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Drawmer Electronics 1977

Analogue Channel Strip By Matt Houghton
Published June 2024

Drawmer Electronics 1977

Drawmer have been offering no‑nonsense professional audio gear since the early ’80s, but their current range of processors offers more possibilities than ever.

British company Drawmer Electronics have been around since 1982 and today they offer several lines of outboard processors, along with monitor controllers, master clocks, signal routers and even plug‑ins, via a collaboration with Softube. For review here is their latest analogue channel strip: the 1977. It’s a mono, 2U rackmount device that combines a preamplifier, an EQ, a compressor and a saturator with some useful routing facilities. It connects to mains AC via an IEC socket on the rear, and can operate on 230V 50Hz or 115V 60Hz power — to prevent accidents you must unscrew a metal panel and insert a suitable fuse if you wish to change this.

Externally, the build quality is good: unfussy, solid and fit for purpose, with very clear panel markings. On the inside most components are traditional through‑hole types, laid out on one main motherboard that fills the chassis, and a vertical daughterboard behind the front panel.

Preamp & EQ

The preamp stage is really versatile, with input impedance options for mics, a variable high‑pass filter, and both input and thru sockets for instruments.The preamp stage is really versatile, with input impedance options for mics, a variable high‑pass filter, and both input and thru sockets for instruments.The preamp has separate mic and line inputs on the rear (electronically balanced XLRs), along with a TS jack instrument input on the front. A front‑panel rotary switch selects the source, and there’s 0 to 66 dB of gain available for mics and ‑24 to 42 dB for line or instrument sources. For the mic input you can choose between four positions on the selector switch. The first three offer different input impedances (2.4kΩ, 600Ω and 200Ω) and no phantom power — these can be useful when working with passive dynamic (moving‑coil or ribbon) mics, as the impedance can have a significant impact on their tonality. This arrangement also ensures phantom isn’t present where it’s not wanted. The fourth position is for capacitor (and other active) mics and this engages 48V phantom power automatically.

There are some more typical preamp features here: a polarity inverter is joined by a high‑pass filter; helpfully, the latter is fully variable from 16 to 130 Hz, making it suitable for use as an unobtrusive rumble filter, to counteract the tonal impact of the proximity effect or, for example, to roll off the bottom end of a guitar to prevent it treading on the toes of the bass. This filter can also be switched in/out of the signal path without changing its frequency setting.

Conveniently, alongside the instrument jack another quarter‑inch TS jack provides a ‘thru’ output, and a similarly thoughtful touch is the preamp direct out on another electronically balanced XLR on the rear. So you can use the instrument stage like a traditional DI box, with the preamp’s line output going to FOH or a recording device and the thru feeding your amp or pedalboard. Or you might record the clean signal post the preamp and use the processing stages later when mixing, or even at the same time when streaming or broadcasting.

After the preamp, there are several processing stages, including a three‑band equaliser. This can be switched in or out of the signal path (it’s a hard‑wired bypass) and pre/post the compressor, courtesy of a button to the left of the EQ section. A ±12dB low shelf can be set anywhere from 40 to 725 Hz, and a switch allows you to choose 6, 9 or 12 dB/octave slopes. There’s also a really useful Peak setting — this once again has a 12dB/octave slope but this time there’s a resonant peak around the turnover frequency. The mid band, a parametric...

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