DW Design Series Review (2020) – Quality Kit by Drum Workshop? 

Updated on by Brett Clur | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

DW has a reputation for making drum kits that are only really accessible by pros and people willing to fork out a bunch of money on their products. Their drums are expensive for a good reason though.

There’s a lot of time and effort poured into them to create some of the best sounding drum kits out there. The Performance and Collector’s Series kits are sights to behold, but they’re just not the most affordable things out there.

Here’s where the Design Series comes in. It’s DW’s most affordable line of drums, sharing a lot of the design qualities of their higher end kits. DW cut down on some labor costs and removed a few build features in order to make the Design Series an affordable kit. So, does the Design Series live up to the DW name? 



DW Design Series - Overview

The kit comes as a shell pack with the drums being the following sizes:

  • 5.5” x 14” snare drum
  • 8” x 10” high tom
  • 9” x 12” middle tom
  • 14” x 16” floor tom
  • 18” x 22” kick drum

The shell pack comes with only the drums. The mounts for the toms are sold separately. 

  • Great snare drum
  • DW quality build at an affordable price
  • The drums stay in tune for a long time
  • Good stock drumheads
  • Beautiful tone
  • Shell pack doesn’t include mounts for the rack toms

Build Quality

The Design Series of kits have a simpler build quality compared to the higher end DW kits, which is what makes it more affordable. They’re built in Taiwan rather than the USA.

The shells have DW’s Chrome Standard Triple Flange Hoops. These hoops increase in weight as the drums get bigger and help give the drums a versatile sound.

The toms use DW’s patented suspension tom mount system. This mounting system allows the toms to be mounted in a way that makes them vibrate freely and have a lot of resonance.

It also keeps them in tune for long periods of time. It’s a bit of a bummer that the shell pack doesn’t include tom suspension holders. You have to buy them separately and not all suspension holders will work for the Design Series toms.

The snare drum has a MAG throw-off system which makes turning it on and off a smooth action. It also eliminates a lot of snare buzz.

The lugs of the drums are much smaller compared to the lugs of the higher end DW kits. This doesn’t affect the sound too much, but it does affect how in depth the drums can be tuned.

Overall, the Design Series has a solid build quality that makes the drums sturdy and very durable.

Sound Quality

The shells are made of maple wood which gives the drums a balanced tone with a focused attack. Maple wood is used in a lot of high end drum kits and it really makes the Design Series drums sing.

The toms are deep, pronounced, and warm while the kick drum sounds like a cannon. The kick has a lot of low-end and resonance which can be controlled with some muffling if you’re not a fan of its big sound.

DW makes really great snare drums and the Design Series follows up on this reputation. The snare has a distinct cracking sound to it that will cut through any mix, with rimshots sounding especially good.

These drums have a wide tuning range, making them very versatile. They can be tuned low to get a huge rock sound that will echo through a stadium. They can also be tuned high to get a resonating sound that will fit perfectly in a jazz club.

A surprising feature to these drums is the stock drumheads. The heads sound pretty good, meaning you don’t have to change them as soon as you buy the kit. However, you’ll get the absolute best sound from these drums if you replace the heads with some top quality ones.

These are some beautiful sounding drums, with the snare drum being a stand out feature.

Visuals

To help save production costs, DW doesn’t offer the Design Series in a myriad of finish options. This isn’t much of an issue though, since the available finishes all look really good.

The standard 5-piece kit comes in 5 different finish options: cherry stain, gloss white, steel gray, black satin and tobacco burst. Each of these finishes have a unique edge to them, but the black satin is the most loved out of the 5. The pure black color resembles a piano and looks incredibly smooth wherever the drum kit is placed.

DW kits look really good on a stage and are instantly recognizable due to their distinct DW badge and the circular lug holders. The Design Series kit will look great on a stage, in a recording studio or in your practice room.

The toms that mount to cymbal stands give it the appearance of a high-end drum kit, with the white DW resonant kick drum head adding to the aesthetic look.  

The Design Series also comes in an Acrylic version. This means that the drums are see-through. They look really cool on a stage, especially when the lights reflect through them.

Acrylic drums don’t suit everyone’s visual taste though. The Acrylic shells have a slightly different tone to the standard Design series kit, but the sound quality is very much the same.


Conclusion

There’s a certain level of recognition when it comes to playing on a DW drum kit. They’re well known for their high quality, telling people that the DW kit that you’re going to play on is going to sound great. The DW Design Series makes this an accessible possibility.

This kit is great for performing, recording and home practicing. It will work great for your rock band or your jazz band. It’s a high quality kit from DW that will last you many years. Pair it up with some solid hardware and a good set of cymbals and you’re good to go.

Brett Clur

About Brett Clur

Brett has been playing drums for 18+ years. He's a huge drumming gear enthusiast and also teaches drumming to his students. He's most active on Instagram (@brettclurdrums), where he regularly uploads drumming videos.

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