The Voiceover Artist’s Friend

The dbx 286s is a full featured channel strip that includes a studio quality microphone/instrument preamplifier and four processors that can be used independently or in any combination. For less than $200, it has become the faithful friend of thousands of voiceover artists throughout the world.

Some professional audio gear just catches on with a segment of the market. That’s the case with the dbx 286s, which is a low-cost processor for the human voice that we hear on broadcasts everyday. In this day of plugins, it’s a hardware component that just works.

Patching together multiple processors for use on one track can be a hassle. The dbx unit delivers the entire microphone processing chain needed in a single box, with the shortest, cleanest signal path.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

It includes wide-ranging input gain control, switchable +48V phantom power and an 80Hz high-pass filter to remove low frequency hum, rumble or wind. The dbx OverEasy compressor can transparently smooth out uneven acoustic tracks, or deliver the classic "in your face" vocal performance. Vocal sibilance can be tamed or eliminated and high frequency distortion removed with the frequency tunable De-Esser.

The Enhancer provides both HF Detail and LF Detail controls that can add sparkle and crispness to vocals, while making adjustments to the low frequencies for adding fullness and depth to vocals. Muddy low midrange frequencies can be cleaned and the separate threshold and ratio controls on the expander/gate allow for subtly reducing headphone leakage.

The channel strip provides a full complement of metering and status LEDs. The XLR microphone input accepts balanced or unbalanced inputs, allowing for easily connecting professional or home studio microphones.

A ¼-inch TRS line input can accept balanced/unbalanced signals to process pre-recorded tracks at mix-down, while an insert jack provides access to the signal flow between the preamp and the processing sections for connection to external processors.

There are few pro audio components at under $200 that can make this level of difference with the human voice. From broadcasting, podcasting to voiceover studios, the dbx 286s has become a staple of the industry and a much desired audio processor.

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