Drum sound 8.5/10
Cymbal sound 8.0/10
Hardware quality 8.5/10
Price / performance ratio 8.5/10
Generally speaking, just about everyone will agree that Pearl doesn’t disappoint when it comes to quality. Even hardcore fans of other brands, more often than not, side with this general statement. We have grown to have an expectation that Pearl products at the very least will feel solid, function as they are advertised, sound decent and survive a fair share of abuse. The Midtowns are no exception!
Starting with all the hardware, I had a look at one of my good friend’s kit (Pearl Midtown) and checked for anyirregularities, wear (he tours a lot) signs of perished hardware. Even chatted to my friend for a bit asking how he found the kit when unboxing it and even after him moving from show to show for the past year.We found nothing, not a single little thing to comment on that made the kit look “bad” or sound off. At this price range we would normally expect some irregularities.
It’s not uncommon to find small flaws that cause some screws to stick in certain parts, or some play in the fit between two parts as well as slight flaws in the finish. The Midtowns have no such imperfections of any kind anywhere.
Next is the wrap finish on the drums. The seams are all together and look tidy and well bonded. Even with a bit of pulling and force pressing, there does not seem to be any loose spots that could eventually cause lifting. The wrap itself is of higher quality than mosly anything in the “low-end” area.Also we were not able to find any scuffs or scratches. So it’s definitely durable to go the distance!
Does it Sound Good?
Let’s work from the bottom up. The bass drum heads are both fitted with “muffle rings”, which as expected provides for a dry, rather tight and “thumpy” tone with accentuated attack and rapid decay. Tuning it as low as possible turns out to be a relatively easy task even with the brand new heads and does indeed yield the expected results except it reaches a tad deeper down than we had thought it would.
Of course this is a significant plus, greatly reducing the feeling of compromise in the interest of smaller size. Well done. We tuned the resonant head just barely past floppy and the batter head just tight enough to provide a little bounce. The sound is pleasant with ample low end if even just a tad quiet. At medium tuning the volume increases somewhat and still maintains an authoritative punch but now with some added sustain.
Surprisingly enough we could tune all the way up to Jazz-range without signs of choking or muddiness, but in all honesty, different heads would be required for the serious Jazz-Cat. The stock heads though are more than adequate for lower to mid-range tunings.
The tom heads are our least favourite, sounding almost “clanky” at low tunings but bearable tuned up a bit. Plenty of low end can be had from the floor tom while the rack tom responds better tuned up another 1/4 turn. Even at high tunings the UT heads “click” right at the point of stick contact. After replacing the stock heads with regular pinstripes those big grins returned to our faces. Both toms now exhibit a tonal balance between attack, tone and clarity. With the pinstripe the rack tom is more than able to get down to heavy rock tuning along with the bass and floor tom.
Utter fun is to be had from the little 13″ snare drum. Even at ballad-low tuning it cuts through with little effort. The higher we tuned it the more we smiled until getting close to the choke point where it snaps with the crack of a whip. Loud, clear and with “In-your-face” presence. The snare has projection to spare even with an unfinished poplar shell. We even found that to balance it with the slightly shy bass drum, a bit of holding back is required. Cross-sticking can often be challenging with a 13″ snare fitted with 1.6 mm rims. Not so in this case. We all quite enjoyed experimenting with different spots of resting the stick end on the head, exploring the range of “clacks” available.
At $399 US street price there’s no real discussion whether the Midtowns are good bang for the buck or not. It’s obvious that they are. Rather, let’s explore just how good the value is and how they stack up against the competition. Keep in mind that this is a rather subjective perspective of the author.
In my rarely humble opinion there are only two aspects of the Midtowns that suggest they even belong in the price range they are in; Unfinished Poplar Shells and Six lugs per side on the bass drum. Just about everything else is above and beyond what I would expect.
Especially noteworthy are the wood bass drum hoops, cast claw hooks with rubber insert, slick little suspension mount, Adjustable height bass drum riser and cast butt plate. The two main competitors both have steel bass drum hoops, simpler risers, no suspension mounts and stamped claw hooks.