Yes. All Reflex drum shells are 100 percent alder. Toms are 6-ply; snares and bass drums are 8-ply. Plies are staggered horizontally and vertically for strength. On sight, I noticed the plies appear to have slightly different colors. Ddrum explained that Alder comes in red and white varieties. The visible interiors of the Reflex shells are an attractive red alder. Other, less visible core plies may include white alder plies.
I checked bearing edges on the floor tom and bass drum. The edges look to be 45 degrees and Ddrum cuts the edges quite evenly. However, these edges are not silky smooth to the touch. They have some roughness that could be easily eliminated with some fine-grade sandpaper (though this came with another assurance from Ddrum that the rough-edge issue has since been addressed). Still, I prefer a slightly rough edge that’s evenly cut to an uneven smooth edge. I was able to easily and quickly tune each of these drums.
In terms of sound, according to a few sources on the Internet (and we all know how reliable that is), alder is a member of the birch family. As a drum wood, birch is known to emphasize highs and lows (not as many mids), give a pronounced attack, and offer shorter sustain and slightly more pitched tonality than, say, maple. For these reasons, drummers often choose birch for recording.
The Reflex alder shells reminded me of birch because of their attack and short sustain, but they did not offer quite the same richness of tonality that I have experienced with birch. The mounted toms and floor tom each bark with defined attack, short sustain, and a not-as-pitchy-as-birch tonality that I would describe as focused. When in tune, these toms have a nice bounciness that makes them gratifying to play, despite the cheaper drumhead choice on this review kit. Good thing future models will come equiped with the Ddrum By Evans heads. I experimented with the floor tom by replacing the Taiwanese heads with two professional-quality (but admittedly used) Remo Ambassador clear heads. This minor change made the floor tom sound better.
The bass drum sounds a bit flub-y went tuned loose. At medium or tighter tensions, it produces a nice round boom that remains remarkably controlled given its 22" x 20" size. The drum has enough control (perhaps due to the alder) that I felt no need to add any muffling to the shell. Instead, I played it wide open. This bass drum sounds best when played medium to loud. At soft volumes, it feels as though the batter head produces sound on impact, but that the resonant head fails to fully vibrate. This could be a consequence of the rather enormous 20" distance between both heads, but I wonder whether professional heads might rectify this issue.
The snare drum is the gem of the Reflex series. This eight-lug snare produced plenty of crack and crispiness, and a pleasant full tone that focuses primarily on the mid- and high-pitch frequencies. Without any muffling, this snare still manages to avoid annoying extraneous overtones. It also provides excellent snare response from soft to loud.
Still, I do have one nit. Ddrum did not perfectly align the butt side of the Dunnet snare strainer system. The butt was at a slight angle that made it not quite parallel to the bottom bearing edge. When this happens, the snare wires are slightly misaligned with the bottom head. Correspondingly, this causes the snare wires to sometimes give extra, unwanted sympathetic vibration. I assume this was a small oversight in terms of quality control. However, in choosing this, or for that matter any snare drum, it’s always good to check whether the snare strainer is lined up correctly. Even with this minor defect, this snare drum was still quite impressive.
Despite a few semi-professional specs and price point, I was impressed enough with the Reflex drums to take them to my fully professional gig. Under the lights, these drums looked stunning; they received compliments from both band and audience members. The quartet I played with performed jazz and funk tunes at medium to loud volumes. The drums allowed me to play musically and dynamically in both styles — and they even responded well to brushes. With the first-run issues of cheap heads and rough edges addressed, I imagine these drums will sound very good. Reflex offers the opportunity to own a kit at an affordable price that looks great and sounds unique and musical. These drums definitely warrant consideration for the gigging drummer on a tight budget.
Shells Alder-shell drum kit with 6-ply toms and 8-ply snares and bass drums.
Features The Reflex drums come with 2.3mm triple-flange hoops on the toms and snare, a new suspension mount for the toms, three-leg floor toms, face-off lugs, professional wrap and lacquer finishes, and lovely wooden bass drum hoops.
Configuration Player 5-piece configurations come with 22" x 20" bass drum, 14" x 5.5" snare drum, 10" x 7" and 12" x 8" toms, and 16" x 14" floor tom. Tom arms with ball-style clamps and three floor tom legs are included.
List Price $972.50