Extensive compressor reviews and FAQ

Drawmer MX30: This is a two-channel line-level rack compressor with limiter and gate. Drawmer is mostly known for their more expensive studio gear, but they have released a few low-priced entry-level units like this one. This model has been discontinued, and replaced with the MXPRO-30, which I will review some time in the future.
 
The tone is fairly transparent, with no loss of lows or highs, and almost no noise. The tone can get a little dull or "choked" under heavy compression, but it's fine and clear at moderate comp levels. The flip side is that it doesn't add any color, fattening, zing, or anything else to your tone. The attack and release are handled automatically, and it does a pretty good job with that--I didn't find myself wishing for those controls. The LED metering is very clear and useful.
 
The peak limiter is not so good. It makes a little clicky noise when it engages, and it doesn't really stop big peaks unless you set the threshold so low that the limiter engages on even moderate-level notes. I wouldn't call it "useless", but I'd only use it in a noisy environment like a live rock show. The regular compression section, set to infinity:1 ratio, works much better as a clean peak limiter with no clicks.
 
The gate is relatively decent. It works well, it has the option of a nice slow release, and it doesn't chatter much. I almost never like the gates built into rack comps, but this one isn't as bad as most of them.
 
It has both balanced +4dBu and unbalanced -10dBu inputs and outputs, so it will be usable with just about any effects loop or preamp-poweramp rig. However it has no input gain stage, and it won't work at instrument level (plugging your instrument straight in). The two channels can be linked for stereo operation. The construction quality is pretty good, and the controls are very easy to read and figure out. The bypass switches are not "true bypass", but they are clean and effective.
 
Price in USD: used $80-$200, no longer available new. The MXPRO-30 is $500 new.
 

 

 
 
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