Drawmer DL441 Quad Compressor-Limiter

pic of drawmer dl441

Last Update 01-10-2009

The Drawmer DL441 is a quad channel dynamic processor consisting of a compressor and limiter.  The DL441 became an essential link in my PA system; after I had blown my PA subwoofer for the SECOND time, I decided to install a limiter to protect my speakers.  Try and FIND a quad limiter.  Everything out there has other bells and whistles that I don't want to pay for, I just want a SIMPLE HIGH FIDELITY LIMITER!  The Loft 400 was the ideal unit but they have not been made for years and seldom show up for sale (I later found one cheap).  As far as new and available devices, the DL441 fit the bill.

Each channel has an RMS detector-style compressor followed by a fast-action limiter, and a pair can be linked for stereo operation.  So for a two-way stereo PA system this quad channel device is ideal.  Since the DL441 is designed for program material, the compressor incorporates program-adaptive attack/release control that automatically adapts to full bandwidth mixed music, so attack/release controls are omitted.  You have control over threshold, ratio, output recovery gain, and soft/hard knee.  No peak detector is available here.  Two LED displays are provided which will show output level and gain reduction.  The peak limiter has a threshold control for clamping the output to a user defined maximum - no more blown speakers.  An LED indicates when limiting is active and in practice I have indeed seen the limit clamp down on peaks.  The bypass is a hardware bypass that works when power is removed from the DL441.

Drawmer is world renowned for the transparency of the VCAs in their compressors and gates.  So when I first received the DL441 my first test was to verify the fidelity of the VCAs.  I put the unit in bypass and listened to a soundcheck CD that I use for checking out the PA.  Then I engaged the processor and listened for differences in the frequency spectrum.  If you've ever owned an Alesis 3630 compressor - unrenowned for their transparency (called the "dirty thirty" for a reason) - you can easily hear a difference (mine have long been replaced with UREI LA-12s).  Well when I listened to the DL441 with the compressor and limiter out of action, I could not detect any difference in frequency spectrum.  None, nada, zero.  These things are really transparent!

I don't use the compressor in practice but the limiter has been a great protection device.  Our band has a drummer who uses triggers.  I was playing triplets on his kit when I blew the subwoofer.  Whoops, I smell smoke!  Well I like slamming drums but not with the expense of reconing subwoofer speakers so the DL441 became an essential device in my PA system. Although these things are not cheap, you get what you pay for.

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