Dynamicx: Experience Speaks With A New Voice

Dynamicx

Being a drum reviewer is a tortuous job. No, really. Companies send you new, cool, and often very expensive equipment that you could never afford; you play it for a while on different gigs, write your best impression of its strengths and weakness, and then send it back. That last part’s where the torture kicks in.

I recently received two beautiful snares from Dynamicx Drums, which is located in Michigan. You may not have heard of this company yet, but it is the latest creation from the people who also make Black Swamp Percussion’s exquisite snare drums and percussion instruments, as well as Drum Foundry’s drum-making tools.

Dynamicx is a division of the Drum Foundry side of the company. Whereas Black Swamp creates very high-end snare drums for symphonic drummers, Dynamicx snares are designed for drum set players. While the shell manufacturing, hardware, and design throughout these three companies is thoroughly state-of-the-art, the Dynamicx brand was created specifically for kit players who don’t need the more elaborate and expensive multitimbral strainers that classical snare drummers often require. But don’t feel cheated; these Dynamicx snares have some very unique features that set them apart from many other high-end drums you’ve seen.

Hardware

Let’s start with the nuts and bolts. Both drums employ the RCK throw-off and butt. This is a custom strainer created by company president Eric Sooy. It’s stylish yet offers a modern take on a classic vintage look and uses a unique roller bearing actuator just like Black Swamp’s more elaborate units. The wires drop a bit further than many strainers so there won’t be any unwanted snare rattle against the bottom head when the wires are disengaged. It’s solidly built and worked smoothly, allowing me to easily fine-tune the tension with the wires engaged.

The drums feature ten arch-style double tube lugs. Rather than mount the tube on two posts, this lug uses an arched piece to support the tube that suggests art deco and looks much more unique than a standard tube lug. I liked these lugs a lot.

The drums had Dynamicx wires underneath and also came with both “df” (Drum Foundry) and Dynamicx badges, and the wood drum had a die-cast air-vent grommet. The hardware was all beautifully chromed and shiny.

Shells

Dynamicx sent me two 14" x 6.5" snare drums to review; a titanium model and a maple-and-purpleheart-segment snare drum with maple hoops. Both of these drums were beauties and had flawless construction.

If you’re not that familiar with segment drum shells or wood-drum construction methods in general, here’s a brief primer.

The most common drum shell construction method is to make them out of plywood. There is more glue used with this type of drum than with the next three methods, which some believe is an undesirable characteristic of plywood drums. The least common method is probably to make a drum from a single board, steam bending it and gluing the joint together. Some think this is ideal since you’re hearing pretty much just the wood and very little glue. Steam-bent, or solid shell, drums invariably use reinforcement rings to help them stay round.

There are two other construction methods that are common among high-end drums. One is stave drums, which are made like a conga drum where vertical boards are glued together at the edges and then shaped into a cylinder. Occasionally, drums made this way can separate if there’s a defect in the materials or if the drum is dropped, which is why congas sometimes have a metal band around them for added support. The other is segment construction, which also has a low glue-to-wood ratio but is believed to be stronger and more stable than stave or solid shell construction. This method is made from staggered blocks of wood much like a brick wall.

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Maple/Purpleheart Snare

The wood drum I received was designated model DXSG6514, which after employing a team of Defense Department code breakers using an Enigma machine, I learned stood for Dynamicx segment 6.5" x 14" (14" x 6.5" in DRUM! parlance). In retrospect, it might have been easier just to ask them what it meant.

This drum is so gorgeous it warrants a centerfold in DRUM! Magazine. From several feet away you’ll notice rich stripes of purpleheart alternated with the lighter colored maple under a high-gloss finish. If you examine it more closely you’ll appreciate how the segment-construction method reveals subtly different shades of purple, brown, and natural maple with contrasting grain striations in each block. Up close, they all interact to create more complex textures and colors than are apparent from a distance.

The drum also features unusual solid maple hoops that were created using finger joints (resembling interlaced fingers) rather than being made from plywood. The hoops are rounded on the inside edge but are flat on top for better rim clicks, and then angle outward giving them a rounded look from a distance. The tension screws are countersunk so there’s no danger of hitting them.

These hoops are unlike any other wood hoops I recall. However, I can’t help but wonder if these hoops would stand up indefinitely to a really hard-hitting drummer who plays a lot of rimshots. I noticed some slight indentations in the rims after using the drum on a rock gig, though I think it may have arrived with them, since I don’t play a lot of rimshots. If you’re the aforementioned type of hitter note that the base model of this drum comes with 2.3mm hoops, so that might be a better choice for you. Also note that some microphone clips won’t fit on hoops this thick. This drum is also available in 5" and 4" depths, though the shallowest model comes with more traditional tube lugs, not the arch lugs that fit on deeper shells.

Wood Sound

This drum sounded about as nice as it looked. Every snare has its own personality, and this one oozes warmth. It also felt good under my sticks. Some drums can feel somewhat hard when playing them but this snare felt good even at higher tunings. I think this drum would be an excellent jazz snare or ballad drum. Its sound profile leans toward the midrange and despite the sharp bearing edge, it didn’t ring uncontrollably. It sounded good and fat throughout lower to mid tunings but at the very upper range started to sound a bit choked. I tried the drum with the supplied coated reverse-dot head and then switched it with a single-ply coated head. Either one worked, though as I expected the single-ply head offered a tad more brightness. Both rimshots and rim-clicks sounded clean and had good volume.

Titanium Snare

After playing the segment drum I was eager to try out the titanium model, which differed from the wood drum in more than just shell material. The titanium drum had 2.3mm hoops rather than maple ones. I later learned that all the screw holes, snare bed, and vent hole were cut in the drum using a waterjet. Yes, they can cut metal with water, and some pricey automobile rims are made that way. The advantage of this manufacturing technique is that it eliminates any chance that the heat created during drilling a metal shell will alter the temper of the material. Clever, eh? Dynamicx also uses aerospace-grade titanium for its shells. The welds are done by special machinery and were smooth to the touch.

Dynamicx actually offers a few different titanium models including colored anodized drums and even drums wrapped with thin, visually striking wood veneers for those drummers wanting the wood look with a titanium tone.

My review drum had a very unique look. It was a brushed metal drum with a laser-etched graphic of a Celtic knot. The single vent hole had been cut with a complementary shape that would have probably been impossible to do by hand. Overall, the drum had a modern and striking look.

Titanium Sound

Titanium is a very strong and lightweight material that’s become one of the top snare material choices for many drummers. After playing the drum, I can see why.

I often use metal snare drums at gigs for the extra articulation and sensitivity they offer over wood snares. I’ve fallen in love with several review snares previously, but they all had the same flaw: To achieve their articulation, they needed to have a thick shell. In a few instances, that would have meant carrying around a 20lb. snare drum, which I gave up after my pipe band days and my still-recurring nightmares featuring the 24lb. Premier HTS 200.

Because this drum is titanium, it is remarkably lightweight yet offers all the crispness of a thick bronze, brass, or steel snare without the weighty downside.

Playing this titanium drum was an absolute joy. It was sensitive, crisp, and very articulate without ever sounding thin. The drum had a touch of ring but it was always controlled. The crisp attack seemed to last a little longer than with a lot of metal drums, if that’s even possible. My rim-clicks were clear and projected wonderfully. Rimshots sounded very good, too, without ever overpowering the tone. Laying into the drum brought out even more of its bottom end.

This drum is capable of getting very loud. However, due to all these traits, it’s also very revealing and probably isn’t for everyone. If you don’t want your technique put under a microscope or need to play quietly a lot go with the wood model. It’s a bit more forgiving and isn’t as loud compared to the Ti model. However, if you’re a soft player the titanium model may offer you the clarity your other snares have been lacking.

Verdict

Dynamicx’ state-of-the-art materials and superb workmanship have created drums anyone should be proud to own. I used this drum on my main gig for a couple of months and now my band doesn’t want me to send it back! Maybe I can use that as leverage for a raise? If not, I really only need to eat every other day.

Features Arch double tube lugs; maple hoops (wood drum), and 2.3mm hoops (titanium); RCK throw-off and butt; Dynamicx snare wires; 10-lug design; waterjet-cut shells (titanium); metal badges.
Model List Price
Maple/Purpleheart
Segment Snare$648
Titanium Snare
(with steel hoops)$899
Titanium Snare
(with die-cast hoops)$1,049
Finish Natural high gloss (maple) and brushed satin (titanium).
Shells 14" x 6.5" maple-and-purpleheart segment snare; 14" x 6.5" titanium snare.
Contact
Dynamicx Drums USA
dynamicxdrums.com
888-788-7453