Recording - September 2015 - 45

of -4 dBu to + 22 dBu, and a programdependent attack and release.
In use
I'm like many engineers, in that dbx
compression has been part of my workflow for a long time. I used to own a vintage 161 unit, complete with the wood
panel sides, which I loved on all things
percussive. Various models of the 166
family have been a mainstay of my live
sound work for years. Currently I own,
use, and love the highest-end compressor
the company makes, the $5000 160SL; I
favor it on vocals, drums, acoustic guitar,
and even 2-bus work.
Needless to say, I know the dbx sound
well. I was quite pleased to see the 676
when it debuted at last year's 2014 AES
show in Los Angeles, and I was very interested to test-drive it in my studio.
Pushing the pre
The tube preamp on the 676 can go
from clean to gritty, depending on how
hard you push its input stage into the
tube. At 55 dB (maximum gain), the 676
can get a bit on the noisy side, especially with low-output ribbons and dynamic
mics, but on most sources it is not so bad
that it will become noticeable in a full
rock mix.
I found that for my tracking purposes
on vocals, acoustic guitars, amp cabinets, and various drum/percussion elements, the preamp's sweet spot was with
the input around 1 to 2 o'clock and the
output between 10 and 12 o'clock. In this
range the 676 gave a nice solid and forward sound that was clean, but offered a
nice little saturation on loud transients. I
should note that the well-written manual
offers some great starter settings, not only
for the preamp, but the EQ and compressor sections as well.
Tweaking the tone
While the EQ section is on the sparse
side when it comes to settings and features, the shelving bands are more than
adept at adding or subtracting weight
and at adding or lessening brightness
during tracking or mixing.
The mid section is well suited to beefing
up or carving out the mids in big strokes
on the wide Q setting. I also found the
narrow Q setting was great at notching
out offending tones, while still sounding
natural. I really liked the EQ on vocals as
well as on DI bass, an application at
which this unit does very well.
Comp this!
Functionally the compressor on the 676
was quite similar to a single channel of
my 160SL, with the new addition of the
Contour control. On vocals this compressor is fast, tight, and clean. I used the

same settings as I would on my 160SL:
4-8 dB of compression with a slow attack
(4 o'clock) and fast release (8 o'clock),
and a 3:1 ratio, which is my favorite
overall set-and-forget ratio when I use dbx
compressors.
I could also get great results with the
Overeasy button, depending on the style
and cadence of the vocal performance
and how hard I wanted it to pop out of
the mix. Auto mode can also be quite
nice on vocals as well.
dbx has long been known for making a
great snare and kick compressor, and this
unit is no exception. Punchy fast kicks
with lots of snap and thick-yet-tight snares
are a specialty. I don't do much with limiting in hardware, but the 676 limiter
works well and is fairly imperceptible at
reasonable settings if you need to prevent
overs or keep extreme transients in line.
Mix it up
Like any good channel strip, the 676 is
not only adept at tracking, but also great
as a mixdown tool. While it is designed
to be placed in the mixdown chain via
the 1/4" line input, I quite liked running
tracks back through the preamp section to
make use of the tube weight and saturation. All that was necessary to make this
application work flawlessy was to
engage the 20 dB pad to keep the line
input levels from clipping the unit.
Running through the tube stage on mixdown, I used the 676 on a Martin
acoustic guitar miked with an ADK Z-251
(review forthcoming). I pushed the input
just into clipping according to the red clip
LED. I then added about 10 dB of low
shelf, a touch of high shelf, and notched
out a bit of mids around 1800 Hz. I then
compressed it about 5 dB at 3:1 (that
magic ratio again!), only hitting the high
peaks. I set a very slow attack and a
medium-fast release set to the strumming
tempo. It instantly gave me a meaty, classic rock sound perfect for the gritty
Americana track I was mixing.
I also had great results adding vibe
and weight to some thinner vocal tracks.
This is a great rack for adding a bit of
magic to sources that need some help.
Conclusions
The 676 is a great addition to the dbx
line. It is almost worth its price for just the
compressor alone, which offers pure dbx
compression through and through. Add in
the mic preamp and EQ and you get a
solid workhorse channel strip, one that
can act as a full-fledged vibe box depending on how you set it. Cool stuff!
Price: $999.95
More from: dbx Professional,
www.dbxpro.com
RECORDING September 2015

45


http://www.royerlabs.com http://www.dbxpro.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2015

Contents
Recording - September 2015 - Intro
Recording - September 2015 - Cover1
Recording - September 2015 - Cover2
Recording - September 2015 - 1
Recording - September 2015 - 2
Recording - September 2015 - 3
Recording - September 2015 - 4
Recording - September 2015 - 5
Recording - September 2015 - Contents
Recording - September 2015 - 7
Recording - September 2015 - 8
Recording - September 2015 - 9
Recording - September 2015 - 10
Recording - September 2015 - 11
Recording - September 2015 - 12
Recording - September 2015 - 13
Recording - September 2015 - 14
Recording - September 2015 - 15
Recording - September 2015 - 16
Recording - September 2015 - 17
Recording - September 2015 - 18
Recording - September 2015 - 19
Recording - September 2015 - 20
Recording - September 2015 - 21
Recording - September 2015 - 22
Recording - September 2015 - 23
Recording - September 2015 - 24
Recording - September 2015 - 25
Recording - September 2015 - 26
Recording - September 2015 - 27
Recording - September 2015 - 28
Recording - September 2015 - 29
Recording - September 2015 - 30
Recording - September 2015 - 31
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Recording - September 2015 - 33
Recording - September 2015 - 34
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Recording - September 2015 - Cover3
Recording - September 2015 - Cover4
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