Out Of The Box is a new feature in Drum where we unbox a new product and give it a test run. It’s a “first look” review based on initial setup and testing, without putting products through the longer, more rigorous testing procedure applied for our Soundlab reviews.
BY NICOLAS GRIZZLE | FROM THE SUMMER 2018 ISSUE OF DRUM!
When a drum set wins Best In Show at NAMM, the largest international music trade show in the US, it warrants a closer look. Plus, I’ve always wanted to play elevator music in an actual elevator, and DW’s new LowPro kit is small enough to do just that.
Inside the box was the DW LowPro four-piece kit in Black Diamond finish with a clear-headed 20″ x 3″ bass drum with muffling ring and collapsible bipod legs nested inside, 10″ x 3″ and 13″ x 3″ toms with coated heads, and a 12″ x 3″ clear-headed snare/tom that DW calls a Snom; mounting arm and leg for the floor tom; a lightweight snare stand; a mounting arm to use the Snom as a tom; and a rolling case with handle. We tested the kit in different configurations with our own hi-hat and hi-hat pedal, bass drum pedal, and our own 14″ x 4″ DW maple snare.
Once we got all the Bubble Wrap out of the way, the kit only took 15 minutes to set up and tune.
I was first struck by the stunning, classic look of the finish. Its understated and tasteful appearance would fit into even the fanciest cocktail party gig. The sound of the kit was equally classy, with the toms unexpectedly warm and full considering their shallow depth and open bottom. The cleverly connected design of the kit allowed the bass drum to resonate through the toms, which made it sound larger than its 3″ depth.
Inspired by DW’s line of ultra-shallow, single-headed Design Series Pancake Gong and Pancake Bass drums, this kit is a real traveler. The four-piece kit weighs in at 29 pounds and fits into a semi-soft rolling case (with handle) that would fit in even the tiniest compact car, or on public transportation. Keep in mind, though, that the case isn’t really large enough to accommodate extras like a hi-hat stand, bass drum pedal, or extra snare.
The snare — er, I mean the Snom — looks like Terry Bozzio’s signature piccolo tom with an interesting snare mechanism that works like an internal muffler, but with an open-ended set of snare wires in place of a felt disc. It doesn’t really look or sound like a snare or a tom. With the snares off, the drum has a nice timbale sound. Even though it’s larger than the mounted tom, it works well as a higher-pitched accent in the five-piece setup. It sounded best with the snare wires cranked very tight, giving it a nice pop that would easily cut through most arrangements. The small size and clear head on the Snom limit what you can do with brushes, but you can produce a wide variety of rim click tones by moving the stick as little as a half an inch.
This is a great cocktail kit for light jazz gigs, and it’s got enough oomph to work for louder tunes when necessary. It could easily serve as a quieter kit to practice on at home as well. Rarely is it the case that such a portable and versatile kit also looks and sounds this good.