If I remember correctly the 201 has attack/release and the 404 doesn't. The both have the frequency filters, which is great. For a couple years I worked in the studio with both units. I found attack/release on the 201 to be quite valuable. It really helps dial-in the gate and prevents a lot of unwanted bleed. The 404s I used for things like toms and extra stuff. It was nice to have both, but if I had to choose only one it's the 201.
I'm going to pick up a couple gate boxes. The DS404 looks appealing because it has 4 channels, but the 201 looks better because of the attack/release controls. I'll probably use some 201s on the kick/snare, but will the 404s suffice for the cymbals and toms?
I'm getting one of these. I've only tried the DS201 and I love it. I used pretty quick release/hold/decay times.
Anyone tried both DS201 and DS404. Ever felt that you actually needed the extra control options available from the DS201 to get the job done, or di'd you ever felt the DS404 was not sufficient enough?
The 404 is useful to those who might need a downward expander at times, a switch (hard) gate like the 201 at other times, as it is switchable between the two modes of operation. So said another way, a percussion gate and a non percussion downward expander in the same box.
The 201 is specifically for percussion. It has variable speed so this makes it more of a precision tool, as snare and kick typically need different [attack] speeds to sound best.
The obvious difference between the two Dramer units is that you give up some function to be able to fit an extra two channels of gates into the same single rack space. In live use those lost functions will not be as important. Is this for live or studio use? How many channels of gates do you need? Why limit yourself to just Drawmer for gates? Like most tasks in audio you have plenty of available options. Check out old threads here on the Aphex gates as some here prefer them and they go for next to nothing used. There are other contenders too covered in the threads. If you need a lot of gates in a small amount of space there is the 500 series form factor, the old Aphex 9000 module series (up to 11 units in a rack), and even other quad gates in a single rack space units (Klark Teknik). If on the other hand you have specific questions to these two Drawmer gates other than what they leave out (which is easy to see at Drawmer's website) ask away. The obvious answer to "why pick the DS201?" is more control.
You mentioned 500, there is a relatively new Drawmer gate in 500 form factor: the DS101. Not expensive and two of them can optically link when mounted adjacent in a 500 rack. The 101 is baed on single channel of a 201. They are standard production now from the UK factory so they are available worldwide.
I still own and use 3 of the DS201s a lot! The 404 is cool if you just need some quick basic gating in a portable rack but in my opinion the 201 is really worth taking up the extra rack space to get the amount of channels you need.