Sorry! I mean drums (what else?) Peter Randall puts Premier in perspective with a review of their new Soundwave kit.
This kit is the very latest line of drums from Premier — so new in fact that the kit I reviewed had only been finally assembled on the morning of my arrival. The kit has all the latest Trilok hardware, plus the new heads called Black Spot. These look remarkably like Remo CS heads, but have a small white spot inside the centre dot, thereby escaping any copyright problems. The sizes of the drums are: 22in x 14in bass drum, 13in x 9in and 14in x 10in tom toms and a 16in x 16in floor tom tom with the standard 14in x 5½in metal snare drum. A lot of the fittings were very familiar, like the 392 double tom tom holder, the 252 bass drum pedal and the 298 folding spurs, all of which have been around for some time. These are often seen on rival American kits when a drummer finds the American fittings are not very sturdy or reliable. The nut boxes are new, however, and look rather like Beverly. The die cast triple flange rims allow for better rim shots than the die moulded rims which have been fitted to Premier kits in the past.
The new Trilok heavy duty stands have been around for about a year now and, although they look very beefy, are nonetheless very light due mainly to the tubular legs. Despite this, they fulfil their function very efficiently indeed and it would take a very clumsy or heavy drummer to knock these over. The bass drum has ten rods and claws each side and comes complete with felt dampers. As with most double-headed bass drums, it sounds a little boomy with both heads on, but this is vastly improved by taking the front head off. I personally prefer a dull thud sound which is fairly popular with a lot of players today, but this is only a personal preference, and if you like a big thick resonant sound (if, for instance, you play in a big band with brass) then you may prefer the front head on to give you this type of sound, especially if you don't mic the bass drum. Having said that, I think you should be able to get a pleasing sound from this bass drum whatever your preference, as it has plenty of depth and volume.
The rubber tipped spurs work well enough and fold neatly into the side of the drum when not in use — pulling the rubber tips off reveals a steel spike as an option. The bass drum hoops are wood with a plastic inlay - the same finish as the rest of the kit - and have a very polished appearance and a look of quality about them. The 392 double tom tom holder has been around long enough to prove itself against a lot of competition and remains one of the best on the market and does not cost the earth. Large wing bolts on the 'T'-shaped holder hold two 'L'-shaped knurled rods which insert into the tom tom brackets via a large hole which in turn is tightened by the same large wing bolts. The only criticism I would make of the double tom tom holder (which also applies to the Tama double tom tom holder reviewed in SI June '78) is the lack of facility for positioning the toms close together without having them either too far away or too close, almost hanging over the back of the bass drum.
The tom toms have a nice solid look about them with the single nut boxes and triple flange hoops. The heads on the review kit had been tensioned really high, but after a few minutes of de-tensioning I was able to get a reasonable sound from them although I couldn't get the depth that I would have liked. All the tom toms were fitted with the new Black Spot heads and this could have had something to do with the lack of depth in the sound — maybe the heads need time to be broken in.
I am glad to see that Premier have brought out something new in heads as a lot of drummers who buy Premier kits take the Everplay Extra heads off and swap them for Remo, Evans, or whatever, mainly because Extra seem to have a bit of a cheapo-cheapo stigma attached to them. Personally, I have never really found them to be too bad but I must admit I cannot stand the cheaper Everplay heads; as the name is similar this probably rubs off some prejudice on to the Extra heads. The Black Spot heads should reinstate Premier's name in the top quality, top selling, head market.
All the tom toms have the traditional Premier damper on the top heads. This is not a very praiseworthy item and when turned fully to the 'on' position tends to push a small part of the head, where the damper makes contact, out of shape. Apart from being the wrong shape, it does nothing nice to the sound either.
The snare drum is a standard Premier line that has been around for a while. It's not a drum that I would starve myself to own, but nonetheless it is very well finished, has a nice, crisp, responsive sound, good well-designed snare mechanism, no fuss, and is just a good reliable nice-looking drum. Again, triple flange hoops make it good for easy rim shots.
As I mentioned earlier, all the stands are optional and I must admit I did not really like the look of the Trilok hardware too much as I think Premier have in desperation gone a little over the top trying to meet the competition from America and Japan. The hi-hat in particular is a case in point, with two external springs for adjustment and a centre spring housed in the bottom tube assembly. It seems responsive enough at first glance and looks as if it could be a winner; but there are a few minor faults, such as the external adjusting springs which would be the first thing to break or get damaged if thrown into a trap case by roadies every night.
Secondly, the return does not really convince me of its ability to endure fast hi-hat clipping, due mainly to its strap-type connecting mechanism. Apart from this it looks very strong and robust and I am told the strap is made of material that the army use for lifting tanks (which is maybe one reason why Keith Moon really likes this piece of hardware - he recently gave me a demonstration of its durability by stamping on it with his riding boots!!) The 252 bass drum pedal is an equally solid looking piece with the same type of strap. Every adjustment is easily reached from the top part of the pedal which eliminates the need to go crawling round the floor trying to get a finger round a little wing nut or whatever, like some other bass drum pedals I could mention.
A single-post high-compression spring action feels very nice at first but has its drawbacks if you play with the toe. A small whipping action develops at speed and so lessens the impact of beater against bass drum head — a small point maybe, but important if you play hard with the toe - otherwise, 10 out of 10 for design and strength.
To conclude, this is a very nice-looking kit at a reasonable price and, of course, offers a choice of hardware: Trilok or Lockfast, the latter being the cheaper and simpler of the two. Premier are very helpful and willing to supply any spare parts or replace free of charge something that breaks under normal conditions within a reasonable space of time whether you have bought the whole kit or just a cymbal stand. The kits are also temperature-immune, so you can take your Premier kit to Africa or Alaska and it should not be affected in the slightest.
Finally, my thanks to Malcolm Ward, Simon Everitt and Rex Webb of Premier for their help and co-operation.
Peter Randall is an ex-pro drummer now working as a salesman at Henrit's Drum Store in central London.
Review by Peter Randall
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