Ken Giles (left) and Ivor Drawmer
In honor of Drawmer’s 25th anniversary, company founder Ivor Drawmer designed the Signature Series of analog signal processors. The first product in the line, the S3 3-band tube compressor, is shipping and will be followed by other products.
“The strength of Drawmer has always been, and will always be, the innovations,” says sales principal Ken Giles. “Those innovations have had a significant impact on recording and live sound. The whole suite of gating tricks that every engineer worth his or her salt knows goes back to Drawmer. The ‘direct-in’ style of minimal chain length recording goes back to Drawmer. And so many of Drawmer’s innovations have shown up in the products of other manufacturers, although I would submit with inferior implementation!
“In some ways it’s quite amazing that we keep selling all of our old hits in addition to the new products,” Giles continues. “Because our products last [for] decades, you’re forced to wonder where all the new units are going. I’ve never heard of someone throwing away a piece of Drawmer equipment! We make everything right here in England, which makes it a little more expensive than if we outsourced everything. But I think our customers recoup that cost many times over, since our products last and last.”
Although Ivor Drawmer assembled a small R&D team, every Drawmer product is ultimately designed by Ivor himself. “Even the software is coded by Ivor,” says Giles. “He’s really unique in the industry. The same man who designed the DS201 gate and the 1960 pre/compressor writes the code for the 2476 mastering software and the TourBuss plug-ins. When he’s not working with capacitors and a soldering iron, he’s working with a keyboard and a mouse.”
Giles coined the term “Drawmerisms” to describe features that are unique to the Drawmer brand. “The inspirations for my designs evolve,” explains Drawmer. “I try to come up with a different angle on things. For example, when I heard people complaining that any time they compressed a track with a lot of low end, the high end ducked out. It took some doing, but I engineered a solution. The DL251 was every bit as musical and functional as an ordinary compressor, but by treating different frequency bands separately, it worked elegantly around that problem.”
Giles says that Drawmer’s 1960 mic pre/compressor stands as an example of a “Drawmerism.” In the early 1980s, high-end studios rediscovered the sounds of old Pultec and Fairchild outboard equipment. According to Giles, those units were unreliable, and Drawmer realized that more stable designs were possible, while offering a single input channel. The Drawmer 1960 debuted in 1983.
“We’ll stay true to our original mission, solving problems and improving the world of pro audio with Drawmerisms that have yet to be invented,” Giles concludes. “There’s something to be said for companies who have been operating for 25 years with the same principals and staff. The larger companies have a regular turnover of staff and often very little employee loyalty. The dynamics at Drawmer are very different —pun intended.”