Crush Drums Sublime AXM Kit
Crush Drums and Percussion began in 2010 and had the distinction of winning a best-in- show award at its very first NAMM show in 2011.
The company arrived fully formed, offering a range of kits, hardware and percussion catering from entry level right up to exotic wood high-end. Based in Tampa, Florida - where all the designs are penned - Crush manufactures much of its output in-house in Taiwan and the USA.
The Taiwanese-built Sublime AXM kit on review was introduced in 2013, joining the Sublime E3 series reviewed previously. Where Sublime E3 kits are all-maple, Sublime AXM drums are built with hybrid ash and maple shells.
Three four-piece shellpacks are available - all of which feature a single rack tom - along with a healthy selection of individual drums (including a stage-shaking 26" kick). The shellpack sent to Rhythm is made up of an undrilled 22"x18" bass drum, 12"x8" tom, 16"x14" floor tom and 14"x6" snare.
The founders of Crush D&P have on average 10 years' experience working in the music industry and there is plenty about the kit that indicates a depth of knowledge.
For a start there's the arresting finish (called Trans Satin Black with Silver Sparkle) which, unlike the wrapped finishes found on Sublime E3 kits, is a lacquer. Combining a matte black stain with silver highlights picking out the grain patterns, it's a simple but eye-catching concept that celebrates the wood's natural features whilst at the same time oozing modernity and urban chic.
The choice of matte is bang up to date as non-glossy paint jobs are becoming increasingly popular on cars (and even bikes). If this is a little too contemporary for your palette, two glossy options (Vintage Sunburst Lacquer and High Gloss White with Silver Sparkle) are also available.
Regardless of the finish the shell hardware comes satin-coated as standard. In the case of the review kit this complements the black and silver look perfectly.
The shells are a blend of European ash and North American maple, with the two inner and outer plies of each drum being ash. Three different thicknesses of shell are employed across the kit: the toms partner two central plies of maple with the four ash plies, making them 6-ply/4.8mm thick, the bass drum features four middle plies of maple (8-ply/6.4mm) and the snare has a total of six maple plies, making it 10-ply/8mm.
While the bass drum and snare are straight-sided, the tom and floor tom both have additional 4-ply maple reinforcement rings. Crush felt that the thinness of the tom shells warranted the rings (the extra plies in the bass drum and snare means that they are not required on these drums).
All of the shells have vertical seams (though interestingly those on the reinforcement rings are diagonal) and inside the surfaces have been sanded to an exceptionally smooth finish.
Three different bearing edges are found across the kit, one for each shell variation. These have been chosen by Crush as being the most appropriate for each particular drum and are all accurately cut.
The lug design - along with the rest of the shell hardware - is unique to Crush and combines a compact footprint with a bridge profile (they do not make contact with the shell along their full length due to a small inner arch between the fixing points that leaves a gap of free shell).
Pairs of rubber gaskets insulate each lug where it meets the shell and the proportion of lugs to drums is spot on. The satin finish found on the lugs extends to the hoops, bass drum claws and spurs, floor tom legs and brackets, snare release and butt-end, and the four-spoke suspension mount (a clever design which enables head changes while the tom is mounted).
Regular 2.3mm hoops are fitted on the toms while the snare sports reverse flange (turning in rather than out) hoops of the same chunky dimensions. Taiwanese- manufactured single-ply Remo heads are supplied with the kit; with the exception of the bass drum all of the batters are coated.
One-up/one-down is this writer's preferred configuration, so this kit has got 'play me' written all over it from the moment it's unboxed.
Ash is often favourably compared with birch as it tends to be clean, focussed and immediate, so pairing it with maple - a deeper, fuller-sounding wood - ought to offer the best of both worlds.
Indeed the drums punch through with urgency, aided no doubt by the presence of the ash, while the influence of the maple ensures they carry a full set of frequencies and bags of warmth.
This is immediately evident with the bass drum which delivers a big, aggressive note with little in the way of excess in overtones or decay, despite being undampened and unported.
Similarly, the toms rip through the mix with an ease bordering on nonchalance, their opening salvos rounded out with generously proportioned notes. The sizes, layout and sheer character of the kit leave us with no option but to really get stuck in and the drums respond to every dynamic increase. It's safe to say that it's more suited to those of us influenced by Dave Grohl than Tony Williams.
At 6" deep the snare sits somewhere between the snappy response of a shallower drum and the depth of note that an altogether bigger snare provides. It manages to keep a foot in each camp, proving to be deft and articulate yet capable of impressive power.
The reverse flange hoops make a notable contribution, ensuring the sound is full-bodied yet controlled; rimshots light up fills without obliterating the surrounding notes and sensitivity is excellent.
We gig the kit and it excels in a live setting, coming through loud and clear - not just in terms of volume but also on a frequency level as well. We also use it on a studio date and listen back to it in hi-fidelity. Rather than jostling for position amongst the distorted guitar, throbbing bass and jagged vocals its crisp, solid performance leads the way, with the other instruments riding shotgun.
Crush is a young company and, while this kit is intelligently designed and well built, it suggests a brand marking out territory and establishing its virtues. That said, it's an impressive set of drums and on this evidence there is bound to be more good stuff to come.