by Jerry Vigil

The DCP-8 8-channel dynamics processor is one of a new breed of processing boxes created in response to the growing use of digital 8-track recorders. In the analog world, you strive to maintain high recording levels in order to keep the noise floor down and efficiently use the available dynamic range. In the digital world, keeping recording levels high increases the "resolution" of the recording by using more bits in each sample, and again, the available dynamic range is efficiently used. But digital recorders are far less forgiving when levels exceed the limits. Digital distortion is not pretty. Enter the DCP-8, the first product from PreSonus Audio Electronics (list $999). The DCP-8 delivers eight independent compressor/limiters that can eliminate those nasty peaks in the red. You also get eight noise gates, eight mutes, and eight level controls. If you're using one of the popular 8-track digital recorders (Alesis ADAT, Tascam DA-88, etc.), the DCP-8 was designed for you. Even if you're one of the poor souls still using an analog 8-track, the DCP-8 can clean up and improve the quality of your work. But putting the DCP-8 between your console buss outputs and recorder inputs is not the only application of this versatile box.

The DCP-8 is very simple to install and use. The rear panel provides eight inputs and eight outputs on 1/4-inch TRS jacks, balanced or unbalanced. There's a port for the optional MB-8 meter bridge, the second and most recent product from this new company. Since you don't get any metering on the DCP-8, the MB-8 is a nice option, providing metering for both input signals and gain reduction using sixteen 10-element bar graphs in a single rack-space unit (list $399). MIDI IN, THRU, and OUT connectors provide MIDI control of all DCP-8 parameters and turn the DCP-8 into much more than meets the eye, as we'll look at later. The A/C power connector wraps up the rear panel.

All processing in the DCP-8 is done in the analog domain, but the processors are controlled by a microprocessor--like most digital effects boxes these days. As a result, you find three buttons on the front panel not normally found on dynamics processors: LOAD, STORE, and NAME. These familiar functions perform as you'd expect. Up to one hundred "audio scenes" can be stored in the DCP-8's memory. The current program number is displayed in the large red LED Program display. The 16-character by 2-line backlit LCD display shows the program name, when in the program LOAD, STORE, and NAME functions, and displays other information when other functions are active. Press the CHANNEL/PROGRAM UP and DOWN buttons to select a new audio scene then press LOAD to recall that program. Press STORE to store a scene, and press NAME to edit the program name. (Green LEDs on the buttons turn red to show which function is active.) You don't get a set of factory presets--that wouldn't make much sense--you simply get one hundred locations in which to store your own settings. All parameters in each program are set to factory defaults with "User Program" as the default name.