REVIEW Sonor sq1 drum kit
£2,584 (kit with snare) Sonor’s latest top range all-birch kit sees the debut of a clever new and unobtrusive technology for tom mounting
It’s always a thrill when Sonor sends us a German-made kit to review. You know you’re going to find a beautifully crafted and finished state-of-the-art instrument. The SQ1 is no exception. Benefitting from a host of range-topping SQ2 features, Sonor’s Product Manager Frank reveals that, “The idea is based on our former Birch Infinite series. Our goal was to develop a ‘Made in Germany’ kit priced below our other current MIG series. So the Sonor hierarchy goes SQ2, ProLite, Vintage then SQ1.” By restricting the available choices Sonor can offer a genuine German-made kit at a feasible price. But the big news is the game-changing Sound Sustainer tom mounts.
There’s hardware, and there’s Sonor hardware. So let’s break with convention and start with those exciting new tom mounts (not a sentence you expect to read too often). Along with just about every other company, Sonor has previously developed some form of post-RIMS resonance isolation mount. Sonor’s is called T.A.R. (Total Acoustic Resonance). The problem with isolation brackets is not that they don’t promote longer sustain - they generally do - but they obscure the toms and require massive supporting hardware. But now Sonor has come up with enlarged rubber gaskets called Sound Sustainers. These have a “two-component connection (rubber to metal) that enables complete isolation of the metal mount and the wooden shell”.
Unlike some other companies that peddle unsubstantiated twaddle, Sonor consults scientific institutes. From the 1980s Sonor has worked with the National Metrology Institute of Germany, developing its Advanced Projection System (APS), rubber insulators that prevent direct contact between wood and metal. Most other companies also now throw on rubber gaskets to aid resonance. Sound Sustainers are an extension of this idea and have been developed in conjunction with the German automotive industry which uses vulcanisation (the hardening of rubber via sulphurisation) to isolate vibrating components, like engine mounts. In Sonor’s case the Sound Sustainer is a somewhat bloated three-point mount rubber gasket gubbins that is still far less obtrusive than the previous T.A.R. mount.
As for the shells themselves, these are staple European birch. Frank says, “In the prototype phase we tested shell compositions like birch/beech or birch/poplar, but the result of our blindfold tests with different drummers was that pure birch shells work best.”
So we have 10-ply, 10mm bass drums and 7-ply, 7mm toms and snare with 45 degree bearing edges. Construction follows Sonor’s usual Cross Lamination Tension Free (CLTF) method and they are slightly more undersized than most shells to ease seating and tuning. Sonor calls this Optimum Shell Measurement (OSM). They are precisely round with carefully cut edges.
There are four monochrome options, all inspired by classic cars and motor bike colours. These are Cruiser Blue and Roadster Green, offset with Natural Walnut hoops; and Hot Rod Red or GT Black offset with Natural Beech hoops. Our kit is the latter and the black matte satin surfaces feel like
By restricting the available choices, Sonor can offer a genuine German-made kit at a feasible price. But the big news is the game-changing Sound Sustainer tom mounts
polished marble. Inside, the birch is sealed with clear lacquer and the inner ply laid vertically, another Sonor trait that has been copied over the years.
Our kit is the smaller of three standard shell pack sizes, the 320, with 20"x16" kick, 12"x8" and 14"x13" toms, with a 14"x6½" matching snare drum. For alternatives and add-ons see the Spec box.
Back to hardware and the Dual Glide snare strainer is also something to see. Throw-offs have a long and, ahem, up-and-down history. You can still buy any number of snare drums that are let down by a naff strainer. Well, Sonor doesn’t do things by half and the Dual Glide - both throw-off and butt-end - is monumental. It somehow reminds me of lock gates on the Panama Canal, rendered in miniature and blinding chrome.
The ample, arched throw lever encircles two spring piston rods which in turn surround a calibrated tension knob. The two piston rods (on both throw-off and butt sides) slot into a lower block which can be detached by depressing a pair of push buttons so that the snare assembly comes off while still strung to the wires. Thus you can change the bottom head without untying the wires or messing with their tension settings.
All the other hardware and fittings - the spacecraft bass drum claws, the elegant fold-out spurs etc., - are equally colossal yet functional. That’s Sonor and you love it or hate it.
Sound Sustainers have been developed in conjunction with the German automotive industry, which uses vulcanisation to isolate vibrating components like engine mounts
monochrome finishes Four available finishes include Cruiser Blue, Roadster Green, Hot Rod Red and GT Black (pictured)