Pacific Drums has acquired a global profile since launching in 2000. This is in no small part due to it being a division of the highly revered Drum Workshop. The closeness of DW has benefited Pacific with a wealth of expertise, and gives the company an inside track to the latest developments in the higher echelons of the drum world.
The first Pacific kits were made in the Far East, to California-penned designs. While the quality was fine,overseeing production involved a lot of travel and the timescale for implementing changes and improvements was longer than desired. The decision was taken to relocate the manufacturing base a little nearer to home. Nearly all Pacific drums now originate from the company’s state-of-the-art facilities on the California/Mexico border, a few hours’ drive from DW HQ.
Want to go large?
Pacific’s new MXR kit is an offshoot of the existing MX range and is available in just one configuration. The kit is built around a 24"x18" bass drum, partnered by a 14"x6" snare, while a single 12"x9" rack tom leads across to 14"x12" and 16"x14" floor toms. There is a choice of two lacquered finishes and a full hardware pack is included in the price. The kit can be further expanded by the addition of an optional 10"x8" tom.
The Pacific operation is run by ex-DW staffers and many of the workforce have also been trained by DW. It shows, as the first impression of these drums is that they are extremely well made. The MXR drums are 100 percent maple, and the wood is sourced from forests in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Minor variations in ply occur across the kit, depending on each drum’s purpose. The bass drum and all of the toms have eight plies, while the snare and bass drum hoops have 10 plies. The shells are thinner than the number of plies might suggest, so the individual plies themselves must be fairly slender.
Pacific has recently changed the angle of the bearing edges on its drums, with the new design closely resembling that found on DW kits. The idea is that with less of the surface area of the bearing edge touching the head, more resonance is created, therefore improving the sound. We thoroughly approve – who wouldn’t? – but it does beg the question, if the DW design was there all along, then why wait until now to emulate it?
The drums are finished in Ebony, a matt black lacquer that forms one half of the finish options (the other being the slightly racy Cherry to Black fade). The Ebony is less of a deep black and more of a dark charcoal that allows the grain of the wood to swirl through from below. Matt finishes, when teamed with a judicious choice of colour can look great, and the combination here definitely works to the kit’s advantage, being understated while simultaneously hinting at the dark power contained within.
The big bass drum is supplied with a slinky black pillow that marries up with Velcro points inside the shell. Once installed it helps keep overtones at bay without stilfling the drum. As there is no tom arm socket to interfere with the shell’s vibrations (the tom is hung from a clamp off a cymbal stand), it’s no understatement to say that, without the pillow, the drum is on the lively side.
As well as being undrilled, the bass drum boasts a complement of 10 lugs, which is only right on a drum of this diameter. The snare also features the same number of lugs, so affording tuning finesse and stability. The lugs themselves are Pacific’s familiar oval DW-esque examples.
A RIMS-style mount with acronym STM is employed to suspend the rack tom. The STM mount curves discreetly around the shell, spreading the hanging load across four lugs. Remo heads are issued across the kit.
The hardware pack consists of a snare stand, hi-hat stand, two cymbal stands (one straight, one boomed), a bass drum pedal and the aforementioned clamp with a ball and socket holder for the rack tom. The stands are of the standard that is found pretty much across the board these days, double-braced and solid, while also displaying plenty of adjustment and locking options.
When it comes to playing, the element that most defines the kit visually – that 24"x18" bass drum – also anchors it sonically. It produces a huge, rumbling sound, pushing out a note so deep that it would barely register on anything above a subwoofer. The inherent darkness of the maple is intensified by the drum’s vast dimensions. Far from choking it, the pillow affords the drum a tightness that balances its sound perfectly.
A gorgeous, utterly moreish drum.
With such a massive bass drum to contend with, it is important that the snare is suitably authoritative. The supplied 14"x6" all-maple snare competes well, possessing a caustic bark in mid-range tunings that cleaves bass drum figures with precision.
Cranking up the tuning brings about an even more penetrating attack, while slackening it off fattens up its sound with little loss in power. Crucially, it works at lesser volumes, responding delicately to subtler stickings.
The toms offer an interesting combination of punch and refinement. On the one hand, they have plenty of presence, offering quick attack and full, fat tones. On the other, you could muffle the beater of the bass drum pedal, ditch the 2Bs in favour of a pair of 7As and slip into a different musical environment relatively comfortably.