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 Dbx Quantum Digital mastering processor At a Glance  
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arrowReleased: 1999  arrowVersion: 0.00
arrowRated: 9.8/10arrow User reviews: (5)
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AdamT writes:
Dbx Quantum Review..

I had the opportunity of buying a secondhand Quantum from a dealer who took it in after the owner went 'pro-tools' and the price was right, these all in one "finalizer" things are expensive new and to be honest I was dubious about a DBX one as their compressors tend to have what is known as the 'DBX-sound' which from recollection was not transparent compressing in the least BUT I thought I`d give it a go especially as he offered to take it back in full against a more expensive TC Finalizer Plus he had if I didn`t like it.

I read Hugh Robjohn`s gushing review in Sound on Sound and was impressed so when the thing arrived, I had a fair idea to it`s operational quirks and as to what is where and how to get to it. The Quantum is a 24-bit 96Khz digital mastering processor with *48 BIT* internal processing, a 4-band Compressor/ limiter/ Expander-gate, 5-band parametric EQ, has stereo enhancer, Ambience enhancement, Tape saturation emulation, normalizer - and on non-stereo linked modes, a De-Esser and sidechain EQ too, it can operate in Stereo linked (for mastering) dual mono, broadband, single and other modes I won`t ever use as I got this thing for mastering!. it has plenty of memories for storing your setups and MIDI for dumping them, complete MIDI-CC control of the whole machine`s processes, program changes and updating the OS, which brings us on to -------

The machine arrived with OS1.2 (the original) and after doing a search, found that there was an OS update on DBX`s site, well I downloaded it and installed it (OS1.5), this adds De-Essing to the stereo linked modes (hooray), something called MS EQ, an MS compressor to the non-muntiband modes, some improvements to the operation and Ambience to the dual-mono setups..

Well, down to the nitty gritty, with all things I like to "see how fast they go", so presented the thing with a worse case scenario, I fed it with probably the worst produced heavy rock album of all time - Ritchie Blackmores Rainbow`s "down to earth", to make matters EVEN worse I played this on the CD-ROM drive in the computer via the noisy Soundblaster Live and piped the output into the desk and then into the Quantum.... Started with the Wizard mode choosing the type of music, amount of compression etc and moving on to tweak the crossovers for the four bands (this album is very midrangey, harsh and almost Mono for the most part), played with the EQ even more so with dips and peaks all over the place and finished off with adding ambience and stereo enhancement, to be honest the whole process took about 15 minutes and could have been tweaked far more ---- BUT the result was astonishing, you`d have sworn that they`d got the band in to re-record the album, talk about night and day!, I couldn`t believe it.. I then used my CD-Transport`s SPDIF out to the Quantum and the Quantum to the standalone CDR machine and wrote a digitally re-mastered version of the album direct without entering the Analog domain, this was even better as there was no noisy SB-Live for the thing to contend with AND the Arcam HiFi CD-Drive of course plays CDs far better than a CD-ROM drive ever could .. Success.. I can`t wait to run my own (admittedly quite well produced) tracks through it!!.

The Quantum pulls of all sorts of other tricks, it`s handling of Digital information I have been told is about the best, I know it can be used for A/D and D/A conversion, as a Sample rate converter and has SCMS encryption facilites if needed, handles word clock AND superword clock, AES/EBU as well as SPDIF but like the Drawmer Masterflow doesn`t do optical - I`ve never been impressed with TOSlink connections in HiFi gear so it would seem that DBX agree, there is no ADAT port either which might irk some.

Some reviewers moaned about the operation and the amount of button pushing and knob spinning required to run the thing compared to a TC unit, but I had no problems and found it quite intuitive, but then, I`m someone who programs DX7s and found the Wavestation a doddle ;-)..

If the legendary TC finalizer 96k does a better job than this, I`d be suprised, the Quantum has more tricks up it`s sleeve, a larger screen and 4-bands to work with instead of three, but the £250 (from Thomann) Behringer Ultra-dyne beats both for functions, screen and is 6-band!!, so you can`t go on paper specs alone..

Sonically I can`t find fault with the Quantum yet, I`ve heard that the limiters and gates are better in the TC, but the EQ and compressors better in the DBX, it would be almost impossible to compare them side by side in a shop, you`d need both in YOUR studio to put them through their paces, it wasn`t an issue for me, the TC I was offered was the old PLUS model, was dearer and I couldn`t try them side by side, but was so blown away with the results, I`m happy .. DBX`s "all in one" and has a lower retail than the TC Finalizer 96K and produces gob-smacking results...

Good Points
Makes silk purses out of sows ear mixes
Bad Points
Unwarranted lack of street cred compared to the TC Finalizer - no ADAT or Optical connections
 

 Dbx Quantum Digital mastering processor Specifications:

Digital IOs:
2, SPDIF & AES/EBU
Analog IOs:
2 of each
Midi IOs:
1 of each
Other IOs:
Word Clock on BNC
EQ:
5-band parametric
Dynamics:
Compressor, limiter, expaner/gate, normalizer, De-Esser
FX:
Ambience, Stereo enhancement, Tape saturation Emulation
Upgrades/Extras:
OS over MIDI

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