If you’re looking for a good professional maple drum set, the DW Performance Series is one of your strongest options. The great thing about it is that you can buy it in multiple configuration options. For this specific review, we’re going to look at the 7-piece outfit.
While saying this is an excellent kit is enough for drummers who already know about the DW brand, let me dive in a bit deeper for the sake of those who don’t. I’m going to explain why this kit is so good, especially for professional gigging drummers.
Understanding the DW Product Line
DW has a fairly simple product line that is very easy to follow. Here are the 3 main types of drum sets that they offer:
- DW Design Series
- DW Performance Series
- DW Collector’s Series
While there are a few other kits here and there such as the Jazz Series and Classic Series, these 3 types of drum sets are the most widely distributed kits from DW. Funnily enough, they’re all professional sets. Even the Design Series kit is perfectly usable in all pro settings.
The Collector’s Series is the pristine line of drums from the brand. Those drums are custom-made to fit the buyer’s tastes. So, the Performance Series acts as a middle-ground, providing you with high-quality sounds and constructions but not as much customization.
Decision-Making Tips for Buying a Drum Set
Before getting to the review of the 7-piece Performance Series set, here is what I’m specifically looking out for:
- Quality of sound
- Shell materials used
- Construction quality
- Available finishes
We’re going to see how the Performance Series ranks in all these areas. After that, I’ll give you a few alternate options to check out as well.
DW Performance Series Review
The DW Performance Series was my dream kit as a kid. I’ve had a few opportunities to play it over the years, and I’ve always been impressed with how good it sounds and how solid it feels. What’s the cause of its professional quality? Let’s find out.
Here are all the features of the kit:
- Quarter Turret lugs
- HVX maple shells
- 45-degree bearing edges on the toms
- 60-degree bearing edges on the bass drum
- True-Pitch tension rods
- MAG snare throw-off
- Graduated counter hoops
Shells and Sound
Here are the shell sizes that you get with the 7-piece version of the DW Performance Series:
- 8” x 7” rack tom
- 10” x 8” rack tom
- 12” x 9” rack tom
- 14” x 12” floor tom
- 16” x 14” floor tom
- 22” x 18” bass drum
- 14” x 6.5” snare drum
The drums have HVX American maple shells. DW has a special construction process where they bake and cool the shells to get more resonance out of them. I’d say the sound of these drums is very rich. It’s punchy in the smaller tom sizes but gets more resonant as the drums get bigger.
A lot of the value of this kit comes from the propriety hardware from DW on all the shells. You get the graduated counter hoops, STM suspension mounts, and True-Pitch tension rods.
The flanged hoops are weighted accordingly to each shell and they give a great balance of attack and sustain.
The STM suspension mounts are unique to DW kits, and they allow the toms to be mounted without anything choking their resonance. Something I love about these mounts is that they don’t interfere with anything. Pearl has similar mounts on their toms, but those need to be taken off before you change the drumheads.
Finally, the True-Pitch tension rods are a classic feature on all DW drum sets. They make tuning very easy, and they keep the drums in tune for long periods.
The Performance Series drums have the Quarter Turret lugs. These lugs are what make the kit distinguishable from the Design and Collector’s Series drum sets.
I’m highly impressed with the finish options available for this kit. They’re not as extensive as the Collector’s Series options, but the list is long enough for there to be a suitable finish for different personalities.
Here are your options:
- Tobacco Stain
- White Marine
- Pewter Sparkle
- Gold Sparkle
- Black Diamond
- Chrome Shadow
- Gold Mist
- Ebony Stain
- Cherry Stain
- Charcoal Metallic
A 7-Piece DW Performance Series drum set is going to cost you just under $3000. Considering how good these drums sound and how high-quality the construction is, I think that price is fair. The top-quality pristine drum sets on the market cost $5000 or more. So, having a professional drum set only cost $3000 makes it quite accessible for drummers to have a long-lasting pro set.
However, this price may seem too far out of reach for many drummers. If you’re in that camp, there are other suitable pro kits that are half the price that are almost as good. One of them is the DW Design Series, which I’ll talk about a bit later.
- High-quality DW construction
- Beautiful tones from the HVX maple shells
- Made in the USA
- Large range of finishes to choose from
- True-Pitch tension rods are wonderful
- May seem quite expensive to many drummers
- 7-piece Performance Series kit isn’t as easy to find as a 5-piece is
If you have the means to get this set, you should go for it. It will work well for any style of music, and it has a large enough tuning range to keep things interesting when you want some new sounds.
One of the best things about getting a 7-piece drum set is that you can experiment with different configurations. If you don’t want all the drums set up at once, you can mix the toms around to have different-sized kits.
If you love the Performance Series but find the price to be a bit expensive, you can look for a 4 or 5-piece version that is a bit cheaper.
DW Design Series
The DW Design Series is the most affordable kit that DW produces. You can identify one of these kits by the white resonant bass drumhead or the small Turret lugs. The lugs are even smaller than the ones on the Performance Series.
The kit has maple shells that give it a punchy tone. The drums are a bit less resonant than the Performance Series thanks to their snappy character.
DW designed this kit to offer all of their design features in a more affordable setup. While it’s labeled as affordable, it still costs just under $2000. That’s fairly expensive to most people. However, it makes the DW features more accessible to a wider pool of drummers.
One of the cool things about this kit is that there’s an acrylic version available. Acrylic drums are transparent and much louder than standard wooden drums. If you’re a rock drummer who wants a loud and powerful kit with a sweet appearance, you should check that out.
The big downside of this kit is that the shell pack never gets sold with tom mounts. You need to buy those separately, boosting the price of the kit a bit.
- Most affordable DW drum set
- Maple or acrylic options available
- Punchy tones
- No tom mounts included with the shell pack
DW Collector’s Series
The DW Collector’s Series is the flagship set from DW. It’s a completely custom kit, and you can place an order with DW for them to create whatever kit you’d like. The trade-off is that these Collector’s kits can cost north of $10 000 sometimes.
However, you can buy ready-made kits if you don’t want to go the custom ordering route. These typically cost anywhere between $4000 and $8000.
DW gets fairly creative with the woods that they use for the shells of the Collector’s Series sets. Some of them are made from standard maple while others are made from woods such as Purpleheart or Bamboo.
You can tell it’s a Collector’s Series kit by the large Turret lugs. We have a full article about the differences between this kit and the Performance Series which you can check out here.
If you want the best possible drum kit from DW, then you should aim to get a Collector’s Series set.
- Most pristine drum set from DW
- Can be custom ordered
- Amazing build quality
- Very expensive
Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch
The majority of drum kits in the $1000 to $3000 price range are made with maple shells. If you want something a bit different, you should check out the Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch. This kit has a unique mixture in the shells. The walnut gives the drums a bit of warmth while the birch strengthens them with punchy attack.
The drums come equipped with die-cast hoops to provide even more high-end resonance. These hoops also help with consistent tuning.
Similar to the DW kits, the Tama Starclassic kits have excellent hardware features that raise their value quite significantly. This particular set has Air Pocket rubber feet that prevent the metal legs from touching the floor. It also has heavy-duty bass drum spur brackets that make the bass drum feel incredibly sturdy.
I’d say the Starclassic outperforms the Performance Series with finish options. Starclassic kits are easily recognizable by their audacious finish patterns. Some of them are a bit calmer than others. But if you’re a bright and bold person, there’s a bright and bold Starclassic finish for you.
- Unique mixture of walnut and birch shells
- Punchy, yet warm tones
- Die-cast hoops
- Beautiful finishes to choose from
- Toms can be difficult to position sometimes
Answer: In terms of sound, the kit is fantastic for live gigs. The drums are warm, yet powerful and resonant enough to be very effective on a stage. However, the 7-piece configuration may not be the most ideal setup for a live gig.
If you’re short on space, you’re going to need to leave a few drums at home. Most gigging drummers tend to play with 4-piece setups when gigging as they’re easier to move around set up in different spaces.
Answer: The biggest reason people see DW kits as expensive is because of their Collector’s Series line. Some Collector’s Series kits cost over $10 000, making people think that they’re overpriced. The reason they cost that much is the custom production that went into building them.
When looking at kits like the Performance Series, you’ll see that those drums are actually very reasonably priced compared to competitor kits of the same quality.
DW has a relative company called PDP that makes affordable kits with similar build quality. The PDP Concept Maple is one of the most popular intermediate kits on the market. If you loved the 7-piece Performance Series but thought it to be way too expensive, you should check out the Concept Maple kit.
Answer: Some of the other big brands that make drums in the US would be Ludwig and Gretsch. However, there are a few foreign brands that make their high-end kits in America as well. This would include names like Pearl and Sonor.
It’s important to know that a high-end kit is a high-end kit, no matter where it was made. I used to think all the best drum sets were made in America. I realized how wrong I was when I got to play on one of the most beautiful-sounding Tama kits I had ever heard.
I love the fact that DW offers all their high-end features in the Performance Series. If you were to do a blind sound test between the Performance and Collector’s kits, you most probably wouldn’t hear much of a difference in tone quality. You just don’t get as many customization options with the Performance kit.
If you’re not one for customizing your kit, then you can save a lot of money by getting a Performance Series drum set. I highly suggest getting the 7-piece version as it gives you plenty of setup options when you don’t want to set the whole thing up.
For more interesting reading on different drum gear, check out the following articles: