Evans Level 360 Drum Heads- Part 1: Heavy Weight Snare Batter
By Dendy Jarrett |
Are they really a revolution? Let's find out
by Dendy Jarrett
This week I received a box from D’Addario with the Evans Level 360 “Heavy Weight Snare Batter” drumhead and the “EMAD Heavyweight Bass Drum” drumheads. First, we’ll look at the heavy weight snare head to determine if these drumheads live up to their claim of “Technically a drumhead. Technologically a revolution.” We’ll cover the EMAD Bass Drum Head in a later issue.
To understand what sets these heads apart, it's necessary to understand what a bearing edge is and how drumheads have been producedin the past.
Bearing Edge: This is the part of a drum shell that makes contact with the drumhead. Typically, bearing edges have a cut edge that can vary depending on manufacturer from 30 to 45, or even 60 degrees, in slope. Typically the high edge is on the shell's outside.
Drumhead Construction: Historically, drumheads are produced in a process by which Mylar (or polyester) is stretched and heat-stamped as it's mounted into an aluminum counter-hoop. The counter-hoop is the drumhead's aluminum ring on which the drum hoop applies downward pressure when it's being tightened. In typical drumhead construction, the Mylar coming out of the counter-hoop slopes inward/upward to where the Mylar intersects the bearing edge.
The Level 360 construction technique is different; instead of the Mylar slanting inward and upward, it slopes almost vertically. Here's why this makes a difference.
If you set a typical drumhead on a drum, you’ll note it has a wobble. This is because the bearing edge meets the head on the Mylar's inward and upward slope instead of resting on the flat horizontal Mylar drumhead plane. We rely on tightening the drum's hoop against the counter-hoop to produce the tension needed to pull it tight to the horizontal underside of the Mylar. I also noticed that when I placed any other head on the drum, there was enough slack so that pressing my finger on the head above the bearing edge created a dimple. This doesn’t happen with the Level 360 head; you can actually feel the bearing edge through the head immediately, and the bearing edge instantly sits flush on the horizontal Mylar of the drumhead.
This instant contact of the bearing edge against the horizontal Mylar plane really makes a noticeable difference. The tuning is much, much easier - the drum head sits completely level from the start, so the drum key turns normally reserved for bringing the head down to the bearing edge instead begin the tuning process. This also results in a wider tuning range, which I noticed this more in the low range than in the high range. Because I'm familiar with the Evans G1, I noticed that in the mid-range tuning the heads are very similar; but with this head, you can get a much lower “phat” tuning as well as a much higher “crack.”
This specific head was the model B14HW, a coated head. The coating is excellent and holds up extremely well under a constant beating. This head also sports an impact patch on the underside (often referred to as a dot; although with Evans, it's not a dot per se but a proprietary design). This helps with the head's endurance. It also helps with dampening (just enough, but not too much).
It's also important to point out that when I'd finished abusing this head, I removed it to note any abnormalities. This head did not “cup” or “bowl” like other heads I have reviewed.
As drummers, we seem to lock into one brand or another - and when we do, it's hard to accept a change. This head will change your thinking. You’ll suddenly realize that you do have choices, and integrating all of one brand of heads or mixing and matching can make sense. This snare head is one of those that, at the very least, you need to try.
The Level 360 heavy weight snare batter head lives up to the marketing hype. You’ll immediately notice that it is indeed a technological breakthrough.
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Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.