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Having accidentally found the Traps A400 online whilst browsing nothing in particular, I did something I don't normally do - got excited! I've been playing kits for the best part of 40 years and have often wished I'd learned the flute, but now, here was a kit I could almost carry in my back pocket.
I took posession of my new A400nc last week and took it to my gig the next night. Verdict - more good than bad.
The rack is of good quality and the clamps seem ok (but I always worry about slightly over-tightening and threading them). The toms are excellent and sound great - I am coming from a Pearl Masters which is powerful and the traps toms sound as good and come close to giving comparable volume.
On the down side - The bass drum, or kick drum if you're an American wannabe, is completely useless unless miked when gigging (probably ok for the bedroom), I also needed to placed a sponge between the heads for dampening. It does not 'feel' like a proper drum to my foot, but I will persist and get used to it.
The snare drum is a little too bright and I will probably go back to using a full-size drum. The ambassador head on the snare was visibly and audibly warped after only one gig - I do hit hard but heads should be able to take it.
The stands are good enough for the price but if you are used to heavier gear you may want to buy the kit without this hardwear. Likewise, the bass drum pedal is a starter model.
Since I need to mike the bass drum, I decided to invest in a set of drum mics to give me a greater degree of volume control over the whole kit. The toms and snare are so small that I invariably hit the mics with my sticks and when I tried to fit them on the underside of the heads they would not fit as the rims are not deep enough. I will try and attach something to give the rims more depth before my next gig.
I leave the drums on the rack and ease them into my hatchback boot. The bag containing hi-hat stand, bass drum pedal, cymbals, mics, mic stands, leads, drumsticks, etc, goes across the back seat. Therefore in reality I do not save that much space over my conventional kit.
This all might sound a little negative, however I just love the Traps A400 and will continue to use it and adapt it as necessary to my own preferences.
As a beginner kit this is ideal, as a pro kit it is not ideal but is different, adequate, quirky, and a good deal and as far as I'm concerned, worth my time and attention.
When I stumbled upon a website by Traps Drums, I was amazed that they were offering a portable drum kit, with a full-size sound. I am not sure why, but it caught my attention, probably because I had always wanted a drum kit as a kid, but never got one. So, a few phone calls later and the kind guys at Alchemy Engineering (the manufacturers) sent me an A400 kit to play with.
The whole kit was delivered in one compact box, and my initial reaction was that there was no way this was going to deliver on its promises. The A400 kit consists of tubular frames, that fit together with plastic sleeve clamps. Everything looks a bit confusing, as there are so many parts, and the instructions are a bit hard to see, due to having black and white illustrations. This is something that Traps are working on, so new kits should come with clearer instructions from mid-July.
That said, putting the kit together is pretty straightforward, if you take things one step at a time, there is only a certain way that the parts can fit together.
Once the frame is up and the kick bass drum in place, the remaining toms and cymbals all clamp firmly in place. As standard the kit comes with a 12-inch snare drum, 10, 12 & 14-inch Toms, a 20-inch kick (bass) drum, 13-inch hi hat cymbals, 14-inch crash cymbal, 18-inch crash ride cymbal, two pedals, a stool and drum sticks. It is pretty conclusive that you do not need anything else to get started.
Before I move onto the performance, I must emphasize that the A400 kit is of a very high build quality. Everything fits together perfectly and oozes a perfect finish. The stool is a little flimsy, with the mount nut needing to be tightened every now and again, but apart from that you couldn't ask for much more. You also get Remo heads on this kit, with the traditional multi screw tuning system, just like on full size kits. This is superb, as it allows you to individually tune each drum for that perfect sound. It also allows for new heads should you need to replace them in the future.
Now, I have played around on a Yamaha HipGig kit (around £700) before and I thought that there was no way that the A400 Traps would sound anything like them, after all, they take up half the space and cost almost half the price. To say I was astounded is really an understatement, the sound was full, accurate, and the responsiveness of the heads was great. Close your eyes and listen to the Traps and you really could not tell the difference... well maybe a little, but it is certainly not a worse or better sound in comparison to a full size kit.
Traps also supply bags for the A400, allowing you to easily transport the A400 to a gig, which is really useful. No need for a small transit with this kit ! You can also customise and add to the A400 with an extra 8-inch Tom, and move things around on the rack to get everything perfectly positioned for your individual style.
My suggestion to you all... get away from that screen for a while and use your creativity to learn to play the drums, you will love it. To all you budding musicians, the A400 kit is very compact and sounds great, so put it at the top of your list. Finally, to any readers who currently play the drums... if you need something compact, that still sounds great, either for gigging or for practicing at home, then the A400 will deliver all you could want, plus much more. The attention to detail, the build quality and sound, not to mention to superb aftersales support, all adds up to a stunningly good package.
Note: I am the original author of this review on www.geekanoids.co.uk
The A400 is the first portable kit to feel and sound like a regular drum kit. The drums are constructed from a very high quality and durable A.B.S. and are fitted with Remo heads, steel counter hoops and are tuned with the traditional multi screw tuning system.