The 160SL is the flagship of the dbx compressor range. The 160SL has a 1/4″ aircraft aluminium front panel, Jensen transformers, Neutrik gold-plated XLR connectors, sealed relays and high-quality components throughout to give the best possible signal path. It’s built around their proprietary V8 VCA modules and has transformer-balanced inputs & outputs capable of levels up to +30 dBu. Noise & distortion figures are exemplary
The unit can operate as two separate mono compressors or as a stereo unit with gain reduction matched between the channels for a stable stereo image. It’s ideal as a mix bus compressor – separate compressor and limiter sections mean it can be used for subtle mix-bus “glue” and peak limiting at the same time
With more compression dialed up, the 160SL makes a great drum compressor for parallel compression or patching across a drum bus. Attack & release times are variable over a wide range and there’s the option of a hard knee or the traditional dbx Over-Easy mode
For vocals the 160SL offers a very transparent way to control dynamics without audible effects. At low ratios, up to about 2:1, it can be used for subtle compression to bring vocals into focus and increase warmth. With higher ratios, and faster attack times, it can really get hold of a vocal to sit it in front of the track, but without the usual increase in sibilance that compression can bring
Unlike most other dbx compressors, the 160SL manages even large amounts of gain reduction with no audible artefacts. It’s uncanny at first – the gain reduction needle moves but there’s no “audible” compression. It takes a while to get used to, but the results are exceptionally good
Overall it’s a transparent-sounding compressor with a real range of abilities. It’s been compared to an SSL bus compressor, but with more transparency and subtlety
Quotes from the web
“I find the 160SL so useful as an everyday trackng workhorse, drum buss. 2-buss and mixing comp that I had to obtain a 2nd one”
“Real nice over-easy thing at 1.5:1 on just about any source. I use it on everything with great results, it is also great as two bus comp, limiter kicks ass…”
“I have had a 160sl for about 3 yrs. Used it as a 2 mix comp,with good results, it has an SSL flavor to it. Also have found it useful on electric guitars. and I like the 1:5:1 ratio for just keeping things under control. I have found it to be a good piece”
“The SL is a great 2-buss or mix buss as it can glue and punch real well. It is also fast enough to take the hand slap out of bongos or the initial stick hit from drums”
“Mine sits on my 2-Bus right now and I couldn’t be happier”
“I love mine. It’s the perfect compressor for when you have a REALLY dynamic singer, like 2 female singers I’ve recorded recently. Enough grab to reign in the dynamics without squeezing the life out of everything, or distorting, or adding sibilance”
“Great for tracking vocals. Lower ratios with the over easy engaged keep the compression fairly transparent”
“Great vocal compressor”
“My vocal COMP……
Really “keep” the vocal in your face during a mix.
“My favorite use for it is on peaky instruments. Putting the built in limiter thingy on really keeps such instruments in check. I’m thinking about mandolin, banjo,, dobro, all of which can get jumpy without being tamed. The 160sl seems to put those things in their place without you hearing that it’s working. Very transparent in that usage.
“One of my favorite compressors. I own two of them. One used to live on my 2-bus but now I use the A Designs Nail exclusively for that purpose. The first 160SL handles my lead vocals (inline and parallel) and the second is my drum group comp. Love em!”
“I use and like my 160SL so much I went and got another one. 5+ years now with both which get used in every session in some shape or form”
“Very versatile boxes. Use the Over Easy mode on vox occasionally. The Auto Velocity thing is nice and works well for a variety of sources IMO. It’s great for drum sub mixes. I don’t usually like putting anything across the mix bus, but the SL did a pretty nice job of it when I tried it for that application”
“Indeed, a very versatile thingy, and very clean sounding. i mainly use it as a tracking compressor for vocals, guitar etc”
“As already said, overeasy mode and auto velocity work very well for tracking. with 1,5:1 ratio and 3-5 db gain reduction the sound becomes thicker without too much coloration”
“I use mine mostly for kick and snare drum, very often in conjuction with two api 550a. pretty tight and snappy sounding chain…”
“There a million uses for this box and I’m a huge fan. In fact, I own two of them and use all 4 channels on every single mix I do”
“DBX SL160 LOOOVE!!!!!!!!!
Limiter works great!