Drawmer 1973 Three-Band Stereo Compressor
(first published in CX magazine – March, 2015)
Well, this name is a blast from the past! I haven’t really seen the name ‘Drawmer’ much for years. When I was young, the brand was relatively hot property, particularly well known for its analogue compression and gating. It was standard fair in many commercial studios, but the name has dropped off the radar in recent years, mainly because the concept of analogue gating, in particular has been largely replaced by digital plug-ins.
Regardless, Drawmer is well and truly alive and well, as the new release – an analogue three-band stereo FET compressor dubbed the ‘1973’ – proves.
It’s very Drawmer: plainly spoken knobs and switches adorn a sturdy matte black faceplate, with white writing clearly defining everything on-board, even in low light.
The unit is a multi-band; it’s strength therefore in controlling the dynamics of bands of frequencies independently of one another, which makes it a powerful analogue tool.
While many modern-day plug-in multi-band equivalents offer five or six bands in the main, most often I never instantiate more than about two or three, so three has turned out to be a good option.
I’ve been using the 1973 off and on for about a month at The Mill and it’s been refreshing to have a multi-band compressor strapped across the mix bus insert of analogue mixes.
This unit is a weapon. It’s sophisticated, sounds great and has all the right features, including a couple I didn’t expect.
The obvious controls on each of the three bands are Threshold, Attack, Release and Gain. Added to these is a high-quality, three-position toggle switch that flips each band between Mute, On and Bypass. Mute takes the band out of the audio path, On engages the compression settings, while Bypass leaves the audio to pass through unaffected. Personally, I would have preferred a solo function rather than a mute, but you soon get used to the difference.
Each band also has a set of horizontal, red LED gain reduction meters that are clear and precise – great at viewing from across the room as well as up close. The two continuously variable crossover controls for the three bands are: low/mid, from 50Hz to 1.3kHz, and mid/high from 1kHz to 14kHz.
There are two further features on the bands themselves. The low band has a “Big” switch, which basically reduces the compressor’s sensitivity to sub-harmonics. It sounds good and adds largesse to the sound, or more accurately, reduces the compressor’s capacity to take it away. On the high band there’s an equivalent “Air” switch, which does the same to frequencies above around 10kHz or so. These add some nice extra tone control to the equation when things start to sound a little choked.
The output section must get a mention here too. Great VU meters dominate the right hand side of the unit, adjustable via both 10dB pad, and peak/VU switches. There’s a great ‘Mix’ control that blends the affects of the whole unit with the original signal to allow serious parallel compression to take place. Finally, there’s an output gain control, a bypass switch, and a power on/off.
The Drawmer 1973 is a fantastic tool. It’s got lots of control, is robustly constructed, and sounds nice. Well worthy of any analogue recording, mixing or mastering chain.
In Australia, contact Studio Connections for more info: (03) 9416 8097 or www.studioconnections.com.au