PDP X7 Maple -to- Mapex Saturn - Significant Upgrade or Not?
Does anyone have experience with both?
For a rock player, would you consider moving from a PDP X7 Maple kit to a Mapex Saturn (or new Saturn IV) to be a significant upgrade in sound?
I know they are both made in China. I know the Saturn has the Maple/Walnut combination, with the Walnut supposedly giving an extra low end punch.
Unfortunately there are no stores to demo drums in my area. You can 'look' but you cannot play/hear them. At least that's the case with most of the nicer kits. I can understand they don't want everyone in the world coming in doing his best Neil Peart imitation, but it makes shopping for drums in person very difficult.
I don't care about seeing all the pretty finishes, I want to HEAR them. Sheesh.
I would pay $100 if I just go somewhere and hear various kits from DW, Tama, Pearl, Ludwig, Sonor, Mapex, Gretsch, etc... but apparently that's not an easy thing to accomplish. You can walk into Guitar Center and grab a $4,000 guitar and play it, but you cannot play, or even have somebody else play most of the nicer drum kits. So frustrating.
I tell you, I've been researching drums so much this past week... I'm starting to become numb to it all. So much information. So many wood types, plus all the hybrid wood combinations that are getting attention. So many good brands. So many reviews. So many opinions.
And yet, still nowhere I can go hear the different drums with my own ears. SO frustrating.
I came back to answer my own question with a big YES. The Saturn is a significant upgrade.
I understand now why Saturn fans seem so enthusiastic. In fact, that owner enthusiasm is one of the things that drew my attention to Saturn, which comes from Mapex, a brand not nearly as old or recognizable as some of the household names like Tama, Pearl and Yamaha. Frankly I had never even considered them until a few months ago when researching kits kept leading me back to their Saturn model after reading so many positive reviews. Even the snobbish type drummers had positive things to say about the Saturn sound. And now I understand why...
I bought a Saturn kit. And indeed it sounds awesome!
Everyone who has heard it says the same thing and they all noticed what an improvement it was over my old kit.
Here's some pics freshly setup, minus snare and throne so you can see better.
My sizes are 22 x 18 for the kick. 16 x 16 and 14 x 14 floor toms. 10 x 8 and 12 x 9 mounted toms. The finish is a transparent cherry fade. The natural wood grain shows thru the lacquer and it looks beautiful in any light. It looks great and the fit and finish is excellent, but honestly it's the sound that matters and that's the most satisfying thing. The combination of (American hard rock) Maple and Walnut is fantastic. Very warm and full. I've got the drums tuned wide open and they sing and resonate clearly without weird or funky overtones. Big, deep, clean sound. Great stuff.
I found two store locations where I could finally demo kits from many top drum makers. I got to play, or hear others play, DW, Ludwig, Mapex, Tama, Pearl, Gretsch and a couple others. One store had Plexiglas screens around some of the kits to help isolate the drums which was a very nice feature. I had to drive almost an hour in opposite directions but it was worth it. However some of the kits were a little beat up, confirming why so many other stores don't like people banging around on their stock.
Anyway, the experience taught me some important things. First, the Saturn sound quality is excellent. One of the best sounding kits for rock that I heard, and in my opinion a terrific bargain. There were only two other kits that I liked as much and they both cost a lot more, roughly 2X.
Secondly, I've heard some people claim that PDP X7 sound quality rivaled it's parent company DW's Collectors drums. As a X7 owner I have to disagree, and even laugh at that statement. In 5 minutes of tuning I was able to get sweeter sounds from a DW Collectors kit than I've ever gotten from my X7 in a year, no matter how it was tuned, or who tried to tune it.
Trust me, if my X7 sounded like a DW Collectors I would not have been upgrading in the first place. I'm certainly no drum expert but I have ears. There is no comparison between DW and PDP X7. It's like comparing the Incredible Hulk to his normal-sized, non-green, before-transformation self. If they met face to face, one would crush the other. Granted the DW costs $4,000 compared to $900 for the PDP.
I'm happy to say there's also no comparison between Saturn and PDP X7. The Saturn is a solid upgrade and fantastic sounding kit. Now, my Ludwig Black Beauty and Zildjian K's have a kit that is worthy of them and I'm very pleased with the way things sound together. Pleased is an understatement. I'm thrilled about it.
I'm not going to tell anybody else to buy a Saturn because I don't like spending other people's money, but if you are considering a Saturn, or any rock kit within the $1200 - $1800 range, I strongly encourage you to check them out. You might find yourself just as happy as me.