This is a review for the DW Performance Series drum kit. The Performance Series is DW’s newest family edition with the softest price point of all DW series drums. With the exception of three 1 mm rolled steel snare drums, all Performance Series shells are constructed from plys of North American Hard Rock Maple, which are hot then cold pressed. The tom shell sizing is what DW refers to as fundamentally accurate sized toms or FAST. Consistent with DW’s attention to wood grain orientation, the Performance Series shells are straight shells designated HVX (Horizontal, Vertical, Cross or 45º). Grain orientation for an 8 ply shell would be, from outer in inner ply; H, V, V, H, V, V, H, X. Eight inch toms are 7 plys, snares are 10 plys and all other shells are 8 plys. All shells have 45º bearing edges. Shell sizes for the kit I’m reviewing is as follows:
√ 8 x 10 tom, 6 lug, 1.6 mm triple flange hoop
√ 9 x 12 tom, 6 lug, 2.3 mm hoop
√ 12 x 14 FT, 8 lug, 2.3 mm hoop
√ 14 x 16 FT, 8 lug, 2.3 mm hoop
√ 18 x 22 undrilled kick, 10 lug, lined die cast claws
√ 6.5 x 14 snare, 10 lug, 3 mm hoop
DW introduced this series toward the end of 2010. The series is manufactured at their plant in Oxnard, CA. The configuration and finish I was interested in was not available locally when I was ready to purchase this kit. I ordered the kit from a retailer and waited for my order to be manufactured. Although the Performance Series is not a custom order kit, it will be made to order if not immediately available through a retailer. The kit was delivered 22 weeks from the time of order.
The drum kit was delivered well boxed (10” tom was a separate purchase). They packed the shells in boxes within boxes which did a good job of securing and protecting the contents. There were floor tom legs protruding a couple of inches out of one box, but there was no damage to the legs or other contents of that box. The kit was ordered in Ebony Stain Lacquer. The finish out of the boxes was flawless. It has an automotive grade clear coat that feels very durable when tapped with a fingernail. The shell’s interiors are also protected with the clear coat. The Ebony Stain Lacquer takes on a different look depending on the lighting. Low light and it appears black. Adequate lighting and the wood grain pops through the finish. I’ve had it under some LED stage lighting and it takes on an almost dark purple appearance with the visible grain.
The kit was factory tuned and outfitted with DW / Remo drum heads. The kick and toms have a single ply coated / clear head (coated control ring) for the batters and a clear reso head for the toms. The kick reso is a black logo head with 6 dime size mini ports that run the perimeter of the drum head. The snare batter is a coated single ply with a reverse dot and a hazy type reso head. The collars on the tom heads are crimped, while the snare head is glued. I’m very pleased with the sound produced with the stock drum heads, however I will be trying something new when the kit is due for head replacements. I was happy with the sound of the kick and toms out of the box before any tuning of my own. The kick drum ships with two light weight crescent moon shaped pillows installed in the drum. They are secured to the inner shell with hook & loop, resting against each head. One of the pillows had become loose in transit, requiring me to remove a head, affix and re-tune the drum head.
The snare needed some tuning. I noticed two tuning rods on the snare were loose and could be removed by hand. Before tuning the snare I replaced the stock standard butt plate with a DW chrome 3-position butt plate. The Performance Series snare utilizes the DW mag throw-off. The action on the throw is smooth and gentle. It engages and disengages quickly with little effort. The tuning rods have a metric thread and require more turns of the drum key to remove than an imperial threaded rod. This is supposed to allow for more fine tuning of the drum head. Each rod is outfitted with two washers, 1 steel, 1 nylon. I tuned the snare to taste and configured the drum kit.
The two rack toms are outfitted with DW’s Suspension Tom Mounts (STM) in chrome. I mounted them on a DW 9000 Series Double Tom Stand. There were two memory locks included with the kit for use with the rack toms. The STM does what it was designed to do and looks good doing it IMO. I haven’t noticed any choking or shortened sustain on these drums when mounted. The STM is not affixed to to the shell. It cradles the drum, holding onto 4 lugs. This leaves a little play in the drum when aggressively played or if pushed up from the bottom by hand. The two larger toms are both legged floor toms. Each leg includes a memory lock for consistent set-up. The kick drum has some solid and easily collapsible spurs. There is a rubber gasket or buffer between all shells, lugs and claws.
I attached a DW kick pedal to the kick and used the plastic side of a stock beater. The 18 x 22 HVX kick drum is a beast IMO. Out of the box the drum is loud, has a wet attack / punch with a deep, booming report. I am very impressed with the 22” DWPS kick drum. The toms sound like DW drums, which is a sound I wanted when purchasing these. They have an assertive attack and a warm sustain to my ears. They achieve low notes while the heads maintain a rebounding, playable tension. The low notes emitting from the floor toms are impressive and seem to do a good job of projecting that bottom end. The 11 lb., 6.5” deep snare produces a low crack and adequate volume. Projection doesn’t appear to be an issue for this kit. It is marketed as being suited for live applications and I find this to be an accurate statement.
I have found the drums to be easy to tune with the most challenging being the snare, but have since been able to get it where I want it. The shells are not timbre matched like other DW line of drums, however the pitch intervals between the shells is spot on. There is no mistaking the tonal qualities of one tom to the next. Other smalls included were; DW polishing cloth, drum key, drill key, rubber hoop protector, DVD, 2 extra kick tuning rods and 3 extra tom tuning rods.
The DWPS has really met or exceeded my expectations. For someone looking to buy a pro-level production drum kit I would highly recommend this line of drums be given careful consideration.