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286s Studio quality Mic Preamp/Channel Strip Processor - Image

Studio quality Mic Preamp/Channel Strip Processor

The 286s Mic Preamp delivers up to 60dB of sonically transparent gain to reveal the detail and audio signature of even the most esoteric mics. It transforms their low level output signal to a high level, high current signal that is internally fed to the 286s main processing chain (i.e., compressor, de-esser, etc.)

286s Classic dbx Compression puts great sound within easy reach - Image

Classic dbx Compression puts great sound within easy reach

The Compressor section of the 286s changes its gain in response to the signal at its input. Many compressors have a user-selectable level, called THRESHOLD, to help determine when compression occurs. If the input signal is low in level (below the threshold of compression) the compressor gain remains fixed. If the input increases above the threshold of compression, the gain begins to decrease (i.e., the amount of gain reduction increases). For very large input signals, the gain can decrease considerably. On the 286s, compression occurs as an input level is “driven” into gain reduction by the 286s's DRIVE control; as the DRIVE setting (adjusted clockwise from OFF) increases input gain, the amount of gain reduction also increases. The 286s does not have a Threshold control; the threshold is established by the setting of the DRIVE control.

286s Frequency tunable De-Esser reduces sibilance and high frequency distortion - Image

Frequency tunable De-Esser reduces sibilance and high frequency distortion

The De-esser section of the 286s reduces the high frequency energy present in certain vocalizations, of which the most common is sibilance. Sibilance is the hissing or rushing sound produced by blowing air through a constricted (narrow) mouth opening or across the edge of the teeth, as in the “s” and “sh” in “sash.” Sibilants contain predominantly high frequency components with a sharp rise above 1kHz and most of the energy in the 4kHz to 10kHz band, centered on 6kHz to 8kHz.

286s Enhancer increases the detail and definition of the high and low frequencies - Image

Enhancer increases the detail and definition of the high and low frequencies

The dbx286s's Enhancer adds detail by enhancing the low and high frequency content of the signal. The Low Frequency enhancement simultaneously applies an 80Hz boost and 250Hz cut to the signal. This lets you apply substantial bass boost without making the material sound muddy or boomy due to excessive mid-bass boost. The High Frequency enhancement is a form of dynamic phase and amplitude equalization. Continuous analysis of the input signal intelligently and automatically determines the amount of equalization necessary at each moment to achieve detailed, defined audio that is never shrill or over-sibilant.

286s Program adaptive Expander/Gate - Image

Program adaptive Expander/Gate

Utilize the 286s's Expander/Gate controls for numerous applications. Slow settings are useful for gating out noise present behind vocals and acoustic instruments. Fast settings are useful for tightening up the sound of percussion (e.g., kick or snare drum) and drying up leakage from other instruments into percussion tracks.)

286s Insert jack allows you to add an external processor - Image

Insert jack allows you to add an external processor

External audio processors (e.g., equalizer, delay unit, etc.), can be placed in the signal chain directly between the Mic Preamp Section and remaining 286s processing via the rear panel INSERT jack.

286s Full compliment of meters and status LEDs - Image

Full compliment of meters and status LEDs

Easily determine the processing status of the 286s via the front panel LEDs.

286s +48V Phantom Power - Image

+48V Phantom Power

The 286s can supply +48VDC phantom power to your condenser microphones. This industry-standard configuration supports virtually all currently-manufactured phantom power mics.

286s Detented controls - Image

Detented controls

Detented controls allow for precision adjustments of all the 286s's processing

Specs & Downloads

Item# DBX286SV


All the mic processing you need

The dbx® 286s is a full featured Channel Strip Processor that delivers a studio quality microphone/instrument preamplifier and four processors that can be used independently or in any combination. Why mic up vocals and instruments through a noisy, blurry mixer? The sonically pristine dbx 286s Mic Preamp has all the features you need, including wide-ranging input gain control, switchable +48V phantom power, and an 80Hz high-pass filter to remove low frequency hum, rumble or wind. Use the patented dbx OverEasy® compressor to transparently smooth out uneven acoustic tracks or deliver that classic "in your face" vocal performance that only a dbx compressor can. Eliminate vocal sibilance and high frequency distortion from instruments such as cymbals with the frequency tunable De-Esser. Fine-tune the Enhancer HF Detail control to add sparkle and crispness to your tracks and make adjustments to the LF Detail control to add fullness and depth to vocals and bass instruments while cleaning up the muddy low midrange frequencies. And, the separate threshold and ratio controls on the Expander/Gate allow you to subtly reduce headphone leakage or radically gate noisy guitar amps. The dbx 286s offers a full compliment of metering and status LEDs to visually guide you to achieving the right sound. The floating balanced XLR Mic Input accepts balanced or unbalanced inputs to easily connect to professional and home studio microphones. The additional 1/4" TRS Line Input can accept balanced/unbalanced signals to process live electronic instruments or pre-recorded tracks at mixdown. Use the Insert jack to interface between the Mic Preamp and the signal processing sections to "loop out" to external processors (such as EQ or delay unit) or to mix the Mic Preamp's signal out to an external destination. The cost and hassle of patching together multiple processors for use on one track can be frustrating. The dbx 286s provides you with all the mic processing you need in one box, with the shortest, cleanest signal path to keep your music sounding its best!

General Specifications

Compressor Threshold Range
-40dBu to +20dBu
Compressor Ratio
>4:1 For input levels beyond 20dB above threshold
Maximum Compression
Compressor Attack Time
Program-Dependent; >1s for small level increases, down to 10ms for large increases
Compressor Release Time
Program-Dependent; adjustable between approximately 1dB/Sec and 75dB/Sec
Compressor Distortion
Typically <0.05%THD, 20Hz-20kHz, 15dB G/R, +10dBu Output, Density @ 0
Compressor SMPTE Intermodulation Distortion
<0.05%; 60Hz/7kHz 4:1, 15dB G/R, +10dBu Output Level, Density @ 0
De-Esser Characteristic
Wideband Gain Reduction
De-Esser Frequency Range
800Hz to 10kHz High Pass, 12dB/octave
De-Esser Release Time
Program-Dependent; approximately 1ms/dB
Enhancer HF Detail Characteristic
Program-controlled shelving equalizer, approximately 15dB maximum HF boost
Enhancer LF Detail Characteristic
Bell-shaped boost @ 80Hz, bell-shaped cut @250Hz, ratio is approximately 2:1
Expander Gate Threshold Range
Off ... +15dBu
Expander Gate Expansion Ratio
Adjustable 1.5:1 ... 10:1
Expander Gate Maximum Depth
Expander Gate Attack Time
Program-Dependent, approximately 2ms (at maximum attenuation)
Expander Gate Release Rate
Program-Dependent, approxiamtely 10ms/dB
Dynamic Range
Typically 105dB
Operating Voltage
Power Consumption
15 Watts
Operating Temperature
32°F to 113°F (0°C to 45°C)

Audio Specifications

Mic Input Max Level
0.25Vrms, Gain=30dB
Mic Input Gain Adjustment Range
+0dB ... +60dB
Mic Input Phantom Power
+48VDC, applied to XLR pins 2 and 3 through 6.81kΩ resistors
Mic Input CMRR
>40dB, typically 55dB
Mic Input EIN
–125dBu, 22Hz-22kHz, 150Ω source impedance
Line Input
1/4" Floating balanced, TIP Hot
Line Input Impedance
10kΩ unbalanced, 20kΩ balanced
Line Input Max Level
>+21dBu, balanced or unbalanced
Line Input Gain Adjustment Range
-15dB ... +45 dB
Line Input CMRR
>40dB, typically 55dB
Insert Input
1/4” TRS phone Normalled; tip is Send, ring is Return
Insert Ring Impedance
Insert Ring Max Level
Insert Tip Impedance
Insert Tip Max Level
>+21dBu, >+20dBm (600Ω load)
Insert Noise
<-89dBu, unweighted (20Hz-20kHz); LINE GAIN Control set to 0dB
Insert Distortion
<0.01% THD, 20Hz-20kHz, +10dBu
Line Output
1/4” TRS phone Balanced/Unbalanced
Line Output Impedance
100Ω unbalanced, 200Ω balanced
Line Output Max Level
>+21dBu, >+20dBm (600Ω load)
Line Output Gain Adjustment Range
-30dB ... +10dB
Line Output Noise
<-85dBu unweighted (20Hz-20kHz); Both Gain Controls set for 0dB, all processing controls Off
Line Output Frequency Response
20Hz ... 20kHz, +0.5, -0.5dB
Line Output Distortion
<0.08%THD, 20Hz-20kHz, +10dBu, all Processing Controls Off


6.54 lb (2.97 kg)
1.75 in (4.5 cm)
5.75 in (14.6 cm)
19 in (48.26 cm)

What's in The Box?

  • 1 x dbx 286s microphone pre-amp processor
  • 1 x AC power cord
  • 1 x Operation manual
  • 1 x Registration card
  • 4 x Rack mount screws and washers

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