One O One is a new drum company founded by Ola Bengtsson and Paul Nielsen in Helsingborg, southern Sweden.
It specialises in making drum shells using synthetic materials and modern technology. You can buy bare shells or complete drums.
The defining aspect of 101 is the shell material. This is a composite made from compressed recycled wood fibres. It immediately suggests Remo’s Acousticon, but Paul Nielsen - while admitting the similarity - explains that 101 has its own special recipe.
Several ultra-thin layers are rolled together, bonding them as one and resulting in a shell that is sturdier than wood, with less inherent tension.
This means the shell can be made extremely thin, but remain strong. It’s just 2.5mm thick, although it does have reinforcing rings, which are also 2.5mm.
We have a 14"x61⁄2" Black Diamond snare for review, but all standard kit and snare sizes are offered. As a specialist synthetic shell- producing company 101 can actually tackle sizes all the way from 4" to 54". Hobbyists can buy blank shells while professional drum builders can access a wholesale price service.
The snare shell flexes less than an equivalent thin wooden one. It’s beautifully finished, although it does vary in roundness by up to 1/8", so is no more accurate than a top-level snare in wood or metal.
Bearing edges are rounded on the batter side and 45° sharp on the resonant side, which also has properly cut snare beds.
The satin black coating is a normal spray paint, but 101 can apply printed wraps in any design specified by the customer. Metalwork is generic, but of top professional quality - DW’s Mag throw-off and Puresound Custom brass snare wires.
Don’t be put off by the synthetic shell tag - hardened wood-fibre shells work particularly well for snare drums. After all, snares are often made from metal, or Perspex, not just wood.
And as Remo has shown for years, uniform wood-fibre shells have a piercing, pure and resonant sound. The Black Diamond has that sort of clout, a terrific dynamic range, a solid all-rounder for any style.
The Mag throw-off has genuine class, the Puresound brass wires add tone and bite, aided by the neatly-cut snare beds. The fact that the shell is thin increases resonance while fractionally deepening and warming the tone. It is always a bright drum though - snappy, crisp and present. The centre beat is fat and tight, while the shell ring increases quickly as you move towards the edges.
The overall vibe of the Black Diamond is big-hearted and generous, but at the same time resolute and controlled.