

    I bought this piece for it's noise gating section, and I am very much pleased with it's performance. It did exactly what I need and more, I haven't used the compressor much but I'm sure it won't dissapoint. Match it up with a Presonus tube pre and you have a nice budget friendly front end for your recording applications.

  • Dean Drake
    from Bellingham, WA July 15, 2006Music Background:
    Semi-pro musician/recording engineer

    Where's the on/off switch?

    It's a decent compressor/limiter and does a good job and is good for the price. I used it in conjuncion with an ART Tube MP and it seemed to make a good match. I use it less though after getting my Avalon 737 SP.

    One of the things that had me scratching my head and going back to re-read the instructions was that it didn't have an on/off switch. I think some engineer forgot to include it and they just went ahead and manufactured it without one. So, when I power down the equipment in my rack, this one stays on because I'm not going to go back there and unplug it (actual instructions in the manual for turning it off) every time I want to shut it down.

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