Drum set foot gear has become very sophisticated. One of the fanciest hi-hat stands is Pearl’s Powershifter Eliminator H2000. Pearl has thrown the entire Research and Development book at this hi-hat, resulting in a fantastically adjustable piece of hardware. Though the basic job of a hi-hat remains, “Make chick-chick. Stir pea-soup. Don’t fall over,” Pearl has included everything else a gearhead might want, too.
Pearl invested some innovative features in the Powershifter that warrant an explanation, not the least of which is the interchangeable cam system. The H200 comes with four color-coded plastic cams that fit between the footboard and the chain. Each makes a huge difference in the feel of the pedal and is very easy to change. Simply lift the footboard up a little to get it out of the way, depress one button, and flick the cam off of its mount, head over tails, with your finger. Install a different cam by pushing it onto the mount with the button depressed.
As I changed and played the different cams, I had flashbacks of old loves and hates that were underfoot in years gone by. Pearl calls the black cam a “perfect circle,” the white cam an “oversized perfect circle,” the blue cam “off-center and progressive,” and the red the “radical progressive cam.” It’s hard to put into words the feel created by a cam that’s between your foot and a pair of cymbals, but here’s my best attempt in plain English: The black cam gives a consistent, smooth tension all the way down. The white cam also gives a consistent tension all the way down, but is overall lighter than the black, in the way a bigger sprocket on your bicycle is easier to pedal. The blue cam produces tension that drops off at the end of the stroke. Like getting a little help at the “chick.” The “radical” red cam has strong tension in the fully open position, but then the cymbal drops like a stone, and this cam makes the cymbal action very sensitive in the barely-open position.
These descriptions are sadly wanting in conveying the feel and, especially, the differences in feel generated by the different cams. If this feature interests you, go put your foot on one and ask your foot. Like the man said, “You’ll know it when you step in it.” You may find your perfect love in one of these cams … or not. There have certainly been many generations of drummers who survived and played well without adjusting their cams. That said, I’ll admit I began this review with my doubts intact, but I am now very impressed with the differences made by these different cams.
The Eliminator uses a “twin-cam” system, but only one cam accepts the interchangeable cams. According to Pearl, the PosiLink Twin Cam drive makes the thing smoother, quieter, etcetera. Why two cams? Because the chain from the footboard goes up to the interchangeable cam and another cam sits beside it on an axle. The footboard chain doesn’t go directly to the pull rod. The second cam holds the chain that actually pulls the hi-hat rod. Because there are two cams, side-by-side, the pull rod and top tube sit over the pull-rod cam. This makes the tube, and your cymbals, sit slightly to the right of the center of your foot. Looking at it, you may think it would feel weird to play cymbals that are offset, but it feels normal. It does, however, make the footboard frame bulky.
Pearl also added Variset Angle adjustment. This allows the user to adjust the angle of the footboard. Handy, yes, but also a necessity here because the different cams will alter the footboard angle. Ahh! That was a problem encountered as I dallied with the cams. The adjustable footboard is the answer. The VariSet is easy to adjust and can be done in two ways. 1). Loosen one key bolt and rotate the pull cam, bringing the footboard higher or lower. Retighten. Ta-da! 2). Remove one key bolt on the pedal cam and move the chain up or down to any one of three positions.
“Powershifter” refers to the movable heel plate. To adjust it (“Luke! Activate Powershifter!”), lightly loosen one recessed key bolt in the heel and then slide it a little forward or back to any one of three positions. You what? You loosened it too much and it came apart? In the rug? Damn. That happened to me, too. Adjusting the Powershifter creates a subtle but groovy difference in where you feel the “weight” of the action under your foot.
As long as you’re down there, let’s talk about the TractionPlate Footboard. Basically, it’s a bunch of rubber dots that poke up through holes in the removable plate atop the footboard. You leave them in or remove them to suit your traction preference. Further, they’re on one end of the elliptical, symmetrical plate, so you can remove it and reverse it, north-to-south, and enjoy the slippery surface at the other end, if you prefer. To remove the plate for adjustment you must use the included Allen wrench on four small, black screws. This one I would definitely rather set and forget. I have a hard enough time keeping track of my drum key, let alone a teeny Allen wrench and four small, black, loose screws.
Pearl has one more new innovation on this rig: the Supergrip clutch and the cup it sits on. The Supergrip bites down onto the pull rod via a sandwich-clamping action instead of the usual mechanics of a screw stabbing directly into the pull rod. This is good. How many pockmarked hi-hat pull rods have you seen? The Supergrip puts an end to that. This useful innovation is a duplicate of what happened years ago to cymbal stands. The screws in cymbal stands used to drive right into the tubes. Ridiculous. They haven’t made them that way for years and the hi-hat clutch is now catching up. Pearl also ditched the tried-and-true felts that used to hold the top cymbal in the clutch, and they ditched the felt that sat under the bottom cymbal. They’ve replaced them with rubber. The top cymbal rubbers are concave to allow the cymbals to move. The bottom rubber has three raised ribs that hold the cymbal but still allow it to vibrate freely. At least, those are the apparent design intentions. It felt weird to play the rubber-mounted cymbals. Maybe I’d get used to it, but I prefer the more amorphous feel of felt. I found the cymbals to be too bouncy and resistant to my strokes. It was distracting. Another drummer could easily love the feel of rubber; many do, I’m told, but you’ll have to try it yourself.
Included and appreciated, though nowadays more common, are a single-dial spring tension adjustment, swiveling dual legs, reversible rubber/spiked feet, and a footboard that folds up. Pearl also includes a handy black nylon sock that fits over the footboard for protected transport.
The Eliminator is one of the most adjustable hi-hats available. It is sturdy and beefy. It’s a little bit big. All of these attributes could be good or bad depending on what you want from a hi-hat. It’s amazing to be able to adjust a hi-hat to such specific settings. If you want a top-of-the-line stand that you can adjust and personalize down to the last detail, this is your rig. There are four cams, more than four footboard height settings, and three Powershifter heel plate positions. For better or worse, that’s at least (4x4x3=) 48 different permutations to try! This is a very good piece of hardware, priced in the ballpark with top stands from other big names. For some it will be the Grail; for others it will just be too much stuff.