160SL (discontinued)

Blues Series Compressor/Limiter

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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.

Recommended for: Portable, Tour, Studio.


  • 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


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file type icon 160SL Cut Sheet-English
en updated: Feb 2024
  en  497 KB Feb 2024
file type icon White Paper
en updated: Feb 2024
  en  129 KB Feb 2024

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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
CMRR >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
Bandwidth 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
Noise <-92dBu, unweighted, 20 Hz to 20 kHz measurement bandwidth
Dynamic Range >122dB
THD+Noise 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
IMD <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
VCA dbx V8™
VCA Dynamic Range >127dB
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 4:1
Limiter Type PeakStopPlus® two-stage limiter
Limiter Stage 1 Instantaneous Transient Clamp
Limiter Stage 1 Attack Time Zero
Limiter Stage 1 Release Time Zero
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
Dimensions 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)
Reference 0dBu = 0.775Vrms



160SL (discontinued)

Blues Series Compressor/Limiter