The past decade has seen a move by head manufacturers towards more measured, tidier methods of controlling bass drum boom. Evans' EMAD and Aquarian's Super-Kick set the pace, and now Remo has come up with the PowerSonic.
The PowerSonic has twin plies of 7 mil Mylar, and is available clear or white-coated in standard sizes from 18" to 24". It employs a dual dampening system: two ¾" wide foam rings ﬁxed to the inside of the head just in from the perimeter, and an optional 'pillow' - a doubled-over piece of thin foam with rubberised backing - fastened to the lower outside of the head by three press studs.
Remo calls this its 'External Snap-on Dampening System', or ESDS. It's evidently a response to Evans' EMAD, which employs interchangeable foam rings that slot into plastic trays around the head perimeter. Each PowerSonic also comes with a Falam impact pad to protect the head at the point of beater impact.
So while Evans' EMAD has two interchangeable foam rings, Remo's PowerSonic has two permanently attached slimline foam rings. These apply edge dampening, subduing the higher overtones and leaving the darker tones behind. Ideal for a bass drum.
The effect is that the note appears lower and throatier. And tuning is idiot-proof.
We compared the Powersonic to an Aquarian Super-Kick I on a 22" kick. Signiﬁcantly, the Aquarian is single ply while the PowerSonic is twin ply, and you really notice the difference. The PowerSonic has a more controlled sound, not so fat or wet as the Aquarian. It's punchy rather than ﬂabby - taut and thick, albeit warm. Adding the Falam patch gives a sharper edge to the attack.
Remo's optional extra weapon is the ESDS 'pillow'. Many drummers who use a partially dampened head also put a pillow or towel inside their drum, up against the batter head. Adjusting the degree of this internal dampening is relatively easy, but with the PowerSonic's ESDS pillow it's either 'on' or 'off' - attached or not.
In practice, attaching the pillow affected the sound less than expected, as ﬁxed to the outside it has a ﬂoating effect, which is less pronounced. With the already subdued response resulting from the double ply and foam rings, we doubt many drummers will need further dampening. We preferred the head without the pillow attached.
We tried both the clear and coated 22" PowerSonics and the difference is subtle, with the coated version minutely darker, warmer and edgier.