Outboard Update: dbx 162 Stereo/Compressor Limiter


Admit it, you always wanted one – from the first moment you knew what a compressor was, the dbx 160 held its own mystique.

Launched in 1976, the 160 stands as the first ever solid-state VCA compressor, and it proved to be a workhorse with soul. It wasn’t priced so high as to be out of reach, but it also had a distinct sound that wasn’t for everyone. The 160 packed plenty of character thanks to its famed nonlinearities, notoriously extreme compression characteristics, and deceptively simple control set.

Put us in the camp of dbx 160 lovers at BB4, but you know we can’t just do things by the book. That’s why went a little different, with our dbx 162 stereo compressor/limiter that links two vintage dbx 160’s together in one 2RU unit. Prepared just for us by our friends at Vintage King – who did an amazing job cleaning/repairing/testing our unit -- the dbx 162 is a new addition to our tracking and mix rig that you want to get your ears on.    

Renowned for its ability to bring big textures into the low end and a satisfying snare thwack, we’re stuck on the glue of the 162. “This has become our main compressor for kick drums, bass, and synth bass,” says Kiara Mudd, Studio Manager for BB4. “It makes kick drums punchy and gives bass a fat sound.”

Mixers working at BB4 have discovered the deep appeal of the dbx 162, engaging it for electronic, prog metal, and much more. It’s a fit here because we’re not trying to be all mix rooms to everybody – this is a studio with a sound, and the dbx 162 fits right in.

“The dbx is well-complemented to our TK Audio BC1-S Stereo Bus compressor, which has some great aggressive qualities, and our 1176 custom limiter,” Mudd notes. “It’s an important aspect of what BB4 offers: that fat, warm, analog sound from ‘70’s and ‘80’s hip hop, rock and R&B.”


David Weiss