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DBX 160 vs. DBX 160x

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by adam79, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. adam79

    adam79 Active Member

    Jun 28, 2009
    I'm looking to buy a couple of the DBX 160 compressor/limiter series. I've heard the DBX 160x and the 160a, and found the 160x to be superior. I've never heard the original DBX 160, and was wondering if it is considered the best model of the 160 series, or if the only difference between the 160 and 160x is the VU meter being swapped out for the LED meter?

  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Some users would agree that the dbx 160A/160X160XT are more superior in the sense that they are a more modern mass produced vesion of the original 160 with the 165 OverEasy feature added. While similar, they are not the same as the original.
  3. MadMax

    MadMax Distinguished Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    X and XT's baby... Kik and Sn... Hot and Water... Oreo's and Milk...

    Some things just go together, ya' know?
  4. valverec

    valverec Guest

    The original 160, often called the 160vu is considered by most pros to be the superior 160. Period. The VCA they used in the original is discrete, meaning it's not a little IC chip. The modern 160's all rely on an IC chip that based on the original discrete vca that's in the original 160.

    If you can afford the original, it is the best. That said, the new 160's are great too, but as someone who's used 160 vu's a lot, and 160a's a lot, and 160xt's a lot, the 160vu wins hands down.

    IMO the 160x is noisier than the 160a, again speaking from the 160x pair and 160a pair that I personally own, but the 160a seems to be less reliable. Again, from my experience. I've seen a lot of dead 160a's for some reason. I think the 160xt may be the best route if you can't afford the original 160.
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW

    Excellent post. This is a subject that used to come up regularly but with the advent of a lot of new software packages, the hardware gets put back a bit.

    Theres still no substitute for hardware circuitry though the UA package and some of the others are getting really close.

    My XT type of DBX resides in my 900 series lunchbox as a DBX 903. It sees the kick drum quite often and sometimes the snare. I usually will use the Aphex compellor on the snare as it is frequency dependant conpression and adds a different flavor to get the snare to stick when I need it too. I like the Aphex Expressor on bass as its fast and subtle.
  6. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    The 160/161 was a great compressor in it's day. Of course it was one of the only pro compressors back in it's day as well. It has only been the last 2-decades or so that anything has become as useful. Boston's first album was like a dbx ad with the 20+ 160/161/162 compressors used on those tracks.

    You could say I was a major dbx fan and user as I used to own over a dozen 160's myself along with several 161's, a few 165's, a few 162's and 7-160X's all in one rack. It looked way cool but I sold them all several years ago. Got a boat load of money for them and bought other gear as well as 2-160SL compressors which I use more, and are much more superior and better sounding than any previous dbx compressor.
  7. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Home Page:
    I'm glad this post is under "Pro Audio Gear".

    I've often found that if it is ubiquitous in live applications, it likely has its uses in a studio. Not always, but one glaring example is the SM series.
    Pro gear is pro gear.

    I for one enjoy my 160x. I only have an RNP, a BlueMax, and plugs to compare it to, but it does a nice job when I need to rein in an unruly bassist or singer.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    I have a 160XT, 166 & a pair of 165A's. They are all good. They all work. They all offer RMS detectors. They are not peak detectors. They were all more consistent than the UREI LA-2 & 3 & 4, more affordable & since they did not rely on optical electronics & components that aged. I use them all in different applications. I prefer the 165 on vocals were I will use the 160XT and/or the 166 on drums. Although I wouldn't hesitate on reversing the order but I like the gates in the 166 when used on drums. I don't like the gates as much on vocals. In that respect I would rather have a downward expander/ducker, as opposed to a gate. That's more natural for vocals and less natural when you gate a vocal. Gating drums works out better. Actually, I prefer gating the drums post compressor instead of pre-compressor but hey what do you want for a cheap unit? You can still have your cake and eat it too. Compressed when you record, gate when you mix. Wow, what a concept.

    Try it and compare the differences. Then you'll know.
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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