DW Collectors Series 5.5” x 14” Black Nickel Over Brass SnareReview by Jonas Mannon // August 27 2012
I was told the package I was expecting from DW in Oxnard, CA, had been “somehow re-routed to Tucson, AZ, by mistake.” So, like any other card-carrying devout drum geek, I was holiday excited when the package finally arrived at my door.
Out of the box…
The DW Collectors Series 5.5” x 14” black nickel over brass snare drum welcomed me with a nice heft, solid but not too heavy, roughly 11 lbs. fully assembled. It is comprised of a finely rolled 1mm. brass shell with black nickel plating and chrome hardware, (though it should be noted that all DW hardware color options are available in this model). It has 10 chrome lugs and looks great under lighting, glossy but not too shiny, pronounced but not busy, with a solo DW badge.
The DW Collectors Series 5.5” x 14” black nickel over brass snare drum also boasts the DW MAG throw-off with three position butt plate, now standard features on all Collectors Series DW snare drums. It has True Hoops, another standard, and the obligatory numbered ‘DW by REMO’ heads. The batter and resonant edges are both 45 degrees with the snare beds on the resonant side, naturally.
And on to the stand…
I’ve often found it’s best to test drums under various settings and tunings. So at the outset, I keyed the bottom and batter sides to a medium tightness and ran some basic patterns: singles, double strokes, 16th note rudiments, etc. I generally use a dampener on my snare so I also ran the same patterns with a 14” dampening ring to test the subtleties and changes in tonality.
In both cases, the notes snapped clearly from the drum head with the dynamic tones remaining crisp and defined throughout. Gradually building speeds and velocities did not noticeably produce any tinny over-ring, as is sometimes problematic of metal snares. Side-sticking also produced very clearly voiced notes, warmly suited for those slow country dance sways, Bossa nova grooves and covers of ZZ Top’s “La Grange.”
After the first run, I keyed both heads tight, leaving very little give in the center of the batter head and ran some varied sticking patterns again. If you’re a skinner who prefers this method of snare tuning, you will not be disappointed. Again the drum held its attack cleanly and evenly, even when sloppy sticking technique was purposefully employed. With and without dampening, rim shots and flams on this snare are bullet sharp. They echo as if through a P.A. but again with no significant over tones or metallic rings before quickly settling.
The DW MAG throw-off also provides simplistic on/off positioning, making transitions precise and reliable. With the snare wires in the off position, the drum’s tenor voices invite Latin tinged, reggae-infused rolls, fills and trills. We drummers are surely a different breed of cat.
The kit is the thing…
While testing The DW Collectors Series 5.5” x 14” black nickel over brass snare drum on its own yielded great results, ultimately the kit is the thing. Once again several frameworks were laid out: rock beats, funk shuffles, big 1/16 note double-bass grooves, Bozzio-style shredding (I wish), jazzy brush work, etc. And once again, the snare delivered on all counts. In a standard groove, the 2 and 4 landed with a resounding crack. In a jazzier setting, the brushes produced whispery phrases that remained defined.
On recording (yeah I went there too) the snare is sonically consistent as well. With microphones on top and bottom, it moves ably through a wide dynamic range and sounds very live. It only took some minimal tweaking to capture the drum’s character on playback.
Objectively, I didn’t find anything negative about The DW Collectors Series 5.5” x 14” black nickel over brass snare drum at all. The weight, functionality and diverse voices are all top shelf. In a drum-shell, this snare rules!
About the Author
Jonas Mannon has been fortunate enough to work with people like Duff McKagen, Peter Criss and Bill Ward, among others. He still contends, however that he's still "just a knock-around drummer kid from New York." As a freelance journalist he has interviewed 13-time Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs and drumming legends, Artimus Pyle, Sandy Gennaro and Kenny Aronoff, among others.
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