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Drawmer 1969

Drawmer 1969 ME

4.4 4.4 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

The original Mercenary Edition.....

14th February 2012

Drawmer 1969 ME by muziqfreek

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Drawmer 1969

The original Drawmer 1960, while not exactly a complete dog - had areas that could be improved.. so according the Mercenary themselves, "all we kept from the original 1960 were the meters, connectors, and power transformer… everything else is different" - Compression wise there are threshold, attack and release controls with a tube output makeup gain - attack settings are at 6 fixed settings from 2 to 50 ms coupled with 3 Fixed and 3 Program Dependent Release settings (100ms, 500ms, 1sec - fixed & - 200ms to 2sec, 500ms to 5 sec and 1 sec to 10sec - release times! WHew!!) Fortunately all of which work really well with different material really well, and its quite hard to mess the sound up!!!

Now I've never owned an original 1960, but engineers I've worked with have always commented on my 1969 as being a much better beast all round.. smoother preamps and a more versatile compressor.. combined with the BIG switch (to HP the sidechain signal feeding the J-FET compression cell) - which was one of the first units i'd seen featuring this clever ability to stop bass heavy signals from causing the compressor to react... In use - while the mic pre's may be better than the original they're certainly in the "dark" category in my opinon.. however this isn't to damn them as useless, as on drum kits with over enthusiastic drummers or ones with bright cymbals , it can help to tame that excess zingy sound somewhat

The DI input is also really good - and if you switch both channels on, you can record a straight bass and a really compressed one at the same time, giving you parallel bass compression in one easy move!!!

However for me - where this unit really shines - (and is apparent by the launch of the 1968 ME compressor) - is on Busses while mixing, either on drum, guitar or full mix buss - this compressor is deadly and the more you crank the output, the more she sings!!! - When mixing stereo sources with the Link (and BIG switch engaged) I like to switch one meter to show output and one to show Gain reduction - as its good for balancing the settings and seeing what's going on...

All in all a great unit with some good features and definitely a keeper unit for me.. enjoy

28th February 2012

Drawmer 1969 ME by IIRs

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Drawmer 1969

I use this unit every day. The unit contains a pair of mic pres, an instrument input stage, plus stereo / dual mono compression, so I will address each separately:

Mic pres. I've grown to really love these, and they're now my first choice for most sources. They have a rich, warm sound that I find easy to work with, and remain noise free even when cranked to the max with ribbon mics on quiet sources. Unlike the original 1960 the gain controls are stepped. I actually quite like this, but the steps are fairly coarse so I sometimes need to use the compressor make-up gain for fine tuning.

Instrument Input. Contrary to the review posted above, I believe this section is actually still exactly the same as the older 1960 unit. It sounds the same to my ears anyway. Keeping this was a good decision in my opinion: its superb! The simple low and high tone controls are musical and sweet sounding, while the gain control takes you smoothly from clean to really quite dirty indeed... I've actually used this as a pre-amp stage to feed a guitar power-amp and cab, with some great crunchy rock'n'roll tones emerging. Bluesy not-quite-clean sounds are easy to achieve, and dialling in some compression as well can sound (and feel) glorious.

Plugging a bass guitar into this input has never failed to deliver so far. And, as mentioned above, you can switch either or both channels to the "Aux" instrument input, so can easily experiment with parallel compression tricks on the way in.

Compression: This section is definitely not the same as the older 1960s. The basic soft-knee-with-no-ratio paradigm remains, but the knee now seems much softer and more gradual, and you need to drive the compressor much harder to reach the higher ratios. The simple 3 position Fast / Medium / Slow switches for the time constants have also been replaced with 6 position switches providing finer control over the attack times, plus 3 program dependant release times.

Both these changes make the compression much more useful over full mixes and sub-groups in my opinion. I also find I prefer it while tracking, as I generally only use minimal compression on the way in. The 1969 will react much more gently and gracefully if the talent suddenly gets much louder when the red light goes on! The more aggressive action of the 1960 can sometimes be useful in a mixing context however.

I should also mention that (like the original 1960) this unit provides independant XLR inputs for line and mic signals, with switches on the front panel to choose between them for each channel. This has proved very useful in my setup as I can leave the mic inputs patched from my live room while the line inputs are fed from a pair of DAW outs. I can then switch between tracking mode using the pres or the instrument input, or mixing / mastering mode using ReaInsert to drop the unit into my Reaper mix, without needing to run the unit via a patchbay, and with no risk of inadvertantly sending phantom to the wrong place.

Running the unit like a plug-in is quite revealing: just inserting it with no compression results in a subtle change in the sound, most noticeable in the high end to my ears. The slightly darker, denser sound isn't always better... but quite often it is! The compression itself tends to be musical and flattering even with fairly heavy squashing, and especially when using the auto-release settings. Again it doesn't suit every mix, and I will sometimes AB it against a plugin and prefer that. Sometimes they are just different and I struggle to pick which I prefer (in which case I usually go with the plug-in for faster rendering times!). But on a significant proportion of mixes the 1969 compression provides precisely the required "glue", and I almost always try it out even if I end up going with something else.

One minor down-side: the sidechain high-pass filters can't be switched independantly of the stereo linking. It comes via a three position switch offering dual mono, stereo linked, or stereo-with-high-pass-filter. Dual mono plus high-pass filter is not an option. This is not a massive problem, but I personally don't always link the channels when processing stereo signals, plus I also often convert my stereo signals to MS for processing through the unit, in which case the channels will usually need to be unlinked. In both cases the sidechain filters are no longer available... of course you could get around this by using the sidechain inputs (on jacks not XLRs) or by adding emphasis and de-emphasis filters either side of the compressor (I like using FabFilter Pro-Q as its very easy to dial in symmetrical cuts and boosts).

That last point promted me to rate it only 9 for features, but I'm wondering if that's a bit harsh? Great unit anyway, highly recommended!

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