The successor to the Mapex M and Pro M ranges, the intermediate Meridian series simplifies the choice and options of shell material, while featuring upgrades to a variety of components including lugs, tom mounts and hardware.
The five-piece Retro Fusion kit comprises 10"x7", 12"x8", 14"x12" toms, 14"x5 " snare, 22"x14" bass drum and a 700 Series hardware pack.
This is a feature-rich selection that has two boom cymbal stands, hi-hat stand, snare drum stand, bass drum pedal and all the necessary tom mounting hardware - an aluminium multi-clamp and a resin ball-type tom mount allowing virtually any tom angle.
While the review set is constructed from 100 per cent North American rock maple, birch is also available as an option. Each shell is made up from seven thin plies, but the bass drum is a millimetre or so thicker owing to its slightly chunkier plies.
The breather hole rivet is used to attach a small plaque to the inside of the shells, displaying the drum serial number and country of origin. Nylon gaskets isolate each piece of hardware from the shell.
The Chestnut Burst finish has been applied using eight coats of lacquer, hand-sanded to attain the high-gloss finish. Toms and snare feature chromed steel triple-flanged counter hoops, attached via square-headed tension bolts.
'Beavertail'-style lugs are attached to the shell at the nodal point (where the hardware's less likely to impede shell vibration), isolated from the shell surface by a nylon gasket. The suspended toms have ITS (Isolated Tom Mount System).
The roadworthy set of double-braced 700 hardware includes cymbal 'OS actuators' to help maintain maximum resonance from each cymbal. The smooth operation of the cymbal tilts on each boom stand is courtesy of a long DW-style lever which, with the boom adjuster, comfortably allows any chosen angle. The 700 bass drum pedal is basic but functional with its single chain-drive pull and tri-sided beater.
Assisted by the functional and well-designed hardware, each drum is positioned quickly and easily.
The shallower bass drum noticeably possesses a quicker rebound on the pedal. The pre-damped heads help in getting a good sound straight out of the box - though not so wall-shaking, it still manages to pack a punch.
The toms give an impression of larger drums, helped by the Pinstripe heads which give a little extra bottom end. Tuned to a medium tension, each tom proves wonderfully articulate and responsive, with plenty of character. The snare has a lovely thick woody sound at a lower tuning and, notched up a couple of key turns, dispenses with the richness, instead substituting some cutting attack on the twos and fours.
Value-wise, at around the £1,000 mark it still holds its own even with competition from Pearl Vision and Yamaha Tour Custom kits.