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DBX 160A: Is the hardware worth over plug-ins?
Old 12th January 2018
  #1
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DBX 160A: Is the hardware worth over plug-ins?

DBX 160A: Is the hardware worth over plug-ins?

Plug-ins have the advantage of being automatable. But is it necessary with the DBX 160A?
Old 12th January 2018
  #2
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If you want to use it while tracking, yes the hardware is worth it. And I can't remember the last time I automated a compressor, but maybe other people do it all the time.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
If you want to use it while tracking, yes the hardware is worth it. And I can't remember the last time I automated a compressor, but maybe other people do it all the time.
Automating e.g. the threshold can make a compressor behave better since they don't have to do so much GR. It's large GR that often causes pumping, but not if one automatizes the threshold accordingly.

Also, with percussions and "attacky" strings I've noticed that it's often necessary to automate the attack time, so that the attacks of the instruments sound similar.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundmodel View Post
Automating e.g. the threshold can make a compressor behave better since they don't have to do so much GR. It's large GR that often causes pumping, but not if one automatizes the threshold accordingly.
So you play through a song and write automation while you ride the compressor's threshold up and down? That might be worth doing, but it doesn't sound like much fun.

Quote:
Also, with percussions and "attacky" strings I've noticed that it's often necessary to automate the attack time, so that the attacks of the instruments sound similar.
I don't know about strings, but with drums and such if there's a hit that's noticeably too hard or soft, I'll just paste in a good one. At any rate, the 160a doesn't have an adjustable attack time.
Old 12th January 2018
  #5
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Maybe I'm missing the boat here? but I've never heard of nor seen anyone automating a compessor's threshold in plugin land. That's just seems like too much work.

Besides, that's what the side-chain is for, e.g. to mitigate pumping on certain material. Now I have heard of bypassing, then turning on a comp in particular sections to create a certain sound say in the choruses or hook.

I only used the 160 a few times in HW land many moons ago but whenever I slap on the Waves version ITB, I almost always wind up taking it off. Slight correction, I always take it off after AB'ing with other plugin comps...like 100% of the time! So take that for what its worth...


Oh. IMVHO, YMMV of course.
Old 12th January 2018
  #6
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hardware owner here ... for tracking .. or hardware insert .. but i agree with the other Cats (meow) .. automating is something i do not do for plugin comps .. are maybe just not how you are describing it .. but everyone has a different way of doing things .. i would probably edit the gain on the track going to the compressor so it behaves the way i want it to .. that kind if thing ..
Old 12th January 2018
  #7
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I have the hardware (160X and 560a) and the Waves plugin as well. Hardware is slightly better, software is close enough. In a whole mix, I don’t think anyone could tell the difference.

I track with it on snare (160x), and guitars (560a). I use the software for kick and sometimes drum buss (yup).
Old 12th January 2018
  #8
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Hardware tracker here. Never looked back, especially light compression going in.
Old 12th January 2018
  #9
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Stillwell makes a great 160 plugin. I sold my 160Xs since I got the plugin.
Old 12th January 2018
  #10
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I like the waves 160. one of their more satisfying models in my book. it only sees occasional use, but does what I expect from the HW, which I've only used a few times.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Maybe I'm missing the boat here? but I've never heard of nor seen anyone automating a compessor's threshold in plugin land. That's just seems like too much work.

Besides, that's what the side-chain is for, e.g. to mitigate pumping on certain material. Now I have heard of bypassing, then turning on a comp in particular sections to create a certain sound say in the choruses or hook.

I only used the 160 a few times in HW land many moons ago but whenever I slap on the Waves version ITB, I almost always wind up taking it off. Slight correction, I always take it off after AB'ing with other plugin comps...like 100% of the time! So take that for what its worth...


Oh. IMVHO, YMMV of course.
(Not 160 related, but) I just recently mixed a song with an acoustic guitar that went from lighter pick to strumming with dramatically different levels. I automated the threshold. Not a common technique for me but I’m sure it’s not the first time I’ve done it.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesewhiteman View Post
I automated the threshold. Not a common technique for me but I’m sure it’s not the first time I’ve done it.
Having mentally "walked back through the catalogue," I'm pretty sure that every time this has come up for me I just divvied it up into 2 tracks. I'm lazy.
Old 12th January 2018
  #13
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But yeah, I’m not worried about a compressor being automatable.

I think the correct answer is yes, it’s worth having for tracking. And 160a or 560 price of admission is nothing prohibitive.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Having mentally "walked back through the catalogue," I'm pretty sure that every time this has come up for me I just divvied it up into 2 tracks. I'm lazy.
I thought I was being lazy.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesewhiteman View Post
(Not 160 related, but) I just recently mixed a song with an acoustic guitar that went from lighter pick to strumming with dramatically different levels. I automated the threshold. Not a common technique for me but I’m sure it’s not the first time I’ve done it.
Along the same lines, I only occasionally automate threshold. Automation on clip gains (pre-insert naturally) is settled and resolves most of that need usually well in advance of any fine tuning on the compressor.
Sometime on a track with large shifts in 'voice or app (roll in the mix) -guitars sometimes do this, compressor's roll may change for example.

Fairly familiar with the 160 here and still use it for tracking occasionally, but with several plugs available that could'd cover it, I wouldn't go back out to use it.
Old 12th January 2018
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundmodel View Post
DBX 160A: Is the hardware worth over plug-ins?

Plug-ins have the advantage of being automatable. But is it necessary with the DBX 160A?
Those things seemed to have gone way up in price lately. I wonder why?
I use mine pretty often when tracking snare. I just like a tad of it though, seems to add a tough character, but it changes the transient too much if it hits harder than and db or 2 at 2:1. Is there even a software 160a? Its quite differnt from the vu model.
Old 12th January 2018
  #17
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Funny how people readily mix up 160's and 160a/x/xt's, what with them being entirely different devices.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Funny how people readily mix up 160's and 160a/x/xt's, what with them being entirely different devices.
The 160a/x/xt are not that entirely different. I am not sure about the original 160 though.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CurseesConnect View Post
The 160a/x/xt are not that entirely different. I am not sure about the original 160 though.
The difference lies in those three and the original 160 indeed.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenNeedle View Post
Those things seemed to have gone way up in price lately. I wonder why?
I don't know about "way up lately," but the 500 version is less than half which makes the 160a seem pricy.

Quote:
Is there even a software 160a?
If you're on PT, the stock compressor has a knee behavior that's really close, but more adjustable.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesewhiteman View Post
(Not 160 related, but) I just recently mixed a song with an acoustic guitar that went from lighter pick to strumming with dramatically different levels. I automated the threshold. Not a common technique for me but I’m sure it’s not the first time I’ve done it.

Yeah after rereading my post I apologize. Didn't mean to come off as a "know-it-all". As another posted said there really are no rules. I did mean what I said when I said it seems like too much work though (for me) to automate threshold's on plugin comps.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Having mentally "walked back through the catalogue," I'm pretty sure that every time this has come up for me I just divvied it up into 2 tracks. I'm lazy.

Bingo! This is exactly how I handle it in the DAW. Why wouldn't anyone just mult the track and then do mute automation on the channel with unlimited tracks these days?

Also, what do you do when you need to tweak the mix on revision per client request? What if they say..."uh, that sound right there" (points to the track you just spent two hours automating the compressor threshold for) is just a hair too soft. Can you raise the level a bit? (answering my own question)...I suppose you could automate the compressor output level at that point? This is becoming a slippery slope now.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
Along the same lines, I only occasionally automate threshold. Automation on clip gains (pre-insert naturally) is settled and resolves most of that need usually well in advance of any fine tuning on the compressor.


This too ^^^. I guess I just never really think about automating compressor thresholds because one of the things I do by rote when prepping tracks for mixing is to lower the gain on parts that just explode with volume shifts, like when the guitarist hits his stomp pedal and the guitar all of a sudden rises like 18db in level for the solo. But then again I'm apt to split the part and treat them as two separate tracks anyways.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
What if they say..."uh, that sound right there" (points to the track you just spent two hours automating the compressor threshold for) is just a hair too soft. Can you raise the level a bit?
In PT, automate gain in Trim Mode for specific spots, For an overall volume change stick in a Trim plug.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
In PT, automate gain in Trim Mode for specific spots, For an overall volume change stick in a Trim plug.

Pardon my ignorance (never really tried this before) but wouldn't that still have an effect on the threshold's input level?
Old 12th January 2018
  #25
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If you have N3 or N4, another option is TimP's comp...



n60a - Tim Petherick

Has parallel mix, HPF and knee control. Can run something through it for you if that helps.

Nebula is €230 though, you're not far off the HW price if you have to buy that too :¬) It has some gems though.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Pardon my ignorance (never really tried this before) but wouldn't that still have an effect on the threshold's input level?
With trim or regular old gain automation on PT audio and aux tracks, the change occurs on the back end, after the inserts. So no if you're automating gain, also no if you put a Trim plug after the compressor.

Not that you asked, but this is as opposed to a PT Master, where the fader pushes into the plugins. So if you have, say, a Master governing your mix bus and a mastering comp inserted, when you push the fader up you hit the comp harder. Big difference.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b0se View Post
If you have N3 or N4, another option is TimP's comp...



n60a - Tim Petherick

Has parallel mix, HPF and knee control. Can run something through it for you if that helps.

Nebula is €230 though, you're not far off the HW price if you have to buy that too :¬) It has some gems though.
Cool.

I think Nebula is a very worthy platform though. It gets closer to the "real things" in many cases. And many of the libraries are free or low-cost.

Only through Nebula am I able to use such hardware that I cannot currently afford.
Old 12th January 2018
  #28
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The only threshold I would bother automating is a comp on the mix bus so verse and chorus both get hugged right.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundmodel View Post
Cool.

I think Nebula is a very worthy platform though. It gets closer to the "real things" in many cases. And many of the libraries are free or low-cost.

Only through Nebula am I able to use such hardware that I cannot currently afford.
Yeah, once you buy into the platform you get serious value for money with the libraries. It's neat that the pre's are separate (with Tim's stuff), you can opt for a compression style but keep the compression clean. Or insert the pre and dial in the exact amount.
Old 12th January 2018 | Show parent
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Yeah after rereading my post I apologize. Didn't mean to come off as a "know-it-all". As another posted said there really are no rules. I did mean what I said when I said it seems like too much work though (for me) to automate threshold's
No offense taken. I agree with what I think is your general point. It would be pretty nuts to be riding a compressor’s threshold throughout a whole song like you would a vocal. It is nice to have the option to tho.
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