Pearl is one of the biggest drum manufacturers in the world. The company has been making a lot of progress in terms of innovative ideas over the years.
The company has been actively involved in the world of compact and portable drums set are seen with their Rhythm Traveler and Rhythm Traveler Pod/Gig. Both of these kits have been received positively by professional drummers.
They are simply called the RT brother, have always been impressed with their value-to-quality ratio and other great features that put them on top of the list.
Anyone who has used or seen the RTs will agree that they were quite distinct with their designs. The did not have any direct competition back them.
And now, Pearl introduces to the hot 4-piece “Compact Bop,” or “Jungle” drum kit space their own player; the Pearl Midtown.
I have been keenly following up on this kit’s use and was impressed by how many drummers love it already. I will therefore be talking about this beautiful Pearl midtown drum kit in this review and guide the article.
About Small drums
The market for small drum kits has been swelling over the past few years. We all know how important a quality set it for any drummer – beginners and professionals alike. This is why drummers will spend huge amounts of money just to get their hands on the perfect drum set.
But traditional acoustic drum sets are very bulky and heavy, which makes it hard for gigging drummers who are always traveling. Even with your band’s van, it is still hard to get everything traveling together.
Luckily, drum manufacturers understand these needs are always ready to offer solutions at any given time. Hence, they make these portable drum sets that are suitable for traveling and for small performance spaces as well.
The idea for small-size bop kits featuring a 16-inch bass is not new. Many famous drummers, especially those who play jazz, often use such configuration since the 50s or even earlier years.
But it was not until a decade ago that the evolution of the “Jungle” started manifesting. It has now moved from a DIY setup to a whole genre.
For instance, Sonor has been selling its High-end Select Force Jungle for several years now. And this configuration has surged in popularity and demand, compelling other players to come into the picture. It was only a matter of time before they added the “Safari” as the entry-level kit. Ludwig came up strong also, taking an even more massive chunk of the market when they started selling the “Breakbeats by Questlove.”
It is because of the unparalleled marketing activities that this market has grown fast and useful.
Yamaha was in the space with its first Manu Katche, which now stands a 5-piece version and Premier.
Here are many other contenders who are trying to make the market more reachable by different drummers. Many of them are in the higher-end space of the sector. The Pearl Midtown comes as of the latest contenders.
Let’s see if they have what the market needs and if they can stand against other players.
Pearl Midtown 4 Piece Jazz Drum Set Shell Pack
I have been using Pearl drums for quite some time now, and I know what they stand for. When it comes to quality products, not one can deny this company has so much to offer.
Even if you are a hardcore fan of other brands, you can easily side with this statement. The main reason is, you will always come across a Pearl kit anywhere in the world. This means it is a large and reputable brand that makes many drummers smile.
Every user expects that every drum the manufacturer makes at least offers a solid feel and function. The sound is also expected to be decent as the kit survives a large share of abuse.
The Pearl Midtown Drums will fulfill these expectations. They come bearing the standard quality features and construction of the brand.
Every component is made standard and compact in quality and features. This could also be a more affordable option than other brands offering the same or even fewer features.
One thing I like about Pearl is their focus on finer details. They never leave anything to chance, which creates a market of highly reputable and helpful products.
The Pearl Midtown drums bear the quality of the brand. In summary, here is what I am talking about.
· 16 by 14-inch bass drum
· 10 by 7-inch tom (s)
· 13 by 12-inch floor tom (s)
· 13 by 5 ½ -inch snare
· Four pieces in total
· No hardware
· Not cymbals
· All-poplar shells
· 6-ply construction
· 7.5 mm in thickness
· Bearing Edge
· Reinforced ring
Hard on individual drums
· Make from steel
· Tradition mounts
· Triple-flange hoops
· Low mass lugs
· Branded heads
· Wrap finish
Features in detail
The Pearl Midtown, just like any other high-end drum set, comes with some of the best features. The first thing to note is in the value-for-money aspect of the kit.
At a Glance
You can tell a quality drumset right from the first glance. It is the impression it gives you, then that should tell you what you need to know. And Pearl Midtown is no different.
In almost every case, it is the finish of the drum you will notice first. For instance, I received a Black
Gold Sparkle in my review kit. This subtle gold sprinkle over black will capture your eye from a distance, making you want to know what is inside.
In terms of wraps, everything seems to check in the right boxes. I did not see any flaws but a perfect gleam. The chrome is perfect for my test.
Upon unpacking, the inside carried only the expected components and instruction material and a pair of complimentary sticks.
I know not many people look at the instructions. However, it is still important, especially for first-time users. Besides, it can save you a lot of time for trial and error.
The rods on the Midtown rotate smoothly as silk. This is a feature you will find only in some intermediate and pro-level kits. These rods often have slight ‘grinding’ when tuned on entry-level drum kits. This makes the Pearl Midtown even more admirable. I was not expecting that at this price range.
Every aspect of the drum looked and felt solid. They fit together without any issues or annoying gaps, helping you play smoothly.
It also features several other details that have been elevated above the entry-level space. These include the luxurious claw hooks, the chunky, cast butt plate, and sleek, smooth small strainer on the snare. You will also notice the bass drum riser is a new version, bearing more simplicity compared to those that came with the pod. It has a 7/8-inch pole welded to a triangular base.
I was also impressed with how easy it was to set this kit up. It did not take me more than 15 minutes to get everything ready. The final result was a little bop kit with a wonderful positive vibe about it.
It would be important to note that the batter side bass drum wood hoop features a chain or mallet cutaway. This is a very important feature which saves a lot of time. You will not spend too much seeking the sweet spot between clearance and beater angle.
Sometimes you might get overwhelmed by a drum kit’s appearance that you assume it’s good already. This is the same feeling I got with the Pearl Midtown. Since it comes from a reputable brand, I was already expecting it to deliver good sounds.
Well, I had to test it anyway. So, I dived right into tuning and confirming its sound and feel. I was also interested in understanding this product’s tolerance, which I learned was very tedious working with each shell and component. This forced me to disassemble my setup and lay everything on the floor in an orderly way.
From the hardware, I checked if there were any issues. Everything was in perfect order, and there was nothing much to commend about.
I have dealt with many kits at this price range, and you will always find some flaws, irregular threads, dull spots, pores in welded seams, pits in the chrome finish, and many other things that can make a kit imperfect.
The Midtown ticked in every box here. This increased my confidence even more in the brand.
Then I moved to the wrap. Everything seems in uniform and well bonded. Not even with some prodding and prying along the seams did I find any problem. The wrap is of high quality, featuring gleaming surfaces with a uniform appearance.
Also, the un-finished and tad interior were on the rough side. The drum bass’s inside hoops come sanded smooth, though.
In terms of measurements, this kit was not bad at all. Many entry-level kits show up to three mm discrepancies when you cross-measure the diameter of the shells. I have seen the same issues, up to two mm from ‘level’ to high and low-bearing areas.
The Midtown shows tolerances as you would expect in an intermediate solution. Every shell comes less than 1-mm’ out-of-round.’ Also, the ‘trueness’ of the bearing edges was with one mm with the whole kit.
In my experience, these are results you will rarely get in kits at this price range. Pearl has tried to keep everything within professional lines, helping users get top-end features at an affordable price. The bearing edges are incredibly consistent and did not have any problem.
It made me happy that I was right with my initial assumption that this kit was high-quality.
If you have been following keenly, there is so far everything good you can expect from a remarkable drum with the Pearl Midtown.
Now it is time to look at the construction and design. And I believe it is not going to disappoint either.
The shells are all 6-ply of 7.5 mm poplar. They have a standard 45-degree inner, and a little smoothed over45-degrees put outside bearing edges. This is a feature you can get from a more expensive product.
The toms and the bass drum feature six lugs on each side, while the snare has eight. The six lugs may seem like too few than normal eight with many drums. But since the expected tuning range is very wide, these lugs should do just well.
Besides, some brands say they have eight lugs on the bass drum, but only deliver steel hoops or regular triple flange rims. The Midtowns are better with their rounded over wood hoops.
They also come with a matching wrap on the outside. Any drummer will tell you these are better features than what others promise.
There are nice claw hooks with rubber inserts on echoing these sleek wood hoops. They protect the insides surface of the hoops too.
The rack toms bear the classic 7/8-inch L-arms, as found on many Pearl drums. Only this time, they have added on the newer “OpticLoc Suspension System.” This design has become one of my favorite features from Pearl. It does strain the top like other suspensions. Instead, a single stud on the shell absorbs the lateral force as it supports the tom vertically through the rubber grommets around the rods.
This feature makes the drum even more sleek compared to rim-mounted brackets, which are bulky. The kit is therefore made light and compact, with everything in the same space.
You may often find that smaller floor toms require an extension on the leg brackets to the top of the legs so that the right height is achieved. Pearl has come up with a better solution, using long legs in Midtown. Besides, the brackets come mounted low on the shell, making it possible to get a good adjustment range. Even if you like your toms at the same height as the snare, you will love this system as it makes it very easy and possible.
The Midtown comes with mounting brackets, leg brackets, and lugs that look like those on the Exports. But they are more like the shorter version Pearl Master’s.
Pearl says, “at home, on the street as well as on stage, the Ultra-portable Midtown kit is vital for the gigging drummer in the metropolitan groove.”
And they are not wrong. I would be very had to find such a quality drum kit at this price range, with everything in the right place.
About the sound
Now, no matter how beautiful a drum kit may look, it is only the sound that makes it worth the ‘high-quality’ crown. So, does the Pearl Midtown live up to expectations? Let’s see!
Starting from the kick drum heads, they come fitted with ‘muffle rings.’ This makes them deliver a dry, but tight, and “thumpy” tone, with more, attach and decay. When tuned lowest is easy and gives out the expected results without compromising the quality of a small drum.
It sounded very pleasant after tuning the resonant just past floppy, and the batter heads tight enough for some bounce. It gave out and ample low even with just a small tad. You can increase the volume with medium tuning, but the authoritative punch remains the same, only with more sustain.
And the best part is, this head is tunable all the way to the jazz-range without any choking effects. But you will need serious heads if you want serious jazz.
About the toms, they were my least favorite with how they sounded. Such an almost ‘clanky sound’ was the last thing I was expecting after enjoying the bass. Nevertheless, the tom floor gave out plenty of low end, as the rack tom does a better job with more tuning at ¼-inch. I gave them new heads with regular pinstripes, which now made them produce the sound I needed.
But it was the snare that lighted up everything on this kit. At only 13-inch, this little snare created beautiful sounds even at ballad-low tuning. And it was very easy to get it where I needed it to be. It sounds better with higher tuning, until the near-choke point where it snaps like a whip. It may not be easy to do cross-sticking tricks on such a small snare. But it was not the case with the Pearl Midtown. I still smiled while working on different spots and exploring various sweet points available.
Are the Midtowns worth the price
The street price for the Midtowns is $399, and this is the best value you can get at such a price. There are two main aspects of the drums that support the price. One is the unfinished poplar shells, and two, the six lugs on either side of the bass drum. These, together will all other great features, make this kit worth the buck.
I have used the Pearl Midtown to play all my songs for more than two weeks. There was no tuning range that I did not try out, yet and the kit nodded perfectly to each. I want to believe this is the new leader in the ‘Jungle.’