dbx 160a vs 160x

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alexdingley
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dbx 160a vs 160x

Post by alexdingley » Mon May 27, 2013 7:56 am

Looking at getting two used comps for my home studio. Gonna keep them patched into two channels of my Toft ATB-16 for vocal and bass cutting. Friends are all saying that 160x units are the best bang for the buck... But I see a lot of 160A units out there too. Same used price range...

None of them could tell me the difference between the two... Other than xlr vs pigtail connections, that is.

Any info that might sway me toward one or the other?

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Post by lightandmind » Mon May 27, 2013 8:22 am

From my own experience and those based on my findings on here throughout the years:

Each one will do a very similar job and there's not much variation between them. These are TRULY EXCELLENT tracking compressors. I've always felt that they sound like the color of beige, lol, but they are each very flattering, and flatter things in the very same way.

DBX 160X - Works especially well on drums & bass (low frequency stuff)
DBX 160XT - Shines a little more on vox
DBX 160a - More sterile and sightly less flattering, but covers more sources equally.

If you get an X and an XT and don't plan to use them as "stereo-strapped" units, that combo would surely fit your needs perfectly, and both are amazing and can probably found even cheaper than a 160a, and that blows my friggin' mind. Don't forget about the DBX 160 (model with VU meters), 161, 162, 165 and 165A ;)

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Post by Jim Williams » Mon May 27, 2013 9:34 am

The 160A is more like the XT. Both have opamp balanced outputs as well as the original unbalanced circuits, but with smaller output transistors.

The PCB layout is tighter and more compact. The 160A used 5532 opamps instead of LM353's as found in the 160X and XT.

The 160A also has those 3 pin 20k hz inductor/cap filters on all the in's and out's. Those sound like crap and should be removed, I use a ferrite bead as an rf trap in place of those.
Last edited by Jim Williams on Tue May 28, 2013 8:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Woah!

Post by alexdingley » Mon May 27, 2013 11:40 am

Thanks for all the info there! I'll probably shoot for x models, as down the road, I might want to use them for drum bus compression.

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Re: Woah!

Post by digitaldrummer » Tue May 28, 2013 9:16 am

the 160X also has a pad on the PCB where you can install an optional Jensen output transformer - I never did this to mine but I thought about it...(but then I ended up selling them off before I went through with it) I think it was a JE-123S-PC that fits there. you can check the schematics and manuals here:

http://www.dbxpro.com/en-US/products/160x

the other models are there too. DBX even has replacement parts for some legacy models.

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Re: Woah!

Post by rhythm ranch » Tue May 28, 2013 9:56 am

digitaldrummer wrote:the 160X also has a pad on the PCB where you can install an optional Jensen output transformer
The 160XT also has this.

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Post by Jim Williams » Tue May 28, 2013 9:58 am

Dave Hill at Jensen can set you up with the transformers. You will need to cut a jumper or two. I found it best to install Millimax pcb pins so it plugs in. Then use a tie wrap around it to secure.

The 160X, XT, and A models all have the pcb pads for the Jensen output transformers.
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Post by vvv » Tue May 28, 2013 10:01 am

How significant a change in sound is the addition of the Jensen? can you describe it?

I have a 160XT that I use almost constantly on bass (after a Brick), sometimes on vox.

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Post by lightandmind » Tue May 28, 2013 11:29 am

The 160X, XT, and A models all have the pcb pads for the Jensen output transformers.
AWESOMENESS! Learn something new every day. Hoping somebody can chime in on how significant the results really are?

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Post by The Scum » Tue May 28, 2013 4:13 pm

If they live up to Jensen's usual performance, you'll have a hard time hearing them. Jensen transformers are extremely clean.

My recollection is that the transformer was intended for FOH & commercial install duties, where the compressor may have been used to drive a line back to the stage.
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Post by Jim Williams » Tue May 28, 2013 5:29 pm

Those transformer output 160X's are pretty rare, mostly broadcast or PA models where galvanic isolation was required. They suck a tiny amount of air off the tops but you may not here that through a stock 160X. The low end THD also rises a bit. Might be good to go for more bass growl. I think the sockets are fitted on the 160X for the transformer. Call Dave and try some.
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Post by joel hamilton » Sat Jun 22, 2013 12:46 pm

I am a huge fan of the 160a/x/xt and I have owned a zillion different units over the years. I have a couple right now of the "X" revision, and we own a couple of the "XT" and a couple of the "A" as well. honestly, they are pretty much interchangeable. Let me qualify:
The variation between units is not exclusive to the "X" or the "A" or the "XT" on the face, rather the life the unit lived, and its age, and a zillion other pedantic factors that are often cited in revision debates on the internet.

They are really good compressors, and if you see a good deal on any one of the revisions, it is worth getting one.
I have said it a hundred times, but the 160x/xt/a is the SM57 of compressors.. even if you wind up with something much more "cool" next to them in the rack they are a totally valid part of any collection forever.
The transformer otion was in one of my "X"'s years ago, and I loved that compressor... but then I got another "X" and assumed it also had a transformer in it as the other one was the first I ever owned. I loved that second one equally, and then found out it did not have the trasformer in it.
I still loved it, and gave up on the transformer idea in the 160 series.
I am a huge fan of xformers in general, but in this application is kind of is not worth the money, IMHO, because they sound great as-is. Just put a transformer ior 4 n a rack and patch to it if you want to burn something up with the output of your 160... then it becomes a valid box forever as well.

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Post by vvv » Sat Jun 22, 2013 4:52 pm

I have a 160XT and a 166A. I use the 160 more because it's almost always on my bass chain. occasionally on a vocal.

But the 166 is also useful, especially, of course, on stereo sources (I like it on acoustic guitars, and amps) - today is used it linked on a bass DI (the Brick) and a Marlboro bass amp (thru a RE320 to a ISA1), and it sounded great.

Neither of mine have transformers, FWIW.

The 163X is also worthy, tho' less flexible, I tend to use it as a bass DI for variation, or I use it in series with another compressor for vox ...
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Post by losthighway » Sat Jun 22, 2013 5:29 pm

I have a 160x and a 160a. The thing I like about them is when you're compressing 5db or less they don't really have a sound at all. Just whatever you're tracking comes forward just a little. They're really good at just shaving a little movement off of erratic things like drums and vocals.

That's why I track with them often. I know people often preach about not compressing during recording, but it just works for me. Kick and snare almost always get a little bit on the way in. Sometimes that's it for compression, depending on the drummer. Of course other times I might send it out during mix to something with more of a fingerprint, get more of an aggressive smoosh, or do a parallel thing. I was never as big of a fan of them for that task.

Oh and then there's the whole crazy negative ratio thing which has saved my nerves when recording dudes with roaring Matamp rigs and mumbly voices. I need a talkback mic in the room to communicate but the guitar volume just crushes the mic and makes me pee my pants every time I forget to turn the fader down between discussions. Then you're doing the weird conversation prediction thing where you're riding the fader anticipating when someone's going to whisper what they want to do next, or when their unholy guitar sound is going to penetrate your soul.

The negative compression ratio means that the louder the signal gets the quieter the compressor makes it, so I can set it where when dude is mumbling the signal passes at full strength, but when he hammers on his guitar it pulls the signal down -30db and I can pretty much ignore it. That handy feature was explained to me by Joel, Drumsound, Garges, and/or some of the other super smart people on here.

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Post by vvv » Sat Jun 22, 2013 9:46 pm

I hadda look it up, see here.
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