No announcement yet.

Reference Pure vs. Reference Review: What's the difference?

This is a sticky topic.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Reference Pure vs. Reference Review: What's the difference?

    I was a long-time Reference player but, today, I picked up my new Reference Pure shell pack in the same sizes as my old References (10", 12", 16", 22"). I'm playing these with the same cymbal and snare setup (Ludwig chrome-over-brass Supraphonic and Zildjian A Armand assortment).

    My opinions are just based on setup, tuning, and playing in my practice space. No gigs yet (obviously). Also, my comparison is from the memory of my Reference kit -- it's not here anymore, so I can't do a strict A:B comparison.

    Here are my impressions on the first day:

    Workmanship -- Workmanship on the two series appears to be equivalent. Beautiful finishes. Excellent shell and edge work.

    Weight -- There is clearly a HUGE weight difference between the two kits. The bass drum and floor tom of the Reference are markedly heavier than the Pure's. Loading, transporting and setting up the Pures is noticeably easier. I know the website says the Pures are 30% lighter, but it feels more like 50%+. (This is the main reason I made the change.)

    Appearance -- Two things hit me about the Pures. First, the tube lugs look a little beefy/swollen -- especially next to standard tube lugs. They are already growing on me, but they are not low-mass lugs. The brass screw heads are a nice, subtle accent. Second, the vent holes are located nearer the reso side of the drums than the batter side. This looks a little odd, at first, but if there's a good functional reason for it, why not? It is something I won't notice a week from now. With both Reference lugs, let's face it . . . it's not about beauty or art or low-mass. It's about function. And both lugs function really, really well.

    Tuning -- Ease of tuning is pretty much the same between the two series. My impression, though, is that it is easier to get an acceptable tone / head rebound balance on the 16" Pure floor tom. It's early, but to this point I am more pleased with the Reference Pure 16" floor tom than with any 16" I have ever played. It is up there with an ancient 14" mahogany Gretsch floor tom which, to this point, has been my all-time favorite floor. For me, the tone / head rebound balance is hardest to get right on a floor tom. This one is right. (I always found the Reference 16" to get a little "flappy" sounding if I didn't tune it often.) It was also very, very easy to get a satisfying note / tone out of the Pure bass drum.

    Tone / sound -- This one is hard to quantify, but the Reference Pures feel more "alive" than the Reference to me. Is it the thinner shells? Maybe it is. But, by comparison, the Reference bass drum and floor toms seem to ask for a harder stroke to get the same action out of the drum. Also, there seems to be a bigger difference between the 10" and 12" hanging toms with the Pures. I don't know why this would be -- again the shells? But it made a difference in how I tuned them up. The 10" wants to sing high notes. I don't have a tension watch, but I suspect I'm tuning the 10" looser than the 12" to get them to play well together.

    The Reference series drums seem to be more "felt" to me. The Reference Pures are more "heard." I don't know a better way to describe it. The Pures really do sound better in the near field. (For close mic'ing or for hobbyists who only play inside their practice room, the choice is clear -- Pure, all the way.)

    Bottom line? Both Reference and Reference Pure are great-sounding kits. If I were playing to a big room without drum mics or outdoors, I would go with the Reference Series. I know they project well enough to balance amplified instruments well up into the decibels. It is extremely difficult to overpower a Reference drum -- hit as hard as you want. The harder you hit it, the better it sounds. If I were recording or mic'ing the kit at a venue (of any size) or playing un-mic'ed in a room of, say 200 or smaller? I would go with the Pures. They respond immediately to a light / medium touch and sound great within a broader dynamic range.

    For the music I play, I think I made the right choice. The Pures will save a LOT of work in setup, teardown and load out. They sound "active" with less force put into them. And they will give me more dynamic choices in the live, un-mic'ed venues and drummer-in-a-box venues where I play most of my stuff. If I played metal or vintage punk or outdoors a lot, my decision might be different.

    As always, your mileage may vary.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by FlashBazbo; 01-02-2012, 08:21 AM.

  • #2
    Thanks for the great review, and awesome pictures of your beautiful new reference pure! Enjoy them.

    Old kit: Gretsch New Classic


    • #3
      Great review man, good to finally see someone here has one

      The only thing i dislike about the kit is how big the lugs are on the toms, they take away from the finish too much
      Originally posted by dexplosion
      Soon, there will be no drummers, only a guy standing in the background clapping.


      • #4
        Originally posted by FarFromTheTruth View Post
        Great review man, good to finally see someone here has one

        The only thing i dislike about the kit is how big the lugs are on the toms, they take away from the finish too much
        No where near as bad as the DW turret lugs though.

        Old kit: Gretsch New Classic


        • #5
          I mentioned my visual impression of the lugs. The visual contrast is especially stark since I have the skinny Ludwig tube lugs just a few inches away.

          But there is a big contrast in function, as well. The Reference Pure lugs are very refined and function silky smooth. Your usual tube lug -- no matter the manufacturer -- can be kind of crude and prone to binding points. Tuning with the Pure lugs is effortless. It is very much like the difference between a fine watch (say, Tag Heuer) and a vintage Timex mechanical.

          I will take function over form every time. The Pure lugs are excellent at doing what a lug is supposed to do.


          • #6
            Awesome comparison. Excellent.
            I still have trouble with one thing.
            I've read the write ups on the Pearl site for both Reference and Pure.
            In the pure writup they say that the shell composition is the same. so why are the shells thinner.
            I'm confused by that.
            Any ideas as an owner?


            • #7
              The plies are thinner with Reference Pure.

              According to the Pearl website, the Reference series drums use both 1.6mm and .9mm plies in their shells. Reference Pure drums use only .9mm plies. Both use the same number of plies, it's just that the Pure series plies are thinner.


              • #8
                convincing review for me. all my suspicions about both lines have been confirmed by your exhaustive review .

                i knew my next kit would be a reference,but wasn't sure about the distinctive caracter of both lines. now i know that it'll be the original ref for the reasons you mentionned. a little more dry, great projection and volume. the only downside to me is the weight of those su***** hahaha,but i can live with that!! thanks for sharing.
                sigpicRUSH FOREVER RUSH
                tama SC B/B anthique sunburst 14-10-8-10-12--16-22 - reference snare 14x5-pearl ultracast 14X5- pearl FF brass 14X5-tama hardware/pedals
                sabian HHX's/AAX's

                WTB:AAX -HHX-SR2's large crashes


                • #9
                  Is the difference only explained by the thickness or by the hoops too? Maybe you could make some experiments if you have some die-cast hoops laying around...

                  Great review!
                  My previous Ludwig kit; Pearl Sensitone Aluminum , Pork Pie, Black Panther and Crush snares.
                  DW 5000, Pearl modded P-102, P-120P & P-2002B. IC Powerglide. Many cymbals from the big 3.
                  Tiny pic of my old cymbal setup.


                  • #10
                    Thank you!
                    I didn't see that in the write up.


                    • #11
                      I've been playing the Pures for two months now and I have put them through the paces in a variety of genres. From the first day, it has been clear that there is something that sets the Pures apart from every other drum kit I have played over the past decades. More experience with the drums has only verified it.

                      What sets these drums apart is that they provide a purer, more musical tone over a much broader dynamic range. Every drum I've played in the past had a dynamic level below which you could not play without losing the musical quality of the tone - at some point, the beats begin to sound like sticks hitting plastic rather than producing a musical pitch. Same thing at the high end - hit hard enough, and the pitch of the drum chokes out and all the toms begin to sound like cardboard.

                      With the Pure series, I can maintain a musical tone across a broader dynamic spectrum - very soft to very loud. I'm a dynamic player. In the past, I always had to compensate for the loss of tone in my drums at dynamic extremes. I especially hated the loss of tone at the soft end of the scale. With the Pures, I don't have to worry about it. I get good, strong sounding, musical tone - no matter the dynamics. And the pitch and fulness stay the same as the music gets louder. Very, very cool. These are the most musical drums I have ever played.


                      • #12
                        I love the idea of that sensitivity you just mentioned....that's a big priority for me, especially with snares.

                        Originally posted by TalonTsi90 (banned)
                        LOL, im not a mod so i cant do that. If he or anyone else gets banned its cause they broke the rules and Pearl saw fit to ban them..


                        • #13
                          One of the best reviews I have read explaining the differences between thick and then shells. Sound's like I need to go buy one.
                          Sweet kit.
                          sigpicAction Jackson
                          PEARL & PAISTE
                          Drums Cymbals Signiture
                          12x10T 14" Dark Crisp Hats
                          13x11T 17" Full Crash 19" Full Crash
                          16x16FT 20" Giant Beat Multi Functional
                          24x18BD 21" Dry Heavy Ride
                          14x6 TAMA Starphonic B.N. Steel


                          • #14
                            I recently bought a Reference Pure kit in midnight blue, it's a monster kit,double bass drum etc. I agree with the revue,because I have experinced that wit my kit.Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0526.jpg
Views:	5
Size:	90.8 KB
ID:	5151292


                            • #15
                              ^ Drop dead gorgeous kit!!! Congratulations.

                              Pearl Corporation USA | Nashville