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

Rhythm - - DRUM LESSONS - Words: Ge­off Ni­cholls

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.

Build

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)

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