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  1. #1
    I put the Gee in Gear.... thekid's Avatar
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    DBX dbxSW15 plus

    Thought it looked interesting and it was only $9. if nothing else it will make a pretty good little table.
    Not much info out there on them except they date from the late 80's, has a 15" woofer and was available from a catalog retailer named DAK. Never heard of a company called DBX but label says they were made in the States.

    Anyone here know it?
    Last edited by thekid; 07-13-2008 at 03:30 AM.

  2. #2
    Charm Thai™ TheHills44060's Avatar
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    i still have my dbx 120x subharmonic synthesizer from 1984....although i don't use it for a subwoofer any longer i still have it hooked into the tape loop of my preamp for the cool light show.

  3. #3
    Audio/HT Nut version 1.3a
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    DAK has been around, on and off, for a long time. My brother bought one of those 15" DAK passive subs a number of years ago. I think he still has it. The sound was OK from a somewhat cheap cabinet. However, the marketing hype was better than the sub performance.

    DAK used a long newsletter approach with lots of convincing sales ptiches to sell particular products. DBX was the name of a very effective noise reduction system used in tape recorders, both home and pro. I still have an Akai cassette deck with DBX NR. DBX also made some fine amps, EQ's, etc (I think it was the same company). I believe DBX has evolved over the years and is now part of the Harmon Kardon group.

    I'm not sure how DAK got to use the name DBX on this speaker. DAK sold equalizers plus many other items over the years. The owner of DAK was a master of written persuasion/sales pitches. I see from the website I found linked below that he is at it again.

    http://www.dak.com/index.cfm

    RR6

  4. #4
    Sgt. At Arms Worf101's Avatar
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    Wow...

    Now you're bringing back some SERIOUS memories. I used to get the DAK catalogue all the time. First set of "serious" speaker cables I ever bought were Monster Brand (before you could by them on every street corner) brought through DAK. Never bought any of their speakers or other gear but their catalogue was fun to look at. Not as fun as say an old JC Whitney or Lafayette Electronics rag from the 60's but it was in color.

    Da Worfster

  5. #5
    Forum Regular flippo's Avatar
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    DBX Sub

    I used to have this sub. The catalog also offered a sub amp for extra which I didn't get unfortunately. The biggest problem with the sub is the crossover in it is set 150 so it is localizable and the crossover also allowed some spurious noise to ge to the main speakers that were hooked up to it (at least mine did). I would have liked to hear it with the sub amp. It supposedly goes down to 28hz

  6. #6
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thekid
    Never heard of a company called DBX but label says they were made in the States.
    I don't know much about the history of dbx, which is said to have been around since 1971 and was started by a fellow named David Blackmer. The company was sold to BSR and eventually spun out to Harman International (Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dbx). Components that I have owned over the years were made in Newton Massachussetts and represented quite a formidiable presence in the U.S. Hifi industry for their signal processing equipment that was comprised of noise reduction, dynamic range expansion and equalization units, to name a few.

    In the mid-eighties, I became interested in dbx procesors and bought a dbx Gold system from a friend. This was a trio of components comprising their 3bx dynamic range expander, a 221 noise reduction unit and a program route selector that made available three tape deck inputs. I also bought the 10/20 equalizer, a computerized unit that was, in my estimation, light years ahead of the competition.

    dbx noise reduction systems were preferred over Dolby by some, myself included, because they cut out virtually all the hiss that was associated with taping and could produce a recording with very good S/N. The dynamic range expander (DNE) capitaized on this facility and made quiet passages quieter, loud passages louder and giving more "beef" and impact than those processed without it. The program route selector is self explanatory.

    When I bought the equalizer, I had alread gone through about three or four other equalizers made by BSR and adc. While these EQ's processed the signal well enough, the inherent noise of the units was far surpassed by the dbx, whose operations were dead quiet. The dbx also was computerized and could store and average stored settings, giving the user more flexibility and more room to fiddle than the BSR or adc units.

    I enjoyed using these processors, but nature soon took her course and as connections became loose and units wore out, I had to let some go. I was heavily into home taping friends' CD's when I bought the units, and was sorry to let them go. This was especially true of the EQ, which I think was one of the best graphics produced.

    There were caveats, of course. Settings had to be optimally adjusted. Breathing was occasionally noted, but could be controlled by reducing transitional levels or percentage of signal expanded on the DNE. Too much emphasis on the DNE was deleterious to the sound and a more conservative touch was needed to maximize results. A second draw back was the incompatibility of dbx NR with Dolby NR. While both reduce hiss, they apparantly do so via different means. Recordings in dbx were not suitable for playback on Dolby: one had to crank down the treble and ratchet a bit of bass as compensation, a poor substitute.

    dbx has produced much gear for the professional audio community, and studios make heavy use of their gear for processing. While the company has been accused by acquaintances who decry their reliability, dbx's innovativeness was nearly unassailable in their heyday of the mid-eighties(?).

    dbx has also produced speakers. While many of their speakers have not assumed the same stature as their other electronics or other speakers on the market, dbx did produce some speakers that were and continue to be quite highly regarded. The Soundfield One was a much touted speaker that was praised for producing an enormous stage and an uncanny presence that was enthusiastically recieved by reviewers and consumers willing to put out the rather sizable expense to afford them. I know nothing about the subwoofers....

    And that is about all I know, or think I know, about dbx....

    Hope it helps!

    --Aa
    "The great tragedy of science--the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."--T. Huxley

  7. #7
    I put the Gee in Gear.... thekid's Avatar
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    Aa

    Thanks, that is alot of info on DBX.
    I have heard mixed opinions on this sub so I can't wait to hook it up when I get back. I think in any case I got a bargain for my $9......

  8. #8
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    I think you probably did. Fire 'er up, and lettus know how she works....

    Good luck!

  9. #9
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auricauricle
    dbx noise reduction systems were preferred over Dolby by some, myself included, because they cut out virtually all the hiss that was associated with taping and could produce a recording with very good S/N. The dynamic range expander (DNE) capitaized on this facility and made quiet passages quieter, loud passages louder and giving more "beef" and impact than those processed without it. The program route selector is self explanatory.
    What brought folks back to Dolby was the introduction of Dolby C, and Dolby S on the consumer side, and Dolby SR on the professional side. With the introduction of these noise reductions curcuits, Dolby got the performance accolades back from DBX.


    dbx has produced much gear for the professional audio community, and studios make heavy use of their gear for processing. While the company has been accused by acquaintances who decry their reliability, dbx's innovativeness was nearly unassailable in their heyday of the mid-eighties(?).
    DBX is pretty much dead in the professional environment of today. You would have to look long and hard to find a piece of equipment in use right now. Most of the components I have seen have been relegated to the "old school" equipment rack.

    dbx has also produced speakers. While many of their speakers have not assumed the same stature as their other electronics or other speakers on the market, dbx did produce some speakers that were and continue to be quite highly regarded. The Soundfield One was a much touted speaker that was praised for producing an enormous stage and an uncanny presence that was enthusiastically recieved by reviewers and consumers willing to put out the rather sizable expense to afford them. I know nothing about the subwoofers....

    And that is about all I know, or think I know, about dbx....

    Hope it helps!

    --Aa
    It is a good thing that they didn't have MLSSA or any other time domain measurement device to measure the SF-1 speaker. It probably would have measured pretty poorly with all of those reflections hitting the microphone at different times.

    One of the most unique things about that speaker package was the egg shaped polar pattern of the speakers. If you stand right next to the right speaker, the left speaker sounded louder. You stand next to the left speaker, the right sounded louder. 8 tweeters 4 midranges, 4 woofers and a crossover with 200+ part made this speaker very expensive. It had a outstanding bass response though, but it lacked pin point imaging which means it could not place instruments within an acoustic with any solidity. The soundfield was huge, but diffused, much in the vein of the Walsh Ohm speaker, and the Bose 901. (but better sounding for sure).

    Got a pair of these speakers for Christmas when I was a youngin.
    Sir Terrence

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  10. #10
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    TTT: This is good info, and I agree with you: Dolby did manage to get back into the game with S. I had always thought that dbx came after C and was seen as giving further and cleaner NR than the latter. Mebbe have to rethink on that and do more "research".

    From what I have seen, I thought that dbx was fairly au courant, as far as their professional gear was concerned. Of course, the industry is flooded with other manufacturers like Rane, Beringer, Furman and others that it has been overshadowed and mebbe even crowded out. In the day, you hafta admit, they were a formidiable presence...

    I was pretty much under the impression that the SF 1's were pretty well regarded. The comparison to the Ohm is pretty spot-on, but comparing them to Bose, well...that's pushing things a bit, donchathink?

    I have to admit: my knowledge of things audiophilic must be dated. These were merely thoughts and musings based on some years of having enjoyed the gear. If I misled anyone or presented erroneous info, I stand corrected and remove my hat to "The Terrible" One.

    Thanks for the corrections and for your kindly repartee....The floor is yours!

  11. #11
    Aging Smartass
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    As a former eight year employee of BSR while they owned both ADC and dbx, I can add a thing or two to this thread. dbx's stack of signal processing equipment provided a terrific "light show" and did offer notable changes to the quality of the signal going through all that stuff, but purists eventually won out as dbx's products soon became known as "signal disturbers" as opposed to signal processors. A truly high-end system sounded a good deal worse with the dbx equipment, because each component caused a deterioration of the signal itself, which often was quite noticeable, irrespective of the processing features of the device (expansion, equalization, sub-harmonic synthesizing, etc.) Sales of such units fell precipitously in the mid 80s', and continued to plummet afterwards.

    The dbx "Soundfield" speaker line consisted of speakers (heralded by the Soundfield 1a, a speaker rightfully accused of cosmetically resembling a walnut-grained trashcan) which offered a dispersion pattern that allowed the listener to sit anywhere in the room, and still get a balanced stereo image - even right next to, and in front of either speaker.

    The 1a model was highly touted in the audio mainstream rags (Stereo Review, specifically) but never accepted by audiophiles: all of the drivers were fairly cheap and ordinary (but the speaker itself was very expensive), and an outboard, A/C powered external equalizer had to be used. In its review on the 1a, The Absolute Sound stated that they "believed" that use of such a device resulted in a deterioration of the signal, whether or not they actually heard such deterioration. Personally, I never much cared for the sound of the 1a, and I even got a pair for free!

    BSR was horribly mismanaged, and went through a series of "revolving door" presidents before the dbx Professional line was sold to Harmon International, and the ADC brand (plus the dbx consumer line) to Carillon Technologies Inc. (CTI), who ultimately put the whole package out of business.

    BSR's largest customer was DAK (Drew Allan Kaplan) who purchased zillions of BSR-branded EQ's, and hoped that he could eventually sell dbx speakers too. As long as the dbx speaker line was around, the very idea of selling any of it to DAK was nothing less than suicide, and it wasn't until CTI got a hold of the line when they had dbx-branded crap made specifcally for DAK. Despite DAK's claims that the "Soundfield V'," for example, actually had Soundfield imaging qualitites, it had nothing of the sort, and was basically a truly horrible speaker, as were all of the other speakers that he sold under the name "dbx."

    Hope this info was useful.

  12. #12
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments, emaidel: I still contend that if the equipment was conservatively set up, one could get a pretty good sound. Pumping and breathing could be a problem, but these things cropped up if one went wild and wanted to test the limits of the gear and fiddled about with abandon.

    I was sorry to hear about the mismangement of BSR. Like Harley Davidson, which went through a horrible slump when bought by AMF, dbx went through a similar decline in quality.

    LIke I said, it looks like I am a couple of light-years behind the curve....

  13. #13
    Aging Smartass
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auricauricle

    I was sorry to hear about the mismangement of BSR. Like Harley Davidson, which went through a horrible slump when bought by AMF, dbx went through a similar decline in quality.
    The decline was in company direction and management, but not necessarily quality. Once it became clear that dbx could no longer afford to manufacture signal processing equipment for consumers (as opposed to the highly profitable professional line of products), BSR took all manufacturing to Kyocera of Japan who did an exceptional job. Had it not been for the enormous volume of ADC branded EQ's that were also manufactured by Kyocera, there wouldn't have been a Japanese-based manufacturer willing to make any of the signal processors, given the very low sales volume of such products.

    At the time, $500 for a 3-band dynamic range expander with a proprietary circuit called "Impact Recovery," was up against that same amount of expendable income for American audio consumers that was widely being used instead to purchase the then relatively new CD changers. A CD changer was something people absolutely loved; a dynamic range expander with impact recovery was something most consumers had no idea about as to what it actually did, and finding retailers willing to take the time to explain was increasingly difficult. Most dedicated audio shops were losing interest in dbx products, and the volume-oriented retailers, or "power" retailers had little other than plant life working for them who couldn't explain what an "On/Off" switch did, no less what such an expander did.

    For a very short while, John Kelly (of Aerial loudspeaker fame) was president of dbx under the CTI regime of morons. John had some truly brilliant ideas as to how to make the soundfield imaging characteristics work with far better sounding speakers, and at far lower manufacturing costs, but CTI simply plowed the division out of existence, and John resigned in protest.

    By then, the signal processing products were all but non existent, but the speaker line actually could have made it, given a chance. As it was, when CTI purchased dbx from BSR, they inherited the previous line of Soundfield speakers that were grossly overepriced, with very large (but admittedly attractive) grilles that constantly fell off. Instead of merely dumping that line and investing money on a more saleable product, the CTI people chose instead to blame John (and others) for the ever plunging sales of the existing speaker line.

    I never fully understood what CTI's goal was. They purchased the dbx professional line too, but quickly sold it to Harmon International, and then they took the ADC consumer line, as well as the dbx consumer line, and bankrupted each. I guess all they wanted was whatever proceeds they could get from the sale of the professional line, and to hell with everything else.

  14. #14
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    Thank you. I became interested in "compansion" and all that other stuff when I bought a cassette, and making home tapes, wanted to give them a little more "juice". Recordings really sounded pretty decent, and when I did A/B comparisons, almost indistinguishable.

    I continue to use a 1bx and Impact Resortion module for minidiscs. Seeing how compressed the material can be--especially if recorded on HiMD mode, I figure a little tweaking is allowed. Of course, the MD format is passe, but that's me: always right behind the eight ball!

  15. #15
    I put the Gee in Gear.... thekid's Avatar
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    Got to give this unit a brief try out the other night. My garage is not the best place for testing SQ but my initial take is it was not too bad. Went fairly low seemed slightly muddy but it might be correctable with a few tweaks and better listening environment. Will give it a shot with my DCM Time Pieces and Onkyo amp.

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