Review: Softube Drawmer S73

Softube is back with another rendition of a great piece of hardware. The Drawmer 1973 is a three band stereo compressor that gives you the flexibility to add life as well as control elements in a mix. Softube saw this as an experiment on reinventing this multiband compressor into an easy to use tool for mixing and mastering. Thus the Softube Drawmer S73 was born. Softube has done all of the homework for you by taking the facets that made the 1973 great and placing it into compartmentalized sections. All you have to do is select the style of dynamics you’d like based on descriptions, turn up how much you want, and let Softube handle the rest.
 
The plugin comes in all the big formats like everything Softube and installs via their all in one installer bundle. This is really nice especially when a new plugin is purchased. Simply open the Softube installer, select the new plugin, and voila, you’re ready to go. Updating plugins is as easy as downloading one file.
 
The interface is true to the Drawmer look, complete with two huge VU meters right on the top. Controls are simple, featuring an “Amount” knob that controls how much processing is being applied, an “Air” switch that pushes more top end in your mix, a “Style” selection that caters to many problems faced by mastering and mixing, and an output section complete with Wet / Dry mix and Output Gain.
 
The “Style” selection incorporates different mastering techniques based on their description. They are broken into three sections: Clean, Bass Control, and Spatial. Each handles specific tasks and can even be chained together by placing another instance of the plugin after the first. This works in tandem with “mix” knob to give you a broad palette of colors to work with. Each setting pairs well with others to accomplish what would take many different types of plugins to do – all in a straightforward interface.
 
In use it works great on the master bus. I would chain together either the “Gentle Comp” or “Neutral” with “Punch” and allow about 3 dB of compression on each while dialing back the Wet / Dry Mix to match the content.  The Spatial section came in handy as well but usually needs to be used judiciously if you are using any other sound field plugins in the mix as not to smear the stereo image. I also found the S73 very useful on different instrument busses. The “More Air” setting can really get that “Pop Sheen” to a track by cranking up the amount and “De-Rumble” works great when you have a guitar buss that need low end control without hollowing out the signal. The S73 is definitely a tool that can easily add the icing a track or master bus needs without becoming overbearing.
 
Softube really did a tasteful job of creating a tool that takes the guesswork out of what needs to go into solving problems or enhancing an already great track. My only suggestion for improvement is something they’ve already developed for another plugin they’ve created. I would really like to see either a “rack style” plugin for all Softube plugins or a Drawmer S73 Rack for chaining and auditioning different combinations and sequences of S73s. The Tube Tech Classic Channel is proof that it can be done and this would save space on an already crowded mix buss and allow for quicker a/b comparison. Other than that Softube has made another great enhanced version of a great piece of analog gear for a great price.
For more information, visit http://www.softube.com/index.php?id=drawmers73