Drum Set Reviews
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The Tama Superstar Hyperdrive is a unique drum set in Tama's Supertar Series. Designed to have a fast and attacking sound, the set has much shallower toms than you'd find and on a regular set these days.
There are a few different variations of the Hyperdrive - standard, EFX, and the one I'm reviewing here, the custom version.
The set I'm testing has 10"x6.5" and 12"x7" rack toms, a 16"x14" floor tom, 13"x6" wooden snare, and a suprisingly big 22"x20" bass drum. It also comes with Tama's Pro Road hardware package too.
With other manufacturers concentrating on standard, deeper drum depths, does this set really bring anything special to the table? There's only one way to find out...
The Superstar Hyperdrive is made mainly out of birch, but there is an inner and outer ply of basswood used too. The toms and snare are 6-ply at 6mm thick, while the bass drum is 7-ply at 7mm thick.
All the bearing edges are cut to 45-degrees and are pretty sharp, while the wood in general is smooth and seems to be good quality. The shell hardware looks pretty fab with parts of it finished in a Black Nickel colour. Among the other interesting features are the Soundbridge Lugs that are quite unusual in this day and age. They go right from the batter side to the resonant side of each shell, only making contact with the shell at each end. The idea is to reduce stress on the shell and increase resonance.
The Hyperdrive has some features that are also found on Mapex's top-end Starclassic Series such as the Star Cast Tom Mounting system that reduces contact with the shells, again to increase resonance. Also, the drum heads are held in place with the same zinc die-cast hoops found on the Starclassic sets. The inside of the hoops are a little unsmooth though, likely a way of keeping the costs down.
It's good to see that the toms are mounted from the cymbal stands instead of the bass drum being drilled to attach a tom mount. It means that the bass drum will benefit by resonating with less disprution. And, the tom arms look and work brilliantly too.
What about the finishes for the Tama Hyperdrive? Well, there are 5 high-gloss laquered options including Gold Platinum Fade, Satin Cherry Burst, Dark Dessert Burst, Gray Pewter, and Custom Scarlet Fade. This set is finished in the Dark Desert Burst which looks nice but the basswood grain isn't mind blowing.
Along with the Tama Superstar Hyperdrive is Tama's Road Pro hardware pack that inlcudes a boom cymbal stand, straight cymbal stand, snare stand, hi-hat stand, and a bass drum pedal. All pretty standard.
All the stands are solid and perfom well, and the hi-hat stand and bass drum pedal both have a good action that feels swift and powerful. Generally speaking, the hardware is good, it's not particularly innovative or amazing, but does the job very well.
The tom arms that attach to the cymbal stands are very functional and thanks to the shallow rack tom sizes, there's a lot of freedom when it comes to positioning the toms. It's nice to be able to place them lower down where you can really get stuck into them while playing.
The aim of the Hyperdrive is to have a punchy, fast, and attacking sound. With the sizes of the drums being what they are, it's no suprise that the sound is just as Tama say. The birch shells also increase the attack further, and the set isn't lacking in volume either.
The rack toms have a very tight sound that makes every note clearly heard when playing fast tom rolls, and the floor tom carries on this trend. But, the toms do have less low-end because of their shallow depths. It's not a bad thing though, that's exactly how these drums are designed to sound. And there's no question that what the toms lack in low-end they make up for in power, volume, and clarity.
Contrasting the toms, the snare drum is actually quite deep at 6", but the 13" diameter means it has a sharp, attacking sound too. It does sound slightly boxey, but playing rim shots gives a decent 'pop'. Overall it's ok but nothing special.
Differing from the rest of the set, the 22"x20" bass drum is also much deeper than you might expect, resulting in a thunderous, low-end 'boom'. I found it sounded better with a porthole cut in the front head to allow the large amount air inside to move out, and a small bit of dampening gave it more clarity too.
Because of the shallower toms, the tuning range of the Tama Hyperdrive isn't as wide as some standard sized sets, but it's still good enough for most people. Tuning the toms was actually easier than larger drums, and there are less overtones to complicate things. The snare drum is definately boxey when tuned higher, but a medium-loose tuning helps fatten up the sound. Lastly, the bass drum offers a good range of sounds tuned high or low, I liked it best tuned fairly loose were it gives a rich 'slap'.
This drum kit has brought back shallow toms for a new generation of players. Power and attack is something that many drummers these days are looking for, and this set delivers it in spades.
Fast, powerful toms and the beefy bass drum are the stars of the set along with some of the shell hardware features also found on Tama's top-end Starclassic Series. The package is made more attractive with the good quality Tama Road Pro hardware being included in the deal too.
Any downsides? The snare drum isn't as good as the rest of the set, it's got some power but it doesn't have the same quality of sound. Other than that, the Tama Powercraft heads that come supplied with the set are ok, but I'd want to put some better quality heads on after a while. Lastly, the bass drum only has 8 lugs compared to the 10 lugs you'd expect to find on some other sets. Still, it's only going to make a difference to you if you are extremely fussy when it comes to exact bass drum tunings.
What about the price? The Tama Superstar Hyperdrive is a mid-level budget set, and doesn't have all the refinements of a more expensive instrument, but it offers fair value for money as a package with hardware. 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: if you want power, attack, and clarity from your new drum set, the Hyperdrive will give it to you. A new snare drum might be in order, but other than that, this set will literally blow your socks off.
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