DW Performance Series Drum Kit Reviewed!

DW: A New Doorway Into The Workshop


DW has just recently introduced a new mid-priced professional drum line that’s designed as a high-quality but affordable alternative for the multitude of drummer’s who desire a real DW kit but can’t afford the pricey Collector’s series sets. It’s an interesting choice for DW, since the budget arm of the company, PDP, is the place where this type of kit would have traditionally been released. But as I soon learned, there are some key features that put this affordable series a few steps closer to the top-of-the-line DWs.

Shells And Configurations

If you know anything about DW you know the company loves to tinker with shell design. The new Performance series is no exception and uses DW’s new HVX shell. These shells have plies that are oriented horizontally, vertically and in an X-shape — hence the acronym. The toms and bass drums all use eight plies of North American maple, the snare has a 10-ply design and if you opt for an 8” tom, that one has just seven plies. The 45 degree bearing edges are the same as on DW’s other drums, though these shells are “straight” with no reinforcement rings. The tom shells were pretty thin (just under a 0.25”), which usually results in more low end.

There are two basic tom and snare configurations available with bass drums (and additional toms) offered on an à la carte basis. This is a clever idea and keeps things simple on their end. In other words, you pick the tom and snare pre-pack that suits your style of music and add one of three different bass drums or four add-on toms. All the toms are even sized so you can’t get a 13” or 15”.

My review kit came as a 4-piece rock kit with a 22” bass drum, 12” mounted tom, 16” floor tom and deeper 14” x 6.5” snare. The other prepack has a shallower 5.5” snare and three fusion-sized toms (10”, 12”, 14”).


Five lacquer finishes available in the new line. My review kit had the Sapphire Blue finish, which, along with the White Ice and Black Mirra (bling!) finishes, is opaque. If you want to show off the wood grain there are also nice red and black transparent lacquers offered. There’s also the option of a natural finish add-on snare, but oddly no kit with a finish to match it.

The rich blue finish on the review kit was absolutely immaculate. The blue was bold and striking and looked beautiful with the flawless chrome hardware.

Key Features

These drums use a slightly smaller version of DW’s classic Turret lug, dubbed the Quarter Turret lug. It’s a little smaller and, as a result, I actually think it looks better and more in proportion to the shells than DW’s rather big Camco-era lugs. This smaller lug has less mass and makes less resonance-dampening contact with the shells while not detracting from the finish. The snare drum features ten new dual-Turret tube lugs that echo the look but don’t match the lugs on the rest of the kit. The lugs are only available in chrome.

The bass drum uses 20 die-cast claws that are lined to protect the beautiful matching hoops and are slightly smaller versions of the Collector’s series claws.

The drums use DW’s STM suspension tom mounting system that sits under the lugs but slightly off the shell on large rubber grommets.

The tension screws feature DW’s True-Pitch design that has more threads per inch than standard tension screws, allowing you to more accurately fine tune your drums. The screws turned very easily, like a hot knife in butter. However, I’ve never been a fan of this idea. I’ve found DW drums take a bit longer to tune than other brands since you’re making smaller adjustments with each turn and each turn is less effective.

The snare drum features DW’s Mag throw-off, which cleverly uses a small magnet to hold it closed. It’s very quiet in use and is easy to fine tune while engaged. There’s a beefy DW die-cast butt plate on the other side of the drum with DW’s TrueTone wires underneath.

As with DW’s Collector’s series kits, since the bass drums are “virgin” (without a mount) you have to use a clamp to mount your toms from a cymbal stand.

The hoops are 2.3mm triple-flanged Performance hoops and these are rigid enough to take higher tensions on the snare without being pulled out of shape, as is possible with thinner and cheaper 1.6mm hoops.

The floor tom legs are 21” in length and have that right-angle elbow that DW uses to add resonance and stability.

Finally, the drums feature a new badge with the Performance outlined DW logo.

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