Drum sound 8.5/10
Cymbal sound 7.0/10
Hardware quality 7.5/10
Price / performance ratio 8.5/10
Maple/birch shells, precise bearing edges, and a snare drum exchange program…at a midrange price? Yes, please!
Mapex sweetens the deal for Armory kit buyers with a unique offer. If you decide within two weeks of the purchase date that the supplied Tomahawk snare isn’t your cup of tea, Mapex will exchange it for either one of four other snare drums in the Armory line, or a 14″ x 6.5″ maple snare with a finish that matches your kit.
Each snare looks like a winner and (besides sharing a 14″ diameter) features different specs from the others in the collection, with a number of shell depths and materials to choose from.
It’s a juicy offer, but I wonder how many people will actually opt for the exchange. Far from being a cheap, lightweight steel snare, the Tomahawk is a thoroughly professional drum with plenty of heft. It has ten elegant Mapex tube lugs, professional 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops, a sturdy throw-off, die-castplate, and 20-strand chrome snare wires.
The Armory series is available in four different shell packs, including five- and six-piece kits with either traditional-depth or shallow tom sizes. The drums are available in six lacquer finishes and come with chrome- and black-plated mounting hardware options. All Armory kits are equipped with Saturn-style lugs, Remo UT coated batter heads, and the SONIClear floor tom legs and tom suspension system, which helps to increase the overall resonance of the drums.
Many of the suspension systems on the market today are attached to the tension rods of the drums. The result is that suspension can put stress on the rods, and the mount has to be removed each time the drumhead is changed. The SONIClear system is threaded into the bottom of each lug casing, removing stress from the rod and allowing it to remain attached during head changes.
Toms and bass drums are fitted with Saturn IV-style lugs for an upscale look. The springy design of the SONIClear floor tom feet cushions them from hard floors for increased sustain. Bass drum claws feature rubber gaskets to protect hoops and prevent rattling. And tom brackets are hinged to make maximum contact with support rods. Our kit was fitted with Remo’s imported coated UT heads, including premuffled front and back bass drumheads, and single-ply coated batters over clear resonants on the snare and toms.
Does it sound good?
The bass drum and toms in the Armory series consist of 6-ply birch/maple/birch hybrid shells that have a total thickness of 7.2 mm. All of the shells in the Armory series also include the SONIClear bearing edge, which allows the drumhead to sit flatter and make better contact with the shell, thus giving the drum a stronger and deeper fundamental pitch, easier and more consistent tuning, and an expanded tuning range.
Toms have ample attack and warmth for pop and rock gigs. The bass drum offers a good, meaty sound, and its premuffled heads keep it from becoming too boomy. Fans of solid front heads will be glad to learn that you won’t have to port the drum to get a punchy sound. The Tomahawk snare sounds great. It’s sensitive at low volumes, but has a full tone with lots of high-end crack when I lay into it, as well as loud and lively rimshots and rim-clicks. If this were my primary snare, I’d probably put a little tape on the head to tame its overtone ring.
Armory drums incorporate several other great features. Toms have the same SONIClear suspension system found on Mapex’s superb Saturn IV line, which attaches to the bottom of two lugs while a third rubber-tipped point rests against a small “M” badge on the shell. These are held between rubber washers.
TheSONIClear edge is sculpted to make every manufacturer’s head sit flat. The edge changes slightly depending on which Armory shell you look at. According to Mapex, all drums share a 3/8″ rounded back cut and a flattened apex. Snares and mounted toms have an inner 45-degree cut to increase attack, while floor toms and bass drums feature a 60-degree inner cut to emphasize low-end frequencies.
Mapex’s ads and frequency graph appear to show how SONIClear bearing edges have more volume and sustain throughout their frequency range than typical drums. But does it live up to its promise? Good news. It seems to work. The Remo UT heads sat completely flat on the edge all the way around. The drums have good sustain and are easy to tune to lower pitches given each shell’s diameter. They all sound full, which is impressive, given the single-ply UT heads.
The Armory Series is another strong addition to the Mapex line. Its finishes are diverse and beautifully done. The different shell and hardware color options allow a degree of customization and help the kits appeal to drummers of all ages. Best of all, SONIClear edges work as promised, imbuing these drums with sustain and full tone. The snare drum exchange offer is fantastic, though I suspect many drummers will be quite happy with the Tomahawk. Perhaps the sweetest part of the deal — the drums are a bargain.