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 DBX 119 Review
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teainthesahara Offline
Active Member


Joined: 17 Feb 2004
Posts: 84
Location: Toronto


PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2004 7:31 pm    Post subject: DBX 119 Review Reply with quote

I’ve gotten to know this piece of gear over an 8 month time span, and I think it’s a worthy compressor to talk about and consider for the project studio. When I decided to buy one of these, there were really no reviews, but sporadic comments here and there from people who used it. So here’s my take on this unit:

Construction: These things are about 30 years old, and the build quality is solid (metal top, bottom, front and back, with a stained wood panel sides). Even with the wood panels, you can fit 3 of them side by side in a rack. The knobs are plastic/metal.

Features: The 119 comes with a single knob to control compression or expansion, one threshold control, and a “mode” switch that lets you choose between it s ‘normal’ compression behaviour and ‘linear’ mode. The ‘normal’ mode is what I’ve been using exclusively; after listening to the linear mode, I got the impression that it was more suited for the intended function of this unit when it was in production (manipulating dynamic range for vinyl to cassette recordings done on home stereo systems). There’s a single LED that turns on when the signal gets to threshold, and gets increasingly brighter as the unit does more work on the signal. The unit is stereo (it will run in mono with one input used), unbalanced, and uses RCA jacks. It has the same VCA as the 160VU, and just like the 160VU, it has no attack or release controls.

Sound: I’ve used this on vocals, guitar, bass and drums, and compared it to both hardware (symetrix 501, 528) and software (Waves RenComp) compressors. Although there is no bypass, the 119 passes signal pretty much true to the source when the threshold is set to it’s highest, and the compression to 1.0. If there was any alteration, it was not obvious through my monitors, or with the gain staging I employed while using it. In general, I found that it gave good sounding compression, and was a nice complement to the other compressors listed above. A light to moderate (1.2-1.3) ratio, combined with a threshold that just tickled the signal can result in tight, decent vocal tracks. The attack on the thing seems slow enough to let the peaks in well enough so vocals don’t get “smeary”. With moderate to extreme settings, you can get pretty cool effects. It does a good job at adding some punch to bass lines. Electric guitars and drums (snare and overheads) in particular sound great when squashed through this thing – the pumping effect produced is pretty musical.

Drawbacks: There’s no make-up gain. At extreme settings, you will lose LOTS of db’s! It’s easy to bring the level back up in the DAW however – although this is where noise can start to creep in I suppose. I haven’t had any noise problems yet.

Cost: You shouldn’t pay more than 50$ in North America. I’ve got 3 of them, ranging from 40 to 90 US$ a piece. The most expensive one was in mint cosmetic condition, and they all sound the same. Basically, their cheap, work good, and look cool! Their a good way to get some of that ‘vintage dbx sound’ (if that’s what floats your boat) practically without really paying for it!!!


 

dbx 119.jpg

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Dethska Offline
...the other WATYF


Joined: 11 Nov 2003
Posts: 8577
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Age: 39


PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2004 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the review! Very informative.
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Alan Rutlidge Offline
Newbie


Joined: 27 Jan 2005
Posts: 1


PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 8:52 pm    Post subject: handbook for DBX119 Reply with quote

Just wondering if anyone here has a handbook for the DBX119 or knows where I might be able to obtain one. Bought a used DBX119 recently but the owner had lost the handbook Sad

Cheers,
Alan
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teainthesahara Offline
Active Member


Joined: 17 Feb 2004
Posts: 84
Location: Toronto


PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2005 2:45 pm    Post subject: Re: handbook for DBX119 Reply with quote

Alan Rutlidge wrote:
Just wondering if anyone here has a handbook for the DBX119 or knows where I might be able to obtain one. Bought a used DBX119 recently but the owner had lost the handbook Sad

Cheers,
Alan


I dont have a manual, but im very familiar with the features...what did you need to know? Or did you just want a copy...i would be interested in getting one of those as well.

Cheers,
T
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hansmark Offline
Newbie


Joined: 20 Mar 2009
Posts: 1


PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have one of these: the biggest irritation is that, in stereo, there is cross-bleed, making your stereo signal a little more mono.
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