If you’ve ever set up or played in a recording studio, it’s no doubt you’ve come across Dbx products. Their series of compressors and audio electronics helped pave the way for modern day recording techniques and best practices. When founder David Blackmer figured out the human ear could actually respond to a greater range of frequencies than originally thought, he began to work to change the form. This sparked the creation of a whole range of sound reproduction gear that inspired this ground-breaking discovery.
Two contributions that made an impact were the voltage controlled amplifier (VCA) and the root mean square (RMS) detector. Blackmer’s VCAs and RMS units were built with discrete transistors that were able to run at much a higher temperature without cutting out, which was an improvement over other units at the time. Despite having a bit of distortive qualities at first, these components began to be incorporated into early automated mixing boards.
With these new component improvements, Dbx began to get into compressor construction. Using these state-of-the-art elements, Dbx created the 160 which allowed for a much smoother gain reduction. Compression could be infinite without an abundance of distortion. This unit could also track the attack and release times based on the signal alone. Dbx compressors from there on had these solid benefits as well as a built-in noise-gate that gives you the opportunity to shut off when the decibels went below a certain level. This was a very handy feature for a busy recording session as it helped protect your equipment.
You don’t have to be a professional studio to incorporate Dbx technology into your at-home set up. Incorporating a compressor into your setup allows you to narrow your recording’s dynamic range and control volume fluctuations with dynamite accuracy, which is a benefit to any level of recording artist.
Dbx has always had a taste for innovation and their wide category of compressors, loud speaker management systems, equalizers and even preamps proves that. Their focused beginning allowed them to influence the construction of compressors and by association, the recording industry itself… and now you can enjoy it from the comfort of your own home.