When we talk about drum manufacturers we cannot miss to mention Mapex. Even though it is not the most sonorous name out there, Mapex is a well-renowned company for producing great all-around kits.
However, many of the new drummers are not so familiar with this manufacturer. Thus, I took some time, inspected the marketplace, did thorough research, took my previous experience with Mapex drums, and decided to make an article about all of their drum series and compare the build and sound quality and whether they are worth the hype or not.
For those who are newcomers to the drumming world, I am here to help you with presenting Mapex drums best to worst. We will see which series is good for you, its most prominent advantages, and who this set is most suitable for. Let’s dive in.
Mapex Drums Best to Worst
Saturn Maple-Walnut Hybrid
Which Mapex Drum Series is Right for You?
For Intermediate Players
Mapex Saturn Evolution
The Saturn Evolution is known as one of the best-constructed pro drums from Mapex which is the perfect substitute for the infallible Black Panther Design Lab kit.
The first Mapex series on my list is the Saturn Evolution which has phenomenal features suitable for professional drummers. This includes amazing construction like Halo mounts on rack toms and the Nodal Air Venting Scheme that helps the drums to freely resonate.
Just as you open them, even before assembling them, you can immediately notice the high-quality hardware, edges, and, of course, the finish.
When it comes to the sound, with just the first few hits, you can hear how extremely warm they are but at the same time touch sensitive due to their edges. It produces a very unique sound thanks to its hybrid maple/walnut shells.
This means that you will get a lot of warmth but with much more attack than you would with single maple shells. The drums produce rounded tones with a lot of resonance and richness. This unique shell composition allows the drums to tune it up easily for every genre.
When it comes to hardware, Mapex drums are popular for their SONIClear hardware including bearing edges. This means that the drumhead can sit flatter allowing it to have better contact with the shell.
How can this help you with your drumming?
Well, thanks to these types of bearing edges, you will get a stronger and deeper fundamental pitch, but also an easy, consistent, and big tuning range.
Whether you tune the drums up high for jazz or down for rock, it will result in clear toms and a bass drum that sounds bigger than you would expect.
Mapex Saturn Maple-Walnut Hybrid Shell Pack
The Mapex Saturn Maple-Walnut Hybrid Shell Pack series is modeled after the Black Panther Design Lab kit at a more affordable price point but is also known as a great alternative to the Evolution series.
The Saturn series is more affordable compared to the Evolution series, which you can find for around $1900. But, why is this series $1000 cheaper than the previous one?
Well, the Saturn Evolution series has much more customization options. It has a better and bigger selection of finishes, drum depths, and the unique option to combine maple and birch hybrid shells.
These features appeal to drummers wishing to customize their drum kit to their individual tastes and playing styles. Overall, if you find available sizes and finishes of the Saturn Maple-Walunt hybrid series suitable to your needs and style, you do not need to pay extra for the Evolution series. Saturn Hybrid will do the job!
This series has beautiful maple and walnut hybrid drum shells just like the Evolution series. This combination delivers a warm yet balanced sound thanks to maple, but it also has that dark and resonant tone thanks to walnut. This means that both of our first series are composed of the same wood shells which deliver unique, extremely warm, and clear sound.
The shells feature four plies of maple, while the interior has two plies of walnut. Such a combination makes this series very loud which is suitable for your live performances and gigs, but it is also highly suitable for studio and recording purposes.
The only thing is that Mapex made the bass drum hoops not so rounded on this series, so they are a bit warped when mounted on the drum. However, this does not really affect its sound so it can be something that is negligible.
Compared to the Evolution series, this one too has a Nodal Line Air Flow Vents. These vents are present on every shell, and because of the increased resonance they provide, the drums sound open and alive.
Armory Shell Pack
The Mapex Armory Shell Pack is a highly popular yet affordable intermediate kit known for its perfect performance in studio settings.
If you are looking for affordability yet good quality, that’s what Mapex is known for. While the Evolution series is known as the high-end Mapex drum series, the Armory shell is a bit more affordable yet it has many things to offer. We can see this in their price difference.
For instance, the Evolution series can be found for around $3000, while the Armory line is sold for around $1150. This is because of the type of wood they used in combination with the hardware. Let’s compare.
The wood that this series has is a hybrid shell with a mixture of maple and birch, unlike the Evolution and Hybrid series with maple and walnut combo. Both have that perfect balance between brightness and warmth thanks to maple wood. However, Armory’s sound is very balanced but you can also hear the ferocity, it also has that colder tone thanks to birch.
On the other hand, the Evolution and Hybrid series has that mellowness and dryness, with a darker, more powerful tone and great attack thanks to walnut wood. In this debate, as you would guess, walnut drums win and thus, are more expensive.
Just like the Evolution series, this one too has the SONIClear bearing edges and SONIClear suspension mounts which means that you will get the perfect amount of sustain and attack. The disadvantage that I would have to pick in this kit is that there are no tom holders included.
Last but very not least thing I have to mention in this Armory series is the incredible snare sound. You’ve probably heard that it is the secret weapon of this series.
Because it features its popular Mapex Tomahawk steel snare drum which delivers incredible accuracy and long-range projection. This drum is known for its powerful tone and ultra-sensitive response with its popular bite and articulate sound.
Mapex Mars Series Kit
The Mapex Mars is a very popular name series that has been used since 1993, however, this series now has improved features which made this kit highly popular among advanced beginner drummers.
Mars series includes the Mapex trademark SONIClear bearing edges as well as SONIClear Tom Suspension. It’s a very interesting design, and I like how the dimple rests on a little badge put on the shell and how it links to the base of the lug casings.
This series is made with 100% European maple but the Mars series is also available with 100% birch shells. Maple series is more expensive, as you would expect, it has its significant warm and balanced sound with quick response, while birch is more affordable and it has that bright and focused sound.
You can find this series for around $1000 which means it is a bit more affordable compared to the Armory series.
What I found interesting in this series is a rubber isolation gasket on the bass drum claws which protects the wooden hoop from damage. Aside from that, this feature is also great in preventing rattles or buzzing.
The main difference between the Armory and Mars series is that the Armory series has more options for different finishes but also features hardware options that are electro-plated for durability and sheen, and the hardware color complements each shell finish.
When it comes to the Mars series it has a more limited range of finishes and standard hardware which makes it more affordable.
When we talk about the sound, you will get what you can expect from Maple’s lacquered 7-ply, 7.2mm shells.
Overall it is a very basic, warm maple sound. This kit produces a very classic and even sound with a lot of projection which is perfect for different musical styles and genres.
Venus Drum Kit
The Mapex Venus Drum Kit is the most affordable and the most popular Mapex drum kit among very beginner drummers. It has everything a newbie needs to start its drumming experience at an incredibly low price.
For around $850 you will get a complete drum kit with 9-ply poplar shells, including hammered brass cymbals and their iconic SONIClear bearing edges that we talked about.
While poplar is not the most high-end wood for drums, It offers improved low-end warmth along with smooth highs and mids.
Because of its consistent and pleasant tone, it can fit into many different styles. Poplar drums are great for beginner drummers because they provide a controlled sound so your mistakes are not so noticeable.
Unlike all of the previous Mapex series, this is the only one that comes with the set of cymbals. They are not from any popular cymbal manufacturer like Zildjian, but they have a Mapex badge on them.
However, Mapex is not a cymbal manufacturer and the cymbals only come with this Venus Drum Series which means you cannot buy them separately. They deliver a decent sound considering they are made from brass which is used on a low-end cymbal series.
You will get 14″ hammered brass hi-hat cymbals and the 18″ hammered brass crash/ride. Brass is good for beginners since you can practice on them and easily replace them once outgrown because they do not last long.
When it comes to hardware, you will get everything you need including double-braced stands, a hi-hat stand, a boom stand, a kick drum pedal, and a drum throne.
The kick drum pedal is actually a very decent quality and it also has an interchangeable beater which you can rarely find on entry-level kits. Other parts of the hardware are not of the highest quality, but hey, for the beginner drummer, it will do the job just fine!
Overall, the Venus kit is pretty good considering what you will get for less than $1000 – and you will get a lot, my friend! The kit is pretty durable if we exclude the cymbals, and pretty comfortable to play. As for the looks, the Venus comes in four different finishes and they all look pretty nice.
While this manufacturer is not the most popular one, Mapex has built trust over the last few years among drummers of all types. They are known for its affordability yet very good delivery and value and for that reason, they deserved their own Mapex Drums best to worst article.
Even though most of their drum kits are intended for intermediate drummers as well as beginners, they have two of their series that can compete with the most popular high-end drum manufacturer.
Thus, I have to say that Saturn Evolution is my favorite since you will get the top-tier kit with a lot of customization options at a fair price. The value, the quality, and the sound you get, it’s just a perfect combo!