We review products independently and our recommendations are genuine. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
The Mapex Saturn is a pro-quality drum set. It’s a step-up from the Armory in Mapex’s product line, and it boasts beautiful maple and walnut hybrid drum shells. I’ve owned the Mapex Saturn for several years, so I know how strong a workhorse this drum set is both for live use and in the studio.
Mapex Saturn Drum Set Review
I’ve owned my Mapex Saturn drum set for several years, and it’s been my go-to kit for touring and studio recordings. It is an excellent value pro-level drum set that utilizes gorgeous-sounding hybrid walnut and maple shells (arguably the standout feature), giving the drums their unique tone.
Compared to the popular Mapex Armory, the Mapex Saturn shares many of the same design features. However, it also shares some of the higher-end Black Panther design features, boosting the quality of the kit. While the Armory is an intermediate set, the Saturn can comfortably be referred to as a pro kit.
The kit is put together with top-quality Mapex hardware. This includes the SONIClear bearing edges, SONIClear suspension mounts, and Mapex Power Hoops.
The latest Mapex Saturn drum kit has an impressive number of configuration options, giving you plenty of options for sizing. You get the option of choosing a Rock, Fusion, or Studioease version of the kit.
The Fusion version has a 14” floor tom compared to the 16” of the Rock version. The Studioease version has both. All the configuration setups have 4 finish options to choose from.
As we look through all the features, I’ll take a deeper dive into the Mapex Saturn’s sounds, build quality, design, and features. I’ll also compare it to the Mapex Armory and other drum sets in a similar price range. Read on to learn my experience with owning and performing with a Mapex Saturn drum set.
Mapex Saturn Drum Set Gallery
The tones of the drums come mainly from the wood combination. While maple is a warm and balanced wood, walnut is a lot darker and more resonant. This combination leads to some beautiful-sounding drums.
The shells have 6 plies in total. There are 4 plies of maple on the outer parts of the shells, while the inner parts have 2 plies of walnut. The tone of the drums can be described as warm with a dark complexity.
I find that the drums are loud enough to cut through any mix on a live stage, but they’re musical enough to fit easily into studio setups. The pure sound of the drums is also aided by the SONIClear bearing edges.
The drums are very easy to tune, and they have an excellent pitch interval between all the toms. Each of the drums come equipped with genuine Remo USA drumheads, which is a real positive considering most drum sets in this space of the lower-professional level kits come included with cheaper Chinese-made drumheads.
Walnut is a rarer and higher-priced wood than birch. This is why the maple/walnut mix of the Saturn is superior to the maple/birch mix of the Mapex Armory kit.
Mapex is fairly well-known for making drum kits with hybrid shells. One of the only other kits in the same price range that has mixed shells is the Tama Starclassic Performer.
The build quality of the Mapex Saturn Series is mostly very good. Mapex’s SONIClear hardware features have become synonymous with their drum sets. The SONIClear bearing edges minimize the amount of space between the edge and the drumhead. Compared to standard bearing edges, the heads sit at flatter positions. This gives the drums a purer tone and makes tuning a lot easier.
The SONIClear suspension mounts also stop the tom arms from interfering with the rack toms. They take all the tension, allowing the toms to vibrate freely. Mapex has stated that the whole design idea behind their kits is to stop as much vibration interference as possible.
While those build features can be found on the Amory kit as well, the Nodal Line Air Flow Vents are something taken straight from the higher-quality Black Panther Design Lab kits. You’ll find these vents on every shell, and they give the drums an open and lively sound thanks to the extended resonance they allow for.
The floor toms of the Mapex Saturn drums have 90-degree legs and ‘air pockets’ that stop the vibrations from hitting the floor. The legs also have rubber feet that prevent the metal from connecting with the ground. These legs are called the SAS Static floor tom legs, and Sonic Pedestal rubber feet are also borrowed from the Black Panther drum sets.
The only build quality issue I’ve experienced with my Mapex Saturn drum set is that one of the bass drum hoops is not perfectly rounded, and it’s slightly warped when mounted on the drum. It doesn’t make a difference to the sound produced by the kick drum, but it’s slightly annoying it doesn’t line up perfectly flush around the hoop of a drumhead.
One of the great things about the Mapex Saturn kit compared to other new drum sets is that it comes stocked with USA Remo heads. Drum sets at this price range typically come with lower-quality Chinese heads, stopping them from sounding as great as they could sound with high-quality heads.
The toms come with 2-ply Emperor Coated heads, while the kick drum has a Powerstroke P3 Clear. These heads sound incredible, and they do well in a wide range of tuning. So, the kit feels excellent to play straight out of the box.
Another key aspect of playability is how the rack toms feel when they’re mounted. Since the rack toms attach to cymbal stands, they’re not going to be as sturdy as toms that are mounted to solid bass drum mounts. However, they’re sturdy enough to feel comfortable to play, and there isn’t much wobbling if you tighten them hard enough.
If you like to have your rack toms positioned quite low in your setup, you’d need to get the Fusion shell pack that has a 20” bass drum. You may find that the 22” bass drum from the Rock and Studioease shell packs will get in the way of the second rack tom.
If you choose to get the Studioease version of the kit, you get two floor toms. This allows you to get a wider range of tones out of the drums, especially on the low end.
The price of the kit differs depending on which shell pack you choose. The Studioease version is the most expensive as it has an extra floor tom. The standard 4-piece drum set shell pack costs $1700, while the 5-piece version that includes a second floor tom costs just over $2000.
The Rock and Fusion versions have relatively similar prices, and they’ll cost around $300 less than the Studioease version.
The biggest thing to note is that these shell packs don’t come with a snare drum. This is typically the case with higher-end drum sets. If you’re wanting a snare drum, you’ll have to buy one separately or look at another high-end kit in the same price range that includes a snare, such as the DW Design Series.
However, if you’re looking to buy a pro kit like this, the chances are high that you already have a snare drum to use. If you don’t, Mapex has a long line of top-quality snare drums to choose from. Their Black Panther snares are iconic.
I’d say the overall value of the Mapex Saturn is fantastic, but it doesn’t offer quite as good value as the DW Design series or the Tama Starclassic Performer drum sets. This is because these two drum sets include a snare drum as standard, and the price of both kits comes in slightly cheaper.
While the finishes on offer are beautiful to look at, the number of finishes you get is the most disappointing part of the Mapex Saturn drum set. You can only choose from 4 finishes, and here’s what’s on offer:
- Satin Black
- Satin White
- Scarlet Fade
- Teal Blue Fade
If you’re happy with one of those finishes, you’ll have no issues with buying this kit. If you’re looking for something a bit more vibrant and colorful, you’re not going to be able to get that from the Mapex Saturn.
The lower-quality Mapex Armory has 7 finishes to choose from, and all of them are a bit more interesting than the solid black or white on the Saturn.
The Tama Starclassic Performer is the most similar kit from another brand to the Saturn, and that kit has 5 beautiful exotic finishes.
It’s unclear why Mapex only decided to provide 4 finishes for this kit, but that aspect may prevent certain drummers from getting it.
The previous Mapex Saturn V and IV kits were incredibly popular kits before they were discontinued. The modern Mapex Saturn kits boast all the same features and excellent sounds with a few fantastic upgrades. This is a great kit to get if you don’t mind a smaller number of finish options.
I love the maple/walnut shells on these drums. They sound fantastic and perform extremely well for both live and studio settings, and the hardware makes the kit feel as professional as most flagship kits feel.
I would recommend the Mapex Saturn to anyone looking to upgrade from their mid-level drum set to a professional level kit. But I would have to be honest and say that I think there are also other excellent options within this price range, most notably the DW Design Series drum set, which also includes a snare drum in the price.
Nonetheless, the Mapex Saturn continues to be a very popular choice amongst drummers and it does offer great value for money. It proves itself to be extremely capable for all styles of music and it has a very wide tuning range.
If you want something even better, you could also check out the Mapex Saturn Evolution Series. For about $1000 more, you get higher-quality hardware with adjustable features and varying wood options for the shells.
What Comes In The Mapex Saturn Drum Set Box?
The Mapex Saturn Rock configuration is the most popular option and the one that I own. It’s a four-piece shell pack, which does not include a snare drum. It does, however, include rack-mounted tom arms and brackets.
- 10” x 7” tom
- 12” x 8” tom
- 16” x 14” floor
- 22” x 18” kick
Mapex Saturn Drum Set At A Glance
- Maple/walnut shells have a powerful attack with extended dark sustain
- SONIClear bearing edges and tom mounts allow for pure tones
- USA Remo heads on the toms and bass drum
- Nodal Line Airflow Vents allow for extended resonance
- Doesn’t include a snare drum like some other kits at this price point
- Only 4 finish options are available to choose from