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The 'I want one!' of the week - Drawmer S3 Three Band Stereo Vacuum Tube Compressor

"When you are tired of equipment, you are tired of life." (After Samuel Johnson.) How could you possibly not get the hots for this...?


I've seen equipment come and I've seen it go. It takes more than a new plug-in to get me excited these days (unless it's an analog tape simulator that actually works, but they don't exist yet).

But when news of the Drawmer S3 came in through my e-mail, my eyes popped out. This has got to be the sleekest, sexiest compressor that has ever existed!

And three frequency bands too!

So what's so interesting about it? There are several answers to this...

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Firstly, it's a Drawmer. Drawmer has an incredible track record of producing equipment that ranges from the efficient and workmanlike, to the sublime. OK, there have been a couple of dodos, but doesn't every manufacturer have days like that?

(By the way - here's an article on the Drawmer website that I wrote some time ago.)

Secondly, it has vacuum tubes. Yes I know you can get tubes elsewhere...

You can get tube microphones, you can get tube preamplifiers, you can get tube effects units. (You can also get tubes where they're not really wired into the circuit properly and don't give you the genuine tube sound.)

But there is something special about a tube compressor. Don't ask me why, there just is.

I remember having the massive Chiswick Reach compressor on my test bench. It almost cost me a hernia simply to lift it up there!

But the sound... the glorious sound...

OK, back to reality...

The one thing that sets the Drawmer S3 tube compressor above the others is the fact that it splits the frequency range into three bands, and there aren't many of those about (only Tube-Tech, as far as I know).

On the left hand side of the Drawmer S3 are two frequency controls that set the points where the bands are split. Next follow three completely separate compressors that compress each band individually, with a full range of features.

Finally the signal is summed and given make-up gain to restore the level that is inevitably lost in the compression process.

Everything about the Drawmer S3 seems absolutely spot-on as far as I can see.

The next step... I just have to try it out. When I do, you'll be the first to know (and hear the audio samples).

By David Mellor Monday January 29, 2007