Recording - March 2017 - 44

Drawmer
MC3.1 Monitor
Controller
Desktop speaker control
with the features serious
engineers truly need
REVIEW BY PAUL VNUK JR.

I

n September 2013 we looked at the MC2.1, the first monitor
controller from British audio manufacturer Drawmer. The
MC2.1 offered the ability to route three stereo sources
to up to three sets of monitor speakers and headphones,
along with a healthy selection of mix-check options with great
sound quality, all for a respectable $600 street price. Now
we look at its new big brother, the MC3.1, which significantly
expands on the MC2.1's feature set.
Both units are British-built using low-noise transparent active
circuitry, timed relay protection, and paralleled quad pots on
the main and headphone level controls. Unlike the internal
power transformer on the MC2.1, however, the MC3.1 uses
an external line-lump power supply.

A new look and layout

The most noticeable difference between the two is the form
factor. The MC2.1 is a rectangular desktop box measuring
31/4" tall x 10" deep x 81/2" across, with its controls located
on its front face. The MC3.1 is larger and wider at 3.9 x 10.8
x 8.6 inches, and its controls are on its slanted top surface.
It is still a fixed desktop-style box with all of its inputs located
on its rear panel.
The physical controls on the MC3.1 have the same look and
style as the previous model, and make wonderful use of the
extra real estate. Source selection and input controls are on
the left, master volume and speaker selection are in the center.
Headphone controls and mix-check features are on the right.
Most of the knobs and buttons now feature LED indication
lights, which is a very nice touch.

Goes in

The MC3.1 expands its input capability with five selectable
choices. The physical inputs for sources 1 and 2 are located
on the back via balanced Neutrik XLR/TRS Combo jacks.
Input 3 is a rear-panel RCA input, perfect for CD players and
the like.
The new inputs are labeled Aux and Digi. Aux is located
on the top left side of the unit and is a minijack input for
smartphones and iPods, complete with its own volume level
knob. This is a most welcome addition, since most phones
44

RECORDING MARCH 2017

and MP3 players have much quieter outputs than pro-level
sound gear. The Digi input is located on the back, also with a
Neutrik Combo jack. As its name implies, it is a digital input
capable of up to 24/192 resolution and sounds great.

To your speakers

Unlike the MC2.1, whose speaker and headphone outs
shared the same routing, the MC3.1 now offers two
selectable chains. First, you can send any of the five inputs-
either alone or in combination-to one or more of three sets
of monitor speakers. These are again selectable by LEDequipped push buttons with left and right XLR output pairs on
the back. There is also a fourth routing option for a subwoofer,
with its own button and a mono XLR out on the rear.
Note you you could also use a subwoofer via a mono XLR
out on the MC2.1, but it was shared by speaker out A. On
the MC3.1, it is completely independent, allowing you to
engage a sub with any of your speaker sets (or on its own).
This mono output has no built-in bass management, so all of
that must be done on your subwoofer if so equipped. While
this may sound like a limitation, the flip side is that if you don't
use a subwoofer, you can alternately use the mono output
for a single mono check speaker like a classic Auratone 5C
Super Sound Cube.
Each speaker output offers its own individual level
attenuation on the underside of the unit (just like the MC2.1).
This allows you to make sure that all of your speaker sets are
perfectly level-matched when you switch between them, and
the MC3.1 manual offers a nice tutorial for doing so.
The large black Master level knob in the center of the unit
also has a new trick of its own-a preset level setting. When
engaged, it bypasses the output knob and plays back music
at a predetermined volume level that is set with a front-located
setscrew. This is handy for setting a master reference level that
you can always return to at the touch of a button (I set mine
to 82 dB SPL).

On the phones

Like the MC2.1, the MC3.1 also contains a pair of front
mounted 1/4" headphone outputs each with its own volume
control, but here is where the new Cue section comes into
play. In addition to the master source selection, there is a



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - March 2017

Contents
Recording - March 2017 - Intro
Recording - March 2017 - Cover1
Recording - March 2017 - Cover2
Recording - March 2017 - 1
Recording - March 2017 - 2
Recording - March 2017 - 3
Recording - March 2017 - 4
Recording - March 2017 - 5
Recording - March 2017 - Contents
Recording - March 2017 - 7
Recording - March 2017 - 8
Recording - March 2017 - 9
Recording - March 2017 - 10
Recording - March 2017 - 11
Recording - March 2017 - 12
Recording - March 2017 - 13
Recording - March 2017 - 14
Recording - March 2017 - 15
Recording - March 2017 - 16
Recording - March 2017 - 17
Recording - March 2017 - 18
Recording - March 2017 - 19
Recording - March 2017 - 20
Recording - March 2017 - 21
Recording - March 2017 - 22
Recording - March 2017 - 23
Recording - March 2017 - 24
Recording - March 2017 - 25
Recording - March 2017 - 26
Recording - March 2017 - 27
Recording - March 2017 - 28
Recording - March 2017 - 29
Recording - March 2017 - 30
Recording - March 2017 - 31
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Recording - March 2017 - 33
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Recording - March 2017 - Cover3
Recording - March 2017 - Cover4
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