Softube Drawmer 1973 – 3-band FET Compressor
A multi-band compressor at your service – easy to use, sounding great, and with a nice set of generally defined presets named by function.
by A. Arsov, May 2016
In a previous issue we reviewed Softube Drawmer S73, a simplified version of the Drawmer 1973. Both plug-ins are simulations of the original Drawmer FET multiband compressor with some unique extra options. Actually, Drawmer 1973 offers all those controllers that were hidden on S73, allowing the user to fine-tune the end results, changing various settings inside any preset or even setting everything up from scratch. We already pointed out with the Drawmer S73 that the main advantage of this Softube tool is the fact that it is really easy to set up right, and what is even better, that it produces a clear, well-defined sound. I have to admit that I’m not an expert in compressing tasks, having struggled with multiband compressors over the years, rarely getting satisfying results. Drawmer 1973 doesn’t offer a large number of presets, but the funny truth is that those presets work well with almost all the sounds I have used it for. No matter if I used it for a drum bus or on the main output for the whole mix for taming a problematic bass part or any other problematic area that needs multiband handling. I’ve tried a million presets on many other multiband compressors – sometimes they do the job, but in most cases they don’t sound as they should and end up pumping or even smudging the whole picture, trying to change some settings and making things even worse. If you’ve ever worked with those tools you probably know what I’m talking about. So at this point, Drawmer 1973 is a blessing for me. Of course, if you are a skilled producer able to set any compressor on the fly, there is a still enough joy inside Drawmer 1973 to make you happy. A well-defined, clear sound, the ability to set mid or side compression for every band separately, spreading the high end along with taming the lows, or being able to set very short attack or release values.
Drawmer In Detail
The whole thing is quite well-designed (similar to the original hardware) and therefore you will not lose your mind trying to figure out how to set it right. Of course, those few presets are a great starting point, and in many cases everything you’ll ever need.
In the upper row you will find the Input knob which controls the input gain that goes through the compressor, the Output section with an output knob along with a Mix knob for setting the balance between uncompressed and compressed signals, applying parallel compression. Sometimes the end result on Drawmer 1973 can sound a bit hard nailed, so I often use this knob to get a more natural sound, especially on more aggressive tracks, like orchestral percussion or even on the master output.
Between Input and Output is also a Mode section where we can find a Stereo to Mid/Side switch for applying different compression settings for mid and side portions of the sound. Quite useful for adding sparkle to the high end or for taming the reverb that sticks out on a both sides.
At the bottom we find three big windows with Low, Mid and High sections and two Low and High X over frequency knobs for setting the splitting point between bands.
Every band contains a Threshold knob along with Attack, Release and Gain knobs. As we already mentioned, Drawmer 1973 offers really short Attack and Release times that I miss on some other multiband compressors. Attack goes from 0.2 ms to 50 ms, while Release goes from 0.08 s to 5 s. Not such a big difference but on some occasions it works wonders.
There are also two additional functions implemented with Drawmer 1973, the first one being a “Big” switch placed in the Low band that reduces the sidechain sensitivity for the low end, making the lows a bit louder and more prominent. As they explain nicely in the user manual: Controlling the low end still preserving tick and warm sound The other is the Air switch in the left corner of the High band which brings back those high frequencies we lost when applying heavy compression on the highs.
That’s What We’ve Got
There is not much in the way of additional controllers. Actually, you need to hear Drawmer 1973 in action to get the full impression. I tried it along with a few other multiband compressors and prefer this one, as somehow it provides this analog-like crisp and clean result, offering a more well-defined sound compared to other multiband compressors that just compress the sound. Maybe it’s just my subjective opinion, but to my ears it sounds different, and after all, it offers instant results with those generally defined presets named by function – like Punch, Clarity, Wide, Fat and similar.
In one sentence: Easy to use and good sounding. Actually, that is all I want.
You will need $249 USD and iLok software to use this one, but the good news is that you don’t need to have iLok hardware.
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