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dbx® 160 Compressor / Limiter

The classic fast-attack VCA compressor, perfect for drums and bass
Image for dbx® 160 Compressor / Limiter

Iconic Punch for Drums. Fat Textures for Everything.


The dbx 160’s VCA-based compression was a clean break with previous designs. Its savagely fast attack and fresh transparency made it an instant hit, whether used conservatively to add fullness, or slammed for pumping. The dbx 160 became the sound of drums and bass compression.

Designed in close collaboration with dbx®, the dbx 160 models the original hardware’s sound with absolute accuracy, enhancing it with new features designed for the needs of modern studios.

  • Delivers the power and punch of classic 70s drum compression
  • Fat, thick textures perfect for drums, bass, synth, acoustic guitar
  • Adds aggression to everything from a drum bus to a rap vocal
  • Straightforward controls dial in the right sounds quickly and easily
  • Mix control added for quick parallel compression
  • Sidechain hi-pass filter added for a full low end on kick and bass
  • Linked stereo, dual mono, or mid-side operation
  • Transparent sound with ultra-low distortion
Watch It in Action

Original Sound, Modern Flexibility

  • The Gold Standard for Drums

    With no attack or release controls, the 160’s signature sound was apparent as soon as you patched it in. The minimal coloration, fast attack, and ability to massage a signal gently—or crush it—set the standard for drums.

    Features: Glue Mixes without “Squashing”
  • But Not Just Drums

    The dbx 160 also gave power to vocals, but the smooth punch made it a hands-down favorite for bass. Now, Waves has added a sidechain highpass filter that keeps the low end full, even when slammed with maximum compression.

  • Tame the Transients… or Not

    The dbx 160 plugin adds a mix control for easy parallel compression. Dial back to reduce transients and bring up the sound’s body, or choose only compressed sound for the 160’s distinctive, clean, transformerless character.

    Features: Fast and Efficient Operation
  • Flexible, Modern Matrixing

    Modern additions include a mid-side matrix for processing mid and sides individually, a linked stereo mode not available in the original, and a dual mono option for processing the right and left channels independently.

    Features: From Vocals to “The Ringo Drum Sound”
  • It’s a Line Amplifier, Too

    Bring down the compression, turn up the threshold, and you’ll hear the subtle sound of the modeled analog signal path. For an extra air of authenticity with any control settings, turn up the compressor’s noise parameter.

    Features: Multiple Modes Fit Different Material

dbx is a trademark of Harman International.