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Drawmer MX40 Punch Gate and MX50 Dual De-Esser (part 2)

One of Drawmer’s main claims to fame, aside from selling their DS201 at a much lower price than studios would have been willing to pay, is the provision of side chain filters so that the gate may be set to reject spill from other instruments and hence not be subject to false triggering...

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One of Drawmer’s main claims to fame, aside from selling their DS201 at a much lower price than studios would have been willing to pay, is the provision of side chain filters so that the gate may be set to reject spill from other instruments and hence not be subject to false triggering. The DS201, which I can’t seem to avoid mentioning, has separate HF and LF filters (which actually are rather nice sounding filters in their own right, if the gate is used in ‘key listen’ mode). The MX40 has just one control, labelled ‘Trigger Frequency’ which governs the centre frequency of a bandpass filter with a bandwidth of one octave. The centre frequency can be adjusted from 50Hz up to 8kHz, which is a wide enough range and can be switched out if desired. Once again, and like the Release control too, there is a nifty little graphic showing very clearly what the control does. The artist deserves a bonus. Of course, there is also an external trigger input, since there will always be the situation where the internal filter isn’t quite adequate and drastic measures have to be taken, such as taping a contact mike to an instrument purely to make sure the gate opens and closes when that instrument is playing, and not the trombonist just behind. It should be noted that there is actually only one external key input, which can be shared among all four channels. Penultimate among the conventional controls is the Range switch. No continuously variable control here, just -90dB and -20dB. Most of the time you would want the gate to close completely, but on certain occasions when the operation of the gate draws the listener’s attention, a lower degree of attenuation is required. -20dB is a good compromise. Lastly, there are the stereo link (known as Slave on the MX40) switches, one per pair of channels. When the channels are linked, the odd numbered channel takes over and the threshold of the pair is that set on the odd channel. This raises the question of what happens when there is a loud signal in the other channel that really should have opened the gate? The gate won’t open, but in reality I don’t see this being anything more than a very rare inconvenience.

Lastly in this tour of features I’ll mention the MX40 Punch Gate’s main claim to fame - the Punch attack setting. If you take a look at Figure 1 you’ll see what it does. Drawmer describe it as a dynamic feature that accelerates the leading edge of the signal as the gate opens, adding around 6dB of gain for approximately 10 milliseconds.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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