When it comes to owning a perfect drum kit, there are a number of things one has to consider. Among the best considerations is the brand and how much one is willing to pay for the drums. And in this regard, Mapex has really got my attention, producing great and very affordable alternatives for all experienced players.
The Mapex company has it all covered where you are looking for a high-end drum kit or a budget drum set. In other words, there is always something for everyone. Two of their products, Mapex Meridian Maple and Mapex Meridian Birch, have been making rounds on the market for these reasons. I was recently intrigued by the enthusiasm some of the users displayed on different online platforms.
One says, “I purchased a big rock 22 Mapex Meridian maple kit last fall. It has the 2.3 mm hoops on it. I got it in the galaxy fade spackle with black hardware, and it is beautiful. The colors on the Mapex site do not do them justice compared to how nice the finish color really shines when in the spotlight … it really sounds good too.”
I couldn’t have put it better.
About the Mapex Meridian Maple
“I play on a Mapex Meridian Maple kit, and I would highly recommend it. I bought it after listening to other mid-level kits, and this one sounded the best. If you put some good heads and ditch the snare it comes with; it will sound great. I love mine. Don’t regret it. In my opinion, Mapex is a largely underrated company. They make great quality drums.”
I came across this post on drumchat.com, which, in my opinion, represents the best of Mapex.
The truth is, there are not very many reviews on Mapex drums because not many people think they make good drums. But you will be surprised at how much they can do. For close to three decades, Mapex has been operating in the drum industry, creating some of the best drum set.
The Mapex Meridian Maple kit is one of the mid-range drum sets that have impressed a whole lot of users. These drums come with quality construction, and they sound incredible.
I was lucky enough to land my hands on one kit, which got me wondering where I have been all this time without knowing about the brand. It offers a decent sound, and some of the best, compared to several other brands in the same brand range.
It comes as part of the Meridian series that was launched in 2009 at the NAMM show. It Replaces the Pro M and M Birch range. Therefore, the Meridian series is split a range of all-maple and all-birch drum kits.
According to Mapex, this range of drums offers more than just a re-badging exercise, as it comes with plenty of features and is designed for the best overall experience.
As stated above, they all feature in the mid-range sector. They are differentiated by a good price difference between the wood choices, with Birch being cheaper.
The Mapex Meridian Maple is a recent winner of the MIPA award of the Best Acoustic Drum Kit. And it is among the most expensive Meridian kits.
There are four options available for the Meridian Maple Kit. My kit came as a five-piece setup comprising of a 22 by 18-inch bass drum, 14 by 5.5-inch snare, 10 by 8-inch and 12 by 9-inch rack toms, and 14 by 14-inc floor toms.
It came with all the mounting hardware included – specifically a 700 series hardware pack. It comes with a snare stand, a hi-hat stand, a boom cymbal stands, and a bass pedal.
Even though they may look like the old Pro M series, there are a few visual differences to these drums that make them stand out. For instance, you can see the new lugs, designed for a smaller footprint on the shells.
They feature the common Mapex over-shaped designed, though remodeled, to create a curvier, bullet-style lug. Each lug comes attached to the shell using a single screw, and metal-on-wood contact is brought to light by the presence of molded rubber grommets. The new lugs feature exclusively on the Meridian Series.
The shells are not very different from those found on the Pro Ms. However, and they come with an extra back cut to the bearing edges, helping to create more contact surface between the head and shell. The bearing angle is the same, at 4 degrees.
Also, the shells are 100 percent maple, with a seven-ply construction. Toms and the snare drums come in at 5.8 mm thick, whereas the bass it fatter, at 7.2mm.
There are six high-gloss lacquer Meridian finishes on the UK market, most of which are sparkles. My kit comes with the Root Bear Burst finish, which glitters warmly under the light.
Another feature notable with the kit is the remodeled tom mounts. As with the rest of Meridian Kits, Mapex has included their Isolated Mount System (ITS), which offers a direct attachment to a pair of lugs on the drum it holds. The bottom end is locked into place with something like an additional tension rod. However, you use an Allen key for tensioning.
The lugs have a bracket at the top, which is hooked over the tension rod collar, yet held firm due to the lower bracket assembly. After setting everything in place, you can expect there to be no movements when you start playing drums.
Every component is so tightly locked that you can easily change a drum head with a mounted drum system without any worries.
Mapex states that the ITS is a more convenient method for mounting toms. They say it attaches to the lugs and can maximize the resonance on these shells. This is very attractive hardware in terms of looks and functionality. Unlike other hardware, it does not add extra weight to the drums, making it a very portable option.
Even though there are new mounts on the toms, the floor toms have not been forgotten. They come equipped with spring-loaded legs, an innovation that has revolutionized how these drums are played. They work just as good as you would expect from the spring located between the end of the leg and the rubber foot.
This makes almost all of the vertical cushioning movements.
Theoretically, this setup makes perfect since the spring action can only assist in isolating the floor tom. You get more vibration from the toms, which translates to overall betters sounds.
Generally, there is nothing much to complain about this construction, especially if you factor in the price range.
How it plays
The whole kit comes fitted with Remo HT heads, which is usually the twin-ply Pinstripe versions on all toms. The real influence of these heads and the features they possess comes from the toms. I could feel the fat, juicy notes from the start. They are really amazing how they sounded, making me feel like this is a kit I should have had a long time ago.
Pinstripes seem to subdue attack in favor of a thicker sound. It could be seen clearly through the deep, warm tones from the toms.
I wanted to play some of my favorite rock tunes, but I did not have good sounding cymbals yet. So I opted for something more subtle – some jazz.
It gave me a great sense of depth from the thicker heads, which encouraged high tuning sound to sound lower than they actually were. And the toms sounded much heavier than their normal dimensions all the way to the near maximum. I replaced the Pinstripes for regular coated Ambassadors, giving the toms more attack on the edges as every sound fell into place.
The bass drum did not disappoint in delivering a fat sound either. It comes with a simple-ply batter, yet offered impressive tones at the bottom end.
There was not much amount of attack with the mid-tunings, though. The heads came with more slackening off, which produced more of a slap than a real punch. I was a bit disappointed with this but is still received sensible sounding.
When wide open, it produces a naturally dry air with a cool decay. Also, I got a more focused sound when I applied a little dampening. And with this, I was perhaps ready to try with more challenging styles.
The snare gave its best, too, offering strong performance. When tuned at the mid to lower levels, it gave out these crisp attacks that were augmented by a fat note. Higher tunings produced some inherent grunt that was obscured by its bite, yet their authority remained unchanged.
The Mapex Meridian Maple kit is an impressive drum set that offers wonderful tunes altogether. They come with several features that you can find very useful.
On the good side, the kit:
- Offers a simplified set in options in the mid-range drums by Mapex
- It is impressive all-rounder
- All-maple drum shells
- The competition is quite tough
Mapex Meridian Birch
When Mapex discontinued the production it popular entry-level drum lines, M Birch and Pro M, they turned a new leaf for their budget fans. This came with the release of the Mapex Birch and Mapex Maple options.
The Meridians are generally a better product from their predecessors, yet, still offers a lower price. The Meridian Birch comes without M Birch’s outer ply of maple, leaving it to only 100 percent birch shells.
Other changes that have reformed this kit the new finishes, the lugs, and the hardware.
There are different configurations with the Meridian Birch, just the ones on the Meridian Maple above. The most popular one is a five-piece kit. I have reviewed many birch kits in the past, and therefore I know a good one when I see one.
The kit I am talking about in this review comes with a 22 by 18-inch kick, 14 by 5.5-inch snare, 10 by 8-inch and 12 by 9-inch rack toms, and 16 by 16-inch floor toms. These are size common with most rock drummers. The larger diameter on the floor toms ensures a much lower pitch, making the function for many situations.
Apart from this, there are four other configurations. Mapex wants to ensure that every user chooses a solution that best meets their need.
In terms of finishes, I had hoped for M Birch’s burst finishes that were brighter and more attractive, but there was none with such. Perhaps they were just removed or moved to higher-end options. Instead, they come with new fade finishes, which are not bad either. They come with a smooth-as-glass look and feel found on their eight coats of hand-sanded lacquer.
I like the Cherry, Mist finishes more, as it comes with a deep cherry-to-paler-red fade that looks very attractive. This finish is called fade only at Mapex, and when done right, it is worth the price.
Another notable improvement Mapex present is on the hardware. The snare comes with a new and improved throw-off, an incentive from the one that featured on the B Birch.
The drums now have 2.3 mm Powerhoops instead of 1.6 mm hoops on the previous version. These new ones are more rigid and give out a louder rim click on the snare. The lugs are shrunken too, and the new ones are designed to reduce the vibrations, making the drums clearer.
Mapex adds to these kits a line of double-braced hardware. The cymbal stands are all high-quality, which can be easily confused with DW stands.
Apart from the genuine cymbal stands, Mapex includes the P700 drum pedal. This single chain pedal offers incredible functionality, almost like a double-bass version.
The Mapex Meridian Birch provides a quality sound through a performance. The Remo UT single-ply batter heads on the snare and the toms make them pleasing to the ear.
The 20-lug bass drum is deep and fat enough for any music genre offering a lot of boom and attack. The toms are clear and articulate, with the bright birch snare giving the kit all the best performance.
The Mapex Meridian series drums are among the best products you can find at this price range. Their sound is promising, and the hardware is good. You may not find another company with such an offer.