BY AJ DONAHUE | FROM THE SUMMER 2018 ISSUE OF DRUM!
Last year, Evans released the UV1 drumhead, a legitimately fresh take on standard single-ply coated skins that generated some significant buzz. The combination of a new Mylar film and a unique UV-cured coating resulted in an uncommonly durable and wear-resistant head. For 2018, the company is extending that UV treatment to three of its most popular bass drum models, giving drummers a chance to enjoy a strong, reliable foundation from the ground up.
Evans shipped over all three of the new UV bass drumheads for review. How did they stack up? Let’s get to it.
UV EMAD, Bro?
UV bass drumheads are available in UV1, UV EQ4, and UV EMAD models. The UV1 mirrors the Evans G1 tom batter with its single 10mil ply construction; the UV EQ4 comes equipped with the same internal tone-control ring found on the standard EQ4, and the UV EMAD ships with the company’s celebrated adjustable foam muffling ring system for deep, fat sounds. All three models are offered in 16″ to 26″ sizes.
Spectrum Of Sounds
For this review, Evans sent over the three new UV units as well as the original models on which they were based: a G1, an EQ4, and an EMAD. I installed all six heads on a 22″ x 18″ maple bass drum and ran all my tests with several different beaters because I am a boring person who finds that kind of thorough examination important, and perhaps worse, interesting.
As expected, the UV bass drumheads share much of the same sonic cleanliness I hear in the original UV1s. When compared with original versions of these same models, the UVs are noticeably more controlled. All three heads produce a punching yet rounded note with a strong midrange presence and clean lows. There’s a shared kind of pre-EQ’d thing to the UV heads, wherein the highest highs and lowest lows are somewhat rolled off, leaving only crisp, hearty thumps.
The UV1 is unsurprisingly the rangiest of the group, giving a nice, semi-sweet boo when tuned high, and a broader thud when dropped down to finger tight. It loses some of its life at those super-low tunings, yielding a significantly flatter response than its G1 counterpart. These heads feel a hair stiffer than the standard coated models, and I think that contributes to them feeling a little low-energy when dropped down. That said, the added control makes the UV1 a decent resonant-side head because there are fewer overtones coming off the edge. The EQ4 and EMAD models feel much closer in sound and response to their uncured predecessors, but still deliver more focused tones. The EQ4 is the most reliable of all three UVs for me because it gives up a quick, punching note at all tunings without any unwanted boing on the top end thanks to that internal tone control ring. The EMAD is very full on the low end and feels great for dialing in a modern pop or hip-hop sound where lots of bass is a must.
In the first UV1 review I wrote for Drum (December 2017), I mentioned that after nearly a year of trial use, the first head I received looked and felt almost entirely new. Those heads were spooky durable, and I was very curious to see if the same would be true for the UV bass drum models. Expecting that level of near-imperviousness from a much larger membrane that’s being repeatedly hit in the exact same spot by a larger and heavier striker seemed like a lot to ask. Well, of course I was wrong.
The UV heads, at least during my testing, displayed the same almost supernatural dependability. Even with no impact patch, using a round-faced wooden beater, and played with my extremely hefty honker of a right foot — a combination long feared by bass drum heads around the globe — the UVs came away unscathed. What is this sorcery?
Evans’ new UV1 bass drumheads easily live up to the standard set by their smaller siblings. They’re even punchy, and excellently suited for recording situations where tone control is critical. And as expected with the UV1 formula, these heads are outrageously durable, surviving some seriously heavy testing with barely a scuff to show for it. The options afforded by three of Evans’ keystone bass drum batter models ensure that you’ll be able to enjoy the UV1 focus and reliability alongside almost any sound you’re seeking.