NAMM 2012 EXCLUSIVE REVIEW - Mapex Retrosonic Kit
EXCLUSIVE REVIEW - Mapex Retrosonic Kit
The Retrosonic is the third kit from Mapex which started life as a Black Panther snare concept. It follows on from the limited edition Blaster and Velvetone kits from last year which proved to be highly sought-after and sold out almost straight away. The Retrosonic kit is the next Black Panther evolution and the kit shares all the same characteristics as its 14 x 5.5” walnut inspiration.
The kit is a three piece shell pack - 22 x 16” bass drum, 16 x 16” floor tom and 12 x 8” tom. The kit is limited to 100 sets world wide so each owner will have a pretty exclusive one per cent of the total production. The shells are all 8.1mm walnut and the lugs are chunky full length tube lugs. The drums have Mapex Sonic Saver 2.3mm hoops and all the drums exude the usual Mapex quality. Each drum has the Black Panther logo on the badge and a single air hole. The kit is supplied with Mapex/Remo Ambassador suede batter heads and clear Ambassador resonant heads. The bass drum had suede Powerstroke 3.
First impressions of the kit are great – it''s a beautiful looking kit and the dark natural grain of the wood on the shells contrasts really nicely with the bright silver of the chrome. The response and tone of the kit is warm and full and the kit leads itself to being tuned very open.
The bass drum on our review kit had no damping in it and a fairly loosely tuned batter head which gave it a warm boomy note. Even though it was slack, the feel wasn’t too bouncy even though the resonant head had no hole. We tuned the floor tom so both heads were pretty even and with a quick dab of Moongel, sounded great with plenty of attack. The 12” tom was my favourite bit of the whole kit - it took no effort what-so-ever to tune and just sounded amazing straight away. It was warm and bright with so much tone regardless of where you hit it - it just sang. All the drums have a good dynamic range and sound really earthy with mallets.
The bass drum is undrilled and the tom has no mount attached to the shell which obviously maximises resonance and sustain. Because of the lack of tom mount the shell pack comes with the all new Mapex S1000 snare stand. This is an all new ball and socket design with a smooth action and is capable of taking snares or toms from 10” to 14”. It also has retractable spikes in the rubber feet to stop the stand moving around as you hit whatever is mounted on it.
The only other hardware which comes with the kit also has some nice features - the sprung floor tom legs allow the drum to float without the feet letting the vibrations disappear to the floor. These legs also have memory locks for ease of set up. The Sonic Saver hoops are exclusively on the Black Panther range and no other Mapex drums have them. The bass drum spurs have a memory system and each bass drum claw has a rubber grommet to protect the beautiful matching walnut burl hoops.
This kit was a complete pleasure to play in the limited time we had to look at it. One slight annoyance was that you cant adjust the memory locks on the floor tom leg while it''s in situ as your drum key is prevented from turning by the closest lug. Obviously that''s a very small annoyance, and we drummers have to deal with much worse things on a daily basis.
The only other issue was that there was no bass drum hoop guard on the review kit. With a kit this beautiful I would want to keep the wood in perfect condition and would have thought Mapex would have supplied a little stick on bass drum guard of some sort. But lets be honest, I am nit picking.
This is a stunning kit and one you would be very proud to own. The kit exceeded all my expectations and was not as heavy as I thought it was going to be. I thought a 22” walnut bass drum would break my back to pick up but the shell seems positively light. The floor tom weighs almost the same as the bass drum, so that shows how light the bass drum is, but I guess that is mostly down to the lack of tom mount.
The kit is as lovely to look at as the Black Panther snare and for anyone who owns the snare and wants the matching kit then 2012 is your year. Due to the exclusivity of the kit most drummers who buy this kit will probably be using it as a secondary kit or a studio kit (where it would probably shine with it''s big, warm open sound).
My prediction is that this kit will fly out the shops in exactly the same way as the other Black Panther kits did last year. Very nice.
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