Hands On

Rhythm - - GEAR REVIEW -

Hav­ing es­tab­lished Sonor is all about pro­gres­sive engi­neer­ing al­lied to great looks, let’s get one beef out of the way. Play­ing devil’s ad­vo­cate again, where the engi­neer­ing ob­ses­sion reaches overkill for me is with the TuneSafe ten­sion bolts. The aim is to ban­ish the ten­dency of lugs to work loose un­der hard play­ing. But pro­duc­ing ex­tra-long bolts that ‘stick’ leads to two qualms. Screw­ing and un­screw­ing takes prob­a­bly three times (se­ri­ously) longer than with the av­er­age bolt. And it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to use the ‘up-to-fin­ger-tight’ method of seat­ing the head. For many, speed is es­sen­tial when ten­sion­ing or re­plac­ing a head. Well, you can for­get that. Per­son­ally, I’d pre­fer stan­dard bolts and lug-locks if needed.

We’ve seen rub­ber iso­la­tion grom­mets gain widespread use through­out the in­dus­try, but Sound Sus­tain­ers take the idea to a new level and the ques­tion is, do they work? Well, yes, they do. The two toms have long and

sweet sus­tain. Strik­ing the drums in the cen­tre at medium vol­ume, the sound is open and di­min­ishes in a smooth, steady arc. Any un­pleas­ant over­tones are due to my in­ept tun­ing, every­thing else about the Sonor build and Remo Am­bas­sadors be­ing first qual­ity. I don’t have Sonor’s lab gear and can’t say if sus­tain is longer or shorter than with TAR s, but the new mounts are rel­a­tively un­der­stated and the toms sing glo­ri­ously.

This is a par­tic­u­larly stu­dio/mic-friendly kit. Given the small sizes on re­view - 20"x16", 12"x8" and 14"x13" - the SQ1 strikes me as a state-of-the-art kit with a typ­i­cally punchy birch sound, the sort of kit Sonor’s Jojo Mayer, say, would en­joy for his ex­cep­tion­ally ac­cu­rate and nim­ble post-ma­chine beats.

Birch has good lows and highs with re­duced mid­dle fre­quen­cies that don’t muddy up the sound. So it’s a clean-cut sound that has guts, maybe not quite so much tonal com­plex­ity as maple or ma­hogany, but di­rected and busi­ness-like, con­trol­lable yet also bril­liant. It may not be as fat as with some more ex­otic, am­bigu­ous woods, but it sits eas­ily in a band con­text. Which is why some de­scribe birch as ‘pre-eq’d’ – it does not dom­i­nate or cloud the pic­ture. Again, note we’re talking about the 20", 12", 14" kit, which is naturally tighter than the big­ger sizes.

The bass drum shell is thick­set at 10mm and 10 plies. That gives the al­ready edgy birch an even greater boost and the bass drum has an archety­pally mod­ern, tough and present tone – in-yer-face and at­tack­ing. You could go for a higher tuned jazzy bonk, but the lower re­gions, with a wrin­kles just about tuned out bat­ter, bring more depth into the ad­mit­tedly ag­gres­sive blend. The full Fiber­skyn front head is an un­usual choice per­haps, but warms the tim­bre.

The snare drum is a bit of a con­trast as it is deep with a slightly more open and un­ruly voice. Rim shots prompt a fear­some ring from the shell and light damp­ing only re­duces this by a small mar­gin. Many snare drums have a dead spot in the cen­tre, but not this one; it res­onates fully, like the toms in fact. So if you want to rock out with a clar­ion loud, freely ring­ing snare, the SQ1 will do it for you. For­get the usu­ally quoted birch ‘fo­cus’, this fel­low is a bel­ter. And this trans­lates to the side stick clank, which is fully res­o­nant too.

For a tighter, more com­pact sound a third of an ‘O’ ring taped down worked well for me, re­sult­ing in a fat thwack but still with plen­ti­ful depth.

This ex­cit­ing new de­vel­op­ment in tom iso­la­tion mount­ing uses vul­can­i­sa­tion tech­nol­ogy adopted from the Ger­man au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try

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