RMV X5/Special Edition Drumkit
By hcadmin |
Brazilian Bargain Beauty
by Kevin D. Osborne
- Brazilian maple blends the best of birch and maple sounds
- Carbon fiber lugs and suspension mounts
- Attractive lightweight hardware
- Welding on rims is a little rough
RMV drums have been in the US market for a relatively short time. But the company has been making drums in Brazil for thirty years, so they know what they're doing. They make their own drumheads, shells, hoops, lugs, stands, and pedals, as well as create their own finishes. RMV calls this style of soup-to-nuts in-house manufacturing Sonic Optimization, a methodology with the goal of making drums with the best sound possible. Some of the unique aspects of RMV drums include the wood used for the shells, the material used to construct the lugs, and the textured, black, lightweight stands.
We were sent RMV's new X5/Special Edition model. It comes with an 8-lug 51/2x14 snare, a 16-lug 18x22 bass drum, 8x10 and 9x12 suspended rack toms, and a 13x14 floor tom. Finishes available are Incandescent Fade WrapArt, Black-To-Silver Sparkle Fade WrapArt, Red Satin See-Thru, and Blue Satin See-Thru. The set we received for review featured a sunburst-style Incandescent Fade WrapArt finish. The contrast between the wrap and the black hardware created a stunning visual effect.
The wood used in the construction of RMV drums is Brazilian maple (also known as bapeva), which is harder and 18\% denser than North American maple. RMV feels that the sonic characteristics possessed in different degrees by maple and birch—depth, warmth, clarity, and projection—can all be achieved using this one wood.
Up to now RMV has offered two main non-reinforced shell designs: thin (4 mm) and thick (6 mm) shells. The thin shells, called Stage-Style, have a low pitch and a dark tone. The thick shells (Stadium-Style) are higher pitched with brighter tones.
In order to offer drums with a sound that blends the best of thin and thick drums—and offer them at a reduced price—the X5/Special Edition kit features 5-mm X5 Street-Style drumshells. These shells deliver a sound that falls between those produced by the thick shells and the thin shells: round, but with a bite. According to RMV, this allows the drums to project better in high-volume, contemporary playing situations.
I took the snare apart to examine its shell construction more closely. The shell is made slightly undersized in relation to the head, so that only the plastic head itself makes contact on the bearing edge. The hoop is not in contact with the shell at all. This results in more head vibration being transferred to the shell. The bearing edges were sharp and uniform, with most of the cut to the inside of the drum at a 45° angle.
The standard hardware package for the X5/Special Edition kit includes two boom cymbal stands, a snare drum stand, a hi-hat stand, the tom mounts, and a chain-drive bass drum pedal. Every stand has its own bag to store and carry it in, which is a very nice touch. Even the bass drum pedal has its own bag.
I was impressed with all the stands. They're easy to adjust (even from a seated position) and light to carry. Yet as light as they are, they're still solid and sturdy. The ratchet cymbal tilters have fine teeth that offer plenty of precise adjustment. The top nuts on the cymbal stands are round rubberized units that spin off and on easily while still holding the cymbals on securely.
The snare stand goes quite low, but can adjust up to meet the needs of longer-legged drummers. Its basket tilter utilizes the same ball & socket adjustment found on the tom arms, as well as a large grip to tighten up the basket. The large rubber feet hide hefty metal spurs that can slide down to keep the stand firmly anchored on a drum rug.
The hi-hat uses a chain and lever combination that delivers smooth operation. Spring tension is adjustable to give you whatever amount of resistance you're comfortable with. The action has a solid feel, and the large rubber feet hold the stand in place. The clutch traps the cymbal between a lower round nut and a piece that locks in place with a drumkey-tightened bolt. This is easier than fidgeting with holding and twisting two adjustment nuts and a locking nut that will only come loose later. The thumbscrew holding the clutch to the hi-hat rod did loosen up under my constant stomping, but this is nothing new to hi-hats.
The bass drum pedal footboard is black with a cool orange design at the top and bottom. (The hi-hat pedal sports the same look.) The pedal offers only basic adjustment options. But it's a very functional unit that was sturdy underfoot and had a smooth feel to it.
The suspension tom mounts grip the toms around four tension rods, using rubber gaskets to dampen vibration. This provides solid but flexible support, allowing the drums to move and resonate freely as they're struck. The bracket that receives the L-rod is made of a fiber composite material, which saves weight without sacrificing strength. The tom-holder arms feature ball & socket adjustments, making the toms easy to position.
There's about a 50/50 split of wing bolts and drumkey bolts used on this drumset, with wing bolts being mostly used on the stands and the drumkey bolts on the tom mounts and adjustments.
The drums are fitted with lightweight 1.6-mm black rims. I noticed that the rims were a little rough at the point where they were welded together. I doubt this is a structural issue, and it doesn't really detract from the cosmetics of the set. But it wasn't something I expected.
RMV's innovative black lugs are made from injection-molded carbon fiber, fitted with steel lug nuts, tension rods, and screws. The lugs are light yet strong enough to bear the tension of the head on the drum. Each lug is attached to the drum using a vibration-dampening rubber gasket, one screw, and a positioning pin. This reduced mass lightens each drum and allows it to vibrate more.
Now let's talk about sound, starting with the snare drum. When I tuned it to a medium head tension, there was a lot of ring around the edge, with plenty of snare buzz. The sound was much tighter and more defined at the center. Tightening the snare-side head cut out some of the ring but added a boxiness to the sound. Cranking the batter head up brought out a crack and muffled the ring and buzz significantly.
This drum had a nice snare snap to it. It has eight tuning points instead of ten, which, in my opinion, can impart some flexibility to the drum. Since there's more space between the tension rods, there's more room for the head to vibrate.
The bass drum had lots of punch. It was very bright, without an excessive amount of low end. But it did possess plenty of presence and projection. This drum will be heard loud and clear, with no mistaking that it's a bass drum with an attitude.
The toms were very quick to respond, with a solid attack that could be heard clearly along with the tone. Every stick impact was clear and well defined. You should have no complaints about the toms sounding muddy through the PA or on a recording. The 8x10 tom has a faster decay than the other toms, which isn't unusual considering its size. The 9x12 mounted tom is more full-throated, with a singing tone. There's time to hear the stroke come back at you off the bottom head.
I've saved the best till last. For its small size (13x14), the sound produced by the floor tom was remarkable. When you get around the set to this drum, you know you've arrived! The legs are equipped with large isolation feet, which sustain the drum's vibration. As a result, the attack and the tone were powerful, whether I played the drum with a stick or a mallet. The small drum sounded deep and sonorous, with finality to its pitch and punch. Yet at the same time, it invited, begged, and teased me to keep playing it. It was hard to stop.
"Punchy" seems to characterize the X5/Special Edition drumset as a whole. The X5 Street-Style shells are designed to deliver pitch, tone, attack, and projection that falls between the low, dark, fat, long-sustain sound of thin shells and the high, bright, dry, short-sustain sound of thick shells. Between the crack of the snare, the attack of the toms, the presence of the bass drum, and the tone and power of the floor tom, this kit has an overall sound that will complement and cut though any musical group you care to play with. And it will do it at a price that won't put you in debt.
- X5/Special Edition drumset . . . .$1,495
- Includes 51/2x14 snare, 18x22 bass drum, 8x10 and 9x12 mounted toms, and a 13x14 floor tom. Hardware pack includes two boom cymbal stands, a snare drum stand, a hi-hat stand, tom mounts, and a chain-drive bass drum pedal.
(818) 753-7811, www.rmvdrums.com