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Rating and Reviews: dbx 266XS Compressor

Control peaks with classic dbx compression! The dbx 266XS stereo compressor/gate is perfect for smoothing out vocals, tightening up broadcast mixes and more.

User Ratings
The Wow Factor
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"The Best of All AGC/Compression Worlds" submitted June 26, 2011

By a customer from
The Wow Factor
Musical Background: Broadcast Engineer
Music Style: Anything
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Sound: My application is broadcast recording studio level control and audio air chain over-drive protection ahead of a station's final processor when an aural studio-to-remote transmitter link is in use. In a word, this unit is perfect for both applications and beats the performance of so-called broadcast specific units costing 10x more. It is the most transparent AGC/compressor/limiter I have used. It controls peak levels VERY smoothly without adding any grit, clip or coloring. Feature: There are two features with which I am really impressed. 1. Unlike the fixed compressor attack/release settings on most units, this dbx can apply dynamic control. When audio is peaky and aggressive, it automatically 'sees' it coming and ramps up the circuit speeds. When audio is already more level and only needs gentle coaxing, the attack/release automatically slows down to match it. The result is exceptionally smooth audio control regardless of its characteristics. This matters because I do NOT want constant hi speed AGC ahead of the final processor whether it is monaural AM or an FM's stereo generator/digital/analog processor. 2. The expander/gate is REALLY smooth and prompt. I set the gate to about -20dbu at 2:1. Particularly on talk programming, any level under this is mostly noise, which the dbx then fully gates out. At the same time, the gate works so fast that when true audio resumes it does not 'chop' the first syllable. Conversely, you CAN set it to do this if your application calls for higher level on/off thresholds and it still works very smoothly. Ease of Use: One has a choice of automatic settings, stereo coupling where only the channel 1 adjusts take effect, or run it in dual mono with independent left/right processing. If the input level is in the correct range, the automatic 'over easy' feature just runs with it. If you want more control, then start twisting the knobs to your taste. Quality: I like the feel of the adjustments and the LED metering does a spot on job of reporting what your input and processing settings are doing. Everything you need ... nothing you don't. The Wow Factor: In the name of 'level control', the penalty of high compression and fast attack/release is distortion and loss of stereo separation. The latest intallations the 266XS have resulted in some of the best sounding stereo air chains I have heard in a long, long time. So, unless something else shows up, this is the unit that's going to replace the gritty legacy stereo processors. Overall: When it comes to AGC, I believe that 'less is more'. But, if you want highly aggressive 'infinity' compression, this dbx can do that, too. It can be sonically pure or it can absolutely crush the life out of any audio peak. Where ever you sit in the compression war, this is your weapon.
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