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Pearl recently updated their high-end line of drum kits, giving professional drummers new and improved instruments to try out.
One of the better kits in the new update is the Pearl Reference One. It’s a fresh take on the brand’s popular Reference Series, and it’s a seriously good drum kit to own.
Here’s a review of everything that it offers.
- Maple, birch, and mahogany drum shells
- Pearl’s Superior Shell Technology
- R2 Air Tom Suspension System
- Mastercast die-cast hoops
- Single Swivel STL100 lugs
- Remo Ambassador drumheads
Pearl Reference One Gallery
The great sound quality you get from the Reference One kit comes from the unique blend of woods that you get on all the shells. The shell thickness also differs as you play down the kit.
Pearl has individually crafted each shell with a different shell makeup to offer the most optimal tone, which is what makes this kit sound so good before you even tune it in a certain way.
The rack toms have a mixture of maple and birch plies. These drums have more attack and snap to their tones, making them very punchy and bright.
The floor tom has an added layer of mahogany wood, giving it a boost in the low-end. It also doesn’t have any birch plies, taking away the brightness. This is ideal for a floor tom, as it’s where you want to hear deeper sounds. So, the rack toms are bright and short, while the floor tom is deep and a bit more resonant.
The bass drum shell has thicker plies, and it combines maple and mahogany. The maple gives it warm fundamental tones, while the mahogany thickens and deepens those. The end result is very beefy, which is what drummers want from their bass drums.
All the drums have 45-degree bearing edges, giving you a good balance of power, sensitivity, and overall volume.
The mounting and shell hardware is one of the biggest aspects that Pearl has updated on their kits, and some of them even come with multiple hardware options. For this Reference Pure One set, you get a set hardware design, and it’s excellent.
You’ll see that the rack toms have a unique bracket mounted to them. These are called the R2 Air Suspension mounts. They allow the rack toms to float and vibrate without having any direct contact from metal pieces.
The mounts then have a slot where you can place traditional Pearl L-arms or the brand’s new GyroLock L-arm. You have to buy the arms separately, unfortunately, but I highly recommend getting the new GyroLock ones. They’re highly maneuverable, and they’re a much better alternative to the straight L-arms that Pearl has provided for years.
One of the other incredible things about the R2 Air Suspension mounts is that Pearl provides things called DamperDisks to control sustain. These disks attach to the mounts. The more you place, the less resonance you get from the toms.
These are incredible, as they stop you from needing to put any external muffling on the drumheads. That allows the drums to get their full tone when you strike them due to the sound waves freely vibrating.
The bass drum claws also do a great job of allowing the bass drum to vibrate freely.
The final hardware aspect to mention is that the toms and floor tom come equipped with Pearl’s Mastercast die-cast hoops. These add a lot of weight to the drums, and they round out the tones very nicely.
Die-cast hoops always give a more premium feel to a drum kit, and you get that same thing here.
The kit comes equipped with Remo USA Ambassador batter heads. These are high-end heads that stop you from needing to replace them to get better tones from the drums.
They’re single-ply heads, so you get plenty of resonance and tone. You can then use the DamperDisks to control that on the rack toms. You may just need to put some external muffling on the floor tom if needed.
The great thing about this kit is that it sounds incredible straight out of the box. The mixture of woods within the plies is to thank for that. It just sounds as a high-end drum kit should, and that makes it a solid option for any drummer looking for a high-quality kit to own.
The die-cast hoops make it feel a bit more solid to play compared to other Pearl kits that have triple-flanged hoops, and the stainless steel tension rods tend to make tuning the drums fairly easy.
There are too many finish options for the Pearl Reference One kit to mention them here, but just know that all of them are highly appealing to look at.
You get two main categories for the finishes, which are Premium Tier and Custom Tier. The Premium Tier finishes are ones that have been regularly used in Pearl’s Masters and Music City kits for a while. Most of these are solid colors, while there are a few burst options.
The Custom Tier of finishes is far more involved. You get a wide range of different designs and appearances, with many of these coming from Pearl’s Masterworks line of drums. There are 20 total finishes in this tier, and each one appeals to certain kinds of preferences that drummers may have.
The Premium Tier finishes are neat and controlled, while the Custom Tier finishes are a bit more artistic and vibrant.
This kit costs thousands of dollars, and keep in mind that it’s only a 4-piece shell pack without a snare drum. You can get a matching Reference One snare drum, but it will cost another $1000 to add to the setup.
That may seem really pricey, but this is Pearl’s new best high-end kit when not considering the completely custom Masterworks line.
It’s a top-tier professional drum kit that will sound fantastic in every situation you put it in. The price is actually somewhat competitive compared to other high-end kits from brands like DW, Sonor, and Ludwig.
The sound quality, hardware features, and optional finishes are all highly worth the money you pay for them. So, I’d say that the value is great for what you’re paying. The exclusion of a snare isn’t a big issue, as most kits in this price range don’t come with snare drums.
This just isn’t an option for drummers that only want to spend between $1000 and $2000 on shells. It’s more of a dream option than a practical one, as you can get good professional kits that cost far less.
I think that Pearl has nailed it out of the park with this new Reference One set. It offers enough new features to make it fresh and exciting, and the R2 Air Suspension System is a particular standout for me.
The combination of woods and plies makes the drums sound beautiful, and the available finish options are gorgeous.
If you’re in the market for a high-end drum set and you haven’t pulled the plug yet, I strongly consider checking this kit out. It’s a great competitive alternative to all the other high-end kits that have been around for years.
It’s also a refreshing take on Pearl’s Reference Pure Series drums, which are already very popular.
What Comes In The Pearl Reference One Box?
- 10” x 7” rack tom
- 12” x 8” rack tom
- 16” x 16” floor tom
- 22” x 16” bass drum
- R2 Air Suspension System tom holders
Pearl Reference One At A Glance
- Top-tier drum kit that can be used in every professional setting
- Great premium tier and custom tier finishes available
- R2 Air Suspension System provides more resonance and tone from the rack toms
- Each shell has a unique blend of maple, birch, and mahogany to get the best overall drum kit sound from to the shell material mixtures
- Pearl’s new Gyrolock L-rods for the toms are fantastic
- Very expensive, as it’s a top-tier high-end set