You may not realise it but you have been listening to Drawmer for the last 30 years, almost every time you turn on the radio, watch t.v. or go to a gig. Since the introduction of the DS201 noise gate in 1982 Drawmer products have consistently remained the unequivocal choice of producers, engineers and artist’s, and, as such, have been installed in almost every major recording studio, live venue and broadcast facility throughout the world. Drawmer products are the engineer’s indispensable tools that elevates good sound into truly stunning!
The company, which is based in Yorkshire, England, was founded by Ivor Drawmer, whose passion was designing audio circuits. "The whole thing started in 1981," explains Drawmer. "I had been playing keyboards with bands in Yorkshire, but that wasn't going so well and also I wasn't getting any younger. With the encouragement of friends I built a small batch of stereo delay lines, which I called the Multitracker, and that was the start of Drawmer."
In 1982 Drawmer revolutionised gating by introducing the DS201 Dual Noise Gate, the world's first 'frequency conscious' noise gate. "It came about from working with a producer called Phil Chapman, who wanted me to build him a gate. Without doing any research I built this thing that switched on, held for a certain amount of time and then just switched off. In practice of course it was no good at all, so I then spent some time going around studios looking at how gates were being used. What really surprised me was how long engineers spent fiddling with gates trying to get them optimally set up and I realised very quickly that a better design was needed." The DS201's unique High-Pass and Low-Pass key filters, comprehensive envelope control and ultra-fast attack time has since made it the 'industry standard' gate throughout the world. The 201 transformed the gate from what had previously been a simple "on/off" device to a powerful creative tool playing a significant role in modern music production. "It was the kind of unit that people discovered uses for and it immediately enabled engineers to do the things they'd always dreamed of with minimum fuss," says Drawmer.
Very little has changed to the design of the DS201 over the years, and Ivor Drawmer claims it sells as well now as it did back in the early 1980s. "It's astounding where they all go, but to date we've sold tens of thousands of units," he says.
In 1984 Drawmer released the original 1960 Mic Pre-Amp/Vacuum Tube Compressor which combined two high performance mic pre-amps, two 'soft knee' tube compressors and an instrument pre-amp with EQ. The 1960 was the first self contained 'front end', and for many recordists who required only one or two microphone input channels it replaced the mixing console, assuring the user of a high quality signal path with a 'distinctive' sound.
The concept of the 1960 was to combine the 'warmth and character' of eight active tube stages with the low noise and reliability of solid state electronics. The 1960 has been adopted by producers and musicians around the world and acclaimed as the ultimate direct interface between the sound source and the recording medium. Although the basic design and features of the 1960 remain the same to this day, periodic upgrades have been performed, the latest being the addition of high-pass filters and overload LEDs to the mic pre-amp. As the retro movement has escalated, Drawmer says there has been a dramatic surge in 1960 sales which now puts the unit on a par with the gates.
During 1989 Drawmer developed a new proprietary gating circuitry which it entitled 'programme adaptive'. This intelligent auto-circuitry was capable of analysing the dynamic content of the incoming signal and constantly optimising the 'attack', 'hold', 'ratio' and 'release' parameters thereby creating a much smoother gating action than previously available. The first products to incorporate Drawmer's 'programme adaptive' circuitry were the DL241 Auto Compressor released in 1990 and the DS404 Quad Noise Gate released in 1991. Also developed in 1989 was a new limiter circuitry which performed 'Zero Overshoot', 'Zero Response Time' transparent limiting. This was also included in the DL241 Auto Compressor and later the DL441 Quad Auto Compressor Limiter.
In 1992 Drawmer took the innovative step of incorporating their newly developed 'Dynamics Spectral Enhancement' circuitry into a high quality compressor/limiter which enabled the user to dynamically boost any high frequency energy lost during the full band compression process. The resulting product, the DL251 Spectral Compressor was enthusiastically received by the mastering, broadcast and studio industries.
With the new series of compressors becoming established amongst professional users Drawmer decided to expand its range of tube products and in 1994 released the 1961 Vacuum Tube Equaliser. An interesting 1961 design feature was the inclusion of a variable input level control on each of the two channels. This design approach allows the user to control the amount of 'warmth' by deciding how hard to drive the tubes giving a sound as 'clean' as the best discrete solid state designs or as 'hot' as the 'hottest' vintage tube models.
In contrast to the 'high end', the MX30 Gated/Comp/Limiter and MX40 Punch Gate are low cost entry level dynamics processors bringing Drawmer's professional processing into a wider M.I. market place. The MX range has now been expanded with the MX50 Dual De-Esser and MX60 Front End One.
The Drawmer S3 Stereo Three Band Tube Compressor incorporates the very latest in Ivor Drawmer designs and the aim from the very beginning was to create a ‘no technical compromise’ circuit using only the highest grade components. The S3 forms the basis of a ‘Signature Series’ and offers previously unattainable control and tonality over each of the three bands - gain control at each stage provides precise spectral balancing. The signal path consists of high performance input/output transformers, passive components and 10 x tubes (8 x ECC83 and 2 x 12BH7) configured as a fully balanced Class A design.
2008 sees Drawmer adding to its DMS (Digital Management Systems) range with the new A2D2 AES Grade 1 Dual Output A/D Converter, M-Clock Plus AES Grade 1 Master Clock/Dual Sample Rate Converter and the M-Clock Lite AES Grade 1 Master Clock. Ivor Drawmer continues to work in conjunction with a team of highly qualified technicians with both analogue and digital expertise. Their design brief is to continue to create innovative and unique products based on feedback from Ken Giles' Sales and Marketing department and the Drawmer International Distributor network.
The influential contribution of Ivor Drawmer to pro-audio design over the last 30 years has been recognised by the APRS (Association of Professional Recording Studios). The Association presented him with a coveted Award for Lifetime Technical Achievement to the Audio Industry.
As well as inventing some of the most classic analogue products on the market, Drawmer has spearheaded an ambitious digital research and development programme. In 1995 the 1962 Digital Vacuum Pre-amp was launched which cleverly combined analogue pre-amps, vacuum tubes and a 24-bit A/D , and was soon followed by the Drawmer Dynamics TDM Plug-In for Digidesign Pro-Tools system.
Ken Giles, former Drawmer Sales Principal, comments, "Ivor's designs have not only played a significant role in the way that signal processing has evolved, but have also shaped the product ranges of our competitors. His past achievements with analogue circuitry and his presence at the leading edge of 24 bit/96K digital processing illustrates his versatility and make him a unique technical figure within our industry. There is no doubt that Drawmer's sound tools have not only been ahead of their time but have also stood the test of time, after all the DS201 remains the standard noise gate of the industry."