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dbx 160 used on most 80s hard&heavy songs for guitar?
Old 6th September 2018
  #1
Gear Head
 

dbx 160 used on most 80s hard&heavy songs for guitar?

Im a guitar player, Id like to know if its true that the dbx160 was most used for electric guitar tracks in the 80s for hard&heavy songs.
Im referring to Whitesnake, Iron Maiden, Dokken etc etc

Thanks a lot for any help on this
Old 6th September 2018
  #2
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12ax7's Avatar
 

It got used for a lotta things!

I think the original dbx 160 (VU) is the quintessential VCA compressor.
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Old 6th September 2018
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Maybe Mr. Wagener will chime in here as I believe he was responsible for some of the Dokken stuff. He definitely was responsible for some of my favorites from the 80's.
Old 7th September 2018
  #4
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127Riot's Avatar
 

Dbx

I own 6 pairs of Dbx 160 Comps in various versions.

They are great and very usable on all kinds of acoustically recorded music. Each version has a different kind of thing going on, yet they all have that Dbx Charm.

Pair of Dbx 160VU Comps - Full & Dimensional
Pair of Dbx 160XT Comps - Dirty & Crunchy
Pair of Dbx 160A Comps - Clean & Round

I like the 160XT Comps on distorting guitars.

It would not surprise me if many of the guitars in the era/style mentioned had the 160's on them.
Old 7th September 2018
  #5
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 127Riot View Post
I own 6 pairs of Dbx 160 Comps in various versions.

They are great and very usable on all kinds of acoustically recorded music. Each version has a different kind of thing going on, yet they all have that Dbx Charm.

Pair of Dbx 160VU Comps - Full & Dimensional
Pair of Dbx 160XT Comps - Dirty & Crunchy
Pair of Dbx 160A Comps - Clean & Round

I like the 160XT Comps on distorting guitars.

It would not surprise me if many of the guitars in the era/style mentioned had the 160's on them.
Interesting observations. I know the VU's well but don't have any because I don't like them. I have at least one pair of all 4 descendants (x, xt, a, and 560a) and I find them far more alike than different, aside from age-related deterioration issues. Maybe I can't discern the more subtle distinctions because I don't have the ears. And maybe it's just my particular units, but I wouldn't call xt's dirty and crunchy.

I think all of mine behave about the same on overdriven amps. If the amp's really overdriven, I don't see the point of more compression unless it's on a distant mic, pushing up the ringouts.
Old 7th September 2018
  #6
I never had a need to squash a squashed guitar sound. It already comes that way. The meters don't move.
Old 7th September 2018
  #7
Gear Head
 

thanks anyone for chiming in
Old 7th September 2018
  #8
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127Riot's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Interesting observations. I know the VU's well but don't have any because I don't like them. I have at least one pair of all 4 descendants (x, xt, a, and 560a) and I find them far more alike than different, aside from age-related deterioration issues. Maybe I can't discern the more subtle distinctions because I don't have the ears. And maybe it's just my particular units, but I wouldn't call xt's dirty and crunchy.

I think all of mine behave about the same on overdriven amps. If the amp's really overdriven, I don't see the point of more compression unless it's on a distant mic, pushing up the ringouts.

I agree that they do all sound alike overall, the differences I described are very noticeable.

The Dbx 160VU is like royalty compared to the later offerings. This is just my opinion based from my experience.

They all do the Dbx compression thing,

The XT has a crunch to it
The A has a modern cleaner sound
The VU has a thick dimensional sound

When I describe these characteristics I'm not just talking on distorted guitar I'm talking about over all on everything.

Im pretty sure you would hear these differences.
Old 7th September 2018
  #9
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 127Riot View Post
I agree that they do all sound alike overall, the differences I described are very noticeable.

The Dbx 160VU is like royalty compared to the later offerings. This is just my opinion based from my experience.

They all do the Dbx compression thing,

The XT has a crunch to it
The A has a modern cleaner sound
The VU has a thick dimensional sound

When I describe these characteristics I'm not just talking on distorted guitar I'm talking about over all on everything.

Im pretty sure you would hear these differences.
I'm actually kind of glad I lack your acuity. If I had it, I wouldn't just plug stuff in willy-nilly with no concern for the subtle differences, which is pretty much what I do.
Old 7th September 2018
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I'm actually kind of glad I lack your acuity. If I had it, I wouldn't just plug stuff in willy-nilly with no concern for the subtle differences, which is pretty much what I do.
There's no wrong way, that's for sure. I do admit that I try to get to know my gear as much as possible. Inside and out. Most importantly how it will affect the signal I put through it.

I have my gear on patch points I will pull up a guitar, bass, kik, snare, vocal, etc.. put it on a loop and patch through different Comps, eqs, etc dialing it in and out to listen to what it does, this is entertaining to me as pathetic as it might sound. After time it leaves an impression and I do not forget what it does.

When it comes time to do a mix I feel prepped. I know what signal chains fit well together in specific orders to reach the sound I hear for the mix in my head. I do not get stuck in my ways and I'm always trying different things.
Old 7th September 2018
  #11
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 127Riot View Post
I agree that they do all sound alike overall
I disagree with this statement.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 127Riot View Post
The Dbx 160VU is like royalty compared to the later offerings.
I agree with this statement.
.
Old 7th September 2018
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
I agree with Brent and Jim. Its very rare I compress distorted guitar. If its just a solo, sometimes compression can help for clarity, but rhythm guitar with a distorted amp 'compression' is usually covered by the amp itself.
Old 7th September 2018
  #13
I have a bunch of dbx 160VU, 160X and 160XT units in our mobile trucks.

The 160VU is magical. I love them on guitars, vocals, horns.

The 160X and 160XTs are mainly used for vocals in non-OverEasy mode. IMHO, the 160X is much better sounding than the 160XT. The compression is smoother. I've never used the 160A.
Old 8th September 2018
  #14
500 series nutjob
 
pan60's Avatar
 

i have never found much love for the 160?
tried a few differant ones to be honest never noticed big differance but never had the side by side?
i have a couple of the 560a comps and i not care for them. i think i got them when the first came out trieded a few times but they have never really found there way to a project.
i have far to many other comps that just so obviously out preform them. if i needed i would use them, but?
i know i am probably in a minority on this. LOL
Old 8th September 2018
  #15
Lives for gear
 

You can hear the dimensionality of the VU version here:

YouTube

I like 160s in general for live sound applications where you just need to rein things in, usually 4-6 dB max. Drums, vocals, guitars... works on everything and OverEasy makes it quick and easy to dial in.

When recording they are really nice just tucking in the kick drum a couple dB at 4:1 ratio. It’s really subtle but it always works for me — punchy but natural. I’d like to get a 165a to crunch up the snare.
Old 8th September 2018
  #16
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subspace's Avatar
I've tracked electric guitar through the 160XT since the late eighties, usually it was patched in to compress the clean parts but you'd lose the tone if you unpatched it when you got to the heavies.
Old 8th September 2018
  #17
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
The 160 (VU) was rarely used on guitars back in the 80's [I was there]. When compression was used [as Jim Williams, who was also there, pointed out it wasn't often employed on GTRs], it was most often an LA-4 and in some NY shops it was their modified [as in not "off the shelf"] 1176's.

The "A" and the "XT" were cute toys for bar room sound reinforcement but rarely found in serious studios. They also didn't exist in the 80's so obviously they weren't used on any 80's recordings you may be thinking about.

One of my personal favorite 80's guitar recording tricks was to put a VERY large amp [think 2x JCM-800 "full stacks" at a 90˚ angle along the walls] in a VERY small room [1.5 x 1.75 meters] and [literally] raise the air pressure in the room.

The natural compression was quite amazing [U-87 at the intersection of the center of each cabinet in "figure 8" with the "null" pointed at the corner of the two stacks]... learned that little trick from Andy Topeka when we were both working at Syncro Sound [the CARS old studio on Newbury St. in Boston].

Peace
Old 8th September 2018
  #18
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I had 160x's in 1981. Used them on lots of things.

The Marshalls in an iso thing sounds interesting.

"Literally raising the air pressure" is nonsense, but it makes for a good story.
Old 8th September 2018
  #19
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
"Literally raising the air pressure" is nonsense [...]
Ya think so?

...Ever heard of 'dB SPL'?

(Guess what the 'P' stands for.)
.

Last edited by 12ax7; 8th September 2018 at 11:07 PM.. Reason: Fixed link
Old 8th September 2018
  #20
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Interesting observations. I know the VU's well but don't have any because I don't like them. I have at least one pair of all 4 descendants (x, xt, a, and 560a) and I find them far more alike than different, aside from age-related deterioration issues. Maybe I can't discern the more subtle distinctions because I don't have the ears. And maybe it's just my particular units, but I wouldn't call xt's dirty and crunchy.

I think all of mine behave about the same on overdriven amps. If the amp's really overdriven, I don't see the point of more compression unless it's on a distant mic, pushing up the ringouts.
Ditto..

All of the LA session guys I worked with of a certain age all seemed to have a 160 variant (not vu) in their giant Mike Thompson/Lukather shrines (aka rolling racks)

I’m fact, I’ve been perma-loaned one such rack and it’s got all the go-to’s of that era... a 160x, CAE 3+ preamp, but 2150 a tc 2190... a couple different rack chorus and reverbs... it literally is almost identical to most pro rigs that I recall seeing in that era
Old 8th September 2018
  #21
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12ax7 View Post
Ya think so?
I know so. Unless those Marshalls came with scuba tanks. Speaker cones can shove air around but they can't create more of it.
Old 8th September 2018
  #22
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I know so. Unless those Marshalls came with scuba tanks. Speaker cones can shove air around but they can't create more of it.
Follow the link I gave you, and then argue with the scientists.
.
Old 8th September 2018
  #23
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12ax7 View Post
...
You're confusing acoustic pressure with atmospheric pressure.
Old 8th September 2018
  #24
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
You're confusing acoustic pressure with atmospheric pressure.
At the risk of this causing this thread to de-rail:

I am confusing NOTHING.

As the article I linked to says: "acoustic pressure is the local pressure deviation from the ambient (average or equilibrium) atmospheric pressure, caused by a sound wave."

In other words, the way those speaker cones "move air around" is by increasing the pressure, and then pulling back (thereby then reducing it to below the ambient pressure).

With a 1000Hz tone this will raise (and then lower) the air pressure 1000 times every second.

The aforementioned scuba tank does exactly the same thing (it just only does it once, and then stops).

Anyway, if we are to discuss this any further, I think one of us should start a new thread (as this has bugger-all to do with a dbx 160VU).
.
.
Old 8th September 2018
  #25
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12ax7 View Post
...
Yeah, but without introducing any more air into the room, it's a zero sum game. When air pressure rises in one spot in the room, it falls a little bit everywhere else.

But yes, let's say you win and let's stop.
Old 9th September 2018
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Powell View Post
The 160X and 160XTs are mainly used for vocals in non-OverEasy mode. IMHO, the 160X is much better sounding than the 160XT. The compression is smoother. I've never used the 160A.
The signal path in the X and XT is the same if you use the unbalanced outputs. The XT has additional 5534 opamps for the XLR balanced outs. The X output is unbalanced and the XT included that same circuit for it's TRS output jack. Yes, both are isolated and can be run at the same time.

There is a slight side chain difference. The X uses a single 10 uf low leakage electrolytic cap for the RMS detector chip timing. The XT uses the newer "non-linear capacitor" circuit that tracks mids and high frequencies more accurately.

In my experience, the non-linear timing circuit tracks better for vocals and transients. The X's simple 10 uf cap works better for kick and bass or any low frequency dominant sources.

The A version also uses the non-linear capacitor circuit with 5532 opamps. It tends to sound a bit darker partly due to the 20k hz filters it uses at each input and output.

Back 25 odd years ago one would find the 160X or XT's filling the racks in the mix rooms at Warner Bros. That's about all they ever used. 3 480's, 3 224XL's, some Harmonizers and those comps mixed all your favorite movies.
Old 9th September 2018
  #27
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I consider the original 160(VU) to be a true gem of a compressor!

(Nothing else sounds like it.)

...The subsequent models? Meh...

I don't think the later models should have even had the '160' designation at all. (I'd even go so far as to say that it borders on fraud.)

Its like the difference between Filet Mignon and Baloney!
.

Last edited by 12ax7; 9th September 2018 at 07:46 PM..
Old 9th September 2018
  #28
Gear Addict
 

The Jim Williams modded version make the 160's much more sonic-ally desirable imho. Classic DBX VCA compression but with a proper bandwidth!
Old 9th September 2018
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdd17 View Post
The Jim Williams modded version make the 160's much more sonic-ally desirable imho. Classic DBX VCA compression but with a proper bandwidth!
Which 160s?

I know that Jim's mods made the (phony) 160s sound better than 'stock', but I don't think they ever sound anything like the 160VU.
.
Old 10th September 2018
  #30
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gainreduction's Avatar
 

I'd guess the 160 might be responsible for some of those 80's drum sounds more than the guitars. I grew up in the 80's and later on, the first time I used an 160 it was like "oh, there it is... the 80's drum smack".
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