I am a professional drummer and bought this kit for a number of reasons - I wanted something a little quieter for practising in my garage, performing quieter live in small, hard surface covered or large very echoey venues, and thought it would be very useful to have a tiny kit for when I am sharing transport to gigs with other musicians with limited space in the car. Also, I was attracted by the free 'dust covers'/quietening bags, with tie strings, that come with them - I have never seen these before, let alone offered free with a kit. They are a unique and excellent idea, and I actually ended up using the bag to quieten down the snare on the first gig I used the kit for,! Having ruined 2 t-shirts quietening down the snare on gigs before, I was very pleased as the bag seems tough enough not to develop holes like the t-shirts and it sounded much better! The bags offer almost zero protection though and are totally unsuitable for transporting the kit - annoyingly due to the unusual size of the drums I have found it very difficult sourcing correct size soft cases - the 13 x 13 and 10 x 7 toms are extremely unusual sizes and I cannot find these size bags so am having to order bigger ones.
What can I say - this kit is amazing on several levels! First impressions when I unpacked it were 1. how nice the blue sparkle finish is (almost looks like a lacquer rather than a wrap, although the logo stickers instead of proper badges look a little cheap) and 2. how light-weight the kit is - fantastic for carting around regularly! There is little info available on the wood but I eventually found out they are made from poplar, which I believe is the cheapest hard wood which has to better than budget eg bass wood - very light, almost white in colour. The toms sound great and handle very different tunings amazingly - way better than on several big-name kits four times the price!! They can be tuned low without sounding 'flabby' and deliver amazing bottom end and punch for their tiny sizes, or high for more even more volume and an impressive dynamic range. The skins kits are supplied with are notoriously poor normally but these are a genuine exception (same for snare and kick) - they are good quality remo;s and sound great. I found the toms a little bright with the tuning I prefer, plus want the kit to be ultra quiet so have opted to switch them for coated skins, which make them sound VERY different, again showing just how versatile the kit is.
The snare - I am AMAZED with the sound of the it!! I have heard that the snares supplied with most 'bop' kits tend to be sub-standard, included with the shell pack mainly to make them a whole kit, needing instantly replacing - but this matching wooden snare sounds so cool I am now recording hip-hop with is instead of my Mapex Black Panther snare which cost almost as much as the entire Breakbeats kit!! It also sounded great on a rock gig. Awesome tone, ghost notes are clear and defined, great dynamic range, loudness is surprising for 5" depth and the skin is spot on!! The snare wires are poor quality & cheap however, and already looked stretched when supplied, but it doesn't cost much to replace the snare wires :-)
The kick - firstly I can say that it is the most robust part of the kit and is surprisingly good quality, and much heavier than the other other drums relative to its size, but ultra portable compared to a standard 20" or 22" as it's only 16". The skins are great, nice and thick, with a control ring on the batter side, and I won't be switching them at all! The riser that is supplied is a great idea (meaning your kick drum beater hits the centre of the drum to get the best sound) although one kick pedal I tried with it didn't fit properly and the chain snagged, although my Pearl eliminator pedal fits fine with it. The issues with the kick are firstly that is simply too quiet compared to the rest of the kit (although this is the nature of a bop kit to some extent I guess) - micing it up obviously fixes this. Secondly, and most fundamentally an issue, is that without any dampening, the kick sound is vastly different if you leave the beater buried in the head compared to allowing it to rebound. Allowing it to rebound produces an awesome, long lasting, hip-hop/breakbeat sound which, mic'ed up, sounds particularly cool, so 'heel-down'/jazz players will love it. If however, like me, you bury the beater, kick strokes sound really inconsistent depending on the pattern you're playing, especially double kick patterns - also press too hard and the pitch of the kick changes as the skin is pressed in, especially with loser tuning. The best way of overcoming this problem I have found so far is to tune the kick fairly high, and use lots of dampening (I used a domestic foam pillow) touching both heads to seriously cut the sound short, and only use the kit with the kick mic'd. This works satisfactorily, and provided I monitor the kick quite high I can still hear it enough to perform well live, although you can't add too much bottom end or it sounds too boomy. I think I will try porting the resonant head though so I can mic it inside for more attack and punch.
The biggest downside with this kit (apart from being unable to find the right size bags to suit, which I'm sure will be solved in time) is the quality of the hardware - the metal used throughout is VERY cheap feeling, almost plastic-like, with the turn-keys feeling like they may snap if roughly handled and the rims being so thin and poorly cast as to be almost sharp so, although rim shots still sound ok, you can hurt your fingers/hand if you miss the snare slightly, and I am slightly concerned as to how robust the hardware will prove to be if I transport and gig with the kit week-in week-out. On the plus side, along with the shell sizes and material, this helps makes the kit ultra-lightweight. I guess the manufacturer HAD to compromise on something to even make it possible to create this kit at this price point, but it may be an idea for Ludwig to offer a more expensive 'deluxe' version of this kit with proper hardware and badges for pro players like myself who would pay more for the kit.
To summarise: this is a fantastic kit all round in terms of sound, tuning flexibility and achieving what it sets out to do with the extreme portability and quietening bags, and all for £303! It is hard to conceive of ever being offered a better kit at this price point!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!