dbx, BTSC, and THAT Corporation

dbx-tv’s roots trace back to the early1980s at dbx, Inc., then a wellspring for a wide range of innovative, award-winning audio designs and products. Some of dbx, Inc.’s creations, including dbx compressors (as exemplified by the famous dbx 160 and its variants), are prized and sought-after to this day. dbx compressor/limiters are used throughout recording studios and in live performances.

One of dbx, Inc.’s many noteworthy inventions was its Emmy®-award-winning dbx-tv noise-reduction system designed to be an integral part of the BTSC (Broadcast Television Standard Committee) transmission system. BTSC became the standard for analog TV-audio broadcasts in North America in 1984, with many other countries adopting BTSC variations shortly thereafter. This single invention allowed hundreds of millions of consumers to experience TV in stereo with high fidelity and no loss of coverage in fringe areas.

In 1989, dbx, Inc. was divided into several parts, three of which remain today. The first part of dbx, Inc. to spin off was THAT Corporation. Three engineers from dbx, Inc. formed THAT to design and sell circuit-board-level implementations of dbx Inc.’s technology as well as sophisticated analog ICs to perform audio functions. THAT’s first products included circuit boards to implement the dbx-tv noise reduction system for professional broadcast equipment makers, and voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA) and rms-level detector ICs for pro audio equipment makers. Twenty years later, those same three engineers remain the principal owners and managers of THAT today.

Shortly after THAT spun off, the professional products division of dbx, Inc. was sold to AKG, which was subsequently purchased by Harman International. Along with brands like AKG, JBL, Soundcraft, and Studer, dbx Professional Audio Products is a prominent part of Harman’s professional audio business.

Finally, in 1994, the dbx-tv licensing program was purchased by THAT Corporation, reuniting some of the original engineers involved in its development with the business that came from this technology. Since then, THAT has greatly expanded the scope of dbx-tv, enhancing its value with new digital variations of legacy reception. Most recently, THAT has introduced a new technology suite (dbx-tv Total Sonics and Total Volume) to address common audio problems with all modern broadcast reception.