Though it was originally introduced in 2008 as ddrum’s flagship all-maple professional series, the Dios line was shelved in 2012 while the company explored other ideas. The series was revived earlier this year with a few limited shell packs—we reviewed the five-piece 522 configuration in the March 2018 issue—and now a trio of Dios snares is available: the 6.5×14 Maple Zebra ($499), the 6.5×14 Hand Hammered Bronze ($519), and the 7×14 Cast Steel ($579). We were sent all three to review. Let’s check them out.
6.5×14 Maple Zebra
Built from the same North American maple as Dios kicks and toms, the 6.5×14 Maple Zebra snare has an 8-ply/8 mm shell with a very cool multiple-layered striped lacquer finish. The top bearing edge is cut cleanly to a thirty-degree angle for a denser sound created by more shell-to-head contact, while the bottom side has a sharper forty-five-degree edge for increased snare response.
The drum is outfitted with ten of ddrum’s classic bullet-style tube lugs, die-cast hoops, and a simple perpendicular-action throw-off that was smooth and stable. All the tension rods feature plastic insulators between the hoop and metal washer, and the drumheads included a single-ply coated batter by Evans and a thin, single-ply bottom. The twenty-strand snappy-style wires are held in place on the throw-off and butt plate via high-quality woven-fabric straps. The snare beds in the shell are subtle, but they’re deep enough to allow the wires to sit flush against the resonant head to provide maximum sensitivity and minimum sympathetic buzz.
Whether tuned high, medium, or low, the 6.5×14 Maple Zebra snare had exceptional response and a clean, open, warm tone. Of the three Dios drums we tested, this was the most applicable to a variety of playing styles and dynamic levels. Cranked high, it had a ton of cut and a dense, woody tone that would serve contemporary R&B, pop, modern jazz, fusion, and funk drummers well. At medium and lower tunings, the drum produced a lot more overtones, which could be fine-tuned so that their sound sat within the overall mix or tamped down easily with just a touch of muffling. Every drummer needs at least one high-quality 6.5×14 wood snare, and this is a great, affordable option.
6.5×14 Hand Hammered Bronze
If you’re someone who likes a snare with a ton of depth and wide-ranging tone, the Dios 6.5×14 Hammered Bronze is for you. It boasts a heavy 1.5 mm bronze shell with golf ball–size indentations across the entire surface. The bearing edges are crimped to forty-five degrees, and the snare beds are slight but effective. It has die-cast hoops, ten bullet-style tube lugs, and the same heads, throw-off, and wires as the Maple Zebra.
Whereas the Maple Zebra drum had a clean, pure tone, the Hand Hammered Bronze sprayed overtones across a wider frequency range, and they sang out longer between strokes. With strategic tuning and snare wire tension I was able to balance out the attack and overtones without killing the drum’s sonorous voice. Higher tunings favored looser snare wires so that the length of the rattle matched that of the sustain, while lower tunings sounded best when the wires were tightly bound against the bottom head to help control the overtones. Muffling could be used to eliminate the ring, but that strategy would only mute this drum’s big, robust voice.
7×14 Cast Steel
The Dios Hammered Bronze is a hefty drum (13 lbs.), but the 7×14 Cast Steel is an absolute beast (17.5 lbs.). It boasts a 3 mm straight shell (no flanges) with sharp forty-five degree bearing edges, a mirror-chrome finish, and wide, flat snare beds. Like the other two drums, it has die-cast hoops, bullet-style tube lugs, and a simple but effective throw-off.
This drum had the hardest bite at higher tunings, with bright but controlled overtones. Medium and lower tunings might require a bit of dampening because the overtones tended to center on specific frequencies that could clash with the music. (Contrast that with the complexity of the Hammered Bronze’s overtones, which sat within the mix more naturally.) This is one of the most powerful drums I’ve ever come across. So if you’re in need of a drum that can slice through any sonic mix, see if you can get your hands on one of these for a test run. It kicks.