To my ears, Sonor’s thin-shell toms, including the ProLites, have a unique, definitive sound. When struck with sticks, the ProLite toms begin with a pronounced attack followed by a clear, focused, open tone that resonates just long enough but then quickly decays. I think these toms sound best when tuned at a medium tension. At looser tensions, they lose the woody sound of the shell; at tighter tensions, they can start to choke. The feel of these toms is somewhat spongy with a lot of give – no doubt the result of undersized shells, flanged hoops, and thin shells. Still, the Tune Safe lugs do a remarkably fine job of holding these drums in tune. I often practice with 2Bs, and even with those clubs, these toms held their pitch under hours of playing.
Lately, I like to play my bass drum wide open, but I resort to muffling with a kick drum that sounds overly boomy or unruly. With a 6mm primary shell supported by a 2mm reinforcement ring, the ProLite bass drum is 2mm thicker than any other shell on the kit. That extra thickness gave this kick just enough controllability to allow me to play it wide open while still achieving a pleasant, focused boom.
The ProLite bass drum legs are a sort of rounded triangular shape that fold into or out from the shell. To me, they are hard to get used to on initial setup because when folding them out, I had to eyeball whether each leg was equidistant from the shell (yes, I know, that’s anal). Once in place, I set the legs’ included memory locks so I would never have to engage in that process again. That knit aside, these legs look very stylish, and they do an incredible job of holding this lightweight 20" virgin bass drum in place. I used the ProLites as my main practice kit for a month while diligently working through Virgil Donati’s Double Bass Drum Freedom book (I wish I could play like Virgil). Even under that relentless pounding, this kick never budged.
The ProLite snare is, in two words, “a gem.” It produces a comforting woody sound that’s live, open, not harsh, and quite musical. Sonor has outfitted the ProLite snare with its Dual Glide System strainer. This is a drop-lever mechanism with swivel knobs on both strainer and butt sides that click into place and, hence, lock snare wire tension. The coolest feature here, however, is that both strainer and butt have a spring-loaded quick-release mechanism for the snare wires. If you want to change your bottom head, you simply push buttons on each end to detach the snare wires without having to undo any strings.
While in my possession, I’ll admit that the ProLites were played, not just by me, but by my wife and the drummer in my son’s rock band. All three drummers (me included) thoroughly enjoyed this kit. The ProLites are fully professional drums that seem to be made with just the right combination of precision and love. Plus, they have a sound and feel that is uniquely Sonor. Interestingly, Sonor did not disclose the price, explaining that ProLites are sold exclusively at its Certified Plus dealers where potential customers are encouraged to call for price. Therefore, I can’t comment on whether the ProLites are a good deal. I can say, however, that if you can find yourself an acceptable deal, this is the kind of kit that you would probably buy and never sell.
Configuration (Studio 1 Shell Pack) 20" x 17.5" bass drum, 10" x 8" and 12" x 9" toms, 14" x 14" floor tom, and 14" x 5" snare.
Shells Vintage Maple shells (North American Maple) with Dynamic Edge reinforcement rings and 45 degree bearing edges. Toms and snare: nine plies – 4mm shell/2mm reinforcement ring; bass drum: 12 plies – 6mm shell/2mm reinforcement ring.
Features Shells are slightly undersized compared to the hoop for optimal resonance; Tune Safe lugs; toms outfitted with redesigned Total Acoustic Resonance system; vent holes have circular laser-engraved metal washer underneath; 2.3mm Sonor Power Hoops (die-cast hoops available on snare; wooden hoops on bass drum).
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