Mapex armory series vs Saturn

Louis mate

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First of all, I’m a long term mapex guy. I’ve been playing a Saturn kit that I picked up many years ago, and it’s the only kit I’ve ever owned. Always loved Saturn’s, but I have been looking into the armory, and it’s hard to tell as all I have are YouTube clips to base a judgement off, but I wanna say I prefer the sound of the armory over the Saturn’s.

There’s just something about birch coupled with maple that makes the perfect blend of warmth and attack. Is anyone playing the armory? Pros? Cons? Any noticeable quality differences between them and the saturn build wise?
 

Marquisjohnson22

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I’ve had a Saturn kit and it was great... I recently spent some time playing an Armory kit and although it sounded a little different than the Saturn, it was still a great sounding kit. They have great features, look nice, tune well and give the flexibility to pick from a few snares if you choose. I think you should get one if you like them.
 

SpinaDude

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I agree with everything Marquis said above.

I've always felt Mapex's strategy is a double edged sword which cuts good for us drummers, but I think hurts Mapex in some ways. Their Saturns are clearly their flagship line, pro kits. The armories are more of an intermediate kit, very much along what the Meridians used to be and I believe Mars before that. Yet both feature nearly all the same refinements: same hardware (other than bass drum claws), same mounting system, same bearing edge, same hoops. That's great for us because it becomes a free upgrade for the drummer. So where is the dividing line between pro and intermediate? If you can't see it, most of us will naturally gravitate towards spending less money. Is it safe to assume Mapex is using lower quality varieties of birch and maple on their Armory kits than Saturn?

Wither way, that's just my spiel. I love Mapex. They make excellent gear and beautiful sounding drums with gorgeous finishes. My Meridians still looked and sounded new after more than 8 years. I think the Armories are a great choice.
 

Louis mate

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I’ve had a Saturn kit and it was great... I recently spent some time playing an Armory kit and although it sounded a little different than the Saturn, it was still a great sounding kit. They have great features, look nice, tune well and give the flexibility to pick from a few snares if you choose. I think you should get one if you like them.
I do like that tomahawk steel snare! I’ve just never played an armory in person yet. So maybe I’ll plan to do that first and if I feel the sound is more pleasing to my ears, I’ll go ahead and pull the trigger!
 

Louis mate

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I agree with everything Marquis said above.

I've always felt Mapex's strategy is a double edged sword which cuts good for us drummers, but I think hurts Mapex in some ways. Their Saturns are clearly their flagship line, pro kits. The armories are more of an intermediate kit, very much along what the Meridians used to be and I believe Mars before that. Yet both feature nearly all the same refinements: same hardware (other than bass drum claws), same mounting system, same bearing edge, same hoops. That's great for us because it becomes a free upgrade for the drummer. So where is the dividing line between pro and intermediate? If you can't see it, most of us will naturally gravitate towards spending less money. Is it safe to assume Mapex is using lower quality varieties of birch and maple on their Armory kits than Saturn?

Wither way, that's just my spiel. I love Mapex. They make excellent gear and beautiful sounding drums with gorgeous finishes. My Meridians still looked and sounded new after more than 8 years. I think the Armories are a great choice.
Its always natural to assume that more expensive means better quality in terms of sound but in this case I’m really not sure. More like just different taste I think!

Good to know about the bass drum claws. So that makes one thing for sure I know is different. I also know that the wood seam is fairly visible through the laquer, but to me I really don’t care about that. The thing that gets me, is they have the most beautiful finishes in the armory series. It looks like they really spent a lot of time trying to make these drums appealing. Amazing finishes, great sound, and decent configurations, all for a great price.

The only possible con I can think of, is if they can’t do the sizes I want. I know mapex is always a pain in the ass for special ordering certain sized drums, so I’ll have to look into that.
 

SpinaDude

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Its always natural to assume that more expensive means better quality in terms of sound but in this case I’m really not sure. More like just different taste I think!

Good to know about the bass drum claws. So that makes one thing for sure I know is different. I also know that the wood seam is fairly visible through the lacquer, but to me I really don’t care about that. The thing that gets me, is they have the most beautiful finishes in the armory series. It looks like they really spent a lot of time trying to make these drums appealing. Amazing finishes, great sound, and decent configurations, all for a great price.

The only possible con I can think of, is if they can’t do the sizes I want. I know mapex is always a pain in the ass for special ordering certain sized drums, so I’ll have to look into that.
It can take FOREVER to get gear from Mapex. I speak from experience. But I was always happy with the end product. I also don't know if they are still lacquering their Armory drums. I know they did at first, especially with that gorgeous photon blue from their launch but I think they are using wraps now. I wouldn't look on that as a downside though, especially if you're gigging with the kit.

I agree with you as far as expense goes. Great gear doesn't have to break the bank to be high quality. Dream cymbals is a perfect example as are the Black Panther line of snare drums.
 

Louis mate

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It can take FOREVER to get gear from Mapex. I speak from experience. But I was always happy with the end product. I also don't know if they are still lacquering their Armory drums. I know they did at first, especially with that gorgeous photon blue from their launch but I think they are using wraps now. I wouldn't look on that as a downside though, especially if you're gigging with the kit.

I agree with you as far as expense goes. Great gear doesn't have to break the bank to be high quality. Dream cymbals is a perfect example as are the Black Panther line of snare drums.
Couldn’t agree more. I was playing artisan cymbals for years, until I found a 22 inch dream crash ride for 180 bucks, that ended up sounding better than my artisans that cost more than double the price. Couldn’t believe the quality of sound for so cheap. The mapex black panther brass cat has also been my snare of choice for about 8 years, and I don’t think I’ll ever find anything I like more.

I’m really hoping I can find something in a laquer in the armory, I HATE wraps. It’s the one reason that turned me off of the new Saturn V touring edition.
 

Louis mate

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Eh thanks for the heads up, I must have missed it by a few minutes cause it says no longer available when I click link. I’m also in Canada which poses an issue with buying over the border. I gotta say though, that finish is beautiful! And I especially loved the way nick d virgillio demo’d These bad boys
 

SpinaDude

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He's fantastic. I love his vids. Did you check Long and McQuade?
 

Louis mate

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He's fantastic. I love his vids. Did you check Long and McQuade?
Found out they have one in the rental department! I’m gonna rent it for a couple weeks and if I like it, I’m gonna see if they’ll sell it to me for a decent price
 

SpinaDude

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That's great, dude! Let me know how it goes, I'm curious to hear what you think. That rental idea is fantastsic...like getting an extended test drive. Double check the heads on them too. If they have UT heads on them you may want to swap out with USA clear G2's or Emperors.
 

Louis mate

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That's great, dude! Let me know how it goes, I'm curious to hear what you think. That rental idea is fantastsic...like getting an extended test drive. Double check the heads on them too. If they have UT heads on them you may want to swap out with USA clear G2's or Emperors.
Agreed! Really hoping they have something better than stock heads on them. Clear emperors for sure! Hoping to pick it up today or tomorrow when it get comes back from a gig. Will post my findings
 

Louis mate

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That's great, dude! Let me know how it goes, I'm curious to hear what you think. That rental idea is fantastsic...like getting an extended test drive. Double check the heads on them too. If they have UT heads on them you may want to swap out with USA clear G2's or Emperors.
So I picked up the ol armory rental today and jammed out for a couple hours. Luckily it came fitted with Remo emperors and an emad on the bass drum, so I can actually make a fair judgement. Here’s my thoughts:

The shells themselves look beautiful. The one I rented is in a black/beige fade laquer. Very nice looking, however the shells feel a little cheap and lightweight. When I pick up my Saturn’s, they feel solid and strong, these feel cheaper just when holding them.

The lugs and hardware feel fairly lightweight and not as strong as my Saturn, and I imagine if you’d gig regularly with them, you could run into issues with wing nuts on the tom mounts, wing nuts for the floor tom legs, and possibly issues with lugs. It reminded me of the pearl crystal beat kit that I owned. I used that kit for heavy gigging every weekend and after a year or maybe less, things just started falling apart on them. Judging by how these shells feel in comparison, I would assume these could have similar issues.

The sound: honestly these sound just as good as the demos I saw on YouTube. However, I did have an issue with the 12 inch tom, but I believe this is because I actually don’t like how 12 inch toms sound in general. I’ve owned 2 12 inch toms, and I’ve hated them both. One was 12x7, and one was 12x8. I was hoping I would like this one more as it’s a 12x9, but I could not get it to sound good to my ears, although someone who likes 12 inch rack toms might not have an issue with this.

The 10 inch tom blew me away, it sounded as good to my ears as the 10 inch tom on a starclassic kit that I owned. The 16 inch floor tom also sounded great with minimal effort. The bass drum sounded awesome with the emad on it. Lots of low end boom coming from it. The tomahawk snare that came with it also sounded great as well. Maybe a little more dry sounding than I prefer, however this could have been a result of the head that was on it.

All in all I would say, these kits would be perfect for an intermediate player who doesn’t gig super often but wants a really nice sounding set of drums for a good price. If your giggin every weekend and need to rely on your kit taking a beating, I wouldn’t recommend these, as they do feel a little cheap in the build quality.

Hope this helps someone
 

SpinaDude

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That's a great review. Disappointing to hear about the build quality. But I guess that's why they're so much less than the Saturns. I don't know if those issues would have occurred with my Meridians. They felt pretty solid and I never head a single issue with the hardware breaking down. However, I was never a gigging drummer, and they were only ever transported twice, so it was never put to the test.

At least you found out what you needed to know before you bought a set. A lot of people sweat by the Yamaha Stage Custom kits as solid gigging kits. Have you tried a set?
 

xsabers

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The Meridian shells were much lighter than my Saturns, but I never felt the build quality was less. In fact, I wish I had kept them as they were so lightweight.
 

Louis mate

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That's a great review. Disappointing to hear about the build quality. But I guess that's why they're so much less than the Saturns. I don't know if those issues would have occurred with my Meridians. They felt pretty solid and I never head a single issue with the hardware breaking down. However, I was never a gigging drummer, and they were only ever transported twice, so it was never put to the test.

At least you found out what you needed to know before you bought a set. A lot of people sweat by the Yamaha Stage Custom kits as solid gigging kits. Have you tried a set?
I have! Nothing of recent though, but my buddy had a stage custom growing up. The older models with 12x10 and 13x11 rack toms and that thing sounded amazing for the money. I would love to hear a recent model though. I’m just not sure I’m sold on 100 percent birch shells. I do love birch hybrid shells. I played an older set of meridians at one point and they felt very solid as well!
 
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Louis mate

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The Meridian shells were much lighter than my Saturns, but I never felt the build quality was less. In fact, I wish I had kept them as they were so lightweight.
I feel as though older mapex models were tougher than the current models. I have a Saturn sub sonic, it’s 15 years old. They have been toured around the country, they fell out of a moving trailer driving down the road, and they have been beaten to hell, and I’ve never had a single issue with the drums or hardware/lugs in 15 years. In fact I still have the original hardware set that came with them.

However when I’ve played the newer mapex stuff, it just feels that they’re not as solid. I really noticed it with the armory. Even newer Saturn’s feel like they’re not at strong as mine. Although, the technology of the bearing edges and the sound has gotten better
 

Bandit

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People on Mapex facebook sites are buying armory's like crazy and using them for gigging kits, and I am not hearing any issues with them. Everyone wants their drums to be lighter. As soon as they do that, people then complain they feel cheaper?
 

Louis mate

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People on Mapex facebook sites are buying armory's like crazy and using them for gigging kits, and I am not hearing any issues with them. Everyone wants their drums to be lighter. As soon as they do that, people then complain they feel cheaper?
It’s not just that they feel light. The lugs feel plasticky and thin. They feel cheap to me when you compare it with something of better quality. Felt the same as my pearl crystal beats in terms of lugs, and hardware. Everyone will have differing experiences, but that’s my opinion on them.

I’m comparing to a Saturn so of course it will not feel as strong. And at that price point they had to cut corners somewhere, and I’m sure the lugs snd hardware was one way they did that. I don’t care about the weight of my drums personally, I look for quality in craftsmanship, even if it means carrying around something heavier I don’t mind
 
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