Taiwan-based WorldMax began as a supplier of parts and shells to other brands but has since progressed to marketing its own, often highly-regarded, snare drums.
Usually excellent value for money, some of WorldMax's more recent offerings have shown a penchant for exotic shell materials and original designs.
The two new snare on review has a conventional shell but boasts a thoroughly extrovert appearance thanks to the laser-engraved exterior and a choice of maple or die-cast hoops (we've got one of each on test here). Both drums are currently available in one size - 14"x61⁄2" - and share the same all-maple, straight-sided shell.
This 7-ply/5.6mm shell is made in-house by WorldMax and hasn't been used in any of the company's previous snares. Both review shells are well finished, scoring highly for roundness and overall build quality. Bearing edges are cut at 45° with a smooth peak and a small backcut; again, these are consistent and precise across both drums. Generous snare beds are found snareside.
WorldMax has used laser engraving - a technique which involves vapourising the material without actually making contact with it - on metal-shelled snares before. These drums are the first wooden snares that the company has applied this treatment to, and I'd describe the resulting pattern as being somewhere between tribal and floral.
The process permanently marks the wood to the extent that running your hand over the shell reveals indentations, as though a tool has hewn the pattern into the surface. The maple-hooped drum's engraving is of a consistently dark tone throughout, while that of the metal-hooped drum is lighter in comparison and varies more, fluctuating to patches of near fade. According to WorldMax, this effect is deliberate.
Both drums are dressed with 10 doubled-ended tube lugs and WorldMax's own design of snare throw-off and butt-end. Rubber gaskets isolate the lugs at the point of shell contact. On the maple-hooped drum the hardware is chrome-plated, whilst on its counterpart almost every metal component is coated with Rose gold, an alloy of gold and copper.
The Rose gold hoops themselves are die-cast and 3mm thick, and add a weighty and very physical presence to the drum. Any remaining shell hardware not coated with Rose gold (tension rods and parts of the throw-off assembly) is finished in black, making it a chrome-free drum.
The maple hoops that grace the second drum are nearly 20mm thick and over 25mm deep, making an equally - if not bigger - visual statement. Rebranded Remo UT heads and WorldMax snare wires complete the fittings.
While the snares share the same shell construction you'd expect them to differ in sound on account of their hoops. Both drums display sensitivity right into the edges and respond appropriately to various dynamics from brushes to 2Bs with fluency.
The maple-hooped drum is warmer and sweeter, giving a woody-to-the-max note. Cross-sticking snaps with resonance and no little conviction, while rim-shots are akin to being jabbed between the eyes with a cricket bat. Its depth gives it added authority, allowing it to cut through in many situations. Of the two it's marginally more versatile; comfortable in multiple tunings and eloquent throughout.
The Rose gold-hooped drum - understandably influenced by the sheer bulk of its hoops - is an altogether darker-sounding and more powerful drum. We took it to a rehearsal with a punk band, an earplugs-only zone for us even when setting up.
After one song (being punk, barely a minute and half long) the other members all commented on the loudness of the snare. That this came from three individuals who play at the sort of volume that would suggest they're already deaf left us with a feeling of schadenfreude that was as unexpected as it was enjoyable. But the fact is, they were right: it is one loud drum.
The hoops also impart a grittier and more metallic tone to the note, making the snare seem even deeper than its already generous 61⁄2". It's an ideal snare for aggressive situations, being both audible amid the cacophony whilst remaining articulate.