Drum Set Reviews
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The Mapex Meridian is the latest mid-level set to come out of the Mapex factory. Available in 100% birch or maple it's been turning heads, and even won the MIPA 'best acoustic drum kit 2009' award. Pretty impressive!
The Meridian isn't a re-branding of the Mapex Pro M that it replaces though, it's got many new features and redesigned parts.
The set can be bought as a shell pack only, or with some Mapex 700 series hardware included.
For review, I have a Meridian maple set including a 22"x18" bass drum, 10"x8", 12"x9", and 14"x14" toms, and a 14"x5.5" snare drum. And there's the Mapex 700 series hardware as well. Let's get to it.
The Meridian maple is made with 7 ply 100% Maple shells at 5.8mm thick, with the bass drum being 7.2mm thick. The wood looks great quailty and the shells have been lovingly crafted with 45-degree bearing edges. But, there is also a back cut on the edges that increases the contact with the heads and moves the contact point inwards to a flatter area, helping give a truer sound.
New on the kit are the small redesigned lugs that are now more bullet-shaped and have less contact area with the shells. They are attached using just one screw and have rubber coatings to stop them directly touching the wood, therefore increasing resonance.
Mapex's I.T.S Suspension system is again used to mount the toms as on some of there other sets, but it's had a slight redesign. It now holds everything in place real solidly (thanks to the additional locks) and even let's you change the heads while the toms are mounted, without bits falling everywhere. As usual the I.T.S does a great job of getting maximum vibration from the shells, and seems very light compared to other brand's tom mounting systems.
Another cool new feature is the spring loaded legs that the floor tom stands on. A small spring has been put in between the end of the metal leg and the rubber foot on the end.
This helps the shell vibrate by reducing the stiff contact with the floor, and absorbs a lot of the energy. It also helps stop the floor tom moving across the floor while you are playing mid-gig (ah..., the memories...chasing my floor tom around the stage while laying down some funky beats...they are no more)
The finish options for the Meridian all seem very cool, and there are 6 high-gloss laquered options available (most of them are sparkle finishes - nice!). The Root Beer finish on this set was tasty and under stage lights it really came to life. Very glittery, but with an understated cool.
Well, there isn't too much to say about the Mapex 700 series hardware that came with the set. Not becasue it's bad, it's actually just what you'd expect from Mapex these days - really functional and solid as a rock!
In the pack was the usual snare stand, hi-hat stand, boom cymbal stand, and a bass drum pedal. I set them up in no time, got the drums and cymbals on them, and then got stuck in. No problems. The bass drum pedal isn't too bad at all either.
So, all the new features and redesigned parts aren't going to mean a thing if this baby doesn't sound like a winner. Not only does the Mapex Meridian win, it wins by a long way!
The set is a wash with deep, warm tones with a sweet resonant decay. The Remo Pinstripe heads that came with the kit really seemed to increase the depth of the sound too.
Playing the toms was super as they give a good initial punch followed straight away by that rich maple tone. The floor tom was especially good and sounds much deeper than it's 14"x14" size suggests.
Like the toms, the bass drum was more than happy to give a big sound that was packed with low-end. The punchiness was impressive at a lower tuning, and adding in some dampening helped to project the sound further, but some of the depth was lost as a result. Still, a great drum though.
Thankfully, the snare drum was able to match the performance of the other drums and was bright with a mega attack. There was a good fat note as well though at medium tunings, and it's very responsive to the slightest touch. Cranked up high, it lost a lot of it's fatness, but still had presence with it's extra bright piercing notes.
Finally, tuning the kit was nice and straight forward. At lower tunings the toms gave solid notes, and even when tuned higher they still seemed rich and fat. The bass drum was also very deep when tuned low, and higher it gave a really good attack, but mid tunings sounded slightly blunt. As for the snare, it had a good range of notes to choose from, but I prefered it slightly lower where it had good attack with a fat note.
So, did the Meridian deserve to win the MIPA 'best acoustic drum set 2009' award? I'd say yes, yes, and...er...yes! It's got bags of great features, some tasty finishes, and a beautiful sound. At this mid-level prince range it really stands out as a good value buy. The 700 series hardware hits the nail right on the head too, and completes a super package by Mapex.
How does it compare to similar sets? Compared to other sets in this price range, the kit is up there with the best for sure. There are other sets that are just as capable as this, but there's nothing that can really over shadow it.
Any downsides? There aren't too many to worry about really. The bass drum attack sounds a little bit flappy at mid tunings, and looses some of it's low-end at higher tunings. And, it only has 8 lugs, but that shouldn't be a problem unless you want ridiculously exact tunings.
What about the price? The Mapex Meridian is a fair deal with many cool features often found on higher priced sets. Compared to other mid-level sets, both the birch and the maple versions are well priced and represent pretty good value. Where's the cheapest place to buy it? Here's the cheapest site i've found. They usually have the lowest price and sometimes free delivery too, so I recommend checking them out for the best deal!
The final word: the Meridian has arrived on the scene with a bang! New features, quality hardware, great finishes, and a lovely maple sound make this mid-level drum set one to seriously consider.
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