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DBX 286s - embrassing newbie question

I have only had the DBX 286s since yesterday, and I really am not a technical guy. So forgive me if you have a "But this is so obvious" reaction.

I first had a look at the 'Set The DBX 286s For Great Voice Overs!' video on YouTube by Lenny B and it seemed very helpful and fairly straightforward, but then these things never turn out that way for me.

I've connected the microphone (sE X1s) to the Dbx286. I've connected the Dbx to my Audient iD4, and the orange phantom power on the Dbx led is lit; the green 80Hz High-Pass is lit, and the red threshold led is lit. Processing is NOT being bypassed.

And I can play back recordings I make in my Home Booth with Reaper (I only do voicework - no instrumentation).

So what's the problem? The problem is I need convincing that the Dbx processing side of things is actually taking place. I live on my own and I can't see what's happening with the settings of the Dbx 20 feet away on a desk, when I am recording in my Home Vocal Booth.

I just have this nagging doubt whether the DBX strip processing is actually taking place. Why? Because my home Vocal Booth setup is good, recordings were already pretty good using just the microphone and Audient iD4 before I got the Dbx.

And now the recordings with the Dbx 286 sound good - yet all I've done is just put the various settings on the different dials approximately to where Lenny B had them in that video.

I am having a hard time believing that, copying that video, I just happened to hit on a good combinations of settings for all the dials , despite basically no experimentation, for my space/voice/microphone combination.

How do I know for sure that Dbx286 processing is actually taking place??? If those red orange and green leds are lit and process bypass is not engaged - does that prove that processing is definitely taking place??

I 'd hate to think that I was somehow reverting to what I got anyway with the sE x1s/Audient iD4 combination, and that Dbx 286 processing is not actually taking place...



  • HARMAN_EEldeHARMAN_EElde Posts: 1,366

    The easiest way to determine this is to make two recordings with the processor bypassed vs with it in line and comparing it A/B. you may not be hearing a difference because your existing equipment is already good.

  • DeclanMcDeclanMc Posts: 2

    Thanks Harman_EElde.

    I am getting someone who knows the dbx286 to have a look at my situation - and progress is being made with the settings.

    I think there is some truth in what you say about my existing equipment possibly being pretty good, plus my Vocal Booth is very solid, and that all makes it harder to spot improvements the dbx might be making.

  • scytechscytech Posts: 148

    In your situation, I suggest to initially record a test vocal track in Reaper, straight (no processing), to have a baseline for your tests. However, any recorded vocal (or instrument track, for that matter) track will do! We only need to be able to loop and monitor the track.

    Next, we need the dbx to act as though it's in process mode only : A rear panel diagram suggests some ways that the insert jack can be used for, such as, that it can be configured as an effects loop and bypassing the preamp section, if necessary. OK; The insert jack acts like a normalized break jack and can be used as an effects return jack connection for the 286 process section input, bypassing effectively the preamp section.

    Idea : Build your own specialized 1/4" line cable : 1/4" unbalanced (TS: tip, shield)) connector to a 1/4" stereo (TRS: tip, ring, shield) connector, wired unbalanced to ring and shield connections; Note : Tip connection is not used.

    Disconnect cable end from one side of audio output and connect to 286 output connection. Connect audio output (TS) to 286 insert jack (TRS), as discussed above. From audio output to 286 Process input; then, from 286 Output to 'monitor' input.

    While the 286 is in Process Bypass on mode, monitor that looped track is playing through the 286. Turn Process Bypass mode off. Adjust output Gain to level match input (non-processed input level). Adjust parameters to taste and level match output!

    As you can see, you can test and adjust processing in real time. Once you have a good handle on the outcome remove special cable and reroute outputs as necessary. For this process, you don't even have to remove your preamp connections! Removing special cable re-establishes normalized operation.

    Just another way to listen to your compressor's operation.

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