Remo Black X Review
The videos I have watched haven’t been informative at all, either because; the drumming style isn’t suited to that snare head or poor video quality. A while back, I did come across a couple of videos by a drummer who was playing along to dubstep and that’s when I heard how he tuned the head and how well it sounded compared to my tuning. But these videos are a minority, I can find plenty on the Coated Ambassadors or the Pinstripe or the PowerStroke Pro but almost none for the Black X, and Remo seems to think that talking over the sound of their drum head seems like a great idea.
Hopefully for those who plan on trying this head out; read this review and don’t end up making a poor choice then blaming Remo’s product in return.
Overall I have rated the Black X 14” snare batter head:
Tone = Dark
Sustain = Medium
Durability = High
Ease of Tuning = High
Feel = Good Rebound, reverse dot works brilliantly.
Style of Music = Modern Rock, Acoustic, Hip-Hop.
First off, I like this head because of the sound it produces and how it matches the style of music I play; I use a hazy Remo ambassador snare side to keep a more open resonant tone from my drum/head combination. I tried using this with Remo’s Black Suede Snare Side and I found it sounded short and rubbery. I used it in a recording and I wasn’t too impressed, I enjoyed its fierce volume and feel with the stick but it was just too dark and low. The size I use on my current set up is
14” x 5.5” Worldmax Steel snare. Remo Black X (batter) Hazy Ambassador (Snare Side)
The tone of this snare head is dark but if tuned correctly it will suit a lot of modern rock and hip hop, although I use a steel snare I think it would suit a wood snare tuned medium to high and if you watched the Remo video, it sounds great on the acrylic snare they use. There is a reverse dot on the underside of the snare head so when you play this drum, I suggest using 5A/5B sticks, 2Bs are to fat and they bring out some unwanted tones and 7As may only work for acoustic gigs because this head is thick and 7As wont produce a loud snare sound; and it’s not suited for brushes or Rods. This drum head is promoted as being for heavy hitters, and rightly so, if you want a good amount of tone then learn how to snap your wrist with a more power and sink your stick into the skin, it can take a beating and overall produces a warm tone with great attack and if tuned correctly you can achieve a fat sound without it being “dead” or “boxy”.
Admittedly this head isn’t very articulate on deeper drums, if you use a brass drum for instance, it sounds very wet and you will have use some moon gel to dampen the overtones, a 6.5” deep drum is probably a good size, anymore you will have overtones that won’t sit well in a recording and your engineer will hate you. I say use a regular steel snare drum or a birch/maple snare drum that’s 5.5” deep and 14” diameter.
I perceive “sustain” of this head with the combination of the Snare Drum itself and Snare Side head that you use and how tightly you have tensioned your snare wires. Simply by using a clear/Hazy snare side head and having your wire tension medium to loose, then you can hear a good crack with decent overtones and a general “open” sound to this snare head. Compared to a regular Coated Emperor snare head then yes, this head does seem overall darker and more muffled but this head is designed was that way so don’t expect this head to suit a Jazz sound in comparison to Remo’s Fyberskyn as it has controlled highs, boosted mids and low end. This head has a little less sustain than a regular coated snare head but you will have more control because of its tuning range and how well it works with Moon Gel, you can achieve a fat, dry sound as well as a wet, open tone.
I have had this head for about 8 months and I use it every week for rehearsals or just for fun. At least 3 times a week it has been played and the only difference now from when it was new, is the centre of the drum is smoothing out compared to the rest of the “suede” feel to the head. It hasn’t discoloured nor has the centre of the head become damaged and the coating hasn’t turned clear like some of the other heads I’ve used. This head will last me a few more years at least. I take care of my kit and my heads, I use top quality drum sticks and have worked on my drumming technique so not to ruin my drum heads every time I hit the studio. This is my opinion, when I tuned this head; I never bothered “seating” the head because I am not a savage. I broke it in naturally by tuning it to the range I needed, played it for about 20 minutes then tuned it back up to pitch, I repeated this process a few times a day over a few days and then it stayed in tune and has done since.
Ease of tuning:
This head was surprisingly easy to tune but I advise trying out a few pitches because it’s deceiving so spend some time with it and getting used to its dark tone before settling for one sound. Fortunately I use a keyboard and can tune it relative to a pitch. I tuned mine to a D and the same with the snare side; I used a regular tuning key, not a drum dial or a drill because I am not a savage. Finally if you are experienced in tuning drum heads then it will only take you 5 minutes, maybe less.
This snare head feels nice with a normal weighted stick, 5A or 5B are perfect sizes, 7As feel too light and they don’t give enough tone although these are perfect for acoustic sets to limit your volume. Hotrods and Brushes are pointless as the skin wasn’t designed with use for brushes and with the addition of a reverse dot you need to smash your rods into the dot to get a loud enough tone.
The projection is otherwise astonishing, teamed with a steel snare it cuts through the music to your level, if you want to match your music then you can play with a regular stick technique but if you want to climax your music and crank up the volume then lay in to the skin and hear it come alive, it’s a beast of a drum head. The stick rebound is good but not great, use 5A sticks, if you use something heavier then it just dribbles off the skin and doesn’t make snare rolls easy and it sounds mushy, if you use 7A sticks then it gives off a little more rebound and you need to work harder to gain a clean snare roll.
I can’t rate out of 10 as it doesn’t make sense. If you enjoy the heavier tone from your snare heads and you want something a little fatter to compensate for the music you play then this head will work far batter than a regular Emperor. This head gives a warm tone with a good amount of low end and it tunes well at medium to low range, if you want to tune it high then you will need to do a lot of tweaking to receive a good overall sound because it’s high end freq.’s are controlled, you will always have some overtones in this snare head but Moon Gel will work perfectly and doesn’t kill off the heads tone. It has amazing projection and fierce volume. Enjoy.