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Microphone Month 4

dbx 286s Channel Strip Reviews

4.5 stars based on 16 customer reviews
Questions about the dbx 286s Channel Strip?

Questions about the dbx 286s Channel Strip?

Or call us at (800) 222-4700

  • from Miami May 9, 2017

    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.

  • from Atlanta January 12, 2017Music Background:
    Voice Acting

    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.

  • from Alaska July 30, 2016Music Background:
    Producer / Engineer / Songwriter

    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.

  • from Brandon, Mississippi June 1, 2016

    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!

  • from Upstate New York January 5, 2016Music Background:
    Voiceover work, radio and system design/install

    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.

  • from Monticello, MN United States April 20, 2012Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    Best customer service around, "HANDS DOWN"!!

    Hi to all that read's this. Didin't really know much about purchasing hardware at all, but the Sweetwater staff helped make my selection much easier. Above & beyond the service you usually get from a company. Was really surprised at how they go that extra mile to make sure your purchase is something you'll enjoy. Sweetwater ROCKS & i would definitely recommend them as a solid place to do business with. So if you ever need any gear, or have any questions about gear, Sweetwater is the place is definitely the place for you. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK SWEETWATER STAFF.

  • from Missouri March 9, 2012Music Background:
    Broadcast Engineer and Bass Player

    Great for Broadcast!

    Over the years, I've probably installed more than 60 dbx 286 series mic processors. They are priced well, and perform great for broadcast and voice-over use. You can go from very light processing, to very heavy processing. The way the EQ works is also unique. I've recently been installing the S version of this processor. In some cases in the same studios along side the earlier versions. I really can't hear any difference between the two. The gate may work slightly better on the S version, but that might just be my imagination. I've also used the 286 as a bass guitar processor, and was very happy with the results.

  • from November 4, 2016

    Works really well.

    If you record where your equipment is no matter how much you treat the room for total silence
    and try to muffle the sound of even an almost silent computer, there is still noise that mics pick up. Get one of these and your problem is solved. Works really well.

    Lots of features for a good price

  • from Chicago February 12, 2016Music Background:
    Audio Production student

    I love this thing.

    I love this thing. I use it for vocal processing for voice overs and for gaming or "broadcasting" if you like. The only reason I don't give it five stars is the compressor controls. "drive" is easy enough to figure out but "density" was not so obvious. The manual explained it clearly enough, but I would still would prefer it labeled as "release."

  • from Pittsburgh, PA December 5, 2014Music Background:
    Voiceover Recording

    Lotsa Value For Little Outlay

    I bought the dbx 286s as a way to, relatively inexpensively, upgrade my home voiceover recording setup from a simple mic preamp to something with signal processing capability. All I can say is, this was money well spent!

    Previously, I had been using a moderately priced solid-state mic preamp and while my voice sounded good, the tone lacked any warmth. The 286s is not a tube mic preamp, but when I used the 286 as just a mic preamp, I heard the warmth I had been missing. It took a little time to tweak the compressor, de-esser and enhancement settings, but I am now coming close to my work studio sound and a fraction of the price. There is a lot of value packed into the 286s and while this tool will not turn a poor recording into a great one, you can make a good mic and voice sound really sweet and clean!

    My dissatisfactions are few and minor. I would really like to have seen a power switch built into the unit and I would have preferred XLR output instead of the TRS output. As I said, minor, but enough to pull back from a full five star rating. Since none of these has any bearing on the sound quality, it is still one fine channel strip and worth a place in anyone’s voiceover recording chain.

  • from Orange County, CA August 5, 2014Music Background:
    Recording artists & studio engineer

    DBX 286S… Solid addition!

    There are plenty of great reviews for this unit. I'm always looking to gain more clarity in my vocal recordings. Previously I ran a Focusrite Trakmaster Pro Platinum & I got a really great sound with it. After dialing in this DBX unit with my other external vocal chain I was completely beyond satisfied. I would recommend this unit to any studio that is on a budget but wants clarity in there recording.

  • from November 8, 2013

    dbx 286s

    good way to get rid of sibilant sound, especially with vocals

  • from Hays, KS February 8, 2012Music Background:
    FOH Enginer, Radio engineer

    Great tools!

    One of the best all-around tools in my audio tool-box. I have at least 20 of them, Use them for on-air mics in the radio station, live sound, and a few specialized compressor applications.

  • from November 23, 2015

    dbx 286s 1st impressions

    The dvx 286s is a perfect mic pre for those of us that can't afford a $2000.00 unit.
    The de esser and enhancer functions work great and my mics are responding that much clearer as the fidelity is preserved and the signal is boosted cleanly.

  • from Nashville February 26, 2014Music Background:
    Broadcast engineer

    DBX 286S

    First, let me begin by saying that the output IS balanced. It is not an XLR connector but it IS indeed a balanced audio connection.

    Having used the previous model of this processor (286A), I gave this one 4 stars only. The reason is that the internals have changed and been replaced with cheap Chinese components. These lack the warmth of the earlier models. While the outside is exactly the same, the inside is completely different.

    All of that having been said, I use one of these in the studio and it is still a great value for the money.

  • from Buffalo, New York April 2, 2013Music Background:
    Recording Engineer / Broadcst Technician

    The line level utput is not balanced

    If you want to use the output to dive a wire that is longer than 15 fett, understand that the output is not balanced.
    Use the tip and ring to see if you get audio then try tip to sleeve then ring to sleeve and you will see what I mean.
    Beyond that the compression setting are confusing to me.
    I am used to the old wood paneled DBX160/161 which I have used since the late 1970's so I know what a compressor is and does.
    This 286 should have used the compression section fron the 166 or 266. The de-esser is adaquate. The enhancer could have been an EQ section. I dont want or need the gate. Lo cut should be frequency selectable. Price doesn't dictate good ideas.

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