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Spaun 14x5 Maple

(c) Lyle Caldwell 

ISpaun 14x5 Maple just got my new snare today, and while I haven't had time to do anything extensive with it yet (the joy of small children and non-soundproofed rooms), I did play for about an hour and thought I'd share some initial impressions.

It's a 5x14 8 ply maple shell, no reinforcement rings, with wood hoops, and it really is much different than any snare I've come across before.

It weighs practically nothing, and it is loud as hell and more sensitive than any snare I've ever played. Must be the light weight/low mass. My other main snare is a 6x13 Ayotte/Keplinger stainless steel with wood hoops, and it is vastly different- less snare sound, more meat, louder rimshots and crosssticking, not as sensitive. I've played Yamaha maple hoops (which are huge) and they add a lot of girth as well. These Spaun wood hoops are much more... transparent... than the others. The overall sound is bright and articulate, but never piercing, as metal hoops can be. Put it this way- the Ayotte sounds tribal, the Spaun sounds sophisticated.

The wood hoops come up over the top head just a bit higher than a standard flanged hoop does, and the tension rod heads are just barely over the level of the top of the hoop. Well out of the way for playing, and it feels great. My Ayotte's hoops come up much higher over the head, and many players take just a bit of time to adjust. That won't be the case with the Spaun.

After an hour's playing, without changing heads (stock Evans G1 coated batter and Hazy(?) snare side), it really reminds me of a friend's COB Supraphonic *after moongel is added and I add a touch of compression and move the mic to lessen the high end attack*. Still has tons of crack and crispness, but without the edge that says "this is a metal drum". No ringiness once I got the heads properly tuned, and it's a rare Supra that I can tune the ring out of completely.

It doesn't really sound much like the other maple snares I've played (Pearl, Yamaha, DW, Tama). Hard to put into words. Very very open sounding, as if you're just playing heads and snares, amplified. The shell doesn't seem to impose any overtones or limit the sound (told you this was hard to put
into words- I guess "shape" is a better word than "limit"). It really does sound like a warmer COB Supraphonic.

From quick experiments, it can have a very low fundamental or crank up to piccolo range, but I like it well so far about medium high. It's a very nice surface to play on, and every little nuance of my playing comes through easily (not such a great thing for me, but...). If anything, it may be a bit *too* sensitive for my playing abilities (it is easier for me to play softly on the Ayotte), but any limitations are more likely due to my ability than to the drum. I'm sure this drum has a softer voice than my hands can
draw out of it at present (I'm not great at stick control yet). I feel like a kid with a learning permit given the keys to a formula one car.

Oh, the drum is gorgeous, the attention to detail is perfect, the bearingedges are perfect and every component was fully tight and rattle-free (all of which I have come to expect from Spaun). As far as the Nickel throwoff goes, it's nice, but if this is what everyone's amazed by, you have been suffering with truly terrible throwoffs in the past. The Ayotte throwoff is much nicer, giving every level between off and almost choked with the movement of a lever, for instant adjustments (while playing if necessary). But the Nickel is fine and works well. One niggle- I can throw off the snares on the Ayotte without any noise, but on the Spaun there is a sound when they engage/disengage. I can live with that, but I wish it were as quiet as the Ayotte.

Right now, the two recorded snare sounds the Spaun reminds me of are "Home at Last" and "Glass Onion" (well, I have to imagine this snare compressed to hell for the latter, but that's the core sound). Needless to say, this makes me happy. Tomorrow I'm going to play around with tunings and slap a wallet on it and see how it does Stax/Motown.

Lyle CaldwellSpaun 14x5 Maple





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