Blues Series Compressor/Limiter

Since its inception the 160S has become the mark for which other compressors reach. As the leader in VCA and compressor design and engineering, we at dbx are always seeking to improve our products and give you the best possible compression solutions. With the newly improved 160SL, we introduce the patent-pending AutoVelocity technology. With AutoVelocity it is now easier than ever to dial up the exact attack and release effect you are looking for, via the program-dependent, or non program dependent manual mode. Still on board is the venerable dbx Auto mode. Now you can set your maximum preferred settings in manual mode, and let the 160SL do the rest for you, depending on your program material. 

The same striking blue front panel machined from 1/4" aircraft aluminum, handcrafted solid aluminum knobs, LEDs mounted individually in machined stainless steel housings, custom VU meters with peak indicators, and heavy gauge chassis still mark the 160SL as the leader for decades to come. The 160SL combines the best features of all the great dbx compressors, past and present, and gives you more versatile performance than ever before. In addition to having the auto attack and release as well as the hard knee threshold characteristics of the classic dbx 160, the 160SL now offers AutoVelocity manual mode, in addition to our classic OverEasy® mode, made standard by the classic dbx 165A. And speaking of the 165A, all of its features, including variable attack and release controls, as well as dbx's latest limiting algorithm PeakStopPlus, are included in the 160SL.

The heart of any dynamics processor is its VCA. The dbx 160SL is no different. It features dual proprietary V8 VCA modules. This state-of-the-art implementation of dbx's original Blackmer decilinear VCA boasts an unheard-of 127dB dynamic range and ultra-low distortion. Encased in a specially designed aluminum-zinc housing for shielding and thermal characteristics, the V8 maintains its superior performance in harsh environments. The new 160S takes full advantage of the most technologically superior components available today. Premium active electronics, precision 0.1% and 1% metal film resistors, great sounding temperature stable polypropylene capacitors, high-reliability board-to-board connectors with gold-palladium-nickel contacts, Jensen® transformers, gold plated Neutrik® XLRs, rare earth magnet relays with gold contacts in a hermetically sealed nitrogen environment, military grade glass epoxy circuit boards, to mention a few, contribute to the most technologically advanced compressor in the world.


·       Patent-pending AutoVelocity™ circuit

·       127dB of Dynamic Range

·       High-Drive output transformer circuit drives 1000 ft. of Belden® cable at +30dBu with only .007% THD

·       Switchable between Hard-knee and OverEasy® Compression

·       Program-dependent "Auto," AutoVelocity™ or fully variable attack ad release manual modes


Input Connectors

Female XLR Pin 2 hot, pin 1 lift switch

Input Type

Electronically balanced/unbalanced, RF filtered

Input Impedance

Balanced > 20 k ohm, unbalanced > 10 k ohm

Max Input

>+30dBu balanced, > +26dBu unbalanced


>100dB 20 Hz to 200 Hz, >80dB 200 Hz to 2 kHz, >60dB 2 kHz to 20 kHz

Output Connectors

Male XLR Pin 2 hot

Output Type

Transformer balanced/unbalanced, RF filtered

Output Impedance

Balanced 50ohm, unbalanced 25ohm

Max Output

Bal >+30dBm (into 600 ohm); Unbalanced (with UNBAL switch engaged) >+24dBm (into 600 ohm)

Sidechain Input Connector

Female XLR Pin 2 hot

Sidechain Input Type

Electronically balanced/unbalanced, RF filtered

Sidechain Impedance

Balanced >20 k ohm, unbalanced >10k ohm

Sidechain Max Input Level

>+30dBu balanced or unbalanced

Sidechain Output Connector

Male XLR Pin 2 hot

Sidechain Output Type

Unbuffered, hard-wired to INPUT, RF filtered


01dB: 20 Hz to 20 kHz +0/-0.1dB, no gain reduction, unity gain; 1.0dB: <4 Hz to >40 kHz +0/-1.0dB, no

gain reduction, unity gain

Frequency Response

<2 Hz to >200 kHz +0/-3.0dB, no gain reduction, unity gain


<-92dBu, unweighted, 20 Hz to 20 kHz measurement bandwidth

Dynamic Range



0.008% typical at +4dBu, 1kHz, unity gain; 0.05% typical at +30dBu, 1kHz, unity gain; <0.1% any amount

of compression up to 30dB, 1kHz


<0.02% SMPTE 4:1, no gain reduction, unity gain

Deviation From Linear Phase

<1.0 degree, <10 Hz to 200 kHz, 30dB of compression

Interchannel Crosstalk

<-100dB, 20 Hz to 20 kHz


dbx V8™

VCA Dynamic Range


VCA THD + Noise

0.006% typical at +4dBu, 1 kHz, unity gain

Stereo Coupling

True RMS Power Summing

Compressor Threshold Range

-40 to +30dBu

Compressor Ratio

1:1 to Infinity:1

Compressor Threshold Characteristic

Selectable OverEasy® or hard knee

Compressor Attack/Release Modes

Selectable Manual or Auto

Compressor Manual Attack Time

Scalable program-dependent. Typically 400dB/msec to 1dB/msec

Compressor Manual Release Time

Scalable program-dependent. Typically 4000dB/sec to 10dB/sec

Compressor Auto Attack Time

Program-dependent, typically 15 ms for 10dB, 5 ms for 20dB, 3 ms for 30dB

Compressor Auto Release Time

Program-dependent, typically 120dB/sec

Compressor Output Gain

-20 to +20dB

Limiter Threshold Range

+4dBu to >+30dBu (off)

Limiter Ratio


Limiter Type

PeakStopPlus® two-stage limiter

Limiter Stage 1

Instantaneous Transient Clamp

Limiter Stage 1 Attack Time


Limiter Stage 1 Release Time


Limiter Stage 2

Intelligent Predictive Limiting

Limiter Stage 2 Attack Time

Program dependent, typically <5 msec.

Limiter Stage 2 Release Time

Program dependent, typically 22dB/sec


3.5” H X 19” W X 11.25” D

Unit Weight

20.5 lbs (9.3 kg)

Shipping Weight

25.0 lbs (11.3 kg)


0dBu = 0.775Vrms 

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