BY R.L. HULSMAN
As I’ve written before, drumheads can be a very personal choice for the thinking drummer. The range of drumheads available today puts the tools in the drummer’s hands to achieve a wide range of soundscapes. I, like most, am after a particular sound. My white whale of tone is Carmine Appice’s sound on Beck, Bogert & Appice’s 1973 eponymous debut album – specifically their cover of “Superstition.” Appice’s tone, as captured by the technology of the day, is my ideal – a buttery, slappy sound that evokes little starbursts in my brain. I’ll never exactly capture it, but as the sound makes its way through the sausage factory in my head, what comes out through my attempts has become my personal sound. And that’s the way music advances and evolves, more or less, for each of us.
Like whatever strange genetic mutation spawned the X-Men, Evans’ new EC2 SST heads seem poised to give many drummers an evolutionary shortcut to the sound they crave. They tune up quickly, with a killer EQ’d tone that makes it sound like a pro had been working on them for hours. I may just achieve that Appice sound yet.
OUT OF THE BOX
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves; let’s start from the beginning. Evans sent me the new EC2 Clear SST heads in 12″, 13″, 15″, 16″, and 18″ sizes. The SSTs are available in a coated variety as well, and both range in available size from 6″—18″. The company seems to recognize the importance of wrapping quality drumheads in helpful packaging. A clearly-marked label on the box gives drummers a sense of what’s inside with a handy little chart showing the level of attack, sustain, tone, and durability the head offers. Evans marks the box of the EC2 Clear SST indicating high attack and durability, with low sustain and medium tone. Information is power, and in this case, Evans puts it right out front. Is it true? Read on, read on.
I particularly like Evans’ flap-style box that allows for easy restorage. And, and and, the company has started using ink to label the head’s rim with a UPC code. I don’t know if someone at Evans read my previous reviews, but the sticker that used to be on the rim bugged the heck out of me. Nice improvement! Also, an included booklet about the finer points of tuning drums is an excellent tool for beginners and a handy reference/refresher for more experienced players.
Quality never seems to be an issue with Evans. I’m ever impressed with the consistency of its product. As usual, the EC2 SSTs do not disappoint. The rims are round and sit perfectly on a glass coffee table. The weld point is smooth and solid and the crimps around the head are even. Tapping the head reveals a deep, guttural sound.
ENTER THE NEW
The big innovation with the EC2 SST is a new “Sound Shaping Technology” (thus, the SST) that allows the company to adjust both the width and the depth of the head’s dampening ring. The ring looks like two black strips held together by a honeycomb-shaped net.
Evans says that controlling the placement and mass of the ring allows them to target select frequencies for removal in order to fully optimize the attack, tone, length of sustain, and ease of tuning for each size head.
Evans’ senior product manager, Michael Robinson, writes in the press materials, “This new Sound Shaping Technology allows the heads to vibrate evenly, tune quickly, and of course offer improved tone.”
I’d have to agree. I put the 13″ head on first and minutes later I had a beautiful-sounding drum. The tone was deep and sounded “EQ’d” right out of the box. I was actually a bit surprised at just how easy it was to tune these suckers up. The sound was just as Evans advertised it would be: the tone was lovely, with great attack and sustain – much more sustain than I expected, in fact.
I made my way through the rest of the heads very quickly. Each took minutes to tune and each sounded great. The heads do seem to bring out the best in each drum for its size. My 12″ tom sang in a way that was inspiring, with tone and sustain for days that was not out of control. And that’s the big issue, isn’t it? We want a lot of tone without the nasty consequences of a moaning drum that distracts. I’m not trying to evangelize, but I am really feeling the new EC SSTs.
I popped the 15″ and 16″ heads on next and lined the two floor toms up next to each other. The 15″ is suspended and the 16″ has standard mounted legs, yet the two sounded wonderful together. It was fun to just whomp on the darn things and marvel at the big, fat, wet tone.
The 18″ head actually inspired me to finish a project that has been sitting on my shelf for years. For a brief time in the 1970s, Slingerland put out some experimental marching drums with a permanently (!?) attached concave metal bottom. I had to own one. Really weird stuff, but that’s what you get for drunk surfing (damn you, eBay!). The drum looks great, but nothing has ever made it sound decent. The EC2 SSTs accomplished what I thought might be impossible. I’m not saying that I’m going to take the monstrosity to my next recording session, but it is truly a testament to how great the SSTs are, that they achieved any tone from the old war horse.
I can’t say enough good things about Evan’s newest EC line. They tune up quickly and bring out the best tonal characteristics of each drum they touch. These heads give drummers a shortcut that allows a fast assembly and the potential to sound like a pro (drumming skills not included). Now you can take that extra time you would have spent tuning to work on your paradiddles.
Sound Shaping Technology features an edge-control ring mounted under two plies of 7mil film that controls vibration (instead of eliminating it), isolates and dampens higher overtones, enhances low end and attack, and enables a broader
tuning range; heads available in coated or clear in all sizes.
LIST PRICE $26—$50