Drawmer 1961 Vacuum Tube Equaliser by musicandstuff
What is it?
A two channel tube EQ with a HPF, LPF, and four EQ sections. Each with variable band width from 0.3 Octave to 3 Octaves and +18dB of Cut and Boost. BASS = 20, 32, 50, 80, 125, 200. LO-MID = 100, 180, 250, 400, 650, 1K. HI-MID = 0.5, 0.8, 1.2, 2.0, 3.2, 5.0. TREBLE = 2.5, 4, 6,10,15, 25.
So you can really get in there and drastically EQ to change the sound if you desire, as opposed to something that has less options and is there only to add a little seasoning to the sound
Why did I buy?
It is something of a maligned unit. I was in the market for an eq that had a high pass filter on it. I bought the 1961 as it popped up second hand at a nice and cheap price (a row of LED's had clapped out on it but it was still functioning fine) and it had the HPF. I was initially a little trepidatious having done some quick research among friends and on the internet. Both had told me it perhaps wasn't quite up to scratch, but the price was so good I figured it would really have to be a piece of crap to not to be worth it, and I figured it should be good enough
Ease of use?
It is pretty fully featured. Most EQ's I have used before have half the options this one does, so it took me a little bit more attention to get the most of out. But aside from careful gain staging to make sure it doesn't burn up in an ugly way on peaks, it isn't rocket science. People used to using those bundled plugin EQ's will be familiar with a feature packed EQ anyway.
What does it sound like?
In short, coloured, and pretty damn good.
Just running material through it without EQ does soften the sound and introduce a slight veiled quality, the more you push it into a light drive the more this comes through with a nice gentle distortion. Some would associate this with 'tubes' and though I am certain this colour would not be to everyones taste it is not ugly to me. Particularly if you are after a vintage orientated sound where everything doesn't need to be super articulate. It comes out a tiny bit richer, a little thicker, a little rougher, and a little veiled. For drum rooms, electrics, vocals and backing vocals, acoustics that don't need to be SUPER CLEAR, percussion, synths you want a little more characterful. These things can be great with a little of this quality.
The sweepable LPF and HPF mean you get rid of anything you don't need.
BASS and LO-MID and HI-MID sound good boosted and cut. I don't think any of them sound 'Best In Show' when I think of EQ's I have fallen in love with when using, but they certainly don't sound bad - AT ALL. They sound GOOD. And as there are so many options you really get to sculpt. The TREBLE section does sound great though to my ear. Boosting the 15, 25khz bands in particular add that lovely amount of AIR and sparkle different from other EQs. I like the top end of the EQ a lot, and overall it is no slouch.
It overdrives in a nice way to a point, a nice subtle tube drive, quite different to how my API and Neve preamps distort. Then once it gets past that it gets really gnarly, not subtle, distortion. One of the first things I used it for was vocals on a rockabilly record. I distorted the preamp and this EQ when tracking. When it came to mixing I was loving how well the vocal sound came out. It was a significantly more interesting distorted vocal sound than I had been getting prior to owning this EQ. Miles closer to those old R&B record vocal sounds.
Possibly too coloured for most mix bus applications. I have used it for one record which I wanted to add a ton of colour to, but apart from that it has just been a tracking EQ and a useful one at that - especially as you can dial in EXACTLY the EQ you want.
As mentioned it is subtley and not so subtley coloured depending on how you drive it. If that is going to be an issue, then that will be a limitation.
It is sometimes hard to get it in the sweet overdrive spot as once it goes beyond it it gets too gnarly quickly. I find if the preamp is lightly clipping and you have compressed the peaks a little it sits in a nice tube drive spot but otherwise really dynamic parts can get burnt a bit heavily in places
It runs pretty hot.
Build quality, looks, price?
Looks a little industrial. Not ugly but it won't be winning Miss Universe this century.
The LEDs on one channel had died by the time I bought it, but I think it is about 10 years old. The EQ portion works fine so not sure if this was bad luck or a design flaw. It wouldn't be hard to fix I imagine but I don't mind so have not.
Seems well built overall though, pots still turn with no scratches. It doesn't seem as solid as a couple bits of gear I own (Crangesong, Neve) but it doesn't feel cheap.
I got it cheap so am really happy, and I think it is worth its RRP.
Would I buy again?
It is not something I use all day everyday but it has been a useful addition to my arsenal. I would miss it a lot so the answer is yes. It is like a Decapitator and a nice EQ rolled into one. I feel it has been a little unfairly put down but some, which is sweet, but I would give it a trial if you need an EQ to do more than gently sweeten.