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Canopus RFM

  • Canopus RFM vs. Sonor Prolite - Reinforced Maple Shell Showdown

    Anyone who knows us at Drum Center of Portsmouth knows that we love Sonor drums. The vintage maple shell design of their SQ2 and Prolite series are at the top of our list when it comes to unparalleled sound.
    What you may not know is that we are also huge Canopus Drum fans. When a customer comes into the store and asks for a snare drum recommendation from us, regardless of brand, they usually walk out with a Canopus. Also relatively unknown is the amazing sound of their RFM drum line.
    As a service to you, we decided to pit these two high-end reinforced maple shelled kits up against one another in a head to head showdown!

    Round 1 - The Stats

    Both of our kits are 5-piece configurations with similar diameters - 10, 12, 14, 16, 22. The Prolite is 10x8, 12x9, 14x14, 16x16 and 22x17.5. The Canopus RFM is a little less traditional in their depths - 10x7, 12x8, 14x13, 16x15 and 22x15.
    Advantage - n/a

    Round 2 - The Shells

    Each manufacturer creates their thin, reinforced maple shells in house from scratch. Both are flawless. The Sonor shells interiors have a subtle finish to them bringing out some gorgeous wood grain figuring. While this makes no audible difference, the attention to detail gives the Prolites an ever so slight advantage.

    Round 3 - The Hardware

    This category is a tough one. The Prolite hardware is more engineered, more practical, and better looking. The Tune-Safe lugs have 2 points of entry into the shell, and do a better job of preserving tuning.
    The Canopus lugs are a single-point solid brass lug. These simple, elegant lugs promote resonance by creating fewer holes in the shell. Brass is also inherently resonant, which may or may not increase shell vibration. Canopus tuning rods sport proprietary Bolt Tight leather washers that aid in keeping the drums in tune.
    Sonor gets the nod in this category, but only by a hair.

    Round 4 - The Heads

    This may seem trivial to some, but probably makes the biggest difference in the overall sound. Canopus RFM drum sets ship with Remo USA Coated Ambassadors on the top AND bottom. Prolites have clear Ambassador heads on the top and bottom.
    While both heads are of premium quality, the Coated Ambassadors are our drum head of choice on 90% of drum sets. They just have a smoother tone with a slightly better range. The Prolite heads sound great, just a little more direct and punchy.
    Advantage - Canopus

    Round 5 - The Finish

    The Canopus RFM kit is finished in a unique, classy looking Navel Orange Oil. It looks amazing. The Prolite drum set is a high-gloss, Chocolate Walnut Burl.
    Advantage - Sonor

    Round 6 - The Sound

    We tuned each kit high and low. The Canopus kit seemed to handle the higher tunings a little better, but this can definitely be attributed to the Coated Ambassador heads. These heads also seemed to bring out more rich, woody tone.
    The Prolites brought more thump and defined articulation, most likely due to the clear heads and slightly deeper sizes. They seemed to choke up a bit when we asked them to go higher, but this also could be blamed on the clear heads.
    Advantage - Canopus, with an *asterisk

    Overall

    Both of these kits are professional level, high-end examples of handmade quality and craftsmanship. Each have a slightly different voice and vibe to them. All things being completely equal, the winner is not clear. The Canopus RFM will a pleasant surprise to most people, as they are still relatively unknown here in the US. If they can keep up with the sound of Sonor, they deserve to be near the top of your list when shopping for a high end maple drum set.
    We stock and sell more high-end Canopus and Sonor drums than anyone. If you have any questions about these two brands, feel free to give us a shout. We’d love to help you out!

  • Bop Kit Battle – Sonor SQ2, Canopus RFM and Ludwig Classic Maple

    Three Top Tier Bop Kits Head-to-Head

    Jazz.  It’s one of America’s original art forms and provides the soundtrack for your Sunday brunch.  The anchor of any good Jazz trio is the bop kit drum set.  Just like the eggs in your Sunday brunch, there are many ways to make a bop kit.  We chose three magnificent maple bop kits from three different manufacturers to compare their discernable differences.  Our “Bop Kit Battle” participants are the Sonor SQ2, Canopus RFM and the Ludwig Classic Maple Jazzette.

    The Parameters

    For this comparison, we chose three maple kits in “standard” bop configuration.  Each kit consisted of a 12-inch rack tom, 14-inch floor tom and an 18-inch kick drum.  The depths of the drums were also standard, except for the Canopus and its 13-inch deep floor tom.

    Accenting these three gorgeous kits were some seriously high end Paiste cymbals.  The hi-hats we selected were some genre-appropriate 15” 602 Modern Essentials.  The crash cymbal was a luxurious 20-inch Signature Traditionals Light Crash, and the ride was a 22” Masters Dry.  For a comparison this classy, we needed an extraordinary snare drum.  After much deliberation, we decided on the Schagerl Anteres Brass 14x6.5 snare drum with Black Hardware.

    Canopus RFM Bop Kit

    The first kit we set up was the Canopus RFM in a Bitter Brown Oil finish.  Canopus drums are a staff favorite at Drum Center of Portsmouth.  They are a boutique-level brand that is devoted to the science of their sound.  They build their drums from scratch, and spend an obsessive amount of their resources on R&D.  Canopus has a drum line for every conceivable genre of musician, and their RFM Bop Kit was a joy to experience.

    The 12-inch tom uses a RIMS style mount, and their proprietary low-profile solid lugs are very sleek.  Their Bolt-Tight leather washers are a small but ingenious addition that help keep the kit in tune throughout your gig.

    RFM shells have a relatively vintage vibe to them, as they are thin and sport reinforcement rings.  They arrive from the factory with Remo coated Ambassadors on both the top and bottom, giving them a focused, slightly drier tone.  The low end is prominent when tuned low, and they have clean, crisp tone when tuned up high.

    The Canopus RFM kit falls right in the middle of the three kits, pricewise.  You get a ton of value for your money with this kit.

    Sonor SQ2 Maple Bop Kit

    The second kit we put through its paces was the Sonor SQ2 Maple in Rosewood High Gloss.  The SQ2 line is completely customizable from shells to finish.  We ordered this one with thin maple toms and a medium maple kick.  Each drum also boasts a classy Rosewood interior veneer.  We were extremely excited to unbox this high-end bop kit and couldn’t wait to lay into it.

    From an aesthetic point of view, it doesn’t get much better than an SQ2.  The attention to detail by Sonor’s craftsmen is arguably the best in the industry.  Once you realize that the drums perform as good as they look, there’s no going back.

    Their mounting hardware is rock solid and allows for maximum resonance, along with optimal maneuverability.  The shells are undersized by 12mm, which give them a bright, modern attack that is undeniably the “Sonor sound”.  Notes are clear and defined, regardless of tuning.  Playing an SQ2 is just fun.  The response and feel you get behind the kit is a truly unique experience.

    Ludwig Jazzette Classic Maple

    The final participant in our maple bop kit shootout was the Ludwig Jazzette Classic Maple in Vintage Blue Oyster Wrap.  Ludwig has a huge following and is steeped in American musical history.  Many people are aware of their significant presence in Rock n’ Roll with their huge, wide open sound.  So, how do the Classic Maple shells hold up in a bop setting?

    The 12-inch rack tom sports the straightforward Atlas mount for a quick, easy setup and good resonance.  The classic lugs along with the eye-catching Vintage Blue Oyster wrap has turned many heads here at DCP since its arrival.

    Not surprisingly, the Ludwig Jazzette kept right up with its higher-priced competitors with ease.  The Classic Maple shells are built to the toughest standards in the industry.  Like Sonor, they undersize their shells, which gives you a little extra response and feel.  Shells tune up quickly and easily and produce a warm, round tone that is noticeably balanced.  We especially enjoyed the musicality of the bass drum, which was tonally distinguishable in comparison to the previous kits.

    The Verdict

    The idea behind this comparison was to highlight three flavors of maple bop kits that might not be on every drummer’s radar.  Despite their base-level similarities, each kit managed to distinguish itself visually and sonically.

    The RFM had a unique tone with a slick, vintage vibe that would easily hold its own in any trio.  Canopus makes an incredible instrument and may be the best manufacturer you’ve never heard of.  At Drum Center of Portsmouth we like to say that people who know drums, know Canopus.  If you aren’t familiar, you should definitely get acquainted!

    The SQ2 gave us everything we expected from an ultra high-end, custom drum set.  Flawless tone.  Gorgeous finish.  Practical, sturdy hardware.  You pay a premium when you choose a Sonor SQ2, but you know exactly where your money has gone once you sit behind your instrument.

    Ludwig’s Jazzette kit performed well above its price tag.  It’s can be argued that the sound you get from the Classic Maple shells is preferable to that of a kit costing twice as much.  Great looks, practical hardware and distinguished tone make this kit an undeniable value.

     

     

     

     

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