dbx 160X Compressors, stereo pair, close serial numbers, set #30


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Pair of vintage dbx 160X compressors with close serial numbers. Set #30. These have been refurbished, pots & switches cleaned & lubricated, cases repainted and metering aligned. They have been switched to 220 Volts for the UK & Europe and new UK power plugs fitted. Euro power plugs available on request

Tested & working 100%. Supplied with a stereo link cable. Photos show a pair sold previously

The 160X is probably the best-known of the classic dbx 160 compressors. The original 160 was a half-width 2U box and the 160X was the first of the 1U dbx rack compressors. It was superceded by the 160XT which added XLR connectors

To my ears there is little or no difference between the 160X and the 160XT. I also have 160XTs for sale

The 160X is super-simple with just three controls: threshold, compression ratio and output gain. Threshold and output level are self-explanatory. The compression ratio is infinitely variable from 1:1 through 4:1 and 8:1 all the way to ∞:1 and beyond, to negative ratios, where output decreases with input. This allows for some pretty extreme compression effects

The front panel also has an Over Easy switch, to change the shape of the threshold knee, meter input / output switch, bypass switch and a slave switch for stereo linking. Metering is via two horizontal LED bargraphs, one for input or output level and one for gain reduction. Dynamics of the LED displays are excellent and it’s easy to see what the compressor is doing, even from a distance and under poor lighting conditions

“I think the 160X is the best compressor for drums that I’ve found. You just give it a little bit on the kick and snare while you’re recording and it brings them into focus. I don’t think you can find anything better for kick and snare — they’re amazing! You can really slam them too! I love the fact that they have a really quick recovery, and you can exaggerate it if you need to” – Glenn Ballard

“The 160X is about the best bang-for-your buck compressor that you can get”

“The 160x/xt is fantastic. Don’t be fooled by the price. You should buy one whatever happens”

“160X’s have that unique ability to be aggressive with grit that few compressors have”

The 160X is famous as a drum compressor. It adds punch & attitude to kicks & snares and is excellent for squashing overheads and ambience mics. Use a pair for drum bus parallel compression and you’ll have instant punch to beef up the drum mix. The 160X is superb for bass guitars and synths – it’s one of my favourites for bass guitar as it sits the bass just where you want it without killing the dynamics

The 160X is definitely a compressor with its own sound. It’s not a transparent, invisible compressor, but more like a giant hand that grabs hold of the signal to bend & twist it. The Americans call the 160X a “color compressor”. I can’t argue with that description as it adds colour and aggression to any signal that passes through it. It doesn’t suit every situation but it’s a hard compressor to live without once you’ve used one

I tested these 160Xs on drum loops and bass guitar and got superb results with both. With loops, the threshold setting is critical – too much compression and it can kill the dynamics. With the right threshold setting, and appropriate choice of hard knee or over-easy, the 160X adds snap to drums and tightens up loops. On bass guitar you can dial up quite large amounts of compression, adding colour and growl to the sound

The 160X is a great tool for parallel compression. It’s also worth experimenting with the dbx and another, softer, compressor in the signal chain

The dbx 160XT sits at #3 in my revised Compressor Top Ten

  1. UREI 1176
  2. UREI LA-2A
  3. dbx 160XT
  4. SSL 4000E Bus Compressor
  5. Fatso EL7X
  6. Distressor EL8X
  7. Valley People Dynamite
  8. Gain Brain
  9. dbx 163X
  10. FMR Really Nice Compressor

Inputs & outputs are on jacks and on a barrier strip with screw terminals. Pairs of 160Xs can be stereo linked via a back-panel jack socket and the link switch on the front panel. 160X models will link with other 160X and 160XT models but not with the 160A

The 160X can be retrofitted with an output transformer made by Jensen Transformers. Stereo strapping and sidechain inputs are on jacks and there's a ground lift switch for the input. Power input is via a fixed 2-core power cable with a new 3 Amp fused UK power plug

1U rackmount

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1U each

Pair of vintage dbx 160X compressors with close serial numbers selected as a stereo pair. Supplied with a stereo link cable. These have been refurbished, pots & switches cleaned & lubricated, cases repainted and metering aligned. They have been switched to 220 Volts for the UK & Europe and new UK power plugs fitted. Euro power plugs available on request

In good vintage condition with minor front panel marks. Tested & working 100%. Photos show a pair sold previously