Are Birch Drums the Best for Indoor Acoustics?

Bozozoid

Platinum Member
I'm reading all these posts trying to find a common denominator. Every birch kit I've ever owned I've dumped. Even kits with birch (in it) I've had irritation with them. Part of it may add up to paranoia setting in over the years. I've heard birch kits on YouTube wearing headphones that made me think wow!..that can't be birch!. I've lived in drumville turmoil my entire life. I'm a seeker of the ultimate kit and so far..in my life long search it doesn't exist. And it pains me to say that. I still like reading these threads to get inside and dissect all of your minds like the evil ruler of planet drum.
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
Simple and expensive answer. Sonor SQ2 with birch rack toms, maple floors and beech kick.
Funny you say this because I plotted out an SQ2 birch bop kit (birch is the least expensive SQ2 set, with beech next, and maple the most expensive), and with a lacquer finish it is basically the same price as an 18/14/12 Vintage Series kit. Kind of insane, that. I would expect the Vintage Series to be less, given that SQ2 is the "flagship."
 

Trigger

Senior Member
Funny you say this because I plotted out an SQ2 birch bop kit (birch is the least expensive SQ2 set, with beech next, and maple the most expensive), and with a lacquer finish it is basically the same price as an 18/14/12 Vintage Series kit. Kind of insane, that. I would expect the Vintage Series to be less, given that SQ2 is the "flagship."
That is nuts, but please don't let this info get out haha. I don't want sonor to put the SQ2 prices up even more.
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
A quick follow-up question: In the same DCP video, Shane notes what is well know about Sonor high-end drums--the shells are under sized. I believe the Sonor shells are 12mm under sized, which, Shane says, places the sharp 45 Sonor bearing edge on the flat surface of the drum head, and not near the collar of the drum head.

My question is this: Does that mean that a drum shell that is not under sized (or not as under sized as a Sonor shell) and has a double 45 degree bearing edge would have a similar edge placement on the drum head to a Sonor SQ2 shell? The double 45 edge is away from the head collar and floats on the smooth surface of the head, which is basically what it sounds like a Sonor bearing edge does.
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
A quick follow-up question: In the same DCP video, Shane notes what is well know about Sonor high-end drums--the shells are under sized. I believe the Sonor shells are 12mm under sized, which, Shane says, places the sharp 45 Sonor bearing edge on the flat surface of the drum head, and not near the collar of the drum head.

My question is this: Does that mean that a drum shell that is not under sized (or not as under sized as a Sonor shell) and has a double 45 degree bearing edge would have a similar edge placement on the drum head to a Sonor SQ2 shell? The double 45 edge is away from the head collar and floats on the smooth surface of the head, which is basically what it sounds like a Sonor bearing edge does.
This is number dependent and the answer will vary depending on shell thicknesses.

12mm is about 1/2". That's 1/4" shorter from center. If the normal shell is 1/4" thick, then no. The undersized shell would fit inside the normal shell.

I hope that made sense.
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
This is number dependent and the answer will vary depending on shell thicknesses.

12mm is about 1/2". That's 1/4" shorter from center. If the normal shell is 1/4" thick, then no. The undersized shell would fit inside the normal shell.

I hope that made sense.
I found a different reference that said 6mm, I think, is the Sonor undersize. Not 100 percent sure.
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
I found a different reference that said 6mm, I think, is the Sonor undersize. Not 100 percent sure.
Eithe way it's still geometry. You need shell diameter and thickness. Then just figure out where the bearing edge sits on its respective shell and compare their radii.
 

I-P

Well-known Member
Cut and paste on woods from my old thread. The nuances are there....

Basically it's all a huge marketing self-love-fest by manufacturers to justify the bean-counters upstairs.
Sure, there definitely IS tonal / timbre differences in the woods.
Go stand out the front of house and ask 10 people if 10 different wood drum kits sound different and you'll get...
4 that say they "all sound like drums" 😁
4 say that there is a little difference...? But I don't really know. Now get me the drink from the bar you promised me for answering your sh!try questions.
1 wood enthusiast who knows all the wood knowledge known to mankind. "They know it all. No matter what you think, this person will make you feel you know nothing"
1 sound engineer who is saying they all suck and that they could configure them to sound heaps better. Same person is coming back in the room with gaffer tape.
1 smart ass who can hear the difference.

So there you go. A "totally" scientific poll of 10 people.
Gotcha... I know it was 12 people.

I'm a drummer. 🤤
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
Cut and paste on woods from my old thread. The nuances are there....

Basically it's all a huge marketing self-love-fest by manufacturers to justify the bean-counters upstairs.
Sure, there definitely IS tonal / timbre differences in the woods.
Go stand out the front of house and ask 10 people if 10 different wood drum kits sound different and you'll get...
4 that say they "all sound like drums" 😁
4 say that there is a little difference...? But I don't really know. Now get me the drink from the bar you promised me for answering your sh!try questions.
1 wood enthusiast who knows all the wood knowledge known to mankind. "They know it all. No matter what you think, this person will make you feel you know nothing"
1 sound engineer who is saying they all suck and that they could configure them to sound heaps better. Same person is coming back in the room with gaffer tape.
1 smart ass who can hear the difference.

So there you go. A "totally" scientific poll of 10 people.
Gotcha... I know it was 12 people.

I'm a drummer. 🤤
Why would I care what non musicians think when I am the one who is playing? If it matters to you, then it matters, otherwise we should all play the cheapest possible stuff you can get.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: I-P

RK1

Active Member
Room acoustics matter because it’s physics. Sonor sounds good anywhere because of undersized, thick shells and vertical grain, but bear in mind some drums record better like Gretsch and Yamaha RCs (both 30 degree bearing edge). I play mine live.

Birch is sharper than maple and doesn’t need as much help recorded. Birch is also easier to work with for drum makers unlike maple, and especially mahogany (pain in the ass according to Ludwig and DW). Thus, less man hours equals less expense.

In my experience, TAMA is very attack heavy. They don’t come across as warm because they’ve built the brand on rock and metal. Strangely, the W/B sounds mellower than their maple shells to my ears. I do think they look fantastic and they resemble Japanese sport bikes, though.

But if your ears and eyes approve, you don’t need us to validate it. I LOVE TAMA and won’t discourage anyone from the brand. I only bought the SQ1 because Sonor is different, they don’t build to price points, they’re spectacular drums, and it was less expensive than a Star.
 

RK1

Active Member
I'm reading all these posts trying to find a common denominator. Every birch kit I've ever owned I've dumped. Even kits with birch (in it) I've had irritation with them. Part of it may add up to paranoia setting in over the years. I've heard birch kits on YouTube wearing headphones that made me think wow!..that can't be birch!. I've lived in drumville turmoil my entire life. I'm a seeker of the ultimate kit and so far..in my life long search it doesn't exist. And it pains me to say that. I still like reading these threads to get inside and dissect all of your minds like the evil ruler of planet drum.
Play an SQ1.
 

RK1

Active Member
I'm not sure what you mean by this. Can you elaborate a little? Thanks!
No worries. It’s from Karl-Heinz Menzel. He was Sonor’s product development manager (recently retired).

He said Sonor Germany doesn’t pick a price like $999 and then build a kit to meet it. They just build a kit and the price is the price because, as he said, “If it isn’t quality, what is there to talk about?”

Sonor Germany only uses German Beech, Finnish birch, and Canadian maple. That’s it. He said it’s because beech is common where they’re located, it’s historically what they’ve always used, and their birch and maple is the best quality tonewoods they can source. Horst Link demanded “absolute quality” and that attitude pervades the company. They know they aren’t like the Japanese or American brands that market to certain segments by price. They’re Sonor: they build the Sonor way and the price is what it is. They aren’t trying to corner the market because they’re more interested in building their way, which doesn’t mean cutting corners to cut the price.

He said Sonor knows exactly who their customers are if they buy an SQ2 and they have beginners to hobbyists to pros.

So gents, according to Sonor, the best maple is Canadian and the best birch is Scandinavian.

He did say it doesn’t mean they’re “better.” It means they’re “different.” I compared a tension rod in my late 90s Sonor to a modern TAMA and Ludwig. Night and day. The Sonor rod is thick enough to put in your engine.
 
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RK1

Active Member
He also added that it doesn’t matter what Sonor thinks about their products. He said it’s what their customers think that matters. I ordered a 13” tom that was listed as in-stock on a certain drum shop’s website, but it was actually out of stock and I was told it would take 6 months for it to arrive from Germany.

I canceled the order, the store manager called me the same day and said he called Sonor distribution USA and was told they had a B-stock if that was acceptable or would ask permission from Sonor Germany to pull a 13” from another kit. I agreed on the B-stock and it was on my porch in 2 days.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
No worries. It’s from Karl-Heinz Menzel. He was Sonor’s product development manager (recently retired).

He said Sonor Germany doesn’t pick a price like $999 and then build a kit to meet it. They just build a kit and the price is the price because, as he said, “If it isn’t quality, what is there to talk about?”

Sonor Germany only uses German Beech, Finnish birch, and Canadian maple. That’s it. He said it’s because beech is common where they’re located, it’s historically what they’ve always used, and their birch and maple is the best quality tonewoods they can source. Horst Link demanded “absolute quality” and that attitude pervades the company. They know they aren’t like the Japanese or American brands that market to certain segments by price. They’re Sonor: they build the Sonor way and the price is what it is. They aren’t trying to corner the market because they’re more interested in building their way, which doesn’t mean cutting corners to cut the price.

He said Sonor knows exactly who their customers are if they buy an SQ2 and they have beginners to hobbyists to pros.

So gents, according to Sonor, the best maple is Canadian and the best birch is Scandinavian.

He did say it doesn’t mean they’re “better.” It means they’re “different.” I compared a tension rod in my late 90s Sonor to a modern TAMA and Ludwig. Night and day. The Sonor rod is thick enough to put in your engine.
Thanks for the explanation. I was confusing "market segment" with "price point".

It sounds like Sonor builds the kit first and then figures out how to price it afterwards based on its feature set and available options. There are still limits to what you get for your money but it doesn't sound like they arbitrarily place limits on quality and features from the outset.

I'm aware that Canadian maple is the go-to wood when it comes to maple drums. You'll notice that manufacturers generally say "North American Maple" when marketing their kits. If it was USA maple you bet your bottom dollar that they would state that up front. They leave it vague enough to satisfy USA buyers without being untruthful. Not a criticism of USA consumers but I think that most of us would agree that they demonstrate an above average preference for domestically made products. Nothing wrong with that.
 

fess

Senior Member
It’s just a wood tube folks. Everything else being equal except the wood species, there would be no discernible difference to the average human. Proof is all over YouTube. To say a birch drum sounds better in a particular room than a maple one is nonsense. Maybe a birch Sonor drum sounds better than a Ludwig maple in a particular room, but it ain’t the wood species. The weight and placement of the lugs probably has much more effect than the species
 

RK1

Active Member
It’s just a wood tube folks. Everything else being equal except the wood species, there would be no discernible difference to the average human. Proof is all over YouTube. To say a birch drum sounds better in a particular room than a maple one is nonsense. Maybe a birch Sonor drum sounds better than a Ludwig maple in a particular room, but it ain’t the wood species. The weight and placement of the lugs probably has much more effect than the species
Agreed. Shell thickness. But Sonor does sound like Sonor to my ears.
 
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