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I have a Peavey PV6 USB Mixer and a Audio Technica AT2050 microphone that uses phantom power. It all worked great. Later I decided to add a compressor and got a 2nd hand dbx 166XL (verified that it works). Then I realized the PV6 doesn't have insert.

I tried running it back in through the EFX Return, but that didn't work as it mixed the compressed and uncompressed sound together (at least that is what it sounded like). I tried running from the mic, through the compressor, to the mixer. I got no audio. I realized that the TRS (1/2" jack) I was using doesn't support phantom power.

Before I go and pick up an XLR cable, I thought I would check to see if the phantom power can pass through the compressor. I don't see anything in the dbx 166XL documentation about this, so I am asking here.

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The short answer is no, and don't do that. :-)

Your mixer contains a very important component, which is the mic preamp. The compressor wants to use line-level signal as input and output. Even if you injected phantom power between the compressor and the mic, then you're still trying to make the compressor work with mic-level signal.

Nothing should come between your mic and mic preamp except very specific applications -- something like a kill switch or a phase inverter or something.

So, you've got to figure out how to integrate the compressor into the signal chain after the preamp. As you've noted, you don't have inserts, but you do have an additive effects loop. Two options I can think of that you might be able to use as a workaround:

  1. Just throw the compressor after the main outs of your mixer. Depending on what else you're mixing, this might or might not be useful. Maybe you can hard pan your vocal mic to L, put your other sources hard panned to R, and then run the compressor only after the L out from the mixer.
  2. Treat the mixer as mono, and use one of the two channels with the effects send/return to run the compressor. To elaborate, send the mic to channel 1 and hard pan this channel to R, also sending to EFX. Run EFX send to the compressor, and EFX return to L in mono. Then only use the left main out from the mixer. This way, you will never hear the dry mic signal (because it's hard panned right), but you can still mix other signals into the mono channel, and you can use the EFX send to selectively put signals through to the compressor.
  • I tried doing the pan left and pan right, and in the process found that if I reduce the gain on the microphone enough that it loses the background noise, while still being loud enough that the expander kicks in and fill the sound back out. I'll mess with it some more, but I think I have a configuration that works great for me. – Jim McKeeth Jan 15 '16 at 18:03
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Don't do it. The output of the 116xl does not like phantom power. And it will not pass it through.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review – jdjazz Nov 6 '17 at 4:17
  • The question: Before I go and pick up an XLR cable, I thought I would check to see if the phantom power can pass through the compressor. The answer: And it will not pass it through – ghellquist Nov 6 '17 at 5:34
  • Hi Gunnar, thanks for the message. Could you elaborate a bit in your answer? Those seeking to understand the answer would likely benefit from your knowledge about why the 116xl does not like phantom power, possible work-arounds, etc. – jdjazz Nov 7 '17 at 0:12
  • Phantom power comes from the microphone preamp in order to supply the electronics in the mic with energy. In this case the microphone preamp in the mixer. It is 48V, limited by resistors of 6,8k. The output of the 116xl might be able to stand this, or not. You simply have to check the manual. I have checked it, and it does not state that it can handle phantom power. This means that there is a possibility that the 166xl might be damaged by phantom power. In any case the compressor will never pass the phantom power on to the mic. – ghellquist Nov 7 '17 at 5:13
  • In order to get the effect you wish for, you need a chain of: microphone - XLR cable - microphone with preamp - compressor --> rest of system. With the current mixer that is not really possible. The best you can do is to connect the compressor in the effects out/effects in jacks. Then turn effects send up on the mic channel and the fader down to zero. In this setup you want all the sound from the mic to come through the compressor. But it really is a workaround. The end solution is to either get a mixer with effects send/return on a channel or to get a separate microphone preamp. – ghellquist Nov 7 '17 at 5:23

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