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Why Every Podcaster Should Be Using a DBX 286s Mic Processor

  • By Andrew Zarian
  • Tuesday November 12, 2013
Filed Under:
Audio Broadcasting

“Less is more.” That’s a motto I have always followed with my audio setup. When asked what hardware a new podcaster should buy, I used to always suggest keeping it simple.  However, the DBX 286s changed my beliefs.

About a year ago, I was growing tired of having constant CPU fan noise on my recordings. It sounded like I was recording my podcast from the cockpit of a 747. I tried moving my computers away from my microphone and although that helped, it did not eliminate the problem. In fact, it highlighted all of the other acoustic problems my recordings were having.  

This forced me to start considering my options acoustically treating the room, changing microphones, and even changing rooms.

Around the same time I met Mike Phillips, the man I lovingly refer to as my “audio mentor”. He told me about the DBX 286s Mic Preamp Processor/Gate Limiter.  After trying one to see how well it would work in my setup, I immediately ordered three more for my studio. This simple device changed everything. I now had amazing audio-without having to build an underground soundproof booth. If you are serious about podcasting you should consider this device.

The DBX 286s has all the features a broadcaster needs:

  • Input gain control
  • Switchable +48V phantom power
  • Compressor to transparently smooth out uneven acoustic tracks or vocals
  • 80Hz high-pass filter to remove low frequency hum, rumble or wind
  • DeEsser
  • Expander/Gate allow you to  reduce room noise with separate threshold and ratio controls


The most important important feature on the DBX 286s is the the expander/gate. The DBX 286s has one of the best gates at ANY price point. In the past, I have used a few other compressor/limiters at the same price point, but they don't come anywhere near the quality of the DBX 286s. Another major feature is the compressor.  I am not a big fan of aggressive audio processing. However, if you like  “Boom and Sizzle”, the compressor is simple and easy to understand.  With this device, any novice podcaster will be able to fine tune their audio.

The best part about the DBX is the price. At just under $200, the DBX 286s is a reality for any podcaster who is looking to get a little more out of their audio setup. Once you get your 286S, take the time to determine the best settings for your application. Learn each function one at a time. Just don’t crank the knobs too high. Audio processing is like salt: A little adds flavor; too much ruins the recipe.

Here is an audio clip I recorded with the DBX 286s. Please remember to listen with headphones. The first part is with the settings turned on. The second part is using the bypass button on the DBX 286s. Let us know what you think.


DBX Offical Website

Buy the DBX 286s on Amazon

Want to know what other Podcasters think of the DBX 286s ? Join the discussion on the IAIB Forum

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Andrew Zarian is Founder and President of the highly successful GFQ (Guys from Queens) Network media empire . Stepping Out Magazine dubbed Andrew “The King of New Media” as he currently hosts over seven internet broadcasts and is currently reshaping how we perceive and view internet broadcasting.


  • Ronald Knights posted 11/12/2013 at 03:15am UTC

    This looks like a great setup. It’s likely a bit rich for my own limited budget. I merely do YouTube videos for fun. I surely need a good dynamic microphone and probably a mixer. I assume you’d connect this DBX device to a mixer?!

  • Arlee Carson posted 11/12/2013 at 03:16am UTC

    No doubt this processor is highly regarded and widely used in many applications. Thanks Andrew!

  • Radio Memories

    Radio Memories posted 11/12/2013 at 07:49am UTC

    I own one these already. It works great for me. Even helps mask my noisy neighbors.

  • Andrew

    Andrew posted 11/13/2013 at 09:29pm UTC

    Great article, thanks Andrew.

    What’s your view if my audio sounds clean (to me) right now. Will the DBX produce a worthwhile difference or is it something that really needs to be tested?

  • Andrew Zarian posted 11/13/2013 at 11:36pm UTC

    the DBX is also a great with audio processing. If you want a little extra boom its definitely worth it

  • Dan Ortego

    Dan Ortego posted 11/14/2013 at 04:24pm UTC

    As I posted on the forum this was an excellent review and the associated sound clips really helped.  I purchased one from BSW at $177 including shipping. 

    In the end I wasn’t satisfied with it because I felt that it was missing something. Frankly, I can’t put my finger on it and in hindsight I wish I just left well enough alone. Now I’m looking at something a bit more full-featured that I’ll be the first to admit it’s probably more than I need. 

    Anyway great article so thanks ~

  • Matt Rockwell

    Matt Rockwell posted 11/19/2013 at 09:19pm UTC

  • RonaldMa

    RonaldMa posted 12/26/2013 at 08:33pm UTC

    My name is Ronald. Am new here. Am getting a lot of help from this forum.

  • Rich B

    Rich B posted 04/07/2014 at 10:17am UTC

    I do a podcast and own a 286s after doing A LOT of research (am a computer guy, not a sound guy so I had to start from scratch) - I am glad I bought it.

    This single-handedly has made my voice go from average Joe to PRO. The gate / limiter cuts out the ambient noises in my room (computer, air conditioning) and the compressor and HF / LF adjustments give me that warm, NPR sound.

    My condenser mic connects straight in thanks to the phantom power. I also use a Wharfdale eq connected via the effects send / return to pull down some nasal harmonics my voice has.

    The 286S is the NEWER version that is exactly the same as the 286A EXCEPT the S model is white / silver (A is black) AND updates the electronic components that are no longer manufactured that the older A was made with. BTW, DBX was bought out by I forget who and the new owners are the ones who reissued the 286 as the S model ...

  • john

    john posted 04/13/2014 at 04:24am UTC

    Do you know if both the mic and line-in inputs can be used at the same time? If so, then I may sell my mixer and just use this.

  • Andrew Zarian posted 04/28/2014 at 01:49am UTC

    Great to see so many people interested in this post. Feel free to ask any questions you have on the forum. Here is a link to a thread about the DBX 286

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