dbx 286s Channel Strip

1-channel Channel Strip with Compressor, Expander/Gate, De-esser, and Enhancer Sections
dbx 286s Channel Strip image 1
dbx 286s Channel Strip image 1
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This Channel Strip Packs Serious Bang for the Buck!

Looking for a fast way to get a great vocal sound? Check out the dbx 286s channel strip. Equally at home in the studio as it is in your live rig, the 286s channel strip puts four powerful vocal processing tools at your disposal. First and foremost, the 286s is an excellent microphone preamplifier, which features a +48V phantom power, an 80Hz highpass filter, and a wide range of gain control. Next, there's the 286s's compression section, which sports dbx's classic OverEasy soft knee function to smooth out vocals without robbing them of their natural expressiveness. Remove unwanted sibilance with the 286s's de-esser section - a must-have processor for live vocals and a great tool for taming harsh-sounding cymbals. You can also add low-end resonance and high-end sparkle with the 286s's enhancer section. Finally, there's the expander/gate section, which helps bring down stray noise and reduce ambient stage volume. The 286s also features an external "loop out" insert path, so you can patch in an EQ or other processor as well. That makes the dbx 286s a perfect fit in any kind of rig!

dbx 286s Channel Strip Features at a Glance:
  • Studio quality mic preamp
  • Classic dbx OverEasy compression puts great sound within easy reach
  • Frequency tunable de-esser reduces sibilance and high frequency distortion
  • Enhancer increases the detail and definition of the high and low frequencies
  • Program-adaptive expander/gate
  • Insert path allows you to add external processors
  • Full compliment of meters and status LEDs
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • Precision detented controls
Live and in the studio, the dbx 286s channel strip is a fast way you get the sound you want!

Additional Media

286s Spec Sheet
286s User Manual
Studio Preamp Buying Guide

Tech Specs

Number of Channels 1
Compressor Yes
Rack Spaces 1U
Manufacturer Part Number 286s

Customer Reviews

Based on 16 reviews
Write your review

Very underrated for vocals

This was one of the first pieces I got for my home studio and it is one of the best investments a vocalist can get. The gate is really nothing to play with! Paired with the 80hz roll of enabled, there is complete and utter silence between phrases. Even the hum of the AC unit and computer can't be heard while tracking. The compressor is also very consistent and easy to use, drive controls the input gain and density works more like a release control to smooth out everything. And it's program-dependent so no need to fuss about threshold and ratio. Additionally, the hi detail enhancer option adds a nice sheen to vocals at the most minimum setting. Overall, any vocals I've processed through this unit requires little to no extra EQ and compression when mixing. It really is a must have.

A Must for Voice Overs

I am a beginning voice actor and have slowly been building my home studio and equipment. Prior to purchasing and implementing the DBX 286s into my signal chain I was having to edit out miscellaneous sounds, compress, remove breaths, etc. using plugins in my DAW. It could be very time consuming. I researched and found a lot of experienced voice artists are using this. I ordered two days ago and it arrived today (quick free shipping). I hooked my Rode NT1 to the DBX 286s then line to Focusrite 2i2, to my MacBook. Dang is all I have to say. I am getting auditions the exact way I want them in one to two takes and no additional editing required other than normalizing to -3. I was also impressed that someone from Sweetwater called me to confirm they were processing my order, I even got an immediate notification it had arrived, which was great because I did not hear the FedEx guy. Any new voice actors, this is a must.
Music background: Voice Acting

Try it for vocals

I have an older USA made model. It is said to be a bit different internally. I looked inside and found some nice THAT chips. It also has Neutrik connectors on the backside. Either way, i'm sure this current piece is similarly usable. I use mine for music, not voice-over and it works great. Just a nice modern sound with that classic DBX dynamics. Try this box as a budget mic-pre / channel strip for singing and rap and you might be surprised. Great value.
Music background: Producer / Engineer / Songwriter

More than I could have wished for!

I've read a lot of reviews on this unit, but, as the saying goes, seeing (hearing) is believing. My studio is not setup with a lot of sound treatment, so, I my microphone picks up little background noise...not too bad but not what I want. The preamp is supper clean. The noise gate, well, WOW doesn't really discribe it. The compressor, supper clean. The remainder of feature are just icing on the cake. When I get ready to add another mic for voice, I will certainly be purchasing dbx-286s to go along with it!

The dbx 286s is the Right Answer for Voiceovers

I was facing the task of creating dozens of training videos for software applications. These are basically videos of the application performing certain operations with a voiceover track. The first attempt was with an inexpensive USB headset/mic combo equipped with a small wind screen (marginally acceptable, but not great). The audio tracks were recorded directly into the video capture program, but that left little opportunity for sweetening because of the limitations of the particular program. I decided that it would be better to tweak the signal going in and not have to do any post-processing of the vocal track after the screen captures, so that's where the dbx 286s enters the picture. The main signal path is a Shure SM58 (with a windscreen and pop filter) going into the dbx 286s and then into a Focusrite 2i2 interface. The output of the 2i2 is going into the computer via a USB port and this all makes for a very simple and manageable setup. Using the dbx 286s, I can completely tailor the sound and achieve broadcast-quality output with very little fuss. I set the preamp gain on the mic, add a slight amount of compression, set the de-esser to take care of a pronounced sibilance issue with my voice and then use the expander/gate to easily remove any background noise from computer fans and ambient sounds in the room. Lastly, I fiddle just a bit with the enhancer to add just a little boost to the low end. This is a very intuitive setup and the best part is that it is very repeatable; once set up, I can come back into the studio days later and everything on the new tracks sounds just like the previous sessions. I would guess that this would be very applicable for podcasting applications. It is probably no surprise that various versions of this unit have been used by many radio broadcasters in the signal chain for their vocal talent for decades. In fact, I have seen racks of them in some stations where they have separate units set up for each individual voice so that they can achieve absolute repeatability of the "sound" of each radio personality at the station. As if that weren't enough, the dbx 286s also has a send/return link so you can drop in a graphic equalizer and/or reverb unit into the signal path and further customize the sound for each voice (and all without having to use any computer software/plug-in assistance). Anyway, all-in-all, this unit has been the perfect fit for my voiceover application and I would highly recommend it for anyone who would like to create broadcast-quality voiceover tracks on a sub-$500 total system budget. You might be able to spend a lot more on high-end channel strips, but dollar for dollar, I don't think you can beat the sound and versatility of this unit.
Music background: Voiceover work, radio and system design/install
See also: dbx, dbx Channel Strips