Can you help me set up this mash mash system?


New member
Username: Dholt96

Post Number: 2
Registered: Jun-15
I have an Outlaw RR2150 receiver, an Onkyo TA-RW505 Cassette Deck, a DBX 118 Dynamic Range Enhancer and a JVC SEA-20 Graphic Equalizer. I cannot figure out how to set this up with the DBX and equalizer. Can anybody help me? I currently have the DBX hooked up through the receiver's external processor but cannot hear any difference when I change the dial settings on the DBX. I have spent hours on this and am going crazy!

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 18052
Registered: May-04

The DBX systens were created well before the introduction of CD. They were, as a whole, far more popular in studio applications than in home systems. Digital recording techniques do have "the potential" for a broader dynamic swing than does "the average" LP or tape. Analog tape can, of course, provide very good dynamic range, provided specific conditions are met. LP's tend to limit dynamics when they are not produced with extreme fidelity as a prime condition. The "audiophile" pressings found in the 1970's -90's suggests LP's are capable of far greater dynamic contrasts than one might assume.

Unfortunately, most of the most current recordings available to the public are compressed to some extent to make the music workable for the most modest listening formats.

The DBX 118 - while not the compression/expansion system of most DBX designs - must have a certain threshold with which to work. Expanding dynamic range from 85 to 88 dB isn't going to really grab your attention. And, given the task of working through the rest of your present system, there's certainly no guarantee that expanding the upper dynamics alone will prove all that successful since the rest of your system may place limits on just how much you would notice the momentary - at best- slightly "louder" passage. Lowering the actual noise floor of your system also has its physical limits. Raising the upper limits and lowering the least noticeable sound threshold is what dynamic range expansion is all about. Obviously, the system has to cooperate.

Not to knock your system but the inclusion of the JVC is a step in the wrong direction if you are after broad dynamic range. JVC built mostly lower cost components for sale to the mass market consumer. Lower cost generally infers lower fidelity. Every stage of electronics adds its own level of noise to the system and the JVC would be quite suspect when it comes to low noise operation. Therefore, expanding dynamic range can get lost in the quiescent noise of the system and its individual circuits, leaving you with only short, momentary bursts of a somewhat louder nature. If your source material is not even providing the dynamic range we associate with a superior recording, then you won't notice much of any change with the 118 in line.

This was a common problem with many components sold for noise reduction or dynamic range control being sold in the last half of the 20the century. Claims were made for the performance of a component that couldn't always be duplicated by the home listener. In a recording studio, the DBX systems were quite popular since their effectiveness could more easily be measured is such settings. At home, however, the DBX systems were less noticeably effective and, therefore, less popular. Many home listeners used the 118 simply because they believed it couldn't hurt their music.

Attitudes varied considerably over this time period and many audiophiles simply felt a stripping away of all extraneous connections and circuits gave the music the best chance of surviving from stylus tip to loudspeaker output relatively undamaged. In such a system the DBX components were a bit antithetical.

Unless you have the equipment needed to measure the results of the 118 in circuit, there's really no way to say just how much it is adding to or taking away from the music's natural dynamics. As I said, if your source material is limited in dynamic range, then the effectiveness of the DBX expansion will be negligible. If the system is not really set up to perfection; components isolated from microphonic resonances, sources operating at their peak, speakers properly positioned, room treated for standing waves and slap echoes, listening chair situated for greatest accuracy/musicality in playback, etc, then there's really not much chance you will notice what the 118 can achieve. In other words, the DBX 118 is best when it is incorporated into an already superior system.

Headphones might be the best way to judge the performance of the 118. Even then, you are listening for such momentary alterations to the music that the average listener's auditory memory will be tested.


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