Pearl vs. DW Drums Which do you prefer?

RickP

Gold Member
I have owned a Pearl kit more recently than the DW kits I used to own . The Pearl kit was a wood fibreglass kit and the black lacquer finish was really nicely done . I got the kit in a trade and had high hopes for it but it just did not give me the sound I was expecting . Now Pearl’s 4 ply maple kits with re-rings sound really nice . I have never tried a Reference or a Reference Pure or Masterworks Kit . I assume they are nice drums . I just never really think of Pearl when I am thinking of a new kit to buy . No slight against Pearl there are just other drums I would like more .

I had two DW kits in the past a Collector’s Maple and a Jazz series . The Collectors was very well made but there again the sound was not really to my liking after awhile and I sold them for what I paid for them .
The DW Jazz series kit was excellent and if it had a 20” bass drum instead of an 18” bass drum I would probably still own it . It was very close in sound to a Gretsch USA Custom but with less manufacturing idiosyncrasies . That is another story folks .
DW would be in the running if I was to get another kit but they would run third behind Sonor and Noble and Cooley . I have also come to the realization that I like the non - collectors maple DW kits more than Collectors Maples .
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
...I have also come to the realization that I like the non - collectors maple DW kits more than Collectors Maples .
I've come to that realization too. Most of the Collector's series demos don't sound that great to me. Could it be because of the re-rings? They bring the pitch up higher than the Design and Performance series.

I recently got a PDP MX kit (100% North American maple, said to be factory seconds from DW), and I think it may sound a little better than the Collector's series. I love it this kit.

Do you think it could be the re-rings messing with the frequencies and fundamental pitch?
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I've come to that realization too. Most of the Collector's series demos don't sound that great to me. Could it be because of the re-rings? They bring the pitch up higher than the Design and Performance series.

I recently got a PDP MX kit (100% North American maple, said to be factory seconds from DW), and I think it may sound a little better than the Collector's series. I love it this kit.

Do you think it could be the re-rings messing with the frequencies and fundamental pitch?
I don’t think so because we’ve heard great Collectors kits with re-rings that were nicely low and fat. Or are you saying you hear that in every Collectors kit?
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
I don’t think so because we’ve heard great Collectors kits with re-rings that were nicely low and fat. Or are you saying you hear that in every Collectors kit?
I can't really put my finger on why I've come to this conclusion, but I've watched a ton of vids (especially from The Drum Shop Maine) and I remember sometimes thinking they didn't sound as good as they should've. Sure, maybe it's the tuning...but it's happened plenty of times, regardless of which Youtube channel I was watching.

It could be that I just like the tonality of thin shells with NO re-rings? But that can't be true because I love the sound of the Prolites. My head hurts.

Long story short, I can't definitively say the Collector's series sounds 'less good' than the non-Collector's DW kits, but I've gotten that thought in my head many many times before. When @RickP said the same thing, it somewhat validated my suspicions. Granted, I'm splitting hairs here, there's not a big difference one way or the other.
 
Last edited:

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I can't really put my finger on why I've come to this conclusion, but I've watched a ton of vids (especially from The Drum Shop Maine) and I remember sometimes thinking they didn't sound as good as they should've. Sure, maybe it's the tuning...but it's happened plenty of times, regardless of which Youtube channel I was watching.

It could be that I just like the tonality of thin shells with NO re-rings? But that can't be true because I love the sound of the Prolites. My head hurts.

Long story short, I can't definitively say the Collector's series sounds 'less good' than the non-Collector's DW kits, but I've gotten that thought in my head many many times before. When @RickP said the same thing, it somewhat validated my suspicions. Granted, I'm splitting hairs here, there's not a big difference one way or the other.
Understandable. I’ll tell you this; when I went from a Collectors kit to the Pearl Reference, I was really surprised how easy I got the low phat tones. Of course, Reference doesn’t have rings, but their thing is the added mahogany and the different bearing edges, which is a cool philosophy.

But, what this does is give you a kit that sounds optimized for low phatness. When I tried coated ambassadors and wanted a nice high tuning for jazz, that was harder to get. So I get where Pearl was going, the set is made to do certain frequencies really well, kinda like a one-trick pony. I think if you can tune a Collectors kit to get low and phat, you end up with a more versatile kit in the long run. Granted, you can do that with Reference, but Reference wants to do what it does best.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Understandable. I’ll tell you this; when I went from a Collectors kit to the Pearl Reference, I was really surprised how easy I got the low phat tones. Of course, Reference doesn’t have rings, but their thing is the added mahogany and the different bearing edges, which is a cool philosophy.

But, what this does is give you a kit that sounds optimized for low phatness. When I tried coated ambassadors and wanted a nice high tuning for jazz, that was harder to get. So I get where Pearl was going, the set is made to do certain frequencies really well, kinda like a one-trick pony. I think if you can tune a Collectors kit to get low and phat, you end up with a more versatile kit in the long run. Granted, you can do that with Reference, but Reference wants to do what it does best.
Pearl's Session Studio Select series bears some of the Reference "phatness" you describe. Even through the bright clarity of the exterior Birch, you get darkness from the internal African mahogany. Two woods that should be at war with each other find a way to work as allies. The balance is beautiful.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
Understandable. I’ll tell you this; when I went from a Collectors kit to the Pearl Reference, I was really surprised how easy I got the low phat tones. Of course, Reference doesn’t have rings, but their thing is the added mahogany and the different bearing edges, which is a cool philosophy.

But, what this does is give you a kit that sounds optimized for low phatness. When I tried coated ambassadors and wanted a nice high tuning for jazz, that was harder to get. So I get where Pearl was going, the set is made to do certain frequencies really well, kinda like a one-trick pony. I think if you can tune a Collectors kit to get low and phat, you end up with a more versatile kit in the long run. Granted, you can do that with Reference, but Reference wants to do what it does best.
So you're saying the Reference series isn't so versatile because it doesn't do high tunings well? And that the Collector's series is more versatile?

I just assumed the Reference kit would be versatile. I'd be surprised if they aren't, although I've heard mixed reviews on the Yamaha Phoenix kits. Some say they're difficult to tune or that they have a sweet spot, and some say they have a wide tuning range. So which is it? haha

You'd think when you're spending 5-7k on a Flagship kit that you're getting a versatile kit...but I guess that's not always the case?
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
So you're saying the Reference series isn't so versatile because it doesn't do high tunings well? And that the Collector's series is more versatile?

I just assumed the Reference kit would be versatile. I'd be surprised if they aren't, although I've heard mixed reviews on the Yamaha Phoenix kits. Some say they're difficult to tune or that they have a sweet spot, and some say they have a wide tuning range. So which is it? haha

You'd think when you're spending 5-7k on a Flagship kit that you're getting a versatile kit...but I guess that's not always the case?
I think I meant that some drums do things better than others. I didn’t say Reference couldn’t do high tubings, I merely said that it wants to sing at lower pitches. This is further assumed the way they get shipped, with double-ply emperor heads - so Pearl is practically telling you to go for low and phat. They will do high, but it’s like looking at a Dodge Challenger and saying you only want to go 35 mph.

OTOH, the Collectors (all-maple, anyway) give you re-rings and single-ply clear heads, in addition to telling what note they need to be. This seems to promote bright and responsive and not low and phat. But they can do low, again, the Dodge Challenger analogy.

I’ve decided to experiment again and bought a DW Collector’s cherry mahogany kit. So it’s an inner ply of vertical mahogany, and outer ply of horizontal cherry, no re-rings, and without even trying the stock heads, installed an Evans EQ4 batter on the bass drum, and Evans EC2 head on the toms with clear G1’s on the bottom. I kept the stock vented front logo head, but cut a 5” hole in the front and put the hourglass pillow in there. Now here’s a DW Collectors kit that’s built for low end. I love when my theories turn out to be true!
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Pearl's Session Studio Select series bears some of the Reference "phatness" you describe. Even through the bright clarity of the exterior Birch, you get darkness from the internal African mahogany. Two woods that should be at war with each other find a way to work as allies. The balance is beautiful.
Some 😉
 

Benthedrummer

Junior Member
The only kit I've owned out of the two is a very old second hand Pearl Maxwin that I picked up for $50 AUD.

I think that DWs' look too over engineered.

Their lugs are splayed all over the shell.

No doubt they sound good though.

So from my perspective, I prefer Pearl I guess.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
I'll preface my remark by saying I think DW makes some really nice drums. I came really close to buying a used 6 pc Collectors series a few years back. The seller backed out of the deal at the last minute. My question is: Are people turned off by the stock heads? Also, do new kit buyers have a choice of heads or do all the collector series kits come with the stock, dampened heads?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'll preface my remark by saying I think DW makes some really nice drums. I came really close to buying a used 6 pc Collectors series a few years back. The seller backed out of the deal at the last minute. My question is: Are people turned off by the stock heads? Also, do new kit buyers have a choice of heads or do all the collector series kits come with the stock, dampened heads?
All Collectors come with those heads AFAIK. I would think that heads are customizable too, everything else is with DW.

DW brand drums are a lightning rod. I think people dump on them because they are so ubiquitous. I can't find anything wrong with them and don't understand the "whatever it is that I see" surrounding DW. Some people love those heads. Some don't. Like everything.
 

RickP

Gold Member
I am a former Yamaha PHX owner. The Yamaha PHX have arguably the best made shells made today. They are extremely thick shells with multiple wood types Jatoba core sandwiched by Kapur plies then maple interiors with either a maple or exterior ply if burl ash. The drums themselves are a bit of a puzzle as they do not sound like your typical thick shell kit. They are EXTREMELY resonant and deep sounding , the tuning range is huge on them.
They do take a bit more effort to dial in and get in tune with themselves but the extra effort is worth it. Once dialed in they are some of the finest sounding drums made. Why did I sell my kit ? Couple reasons - they are very heavy and the excessive resonance of these drums just wasn't what I wanted after awhile.
I am happier with my N&C Horizon kit and Sonor Vintage series kits .
 

PaisteGuy

Well-known member
DW’s stock heads are Meh. They do well with emperors or EC2 batters. The drum shop of Maine tune the DW’s in their videos very high. Cranked really. And the sound sucks. I can see why some are turned off to DW’s watching those vid’s. I’ve heard Pearl Reference Pures with very high tuning, and they were terrible sounding to me. Bo is correct in that they (references) prefer a lower tuning. Same with DW’s and Tama Starclassic maples sound fantastic at medium to lower tuning as well IMHO.
That is a DW Performance Kit Eric’s playing. You can see the black badge just barely by his right knee.
 
Last edited:
Top