Softube Drawmer S73 Review
More than the hardware it emulates!
What is it really?
Perhaps the king of deceptive naming? Its name suggests that the Drawmer S73 plugin was modeled after the Drawmer 1973 hardware multiband compressor.
If you’re looking to use this plugin for multiband compression – don’t. It trades all the precision parameters of a multiband compressor for a simplified interface with a set of styles. It would be like using a multiband plugin with presets. There’s no better way to kill your mix. However, this simple little guy brings the invaluable “mix” knob, which opens up a whole new dimension.
Instead, Softube calls their Drawmer S73 a mastering processor. While it would definitely have a fine place in the mastering chain, it could also have a decent spot on the mix buss, group channels and maybe even individual tracks. Because of its styles, the Drawmer S73 compressor plugin should be considered a sound processor, rather than just something used for mastering.
What does it give me?
Look at it! I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.
Top to bottom you have your VU meters, gotta love those right? Then the main parameters consisting of a very appropriately named AMOUNT knob, followed by AIR (which obviously adds those high frequencies we associate with air) and finally STYLE.
STYLE is what this plugin is all about. Depending on what you need you can choose between the 5 basic CLEAN compression styles, each of which give a different flavor to the overall sound. Props on the NEUTRAL style being extremely neutral and perfect for sticking tracks together.
Then you have the more specific styles. First is a set of two bass related ones: DE-RUMBLE can often kill your low end more than clean it up, but PUNCH works great!
If you’re looking for more kick in your drums or a tighter bass sound, it’s amazing how well this setting does the job. If you’re doing EDM, you’ll quickly fall in love with this one.
As for the SPATIAL settings, I’m a huge fan of this one. WIDE MIX is okay-ish, but I prefer to use delay tricks for widening. For some reason it feels like it stretches the audio instead of giving it space, if that makes sense? VOCAL ENHANCE does the job, but be careful as it can often make the vocal harsh (same as any vocal related plugin really). It’s okay as long as you’re careful with the AMOUNT and, later, MIX setting.
AMBIENCE is simply amazing. Somehow it manages to bring out all the subtle sounds that get buried under the main tracks. How loud do you want the bird chirping to be heard over the train? Got a sweet chime in the back that gets lost under the drums? No problem! Just don’t get too carried away, lest you lose the drums behind the chimes. Use it just right and you get some very impressive 3D depth, fast and easy.
Sounds cool, so how do I use it?
Easy enough, pick a style depending on what you need and dial in an appropriate AMOUNT. There’s a GAIN REDUCTION meter, but I wouldn’t really call it that, or even rely on it for any real reading. The AIR setting will hardly show anything on it, while already making your highs unpleasantly sizzle. In contrast, DE-RUMBLE can give a very high reading while hardly affecting the low end. When it comes to preset styles, it’s best not to rely on a meter like that because you don’t know what part of the frequency spectrum is being affected. Just use your ears.
Once you’ve dialed in an amount you’re happy with, or close to being happy, look below. See that beautiful little knob with MIX below it? It’s magic! If you’re setting, whatever it is, gives you the sound you want, but also ruins something else, then just turn the MIX towards dry until you find a nice balance. One thing I found strange here is that the position of DRY and WET is the other way around on most other plugins, so I did spend a good few minutes wondering I’m not hearing any difference with MIX cranked up all the way to…DRY?
Reviewer’s tip: Here’s how I would use it
Remember when I said it opens up a whole new dimension with styles? While I’d never use it for compression purposes, because it lacks all the fine tuning capabilities, I’d use it to shape the sound of my tracks.
Basically, I’d throw it on a track, like a drum buss where the Punch is missing. Then I’d pick the PUNCH style and crank it up until I really feel it. Then I’d search for the perfect blend with the MIX knob. This is fine, but I’m not done yet. Those cymbals seem a little muffled and that snare is kind of dull. I’ll throw another instance of the Drawmer S73 and just flip the AIR switch on. Then, again, adjust to taste the MIX knob.
Finally, that ride cymbal seems just a little too buried. Time for a third instance of the plugin set to the AMBIENCE style.
Short and simple
Several instances of Softube’s Drawmer S73, with different settings, adding just a little, can really turn your lifeless tracks around!
Buy / Download Link: Drawmer S73