Premier Crown 5
Rick Palmer tries Crown — does it fit?
As Britain's only volume drum manufacturer, a new outfit from the Premier Drum Co is always something to interest the British drummer, and the new "Crown" range should be no exception. It is pitched at the middle range of the market, and the five drum kit I had for review has an rrp of £599 including stands.
The kit consisted of 22x14 bass drum, 16x16 floor tom, 13x9 and 14x10 rack toms, and a 14x5½ all chrome snare (Premier model 1035). All drums except the snare come fitted with Premier black spot heads top and bottom; the snare is fitted with a white batter head with internal control spot and clear snare head. Hardware consisted of 2 straight cymbal stands, snare stand and hi-hat stand (all from the new "Tri-Star" range) and a model 251 bass pedal.
The construction of the drums is a straightforward six-ply arrangement plus the outer "finish"ply (dark walnut on the review sample), giving an overall shell thickness of about 7.5mm — quite adequate I feel.
The quality of construction was good, and internal finish was fine except for the bass drum, which I felt could have done with a little more rubbing down. External finish was good without being spectacular and the rich colour of "dark walnut" makes quite a handsome looking kit. One point which did stand out, though, was the excellent quality of chroming on nut boxes, tom-tom holder assembly etc — definitely full marks here.
None of the toms are fitted with dampers, which is probably OK for playing the drums "straight", but I'm sure this could lead to problems for a sound engineer when miking up. Premier will no doubt expect judicious use of yards of gaffa tape and tissue paper, but the omission of dampers does seem to be a rather unnecessary economy in a kit of this price, especially as Premier advise me that they are available as an extra.
The tom-tom mounting consists of a tee shaped casting which fits into a good, solid clamp mounted on the bass drum. Each tom fits onto an "L" shaped piece which itself clamps into the main tee assembly. It's not the fastest adjusting arrangement I've come across, but it's quite acceptable and more importantly it's robust and well-made.
The floor tom sits on the usual "three bent legs" arrangement which gives a stable base. Locking arrangements are positive with good sized wing nuts.
The nut boxes are all separate for each head, in line with Premier's new image, and there are six per head on the rack toms and eight on the floor tom. There doesn't seem to be any damping inside the nut boxes, and this leads to rattles when playing with the bottom head removed. This could be overcome if you're definitely set on a single-headed setup by cutting a hole in the bottom head to get the single-headed sound, but it would hurt me to butcher three perfectly good heads!
Rims are the normal triple flanged type, chrome plated to a good standard. One rim (on the 13x9) had a small kink at the join point, but I'm sure that this must have been a "rogue" that slipped through, and no doubt would be replaced by any dealer worth his salt.
Anyway, what do they sound like? I decided to try the drums "straight from the box" and they were really quite respectable. A little bit of tuning with the key supplied and the drums were producing a very clear and full-bodied sound with plenty of guts. The larger tom sizes I would imagine are aimed at the rock drummer, and a nice roll down these toms sounds good! However, the lack of damping does mean that it's important to hit the control spot to maintain clarity, or else your fancy stickwork on the floor tom can get lost in a rumble.
I also tried the drums single-headed, but I felt that they lost quite a lot of power, and also the redundant lower nut boxes rattled annoyingly. I would therefore reckon that this configuration is really only usable with the drums miked-up.
Premier inform me that, in addition to those supplied for review, the following tom sizes will be available: 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14 and 16 inch single-headed 12x8 double-headed rack mounted 14x14 double-headed floor mounted.
The 22"x14" double-headed bass drum is constructed similarly to the tom-toms and is fitted with ten tensioning points per head. The tensioners are the normal "T" handle and pressed steel claw type, with nut boxes similar to those on the tom-toms, again leading to annoying rattles with the front head removed. Other attachments are the clamp mounting for the tom-tom holder and a pair of folding spurs. The tom-tom holder is substantial without being unnecessarily heavyweight, fortunately avoiding the Japanese trend for attaching vast amounts of metal to their drums. The spur holders are again sensibly proportioned and in fact are identical to the floor tom leg holders (there's rationalisation for you!) The spurs give the option of quite large rubber feet for fussy club managers, or very meaningful looking spikes, quite capable of gouging up the hardest parquet floor!
The bass drum has a solid rounded sound to it, punchy but a bit resonant when both heads are used (despite the felt strip dampers supplied on both heads). With the front head off and a pillow inside the drum it's possible to get the good heavy thump generally favoured these days, although by then a lot of projection will be lost and miking up will become necessary to project through all but the most discreet dinner-dance bands. The bass drum is only available in one size at present.
The snare bore no surprises in the construction department, being well finished and quite predictably made for an all chrome type. Snare attachment is by the usual "clamped string" type, and snare engagement is by a small lever which requires a rather long travel to get positive engagement of the snares. Snare tensioning is effected by a knurled adjuster on the snare engagement mechanism. There is at least a damper on this drum which is effective and rattle-free.
The sound put out by the drum with the head supplied is very bright and crisp, with good stick response, and it should give plenty of bite to your drum sound. For a more solid snare sound I tried the usual de-tuning thing, but I felt that the head didn't respond too well to this. Out came the old-faithful Evans hydraulic head, and with this fitted it's possible to get a very solid and quite powerful sound, although with the consequent loss of stick response.
One minus point for this drum though is snare buzz. This seemed quite intrusive, but I must say that this could have been caused by the "live" room I used for most of the review. Anyway, it's a point worth checking if you try this kit out.
Bass Pedal (Model 251): This pedal is an adjustable double tension spring type, nicely made, and has a very clean appearance.
Nylon and rubber washers have been thoughtfully incorporated to reduce the probability of squeaks and rattles, and the main shaft sits in two sealed ball bearings. A ribbed rubber pad is attached to the metal footplate to prevent foot-slip, and screw-down spikes are also incorporated to augment the bass drum spurs. Bass pedals can be a very personal choice but this one is well worth checking out.
The rest of the hardware came from the new Tri-Star range, and it provides a wide stable base courtesy of Tama-style tripods with big rubber feet. Solid locking is provided throughout by good-size wing nuts and the top element of the cymbal stands locate in nylon bushes. The hi-hat stand also provides screw-down spikes to augment the rubber feet.
My only criticism of an otherwise good set of hardware is the top hi-hat clutch, which is the kind of thing you expect to find on a cheap beginner's kit and should definitely be replaced by something much more substantial.
In conclusion? All in all, a well-presented kit which sounds and looks good, with a good range of hardware. Worth checking out.