Test Drive: The PreSonus DCP-8 Eight Channel Dynamics Processor

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Part of the simplicity of the DCP-8 is that there are only two adjustable parameters for the compressor. Press the COMPRESSOR button to adjust the Compressor Threshold (from -50dB to +20dB). Press the RATIO button to adjust the ratio. Ratio settings are from 1:1 to LIMIT, which is one notch past 20:1. The VALUE knob is used to make the adjustment. The CHANNEL/PROGRAM UP and DOWN buttons are used to select the channel you wish to adjust. Compressor attack and release times are not user adjustable. The attack time is 200us and the release time is "program dependent."

Press the GATE button to set the noise gate on any channel anywhere from -90dB to +20dB. Press the GATE button again to put the gate in Bypass mode for that channel. (This Bypass function applies to the Compressor Threshold and Ratio functions as well.) The gate attack time is preset at 100us and provides 85dB attenuation.

Press the MUTE button to mute individual channels. The numbers 1 through 8 are displayed on the LCD display. Use the UP/DOWN buttons to move the cursor to the desired channel. Press the MUTE button to mute the selected channel. The channel number on the display changes to "M" to indicate that the channel is muted.

Press the LEVEL button to adjust individual channel outputs from -85dB to +20dB. When the DCP-8 is connected between console buss outputs and recorder inputs, you might not need to access this function at all since you can control levels from the console. However, if you're using a great deal of compression, boosting the level from this function is handy. But the real power of the Level controls of the DCP-8 is when the unit is connected between your tape outputs and console tape inputs, during mixdown mode. If you have a MIDI control panel and sequencer, MIDI signals can be recorded and sent to the DCP-8 to provide automated mixing. Can your compressor/limiter do that? Furthermore, automation doesn't stop with level control. All the DCP-8's parameters are MIDI controllable. Mutes can be automated. Compressor settings can be automated. And, of course, MIDI program change commands can switch between audio scenes instantly.

Press the SOLO button to mute all channels except the currently selected channel. This is helpful when the DCP-8 is used during a mixdown. When the Solo function is active, pressing the CHANNEL/PROGRAM UP/DOWN button lets you select other channels in the solo mode.

Press the SETUP button to access the DCP-8's system configuration mode. There are four sub-menus here: MIDI Setup, Group Setup, Link Setup, and Output Setup. The MIDI Setup menu sets MIDI transmit and receive channels and sets Program Change and Controller Change transmit and receive to ON and/or OFF.

Group Setup is a common automated mixer function. This function enables grouping several channel "faders" together so that adjusting the level of one channel of the group affects all the other channels in that group. Up to four groups can be programmed. Group information is stored and recalled for each program.

The Link Setup function is another function common with automated mixers. This function lets you link channels 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, and/or 7 and 8 with each other. When linked, adjustments to channel 1, let's say, will also apply to channel 2. The parameters affected are Compressor Threshold, Compressor Ratio, and Gate Threshold. If you want to link a pair of channels together so adjusting the level of one also affects the other, use the Group function. Link Setup information is also stored and recalled for each program.

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