Published on June 20th, 2013 | by Wade Hunter
Sonor Ascent Review
Summary: For those looking for an affordable beech kit, the Sonor Ascent is a great option.
The Sonor Ascent series is the latest beech offering from the German drum makers. The kit is described by Sonor as “perfect symbiosis between the Select Force and ProLite series”, putting it in the mid to upper range of Sonor pecking order. This makes the Ascent an interesting option for those who want an affordable beech kit with some high end features, quality sound and a great look.
The Ascents have a unique sound that is unlike many other drums out there. The tom and snare shells are a thick 9-ply 8.75mm which makes for strong projection and a nice cutting sound. The bass drums are built using medium thickness 7-ply 6.35mm which produces a well balanced, full, round bass drum sound with nice projection, volume and resonance. Beech drums generally have more attack and less sustain than their maple counterparts, but offer a fuller, more balanced sound than birch. The toms come with 2.3mm power hoops for a more focused attack and the snares feature die-cast hoops for additional precision. A 45 degree bearing edge assists in giving these drums their powerful, full tone and makes for a wide tuning range for added versatility.
The overall result is an almost tribal sounding drum that is quite unique in the sonic spectrum and surprisingly versatile. Depending on head selection and sizing, the Ascent series can fit comfortably in almost any musical setting. While it may not be the quintessential drum sound that so many drum makers strive for with their maple kits, the Sonor Ascent gives you a totally unique, versatile and very cool sound.
If there is one department where Sonor consistently outshines their competitors, it is in the craftsmanship of their drums. What else would you expect from a German company? While the Ascent line is manufactured at their Taiwan factory — not in Germany where their high-end kits are made — the build quality of these drums is top-notch. The construction and assembly of the drums is very robust, and you just feel the quality of them when you pick them up. You almost get the sense you could throw the kit down a flight of stairs and only concede aesthetic damage — something that should not be understated for a touring drummer.
In addition to the solid shell construction, the attached hardware is top quality as well. Sonor’s Total Acoustic Resonance mounting system gives the toms a tension free mount which is also easy to set up and adjust. All in all, these drums are very well made and should instill confidence in anyone who is putting them through a good work routine.
This is another strong point for the Ascent series. These drums come in an assortment of finishes, all of which punch above their proverbial weight. The highlights for me are the wood grain finishes Natural, Dark Natural, Ebony Stripes and Burnt Fade. All four of these finishes are absolutely amazing and look like that of a kit that costs twice as much. The grains themselves are some of the best I’ve seen and come with a quality lacquer finish. Three of the finishes, including Purple Diamond pictured below, come with the option of adding black chrome plated hardware which makes for a very cool look. This option is otherwise only available on Sonor’s high-end German made kits. For the money, these are some of the best looking finishes you will find from any drum maker.
The Sonor Ascent in Purple Diamond, one of the three finishes that comes with the black chrome hardware.
Depending on the specific configuration, an Ascent kit will run you anywhere from $1700 to $3000 at most retailers. Beech drums are far less common than maple or birch and generally will cost a little more. The fact that this kit is produced at Sonor’s Taiwan factory keeps the price lower than most other beech options out there, and does so without sacrificing too much in terms of build and sound quality. Value is always very subjective, as some people will always see value where others won’t, and this is especially true when looking at the Ascents. If you are simply looking for the absolute best bang for your buck in a kit, the Sonor Ascent is not for you. You can find drums of comparable quality for less money than you would get these drums for. However, the value of these drums goes way up if you’re looking for a unique sound — like beech — and a look that is different from the kits that you regularly see in this price bracket. Sonor as a company has that appeal of being the slightly more expensive, specialized and alluring drum company, and the Ascent is a perfect testament to that. If that plays into your assessment of value, then these drums are actually a great bang for the buck.
All said, these really are great drums if you’re looking for a beech kit. Beech is a very cool option in terms of picking a drum material that is unique and heard far less than maple or birch. Sonor gives those who want to have that tribal beech sound a great affordable option that does this great sounding wood justice.