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Pearl Sensitone Elite Snare Drums

Pearl Sensitone Elite Steel

Potentially, this could be quite a long review what with there being five drums on offer, but, somewhat gratefully, they all share the same basic design so that makes things a whole lot easier for me.  While the five drums may all have the same design features, the main thing that makes them different from each other is the shell composition; in this instance we have drums in steel (STE-1450S), stainless steel (STE-1450SS), aluminium (STE-1450AL), brass (STE-1450BR ) and phosphor bronze (STE-1450PB).

Individual drum specs -

As I said before, these drums all have the same design, but the shell thickness vary slightly.  For the more nerdy among us, the breakdown is as follows (with Pearl’s sonic description as well):

Steel – 1mm - Strong highs and projection.
Stainless Steel – 1.2mm - Strong midrange and projection.
Brass – 1.5mm - Ringy and wet, a great general purpose snare drum.
Phosphor Bronze – 1.2mm - Dry and Dark, Quick response, &
Aluminium – 1.2mm - Natural EQ sound and dry.

Pearl Sensitone Elite Stainless Steel

The design in question is a fairly basic uncluttered one very reminiscent of a rather famous drum first made popular in the late 195Os, although even that basic design had been around since the 193Os.

Starting at the top (and bottom in this case), we have a pair of Pearls Superhoops (Superhoop IIs to be precise).

Now, I have always liked these particular hoops as to me they have the feel of a die-cast hoop without the overall inherent dryness. They are heavy duty and are a bit thicker than a standard triple flanged hoop, but provide the drum with a good solid feel which I like. 

The ten lugs are Pearl''s bridge type that attach to the shell at two nodal points therefore lessening the overall contact with the shell allowing more resonance. Again, it’s a basic design but it works well and looks good with it too. The lugs also have brass inserts where the rods go in which is nice. 

The throwoff (SR-017) and butt plate are fairly straightforward and uncomplicated. The throwoff isn’t the smoothest around compared to some of the more modern designs, but in the same way as everything else is more basic and functional, so is this and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

Pearl Sensitone Elite Aluminium

All of the review drums were 14x5” although they are also available in a 6 ½” depth as well. The shell is based on the time-honoured classic metal snare drum design, i.e. the ends of the shell are bent over to form the bearing edges and the centre of the drum is beaded (i.e. that ‘bulging’ bit). 

While the basic design may be the same for all of the drums, this doesn’t mean that they all weigh the same: I did find that the stainless steel and brass particularly were a little more ‘heavy duty’ in that respect, which in turn made me think of a more substantial sound being produced.

Aesthetically, I could point you towards several well-known snares of which some of these drums remind me. They are all clean in appearance and there’s nothing too fancy going on with them. I don’t know which was my absolute favourite on the looks front, however, I did like the aluminium model a lot.

Sonically, I had no problem with any of the drums.  I gigged a few of them and rehearsed with some others and they all performed well and delivered. They were easy to tune and cutting, especially when played as with a rimshot.

Pearl Sensitone Elite Brass

I found all of the drums to be crisp and bright with nice overall clarity. The sound from each was tight and focused in the centre of the head with not a huge amount of ring or buzz out towards the edge. I doubt you would need much dampening on any of these drums if you are that way inclined. You could say they are quite ‘studio’ in that sense. The bronze drum seemed to have a slight edge on the crispness front and was nearer to the brass drum than any other one I think. I was also surprised that I could tighten the wires quite a lot on the aluminium drum and it just wouldn’t choke. Whilst I didn’t go silly with it, I liked that aspect as it indicated a lot of versatility.

All of the review drums came with Remo heads – coated Ambassadors on top and clear snare-sides on the bottom. Interestingly, they did not all have the same snare wires, although I think this may be down to these being review drums more than any other reason, as the Pearl website specs indicate all the wires are the same. Don’t know what went on there, then. On this point I’ll just add that I really like Pearl’s snare wires. While there are more expensive brands out there, I really believe that Pearl makes quality snare wires that compete with the bigger names in the market.

To my mind, these drums are clearly a take on that aforementioned old drum/design while at the same time providing the consumer with a wider choice through the different shell materials.  

Pearl Sensitone Elite Phosphor Bronze

I can''t think of any practical reason why anyone would reasonably want all five drums in the series, well, certainly not the steel and the stainless steel together anyway, but that''s not the point I''m sure. There is certainly scope for three of these drums in an arsenal to cover a lot (if not all) bases. A choice of several good drums is what''s on offer here and if that is what was intended, then I''d say Pearl had succeeded in its goal.

I seem to have gone on using words like ‘basic’ and ‘uncomplicated’ in this review, much to my annoyance, but it’s something I couldn’t seem to get away from. These drums are fairly straightforward in most ways, but it’s straightforward in the best way – i.e. classic and well proven – and that’s every reason to take something and run with it. What I think Pearl has done is just that and given a classic design a bit of an upgrade and added some choices too. 

Given that all of these drums are really cheap, I think they are all equally wonderful for what they are and they come recommended.

For more info check out
David Bateman
May 2007

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