Realistically, what makes my "Vision" Pearl Sensitone a lesser snare than the Elite version?

Picked up a Pearl Steel Sensitone because it was uber cheap, came with proper heads in great shape on both sides and Puresound wires. To be honest, I was mostly buying it for the hardware to put on a stave snare I'm building (then I realized metal snares don't use the same mounting screws, but that's another concern).

I was surprised at how cheap this snare was despite being in great shape so I started doing a little Googling and learned that this version of the Sensitone came bundled with Pearl Vision drum kits and is considered... well... nearly worthless.

But... really, I'm quite curious as to what makes it a "lesser" snare than the Elite version that sells for a few times the price.

So far, I've found the differences to be:
- 8 vs 10 lugs : I honestly don't believe that is a "downgrade". Some of the best sounding snares I've owned have been 8 lugs
- 1.6mm vs 2.3mm hoops : Again... not inherently inferior. Some people even swap 1.6mm on their Supras or Acrolite for a more open tone.
- Shell thickness : Now this one I wasn't able to find an official source, but someone on a forum posited that the "Vision" version has a thinner shell. I guess that would affect the sound and sensitivity.
- Not the same throw-off, but to be honest it comes with a pretty nice one that stays put and tight.
- Build quality : the shell looks perfectly round, the "bearing edge" is smooth and constant as are the snare beds.

Now... does the snare actually sounds good? Well... sort of. It's nice for what you pay for it, but it's sort of bratty. Like I'm mostly hearing the snares, not the drum's own resonance. The attack is subdued a bit. It's definitely useable, just not great.

So, just for the hell of it... what would it take to transform this into a great snare? Would thicker hoops give it a proper attack and deeper tone? Or what if I kept the hardware and swapped in a new 1.3mm thick Worldmax shell? Or better, a DFD seamless aluminium shell, then it theory it would be "just as good" as an 8-lugs Acrolite with thin hoops (like the early ones had).
The hoops and shell are really the only thing I can see that would definitely affect the sound. Heads and wires are already upgraded.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Yeah it's a cheap snare-it came with my Pearl Vision kit. But once tuned up (it's finicky) with good heads it was my go to gigging snare for about ten years. After I parted with it I bought a Steel Pearl Sensitone in black lacquer that is inexpensive-so it must be Asian made also. The cheap snares don't have a big tuning range and take more time to get a good sound but can sound great. I always wanted to try brass snares on it to see if more sensitive and add some brightness.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
5 years ago I needed a cheap snare. I had a gig playing in a house band for a jam. I had to provide the back line kit and I needed to play that kit myself. I wanted a snare drum that other drummers could beat on. So I purchased a used Pearl Sensitone for cheap, $60. The badge says "Custom Alloy" "Sensitone Steel". It is nice and loud. It's been a perfect drum for me and others to play at the jam. With an Evans G1 coated batter head, an Evans Hazy 200 reso head and 20 strand snare wires it sounds loud and steelie. Perfect! In fact I like using this drum for my loud rock gigs.


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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
If they don't offer cheap snares, there's nothing to contrast their larger profit margin expensive snares. They probably cost within 20 dollars of each other to make. If that. Just guessing. It's all marketing I think.
 
If they don't offer cheap snares, there's nothing to contrast their larger profit margin expensive snares. They probably cost within 20 dollars of each other to make. If that. Just guessing. It's all marketing I think.
Ah yes, product segmentation. Offer a product at all price ranges so that whatever people are willing to pay is what they'll pay (if you only have cheap products, you're missing out on potential revenue, if you only have expensive products people will a lower budget will go elsewhere).
See: vehicle trim levels (aka "why do I have to pay 3000$ extra to get the version with leather seats!")

That is totally what's happening here. And yes, typically the difference in MSRP does not directly translate to difference in manufacturing costs, the low-end has lower profit margin but makes it up in volume, and you increase your profit margin on the high-end stuff that some people will always be willing to pay (see: Yamaha).

So yeah, good point. Manufacturing cost is probably very close, save a bit on thinner metal and less parts and holes to drill (8 vs 10 lugs), probably tighter tolerances on the Elite.

To be fair, I've never owned the Elite version so I can't quantify the difference in quality and whether one sounds objectively better than the other one. Most people buying the fancy version probably go for the Brass or Bronze version anyway, which are different beasts.

Fun example of cost cutting for entry-level drums: I have a Ludwig Accent CS Custom Elite Power, all these added words are saying this was the most expensive asian-built Ludwig back then. It's all-birch with a glossy lacquered finish and has 10 lugs a side on the kick and 8 on the floor tom, along with "vibra-band" suspension mount on the toms. Looking at it, you'd wonder why anyone would pay extra for a US one (and to be fair, it sounds surprisingly good once you got good heads and tuning figured out). So why is it cheaper? For one thing, I noticed that each ply of the shell is actually composed of multiple pieces (on expensive drums, every ply is a single piece). Does it matter? Probably not, but it's not "optimal" and it allows using cheaper smaller pieces. Also, whatever that "lacquer" they use is VERY hard and chipped away like gravel when I was cutting down my bass drum, so probably one step quick drying poly finish to save time (proper lacquer finish is done over a few days).

That's sort of what I was wondering about this steel shell snare. In the same vein, perhaps the "custom alloy" is also not the same. Stainless Steel can mean slightly different things.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Cheaper doesn't always mean lesser, as previous posters have stated. Many steel snares are fine-sounding and deliver good quality for the cost (thinking of the Supralite, the Joey Jordison and the Chad Smith among others).

Steel (especially Asian steel) is less expensive than copper, brass or aluminum in general terms. It also has a certain market perception (borne in part out of the hundreds of brands of cheap stencil steel snares out there). So some of it is true production economics, and a lot more of it is probably marketing.

If you are happy with the sound an instrument makes and it works in the majority of playing situations, then its cost is immaterial (unless it was way too high).
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
That's sort of what I was wondering about this steel shell snare. In the same vein, perhaps the "custom alloy" is also not the same. Stainless Steel can mean slightly different things.
Yes, I thought it was kind of funny to have them say "Steel" and also "Custom Alloy" on the same badge. It's probably made out of steel from crushed American automobiles anyway. Hey, maybe they separate the steel of the custom model cars, from the steel of standard model cars. LOL

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WallyY

Platinum Member
One is made to cheaper specs. Maybe it's painted chrome on zinc powdered lugs. Maybe the cheapest rods and inserts and rims and shell. Maybe the production isn't as thoughtful as the other drum.
Who knows.
If it's the greatest sounding drum, buy two in case one croaks.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
Now... does the snare actually sounds good? Well... sort of. It's nice for what you pay for it, but it's sort of bratty. Like I'm mostly hearing the snares, not the drum's own resonance. The attack is subdued a bit. It's definitely useable, just not great.
I'm 90% sure you could fix that with new hoops. My 70s Acrolite never sounded great back in the 80s when I got it. After I bought a better snare, I put the Acrolite away in storage for decades.

I recently got my Acrolite out of storage and restored it (due in part to you fine folks here), and found that the 1.6mm hoops were warped and out of round. I bought new 2.3mm hoops and BOOM it now sounds like a brand new drum! Back in the 80s, replacement parts were much harder to get, and heck, I couldn't even conceive of such a thing back then.

My Acrolite went from red-headed stepchild to my go-to snare. Cinderella would be proud.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
One is made to cheaper specs. Maybe it's painted chrome on zinc powdered lugs.
Is that really a thing?? Because if so, that might explain why the lugs on the Decade Maple looked a little "off" to me. I saw them up close and they didn't look quite right. Slightly bumpy and a little more matte than chrome should be. Like it was painted on?

This is no proof of course, maybe someone with Decades can chime in?

Or maybe Pearl just used a cheaper chroming method, or maybe the lugs underneath are pot metal, giving off the bumpy appearance?
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
5 years ago I needed a cheap snare. I had a gig playing in a house band for a jam. I had to provide the back line kit and I needed to play that kit myself. I wanted a snare drum that other drummers could beat on. So I purchased a used Pearl Sensitone for cheap, $60. The badge says "Custom Alloy" "Sensitone Steel". It is nice and loud. It's been a perfect drum for me and others to play at the jam. With an Evans G1 coated batter head, an Evans Hazy 200 reso head and 20 strand snare wires it sounds loud and steelie. Perfect! In fact I like using this drum for my loud rock gigs.


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My black lacquer Steel Pearl Sensitone has the same badge-and yes it is loud and cuts through the mix nicely. I like it too.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
5 years ago I needed a cheap snare. I had a gig playing in a house band for a jam. I had to provide the back line kit and I needed to play that kit myself. I wanted a snare drum that other drummers could beat on. So I purchased a used Pearl Sensitone for cheap, $60. The badge says "Custom Alloy" "Sensitone Steel". It is nice and loud. It's been a perfect drum for me and others to play at the jam. With an Evans G1 coated batter head, an Evans Hazy 200 reso head and 20 strand snare wires it sounds loud and steelie. Perfect! In fact I like using this drum for my loud rock gigs.


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I bought this snare around 4 years ago and also use it primarily for louder gigs. It sounds good at lower volumes, but my Acrolite is used for those. I have a Remo Vintage Ambassador on the batter, snare side is Hazy Ambassador. Solid drum all the way around.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I have that same snare that came with (surprise) my jet black Vision kit - and it isn't a bad snare. But when I do an A-B comparison with it next to my Sensitone Elite raw brass, or my Gretsch USA COB, it lacks tone and body, but it does the job. I notice it doesn't take the beating well either. If I'm pounding either of my two really good snares, those take the pounding really well and actually open up and sound better. If I start slamming this Sensitone, it tends to choke on me. What's weirder is that this Sensitone is not unlike a Ludwig Acrolite, but the Acrolite can really take a pounding for some reason.
 
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