DW Performance Series vs Collector’s Series – What’s the Difference?

DW is a fairly well-known brand in the drumming world. The company has an iconic reputation for producing high-quality drum kits that are worthy of most professional players. The kits are also known to be a tad more expensive than most drum kits from other brands.

Two of the most popular types of kits from DW are the Collector’s Series and the Performance Series. If you’ve never been sure of the exact differences between the two kits, I’m here to help! We’ll look at everything each type of kit offers, and I’ll help you decide which kit will be a better option to buy.

Main Differences Between the Performance and Collector’s Series from DW

The Main Differences Between The Performance And Collector’s Series From DW are:

  • The Collector’s Series is the pristine kit from DW, whereas the Performance Series is more affordable
  • The Collector’s Series is a fully customizable drum set, whereas the Performance comes with set designs and features
  • The Collector’s Series has a wide range of available finishes, whereas the Performance Series only has a few
  • The Collector’s Series has large turret lugs on each drum, whereas the Performance Series has smaller lugs
  • The Collector’s Series has several different wood options, whereas the Performance Series drums all have maple shells

DW Performance Series vs DW Collector’s Series


DW Perfromance

The Performance Series is DW’s middle-tier drum set. Don’t be fooled by that title, though. The Performance Series would be considered top-of-the-range if it were sold on most other drum brands’ rosters.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $2000 to $3000 for a Performance Series set. That is by no means a cheap set, but it’s a lot more affordable than a Collector’s Series kit. Most middle-tier kits from other brands typically cost from $1000 to $2000. This shows you that the Performance Series kit is still a top-quality professional option.

The price range for the Collector’s Series is a lot larger. Since the kit is fully customizable, you could get one with weird and wacky design features that will cost a lot more than a standard one. A standard Collector’s Series with maple shells and a 4-piece configuration will typically have a starting price of around $4000.

I’ve seen some of the more expensive Collector’s Series sets cost up to $10 000. That’s a lot of money to spend on one shell pack, but most owners of pristine Collector’s Series kits say that it’s well worth it.

Configuration Options

DW Perfromance Set

The DW Performance Series has standard configuration options available. Although the setups are standard, there are still a large number of drum sizes to choose from. You can find Performance Series kits with all the classic shell sizes available that most kits use. There are just no options for 6” rack toms or any snare drums that aren’t 14 inches.

The sky is the limit when it comes to the Collector’s Series configuration options. Whatever drum size you can think of, DW will make it. When looking for Collector’s Series drums, you’ll typically find music stores having the kits in stock.

The stock kits they have will be the main options to choose from. However, the Collector’s Series is a completely custom line of drums. This means that you can place an order with DW for them to make whatever drum kit setup you’d like. You have complete freedom to choose the sizes of the drums. If you want a 6”x12” rack tom, DW will do it for you. It will obviously boost the price a bit, though.

So, the Collector’s Series is the ideal option to go with if you have very specific needs. However, the Performance Series still caters to a wide range of drummers in terms of configuration options.

Sound Quality

The sound quality of each drum kit choice is going the biggest subjective point in this comparison. Let’s start with the Performance Series as all the different configuration options will still produce similar sounds.

The Performance Series drums are made with DW’s HVX shells. There’s a whole bunch of science behind how these shells are made, but the summary of it is that the shells are handmade and designed in a way to maximize strength, resonance, and attack. The drums sound very rich when you play them, and each drum has a fairly wide tuning range.

Here’s a demo video of a Performance Series kit:

The sound varies drastically across all the Collector’s Series drum sets. The biggest reason for this is that they’re all made from different woods. A maple Collector’s Series kit will sound completely different from a mahogany one.

One of my favorite Collector’s Series kits is the one made from purpleheart wood. It’s such a unique wood to use for drum shells, but it works surprisingly well and creates a fairly diverse drum sound.

Here’s a demo of the Purpleheart Collector’s Series set:


Both kits have immaculate construction detail. However, the Collector’s Series is the clear winner here. You can clearly feel how it’s a superior kit when playing it compared to the Performance Series. I never thought this would be possible before playing one. All drum sets are made the same, right? However, that’s far from the truth as it’s a special experience to sit and play a Collector’s Series kit.

DW allows you to choose the hardware features on the kit. You can even choose what color the hardware is. Black Nickel is a personal favorite.

Some of the hardware features that stay consistent across all the Collector’s Series kits are the large turret lugs, the snare drum throw-off systems, the STM suspension mounts, and the true-pitch tension rods.

The Performance Series doesn’t offer any hardware customization, but you still get the true-pitch tension rods and the MAG throw-off on the snare drum.

One of the best ways to distinguish a Performance Series kit from a Collector’s Series kit is to look at the lugs. Performance Series kits have a quarter-turret lug which is a bit smaller than the large turret lugs on the Collector’s Series.

Finish Options

The DW Performance Series has 11 finish options:

  • Charcoal Metallic
  • Cherry Stain
  • Ebony Stain
  • Gold Mist
  • Natural Wood
  • Chrome Shadow
  • Black Diamond
  • Gold Sparkle
  • Pewter Sparkle
  • White Marine
  • Tobacco Stain

Every single one of these finishes looks incredible on the Performance Series kits.

I counted 143 finish options for the Collector’s Series on the DW website. Needless to say, I’m not going to name them here!


DW Collector’s Series kit

The DW Collector’s Series kit is a luxury drum set option. It’s typically a dream kit for many drummers. With so many customization options available, you get to create your ideal drum set. Getting to choose how it sounds, feels, and looks is well worth the extra money you spend on it.

The Performance Series is a more practical and economical option. It’s a standard professional drum set that can be used in every setting. You just don’t get as many configuration options as you do with the Collector’s Series. Some drummers will say it also doesn’t sound as good, but that comes down to personal preference.

Alternative Options

DW Design Series

DW Design Series

The DW Design Series is the most affordable drum kit that DW offers. It’s aimed at intermediate drummers or pro drummers who want the most affordable DW kit possible. You can pick one up from anywhere between $1500 and $2000.

The best way to distinguish between a Design Series kit and the other DW kits is to look at the lugs. The Design Series kits have the smallest turret lugs out of all DW kits. These mini turret lugs aren’t as visually striking as the larger lugs from the Performance and Collector’s Series. Another way to identify a Design Series kit is by the white resonant bass drumhead.

This kit has maple shells that are warm, punchy, and fairly resonant. They’re just not designed with the same process as the other kits, making them less complex in their tone. You also get the true-pitch tension rods and the MAG snare throw-off on this kit.

It’s a fantastic kit overall. It just offers the bare bones of DW’s iconic design features. It’s still a professional kit, though.


  • DW’s most affordable drum set
  • True-Pitch tension rods and MAG throw-off
  • Warm maple shells


DW Performance Series Low Pro

Shell pack doesn’t include rack tom clamps, they need to be purchased separately

DW Performance Series Low Pro

The Performance Series Low Pro is a highly unique kit from DW. It’s purely intended to be a compact kit that is easy to move around and set up in tight spaces. It may not look like a regular drum kit, but it certainly sounds like one.

It has all the same design features as the ones mentioned above for the Performance Series. However, the shells are much shallower, and they don’t have resonant heads. The snare drum is 12”, the rack tom is 10”, the floor tom is 13”, and the bass drum is 20”. Every one of these shells has a depth of 3”.

The drums are very punchy and articulate. They’re ideal for styles like hip-hop and reggae where resonant toms aren’t needed as much as other styles.

The kit has two finish options – Black Diamond and White Marine. Both are some of the most loved finishes from the Performance Series. So, I think DW did well in providing them as the finishes for this particular kit.

If you love the Performance Series drums and need a compact set, this is a kit worth considering.


  • Compact and easy to move around
  • Has a surprisingly full sound
  • Excellent to have as a second drum kit


  • Not ideal for every setting


Question: Why are DW Drums so Expensive?

Answer: The biggest reason for DW drums being so expensive is that they’re made in the USA. Most drums that are less expensive are produced in factories in countries that have lower production costs. With the drums being made in America, costs are higher across all steps in the production process. So, the drums need to be sold for higher prices in order to make profits.
DW is also known to source weird and wonderful woods to use for the shells. These are always more expensive to get a hold of, further increasing the costs of their drum sets.

Question: What are Some Other Good Drum Brands?

Answer: While DW has a high reputation in the drum community, their certainly not the only top drum company. Companies such as Yamaha, Pearl, Tama, and Sonor all produce top-quality drum sets that are loved by the best drummers in the world.
I know a lot of drummers who think that DW kits are overrated. Whether that’s true or not, it depends on all your personal preferences of how you like drum kits to be built.

Question: Are There Fully Customizable Kits from Other Brands?

Answer: Yes. Most drum brands have kits at the top of their product range that are fully customizable. Some examples would be the Pearl Masterworks and Sonor SQ2. While DW has the reputation for being expensive, these other custom kits will be just as expensive when you choose to have them built with specific requirements. It’s not uncommon for a Pearl or Sonor kit to cost as much as $10 000.

Question: Is it Wise to Spend So Much Money on a Drum Kit?

Answer: It depends on your financial situation. If you can’t afford a luxury drum kit, you shouldn’t spend an unnecessary amount of money on one. If you can, then go for it.
My big piece of advice would be to invest more money on cymbals than on your drums. All drum kits can be tuned to sound decent, no matter their price. A bad cymbal will always be a bad cymbal. It’s better to get high-quality cymbals that will elevate your overall drum sound. Cymbals have the power to drastically change the sound quality of your drum set.


If you’re looking to buy a DW drum set, the price difference between the Collector’s Series and Performance Series will be the biggest determining factor of which one to get. The Collector’s Series is a higher-quality kit. It’s better in all aspects. However, not everyone can comfortably afford it.

I’d suggest getting a Performance Series set if you need a pro-quality kit without all the bells and whistles of kit customization. It’s a perfectly decent drum set that will serve you incredibly well.

If you have money to spend, nothing can beat the experience of getting your own custom drum set built. The Collector’s Series is the way to go, in that case. If you don’t want to get the kit built from scratch, you could also buy one of the Collector’s Series kits that are already stocked in music stores.

For more interesting reading on different drum gear, check out the following articles:

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