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Hands On - Drawmer DS 201 Dual Gate (part 1)

It’s not uncommon to see two, three or more Drawmer DS 201 Dual Gates in the 19” racks of studios, and in PA circles DS 201’s are bought in bulk quantities to eliminate unwanted noise getting from microphone to speaker...

It is every manufacturer’s dream to produce a piece of equipment that will become so essential that every studio will just have to have one to be seen as a serious player in the recording game. The Yorkshire company of Drawmer has done that and more besides - it’s not uncommon to see two, three or more Drawmer DS 201 Dual Gates in the 19” racks of studios, and in PA circles DS 201’s are bought in bulk quantities to eliminate unwanted noise getting from microphone to speaker. This in fact is their main function; cutting out unwanted noise when there is no wanted signal coming through, although there are other very useful things you can do with them. What is the reason for Drawmers success in this field? Is it because their gate is better than everyone else’s and no manufacturer has been able to catch up yet? No, I don’t think this is the case, because although the DS 201 is good, there are units which are fully equal in performance and have extra useful facilities besides. Klark Teknik and BSS Audio are two companies to investigate. I would say that the principal reason that Drawmer have had such a success is that they brought out the unit at the right time when noise gates were thin on the ground, and most importantly at the right price. I have heard comment in industry circles that Drawmer could have charged more and still have had a success on their hands. But, whatever their reasoning, Drawmer have told the world how a noise gate should perform and how much it should cost.

Obviously, what you want to know from this Hands On is how you should approach the DS 201 on first contact in the studio. Should you use the cautious approach, or should you rush forward with guns blazing? A combination of the two I think; you have to know what you want to achieve before you even connect the unit into the signal path (not like other types of effects units where you can simply take a spin though the presets), but once connected you’ll find that you have one of the most powerful tools in the studio in your hands. Here, I shall take you through the simple tasks right through to the more sophisticated effects that can be produced by triggering the gate from an external source (“Oh no!”, say the established studio engineers, “He’s going to give away our secrets!”).

Get stuck in

In a well set up studio, most of the equipment will be wired in and ready to go (‘normalled through the patchbay’ in the jargon). Chances are the main effects unit is normalled to auxiliary send 1 and comes back to the effects returns, or to a couple of channels, on the console. The noise gate is different; it must be patched in on every occasion you want to use it. It’s normally employed on a single unmixed signal (which may be stereo) rather than on a complete mix, although this can be done if you feel it’s what you need. Figure 1 shows the hook up into the insert points of the channel you want to gate. if you are doing this at home without a full patchbay then you might have to make up a special adaptor lead if your console has a single jack send/return insert point. Of course, out of all the possible patchbay layouts there can be, it’s unlikely that the one you come across will be identical to this, but if the studio has been properly installed then you will be able to find these sockets somewhere on the patchbay.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004