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Vocals through DBX 160

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by wallyjoe, Jan 18, 2002.

  1. wallyjoe

    wallyjoe Guest

    I love the ease of use of the DBX 160, and I love its sound on lots of things like drums, bass and guitars. Can I use them lightly on vocals as well?
  2. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Guest

    I've got four dbx 160 comps (and two 160x's as well) and use them all the time. They are in my personal comp A-list along with 1176/1178s, LA2A/LA3As, CL1Bs, 33609s, EL8s, 660/670s, etc.

    I find the 160 to be somewhat harsh on lead vocals, but if that's what you're after, then go for it. It might be worth a try on BVs, though I often use a Tubetech SMC2B or an 1178 for that.

    But what we write here matters little. If you like the way it sounds, just do it.

  3. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    Hey Jon,
    .. a 33609 , I have not noticed anyone mention this Neve here before. I like them. :D

    What do you think of it and what do you mostly use it on?
  4. Steve Hudson

    Steve Hudson Active Member

    Jan 14, 2002
    Austin, Texas
    I too like the dbx on certain vocal tracks - depends more on the singer than the type of track (rock, folk, pop...). Hey, Glen Ballard used a 160 for vocals on Alanis Morisette's debut recording, and it's only sold, what, 20 million copies?
  5. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    It goes well after an 1176 it the singer is too dynamic or loud... mess with bothe to catch just the bits you want... they interact well and form 'one compressor' if tweaked well..


  6. Hack

    Hack Active Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Little Rock, AR
    Is it common to use two comps on a lead vocal? Could you fill me in on ratios and reduction ideas for this. The sound company I work for has 12 160X's. So thats what I use.

    I usually end up with 3 - 8 lead vocal tracks. You know...

    All the layering $*^t. Anyway should I be treating these individualy and then busing them to one or two more group comps?

    Understanding that preformance has got to be the trick, what are some of your methods for getting all these to sound like one bigger than life track?
  7. ransom

    ransom Guest

    I can say that alot of pro's have said that they would not use it on vocals. You have to like it's colored sound for yourself because at the same token there are a few who use and swear by it:
    Humberto Gatica-Celine Dion's only vocal engineer
    Ray Bardani-Luther Vandross (Mix Mag 2001)
    Tony Maserati-Everybody (R&B, hip-hop)(mix mag 2001_
    Glen Ballard as previously stated
    Dr.Dre-Emenim (Mix Mag June 2001)

    You get the point. This list suggest to me that it is worth trying out.
  8. coldsnow

    coldsnow Active Member

    May 14, 2001
    Mogadore, OH
    Which 160 are you guys talking about?
  9. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Guest

    Hi Kev,

    It's been a few years since I last used a Neve 33609, but I recall putting drum subgroups, bass guitar, and room mics through it with good results. It wasn't bad on the 2-bus, as well.
    I believe AMS Neve are making 33609 reissues now. We'll have a vintage one in great condition coming into our new room starting in March, and I'm looking forward to it.


    The 160 is the old 2U-high, half-space dbx compressor with the VU-meter. They are normally racked up as two comps side-by-side in a 2U rack space.

  10. wallyjoe

    wallyjoe Guest

    To be fair, I'm actually talking about the DBX 162, which is just the stereo version of the 160. Even cooler!

    The "color" it adds is kind of yellow/orange. This to me equals "hot" and "harsh" but obviously not too much so, or the above mentioned engineers would not touch it.

    Thanks for all the responses. Though as always, ears matter most.
  11. I've worked with Humberto on several mixes some years ago, and he never used 160 VU's on vocals. He was always using an original 33609 as far as I can remember. He might have put a snare or kick thru them once in a while though.

    Eric ;)
  12. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    Originally posted by groundcontrol:
    I've worked with Humberto on several mixes some years ago, and he never used 160 VU's on vocals. He was always using an original 33609 as far as I can remember. He might have put a snare or kick thru them once in a while though.

    Eric ;)

    ...oh yeah (rolling up his sleaves)...well I worked with "Hum" on Streisand and (I think), some of the earliest stuff he did of Celine. And he always used a 160 in his vocal chain. I've got a few of his chains written down somewhere...like i care anymore...not my cup of tea as an engineer. But i won't take much away from him...when he nails a ballad...no one can do it better...only different.

    ...so...if he wasn't using a 160 in canada...maybe he was bored or there wasn't a good sounding unit in the house.
  13. It was not in Canada, (although he was in Montreal working on the new Celine Dion album some months ago). It was down in LA at Westlake and at the plant when had just got their first 9k.

    What I appreciated most on those session was the rest days when I would go climbing at J-Tree NM and around town.

    Eastern Canada can't compete with SoCal for the climbing weather that's for sure!

  14. ransom

    ransom Guest

    Actually coldsnow,
    Luther-dbx 160A
    Dre-dbx 160 VU
    Humberto-dbx 160 X

    I just got a 160A and I love it!Sounds smooth for a vocal and keeps my ad libs away from 0db overload with no sqaushing.
  15. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Jan 4, 2001
    What I appreciated most on those session was the rest days when I would go climbing at J-Tree NM and around town.

    I only went a couple times, but I definately feel a loss not being a few hours drive away anymore. Night in the desert was one of the most memorable things in my life.

  16. joeq

    joeq Guest

    Can anyone tell me what's the difference between a 160 and a 160X? Do they sound the same?
  17. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    Mar 6, 2001
    The 160,(sometimes refered to as a 160VU cause of the VU meter), is a very different beast to a 160x or 160a. To my ears the 160VU has more color and gives a lot more punch to things like drums and basses. The 160x and 160a might be a little more transparent but for me pretty unthrilling. To weigh in on the vocal comp question, my first choice these days is a Distressor or one of my trusty LA3a's. I'll use a 160 on vocals if I have to, but not my first choice. Jon, I used a 33609 on 2-bus for years, but these days a Smart seems to float my boat.
  18. mixfactory

    mixfactory Guest

    I have to disagree with MCsnare on the 160X. I think the two things the 160X works great on are Drums and bass. Sometimes on a vocal. It does emphasize the high mids though, but for this application nothing beats it. I think the closest would be a Distressor, but you have to mess around with it. There are different versions of the 160x(XT and A), the 160X is the best of the bunch though. The 160Vu is a total different animal all together. It has its own sound that you can't get anywhere. I think it works on vocals and acoustic guitars. Drums is a toss up. I think if you want that "70's" drum sound, the 160Vu is perfect. The other one people use is the 165. It is ok, sometimes great, sometimes not, but I guess that goes for everything.
  19. How about the 166 and 166xl? Totally different animal, or do they compare? Mostly interested in limiting....
  20. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    Mar 28, 2001
    hey, groundcontrol...that's an interesting handle....because that's ( a studio called Groundcontrol, used to be in Santa Monica,CA) where I, used to assist for Hum.

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