dbx 286s Microphone Preamp & Channel Strip Processor, Mono 4-Way

(10 customer reviews)


  • Studio quality mic preamp/channel strip processor
  • Classic dbx compression puts great sound within easy reach
  • Frequency tuneable de-esser reduces sibilance and high frequency distortion
  • Enhancer increases the detail and definition of the high and low frequencies
  • Program adaptive expander/Gate. Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Input: 1/4″ TRS (x2) and XLR (x1); output: 1/4″ TRS (x1)
  • Operating voltage: 120VAC 60Hz, 100VAC 50/60Hz
  • Purchase includes: dbx286s, power cord, operation manual, and rack mount screws and washers (x4)



Product Description

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 over Easy 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 Tenable 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. The separate threshold and ratio controls on the expander/gate allow you to subtly reduce headphone leakage or radically gate noisy guitar amps. And, the dbx 286s offers a full compliment of metering and status LEDs to visually guide you to achieving the right sound.

From the Manufacturer

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! 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 mix down. 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.

From the manufacturer

dbx 286s

dbx 286s

Microphone Preamplifier/Channel Strip Processor

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. 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. 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 mid-range frequencies. Plus, the separate threshold and ratio controls on the Expander/Gate allow you to subtly reduce headphone leakage or radically gate noisy guitar amps.

  • Studio quality Mic Preamp/Channel Strip Processor
  • Program-adaptive Expander/Gate
  • Frequency tunable De-Esser reduces sibilance and high frequency distortion
  • Enhancer increases the detail and definition of the high and low frequencies
  • Full compliment of meters and status LEDs
  • Insert jack allows you to add an external processor
  • Precision detented controls

dbx 286s

Who uses this product?

Additional information

Weight 5.06 kg
Dimensions 19 × 5.75 × 1.75 cm
Item Weight

5.06 pounds

Product Dimensions

19 x 5.75 x 1.75 inches





Item model number


Date First Available

February 11 2011


Mono 4-way



10 reviews for dbx 286s Microphone Preamp & Channel Strip Processor, Mono 4-Way

  1. Tempting Reviews

    Works great once you can get the settings just right (That’s the hard part)The media could not be loaded.

     My goal was to use it for live streaming but minimize the background noise as much as possible. With some finagling, I got it to do that.I uploaded a video (screenshots w/audio) to show what settings I’m using with a Rode NTG-1 shotgun microphone placed a foot away. The audio is untreated – directly recorded and uploaded, so you can hear how my settings sound. This is an untreated room with vaulted ceilings and somewhat close walls plus no carpet or curtain, with background white noise.You’ll need to then adjust certain settings to suit your personal taste and/or specific hardware/room treatment/environment/etc.What you hear is exactly what I sound like if you were talking to me in the same room and I was pleasantly impressed once I got it set right.This is sending audio into a Zoom V3 where the Zoom’s gain and compressors are set to the base minimum.I started with the recommendations on YouTube including calibration; but I found them only effective for certain types of microphones (ones that are not super or hyper cardioid, for example).The only other thing in place: I use VoiceMeeter to enable/disable the microphone input (in this case, the audio that’s coming out of the Zoom V3) on Windows.If you want to add software that deals with things like dogs, kids, etc., consider a software called Krisp Audio. It takes a sample of your voice (after you’ve configured with something like the dbx) and then excludes basically everything that doesn’t sound like you; however you lose some fidelity, which you can use the dbx with tweaked settings to restore it (or try to).

  2. NR

    Bought it for the noise gateReview as a user that only uses for voiceover recording. Does not apply to those that are using for instruments. My primary use is home office, videos, and web conference calls.I have no need to compress voiceover/narration/conference calls, etc.. I have no need for a de-esser. I have no need for a crappy 2 band EQ booster. None of that matters for recording speaking levels. However, I have found that using a bit of the LF boost helps to hide reverb caused by an acoustically untreated room. There is an output gain that I don’t understand, it seems like it would be a make-up gain from another processor, but has no clear relation.All of those things aside, I like it because I couldn’t find a prosumer noise gate to accompany my USB audio interface outside of this. Why the audio interface makers don’t just add a noise gate is beyond me. It is not desired by people who plan to post produce their audio, but for live audio in a home office, it’s a great feature.There are a lot of youtube videos on this thing. Most of them seem to be wrong or misguided advice.If you’re recording speech for youtube or just web conferencing, turn the preamp gain to drive your mic to one green LED on the preamp in meter, then turn it down a few clicks. Turn your audio interface gain until you are averaging -15 to -12 db on a software meter (you can use a DAW, I just use OBS or Audacity). Turn everything but the noise gate off.For the noise gate, it could really shine if it had an attack and release adjustment. Every youtube guide I’ve found for setting it up is wrong in my opinion. It has two controls, labeled threshold and ratio. The hardcoded attack and release are not adjustable.Every video I’ve seen says to turn threshold at room noise level until it closes then turn 4 more clicks. Then set ratio to 2:1. This does not work for me. It leaves the door too far open and causes the attack and release (to slow and fast respectively in my opinion) to trip on each other. Threshold simply says what level of noise to open the gate. Ratio is how much the door is open when the gate is closed. Ratio knob all the way to the left equals door nearly completely open (i.e. gate is doing nothing when active). All the way to the right is door nearly completely closed when gate is active.First, with nothing but ambient noise (try to keep computer fans, etc. as far from your mic as possible), watch your DAW noise meter, start with the threshold and ratio completely to the left. With nothing but your normal ambient room noise, turn the threshold until the light goes red, don’t turn any further. Now adjust your ratio until you see your DAW noise meter stay at zero, don’t go any further. That’s the best you’ll get it with this.

  3. Bob Bain

    Better Processing than you’ll find on the RCP IIThe DBX 286S offers better overall voice processing than you will currently find on any all in one unit such as the RCP II. For those of us who care more about vocal quality versus ease of use, an analog mixer combined with other standalone equipment remains our preferred method of producing high quality vocals.You can’t get that with $699 toys.

  4. Donny Neufuss

    This is the secret ingredient to professional sounding vocalsI live in Wisconsin and I remember the first time I bought a car with heated seats. After that car it ruined me for all other cars I bought because I needed to buy heated seats as it was a feature I could not live without during the winters. This is my heated seat for vocals. I don’t know why I went so long without this device when it took my locals to a whole other professional level. If you’re on the fence like I was for so many years I’m buying this device it’s time to stop the hesitation and just get it. You will thank me for it.

  5. Derick Snow, Amazon Customer

    Huge, heavy and incredibly useful for mic audioI use this to enhance my voiceover audio for some projects. Considering what it does, it’s a pretty great value. It provides phantom power to mics that need it. It’s a clean, very low-noise preamp; compressor/limiter; noise gate to reduce breath, mouth and room noise; simple EQ (lo and hi-tone) and even a de-esser. The knobs have a little ‘click’ as you rotate so you can perfectly gauge where your settings are from one project to another.I patch out into the ‘line in’ on my USB audio interface and once I’ve set levels it’s a very consistent device. There are days when you need a little warmth and fuzz without any software plugins, or you have a live internet session with a client and you need a little compression from your mic and this does it great!Some people use this for podcasts or game streaming but I don’t.Negatives: This is a big boy. It’s made for an audio rack and fills out the space entirely with lots of weight. I don’t have space for a rack in my small studio space so it sits on a side table. If this weren’t so darn bulky I’d consider a second one! I also wish this had a power switch so I have one on the plug itself. If you turn off the phantom power on a mic that uses it, it can start feeding back if you’re not careful.Those little annoyances aside, this unit gives great flexibility when I need it for a relatively great price.

  6. Matt

    Worthless CompressorFirst off, let’s just say. It has some amazing features. The gate is pretty amazing, easy to set. There’s an ocean of gain to add to a microphone from this thing. I have a podmic setup through it for some gritty vocals (my only dynamic mic) and it’s about 70% gained on the preamp, and unity gain on the output. It’s clean and very punchy. Now, onto the one, and pretty much deal-breaking con. The compressor.This thing is worthless. First off, it’s not made like any real compressor which would be ratio, threshold and gain, those would be the minimum requirements, then you might have attack, release, etc. That’s pretty much every compressor I’ve ever encountered. Instead the DBX has “DRIVE” and “DENSITY” which mean nothing. They sort of, kind of, maybe if you squint, resemble threshold and gain in the “drive” knob; and attack and release in the “density” knob (which counter-intuitively gets faster attack with more “density”). Seriously. It’s a cluster. If you want a gentle amount of compression, or maybe a limiter-style compression it’s impossible. The “drive knob” adds enormous amounts of gain for something like spoken word and provides very little compression (as measured with the on board gain reduction meter).Going to have to return it, as one of the most vital things for me was compressing “to tape” (pre-audio interface) and this pretty much makes that a frustrating, cumbersome and fruitless waste of time. Super bummed.

  7. Michelle Nightengale

    OUTSTANDING for removing background noise for livestreams, YouTube videos and podcasts!As other reviewers have mentioned, this is a solid and professional mic processor.I’m preparing to start doing YouTube videos. However, I’m working from my home, with an less-than-ideal acoustical environment. (I’m an amateur at this and know absolutely NOTHING about audio engineering.) I also use Windows 10 which has really crappy audio drivers: no matter how much I jacked up the mic input volume, my audio was just too low with USB mics that plugged directly into my computer. (It doesn’t help that I’m a woman with a relatively soft voice.)After some research, I decided to get a lav mic with an XLR connection and a USB audio adapter. THAT solved my input volume problem, but now any background noise was amplified, including my A/C, room echo and mic hiss. The layout of my room doesn’t really allow for sound treatment and nothing in my home is soundproof. No amount of post editing could completely fix it without distorting my voice.Enter the DBX 286s which I bought after seeing reviews on YouTube. It took quite a bit of fiddling and testing the settings, but I’ve been SUPER HAPPY with the results in testing. The DBX 286s provides plenty of gain and phantom power to my mic, but the standout feature is the expander gate. Background echo/mic hiss is greatly reduced and now my raw audio isn’t horrible, which means it’s good enough for livestreams. I’m nitpicky and still do some minor editing in Audacity for pre-recorded videos, but live webinars and live Facebook or YouTube videos will sound just fine with virtually no background noise of any kind (except for minor mic hiss only at the highest volume levels).This has solved a MAJOR problem for me: I bought mic processor primarily to eliminate background noise (room echo/mic hiss). This is an OUTSTANDING mic processor and I’m super happy with the results! 🙂

  8. linkdead

    Simply MagicI’m a Twitch streamer and I’ve fiddled with every sort of software solution I could dig up. I have a Rode NT1 mic with a Scarlet 2i2 interface and a Roland VT3 Voice Transformer. I’ve struggled with noise in the line, as well as the fact that even on the weakest setting the Noise Suppression filter in OBS colors my voice. I finally broke down and ordered one of these because I’d heard good things. The dbx 286s has blown me away. Not only did it meet my needs as a pre-amp, Noise Gate, and Compressor… but the de-esser is an awesome bonus, as well as the Low and High Frequency Enhancer. My mic is sounding cleaner than it ever has, and my voice is sounding better than ever. When my wife heard my voice over my stream she was instantly moistened. I really don’t have enough good things to say about this piece of hardware. You can spend a little bit less to get bits of kit that do some these things individually, but for $50-$100 more having all of these tools in one piece of hardware that works so well is the way to go. From my research you can also spend more on similar pieces of hardware, but for my purposes and for home broadcasting/recording purposes I can’t imagine the more expensive solutions being worth the jump in cost. Seriously, if you’re on the fence about the dbx 286s, just do it. It’s very easy to set up. The settings are very easy to dial in, depending on how anal you are. The results are just magical.My chain right now is RODE NT1 > dbx 286s > Roland VT3 Voice Transformer > Line6 M13 (mainly just to use a foot pedal for volume control to mute during stream) > Scarlet 2i2 > PC

  9. Steven Vee

    A Quality, Low-cost Audio Preamp/ProcessorWhen it first arrived, I admit that I was prepared to find fault with this relatively low cost device. However, I have since found it to be a very competent performer. The dbx 286S Audio Processor packs a lot of features and performance for the approximately $200 that I paid for it.This one rack space (1.75″) high device contains a microphone preamplifier with switchable phantom power for condenser microphones, a limiter, expander/gate, and a two-band effects equalizer. All of the processing sections are interconnected such that a signal inserted at the front end passes through all of the sections before emerging at line level out of this device. The amount of audio limiting, expansion/gating and equalization can be set to taste and even individually turned off if you need a particular function. All of the sections “play” well together, making audio tweaks fairly easy to accomplish. Keep in mind that this is a monaural device that can accept balanced microphone or line level input signals.I found the background noise level to be very low (virtually inaudible), even at high mic preamplifier gain settings, and I found the frequency response surprisingly wide and pleasant. This processor brought out the better qualities of the several dynamic and condenser microphones that I auditioned through it. Everything comes through clear and clean at low to moderate control settings, although it is possible to significantly modify your audio, for better or for worse, at higher control settings. Download the manufacturer’s manual for this device to learn about its individual features and functions, and how they are used.I find that I really have no complaints about the dbx 286S Audio Processor. It is now in daily use in my modest studio. The 286S does what the manufacturer’s literature says it’s supposed to do, and it does it crisply and cleanly without added noise or fuss.You can buy high end separate mic preamplifiers, limiters, expander/gates, and equalizers, then connect them all together to do what this little dbx box does. But, you will spend very much more money to achieve or exceed the same level of performance offered by the dbx 286S. Strong bang for the buck. Highly recommended!

  10. Sm

    Excellent product!I use this preamp for my vocal rap recordings. I use a high quality neumann mike with the unit .I use a mackie profx v10 mixing board with this unit and My vocals come out crystal clear and sharp now. I have no sound deadening treatment or foam in my recording space or even a pop filter on the mike and I still get production quality recordings . The preamp mutes out p and s sounds and pops . Also mutes the air conditioner unit noise and outside noise as well . Didn’t even realize a preamp has these kind of capabilities . The de esser button on the unit eliminates pop sounds associated with saying p and s consonants. It’s worth the money way cheaper than building sound booths or putting up sound deadening material. I see tube pre amps but I I don’t want to worry about buying and changing tubes I think this is the way to go. People constantly ask me how did I record my music it has great quality. Great buy !

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