by Miguel Monroy
The last time we checked out Natal, we talked about their vision to offer a range of high-level drumsets. Each kit comes with the same high-quality components, but it was the species of wood that differentiated each model. The company recently expanded on that concept and is now offering entry-level kits, called the Arcadia series. The purpose of this lineup is to provide worthy contenders in the $600 to $800 price range, in both rock- and jazz-size configurations, the latter of which we were sent for review. Let’s take a look.
Our Review Kit
We received an Arcadia kit in traditional jazz sizes ($599), which included an 8×12 tom, a 14×14 floor tom, a 14×18 bass drum, and a 5×14 snare drum. The kit features 6-ply poplar shells with a great-looking gray strata wrap. Two additional finishes are available for the poplar-shell option: black sparkle and red sparkle. The Arcadia series also comes with birch/poplar shells, and kits in those are available in two lacquers. All kits in the Arcadia series include a medium-duty hardware pack. The hardware we received comprised a boom stand, a straight stand, a snare stand, a bass drum pedal, a hi-hat stand, and a tom mount. The Arcadia series is also available in four- and five-piece rock configurations with a 22″ or 24″ bass drum for no more than $699 for the poplar option and $799 for birch/poplar shells.
Same Price, More Hardware
With the Arcadia series, you get a nice savings in hardware alone. Most other manufacturers offer a shell pack in similar sizes and at the same price points, but they usually only come with a tom holder. To get an additional hardware pack that includes all the same pieces that come standard with the Arcadia kits, you’re going to spend on average an additional $220.
The 6-ply poplar shells that came on the Arcadia review kit sounded great but had subtle limitations. The bass drum was our favorite of the bunch. The 14″ depth combined with the 18″ diameter gave it a nice, controlled sound. We were able to tune it low for a deep, punchy attack with short low-end resonance and then tune it higher for more of a traditional bebop sound. The resonance in the low and high range of the drum was fun to control via foot pressure. We could change the pitch of the drum by subtlety applying force into the drumhead, or we could capitalize on the full, open tone by striking and immediately releasing the beater.
The toms sounded best at medium to low tuning, which provided a smooth, warm tone with some extra low end. As we explored the higher tuning range, the toms began to choke and sound a little thin.
The snare was the toughest to tune out of the box, but with a little love it sounded good at a medium tuning, where it offered a woody crack with a long, resonant tone. As we tuned the snare very high or very low, it emitted a few harsh overtones that needed to be controlled with muffling.
Who’s It For?
The Arcadia series is an excellent option for someone who wants to maximize every dollar spent toward his or her first kit. Although the shells aren’t extremely versatile, the included medium-duty hardware will continue to serve you faithfully, even if you decide to upgrade to a more professional-grade kit down the road.
Shells: 6-ply poplar
Sizes: 8×12, 14×14, 14×18, and 5×14
Finish: gray strata wrap
Hardware: medium-weight straight and boom cymbal stands, snare stand, pedal, hi-hat, and tom mount