Supraphonic vs. Acrolite?
Old 17th March 2008
  #1
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Supraphonic vs. Acrolite?

Hi, Is the Arcolite and Suprophonic made from the same shell? Thanks, Don
Old 17th March 2008
  #2
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The answer is generally yes, from the early 60's until about 84-85 although the ludalloy is chromed on the supraphonic. The old supraphonics were COB and the acro prototypes had all aluminum hardware (hoops, lugs) and had reliability issues.
Old 18th March 2008
  #3
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I have an acrolite that seems to weigh about half of what my supra weighs
Old 18th March 2008
  #4
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Acros have less lugs and no chrome - otherwise, they're basically the same.

The weight difference is likely the two extra lugs and the chrome.. chrome is heavy.
Old 19th March 2008
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An 8 lug Acro sounds a lot different than a supra.

Best to have both. 6.5 supra gets 70% of all duties done in my place. I love my acro for quieter tracks, and for gigs ( quieter) and drier.


cz
Old 19th March 2008
  #6
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Thread Starter
Thanks for the responses guys. Sounds like a supra and an acro would cover a lot of bases.
Old 19th March 2008
  #7
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The Acrolites shells were fashioned from aluminum and the Supraphonics were (as previously noted) fashioned from brass; in the early sixties they switched to a copper alloy to save money. The Supraphonics were chrome-plated and the Acrolites were not.

Both instruments sound wonderful. I always preferred the Acrolite. In the vintage drum world it is a common perception that if the Supraphonic was rare it would be extremely high-priced. It is perhaps the most recorded snare drum in rock music history and it was the flagship of the company for years.

Wm. F. Ludwig Jr. told me that they always tried to hide the fact that the Acrolite was of the same quality as the Supraphonic (though they had their distinct tonal flavours) as the price points were disparate and the profit margin on the Supraphonic was greater.

You can readily find used examples of both models at very good prices. It is good to know that exceptional instruments can be had for little money.
Old 19th March 2008
  #8
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i have two Acrolites, ( love them, thank fellow slutz for the recommendation ), the shells seem to be of a different finish, did they just polish the older ones?
i have seen a few older ones that almost look chrome.
Attached Thumbnails
Supraphonic vs. Acrolite?-acrolite_4.jpg   Supraphonic vs. Acrolite?-acrolite_5.jpg  
Old 8th May 2008
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vitreouswindows View Post
The Acrolites shells were fashioned from aluminum and the Supraphonics were (as previously noted) fashioned from brass; in the early sixties they switched to a copper alloy to save money. The Supraphonics were chrome-plated and the Acrolites were not.
This is true that some Supras were made of brass, but later they were changed to aluminum. I can't give an exact date, but I believe it was late sixties. This is why they're plagued with pitting -- aluminum doesn't take chrome very well.
Old 8th May 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hazer View Post
This is true that some Supras were made of brass, but later they were changed to aluminum. I can't give an exact date, but I believe it was late sixties. This is why they're plagued with pitting -- aluminum doesn't take chrome very well.
I have to wonder about this. I have a early 70's olive badge acrolite that I have tweaked out and it sounds fantastic. I also have a pre serial Supra that is an amazing drum but sounds totally different than my Acrolite. It is chromed but is aluminimum as far as I can tell. (A magnet won't stick to it) It has more of a Black Beauty sound than the Acrolite will ever do.

Both are great drums and on both I have changed out the strainers to a 30 or 32 strand Pure sound and it balances out both drums great. FWIW I hate bottom snare mics and with the bigger strainers it gives me enough of the snare sound that I don't feel like I need the bottom mic at all ever. Of course I have kept the original strainers but I wouldn't ever put them back on unless I sell the drum.

Michael Greene
Old 23rd May 2008
  #11
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Supra vs. Acro

...I remember being in 3rd grade band in the early 70s...and the other guy who played snare had a Ludwig Acrolite and I had a Slingerland (Radio King, I think)...what I do know is that his Ludwig sounded so much better to my ears. I then figured out that just about every snare (even if it isn't made by Ludwig) mimics the Supra, Acro or Black Beauty. Kenny Aronoff or Gadd gives Yamaha or Tama a Black Beauty and says "make me something like this". I researched setups of the pros and saw how many guys used Ludwigs...and those "holy grail" albums where I said to myself "I love that snare sound...it is probably a Ludwig".

But I knew that back in 3rd grade.

As for the shell composition...it depends on the year. Ludwig changed their shell from brass to spun aluminum for cost reasons. As similar as they are...they sound decidedly different. Supras remain metal shelled...Black Beautys are brass. The consensus is that Supras and Black Beautys are the holy grail...but Acros are beautiful, unique and almost as amazing (for a fraction of the cost). Shhhhh...it will drive the prices up.
Old 29th October 2008
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i have 3 of them!! just bought my 3rd one 2day for $20!! got 2 acrolites and a supra. yaaaayy me!!
Old 5th November 2008
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I've got a 70's Acro, a 70's 5x14 Supra and a 70's 6.5x14 Supersensitive.

Damn, they're all great sounding snares. I've got the 6.5 cranked way up, JB style, and the Acro low & fat. The 3rd one sits right in between.
Old 15th December 2008
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How do the newer/black&white badge Acro's compare to the old ones?
Old 3rd January 2009
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ive got 2 acro's and one supra...'

traded a arcolite for a supraphonic at a local school in the theatre department (they used it as a prop)... that acro had horrible pitting and broken drum heads but i guess they loved it as much as a prop as i like the supra for recording .

love em all but much prefer my mid sixties rogers wood powertone.

well that and my perfect condition gretsch wood round badge snare got at a estate sale for $15 with the orginal stand. (sorry but sometimes i just have to brag)

there's something about wood snares that always sounds way betters to me.
Old 3rd January 2009
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pootkao View Post
How do the newer/black&white badge Acro's compare to the old ones?
They're the same. They haven't really changed them in.. well, pretty much ever. Not in any significant way anyway.
Old 11th January 2009
  #17
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The chrome on the supra-phonic changes the sound. Supra-phonics sound similar to the acrolites but a little brighter with better stick definition, though still mushy compared to a lot of drums. I like the sound of both but prefer the old 1959 chrome over brass supra-phonic I have which sounds very similar to a black beauty.
Old 13th January 2009
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I have a good condition 70s Acrolite but the sound is really piercing (especially when strunk very hard). I think it has an Evens power center head.

Any tweaks for snare drum that you like?? Any tips on how to get a better sound out of an Acrolite?
Old 13th January 2009
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MJGreene Audio View Post
It is chromed but is aluminimum as far as I can tell. (A magnet won't stick to it) It has more of a Black Beauty sound than the Acrolite will ever do.
A magnet won't stick to brass either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeavyG View Post
Supras remain metal shelled...Black Beautys are brass.
Brass is a metal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sumskilz View Post
The chrome on the supra-phonic changes the sound.
Not enough to mention. A turn of one lug will change the tone/timbre much more than the chrome on the shell.
Over and over I read this myth in forums.
I've already had this discussion in this forum: see this thread:Couple of quick Ludwig Supraphonic Questions.

In a nutshell, it's all about the additional lugs on the Supra:
- The additional weight imposed by the two extra lugs (which are indeed quite heavy) alters the way the shell vibrates.
- The additional lugs restrict hoop movement (vibrations) thus forcing more energy to go directly into the shell. An exaggeration of this effect can be heard by using a die-cast hoop. Those things don't flex at all, and the resulting timbre is highly focused and punchy.
Old 13th January 2009
  #20
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Quote:
Not enough to mention. A turn of one lug will change the tone/timbre much more than the chrome on the shell.
Over and over I read this myth in forums.
I've already had this discussion in this forum, and won't go into it again here. See this thread:Couple of quick Ludwig Supraphonic Questions.

In a nutshell, it's all about the additional lugs on the Supra:
- The additional weight imposed by the two extra lugs (which are indeed quite heavy) alters the way the shell vibrates.
- The additional lugs restrict hoop movement (vibrations) thus forcing more energy to go directly into the shell. An exaggeration of this effect can be heard by using a die-cast hoop. Those things don't flex at all, and the resulting timbre is highly focused and punchy.
Well the chrome on the shell should make it slightly stiffer, but the sound difference I hear is exactly what you're describing. So now that I think about it, I agree that those two extra lugs have to be making more of a difference than the chrome.
Old 13th January 2009
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbowes View Post
I have a good condition 70s Acrolite but the sound is really piercing (especially when strunk very hard). I think it has an Evens power center head.

Any tweaks for snare drum that you like?? Any tips on how to get a better sound out of an Acrolite?
Try using an Evans Dry head, coated. I found that it really tamed my Acrolite in a really nice way.

Also just for sound try using Pure-Sound strainers and get some that are pretty wide. For me it balanced out the drum really well.
Old 13th January 2009
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MJGreene Audio View Post
Also just for sound try using Pure-Sound strainers and get some that are pretty wide. For me it balanced out the drum really well.
Pure-Sounds are kickin'
Old 14th January 2009
  #23
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Quote:
Try using an Evans Dry head, coated. I found that it really tamed my Acrolite in a really nice way.

Also just for sound try using Pure-Sound strainers and get some that are pretty wide. For me it balanced out the drum really well.
+1 thumbsup on both counts
Old 14th January 2009
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sumskilz View Post
+1 thumbsup on both counts
Just a little background. I actually found out about the Evans Dry heads when I bought my Supraphonic. It came with the Evans dry head on it and I tried a couple of other heads but really liked what the Evans head did. I wasn't as happy with my Acrolite as I wanted to be and just for kicks threw another Evans Dry on there. It pulled it together really nice.

Sooo. Thats the long winded happy accident of how I figured it out.

Michael Greene
Old 10th February 2014
  #25
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Old 16th February 2014
  #26
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I would add that the Acrolites are made from "Ludalloy" as they called it. It's actually a combination of aluminum and magnesium. The earlier Keystone Acros were shinier because of a polished/smoothed outside finish, a process abandoned by the time they got the blue/olive badges. Some of the black/white badged Acros actually got silver paint, as well as the "Blacro" finish. I have yet to witness any significant sound difference from any Acrolite of any period or color, it's all down to heads, wires and tuning.

For my touring snares, I prefer the Cannon 24 strand wires for reliability and life, they're pretty sturdy, sound great and don't break often. For studio use, I have the Noble & Cooley Cam Action wires, hands down the best thing going for my taste.

That being said, if you can't get your snare sounds done from an Acro or Supra, it probably doesn't need doing..
Old 24th February 2014
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benlittlejohn View Post
ive got 2 acro's and one supra...'

traded a arcolite for a supraphonic at a local school in the theatre department (they used it as a prop)... that acro had horrible pitting and broken drum heads but i guess they loved it as much as a prop as i like the supra for recording .

love em all but much prefer my mid sixties rogers wood powertone.

well that and my perfect condition gretsch wood round badge snare got at a estate sale for $15 with the orginal stand. (sorry but sometimes i just have to brag)

there's something about wood snares that always sounds way betters to me.
I'm with you on the wood snares. I have a nice olive badge 5x14 supra (I think) and an even better sounding 60s Slingerland 5x14 that may be COB. They are both cool, and sometime the perfect drum for recording. I'll play on one of them for a week or two, and enjoy it, but always go back to a wood drum. More often than not it's my Bison 5x14 maple.
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