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
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!