10 Best Drum Heads That Every Musician Really Adores

Introduction

Over the past decade, drum heads have undergone a major evolution in terms of design. From being etched out of calfskin back in the 1950s to synthetic Mylar being widely used currently, this instrument has come a long way. A drum head that suits the music genre you like will prove to be crucial in tapping your talent to its fullest. By emitting either deep, low-pitched sounds, or bright tones, they enhance the quality of your performances, which makes them a must-have.

To help you find the best drum head, we’ve included a detailed list of 10 products manufactured by leading brands, that we think are incredible in terms of resonance, attack, and sustain, among other factors.

A comparative table of 10 best drum heads

Model

Diameter

Compatibility

Price

Aquarian SKII22 Super-Kick II

22 inches

Bass drums

Remo Emperor X Coated

14 inches

Snare drums

Evans EC2 Tompack

10, 12 and 16 inches

Toms

Remo Powerstroke P3

22 inches

Bass drums

Evans EMAD2

22 inches

Bass drums

Remo Ambassador Coated

14 inches

Snare drums

Remo Silentstroke

22 inches

Bass drums

Evans Power Center Reverse Dot

14 inches

Snare drums

Evans G2 Coated Tompack

12, 13 and 16 inches

Toms

Remo PP-1470-PS Pinstripe

10,12 and 16 inches

Toms

1. Aquarian SKII22 Super-Kick II

What’s to like?

As a bass drummer, if you like low, full-bodied sounds from your drums, then the Aquarian SKII22 Super-Kick II is an ideal choice for you. Featuring double-layered 7-mil plies, this 22-inch drum head gives a deep, controlled sound that you will love. It has a very nice low thump that you can almost feel in your gut, most definitely because of the double plays and integrated dampening ring.  Further intensifying the depth of the sound is a built-in floating felt muffle ring. This helps avoid awkward overtones and focuses on the overall tone of the drum.

A pre-muffled drum head also means that you need not use duct tapes or pillows as dampening techniques on your drum. The felt moves with the drum head and helps ensure sufficient dampening of sound. Weighing merely 1.9 pounds, SKII22 is a 2-ply bass drum head which is see-through, sounds great, and is durable enough to withstand the impact of heavy hitters.

We used this head for both live and recording applications. It allowed for a low tuning for powerful sub-bass without an overwhelming boom in the studio and can be tuned up a bit for a good punch during live performances. Pair the SKII22 with the Aquarian Resonant Head to get the best sounding bass head.

What’s not to like?

Some drummers feel this drum head makes the sound too muffled. Also, the muffle ring comes pre-installed and can’t be removed in case you want to modulate the muffled sound.

Pros

  • Built-in floating felt muffle ring for a deep sound
  • 2-ply bass drum head for distinct tones

Cons

  • Muffle ring can’t be removed

2. Remo Emperor X Coated

What’s to like?

Remo is a highly trusted brand that has been sort of a pioneer in the field of drum heads for over 60 years now. Ideal for both snare drums and toms alike, the Remo Emperor X Coated is extremely popular among rock drummers and best drum heads for rock music. Made of highly durable Mylar heads, Remo has ensured that no strange overtones disrupt your passion for drumming. The drum heads consist of 2 free-floating piles of 10-mil Mylar films which make sure you get a low-end punchy sound. Rock drummers love this drum head because of the consistent, focused, warm tones that are emitted, thanks to a 5-mil reverse black dot. This black dot removes excessive overtones and results in an incredible sound.

Emperor X Coated gives focused mid and low range tones which are ideal for drummers who play heavy music like metal.  If you’re looking for drum heads that are highly responsive no matter how hard you hit, then this option is for you. Weighing 0.5 pounds, the Emperor X Coated is available in sizes that range from 10 inches to 14 inches and guarantees a powerful attack every time you hit it.

What’s not to like?

Even though the Remo Ambassador X Coated is one of our favorite choices on the list for heavy hitters, there have been feedbacks regarding the reverse dot area. We observed the difference between hitting outside and inside the dot and noticed that the rebound deadened considerably while hitting within the confines of the dot area. We also experienced a decay that was too long on the resonant side.

Pros

  • 2 free floating piles of 10-mil Mylar films for a punchy sound
  • 5-mil reverse black dot gives focused tones

Cons

  • Less rebound when hit inside the dot area

3. Evans EC2 Tompack

What’s to like?

Descriptions of drum heads are probably incomplete without talking about packs, and here's one deserving a mention. Evans EC2 Tompack is ideal for rock music and its heads have diameters of 10,12 and 16 inches.   

 This drum head is manufactured using 2 plies of 7 mil film, which assures a faster punch and a shorter sustain. Besides, the dual-layer of plies offers consistency and durability for a long playtime.

A reputed music instrument manufacturer since the 1950’s, Evans uses the Sound Shaping Technology (SST) to ensure a precise amount of dampening on each drum head. A translucent, coated version of this drum head is also available if you are fond of instruments with such finish. Evans has modeled the EC2 to fit the most popular drum set configurations. Weighing 1.3 pounds, these drum heads are available in standard (12, 13 and 16 inches), as well as fusion-sized (10, 12 and 14 inches) models.

What’s not to like?

EC2 Tompack offers value for money but it does disappoint on one end. The drum heads have high and low spots which prevent them from being tensioned evenly. This happens even after you’ve given the heads enough time to stretch.

Pros

  • 2 plies of 7 mil film adds to durability
  • Sound Shaping Technology (SST) ensures a precise amount of dampening

Cons

  • High and low spots which prevent heads from being tensioned evenly

4. Remo Powerstroke P3 

What’s to like?

As the name suggests, the Remo Powerstroke P3 packs a powerful punch with an ample low end and an excellent resonance. With a 22-inch diameter, this drum head has a thin underlay at the outer edge. Consisting of a single ply of clear 10-mil films, Powerstroke P3 effectively dampens unwanted overtones that hamper the natural sound emitted from the drums.

Along with a durable, sturdy construction, these drum heads guarantee a perfect balance of response and tone control. P3 is ideal for drummers who are into softer music genres and are not hard hitters, unlike drummers who play heavy metal.

What takes Powerstroke P3 one step further as compared to the Aquarian drum heads is the muffling. You can muffle this instrument to any degree, suited to your convenience, and even without the muffling, these heads sound great. Adding to the deep, low sound are control rings and underside floating inlay rings that reduce high pitch ringing and shorten sustain with no overtones. Furthermore, a combination of thin single ply and increased dampening strikes a good balance between sensitivity and control. Due to the thinner ply, the drum head is sensitive and can be played at low and medium volumes. When tuned high, the sound becomes focused and when tuned low, the drum head gives a short, cutting punch.  

What’s not to like?

In terms of construction and usability, we failed to find any faults with the Remo Powerstroke P3. The only factor that might hinder anyone from opting for this drum head is its price. This model is more expensive than similar drum heads on our list.

Pros

  • Single ply of clear 10-mil films dampens unwanted overtones
  • Customizable muffling

Cons

  • Expensive

5. Evans EMAD2

What’s to like?

What makes Evans EMAD2 unique is an externally mounted adjustable damping system that helps regulate the attack and focus of the drum head. This can be done by choosing 1 of the 2 removable foam rings. While the thinner foam ring gives a punch without compromising on the resonance, the wider foam ring increases the attack of any bass drum and gives a tighter bass effect. Evans has included Level-360 Technology in this drum’s design, so tuning it is going to be easier. The level-360 collar ensures that the drum head is seated well and is prepared to deliver studio-like sound.

In terms of construction, the 22-inch drum head has an outer ply of 7-mil and an inner ply of 10-mil film for increased durability. Available in the size range of 18 inches to 26 inches, EMAD2 comes in multiple thicknesses and coating options. Since the dampening is adjustable, the instrument serves all bass drum tones from genres ranging from country to metal.

So, if you’re looking for a drum head that can be customized according to your needs, EMAD2 is an option you should consider.

What’s not to like?

 This drum head is not ideal for beginners. Since the tuning is customizable, it can take some time to fall in place even when used by professional drummers.

Pros

  • Adjustable damping system
  • Level 360 collar ensures good positioning

Cons

  • Tuning can take some time

6. Remo Ambassador Coated

What’s to like?

If you’re not a big fan of deep sound and prefer a brighter tone instead, then Remo Ambassador Coated drum head is ideal for you. Featuring a 14-inch diameter and weighing merely 0.35 pounds, this snare drum head is quite thin. Being made of a single-ply with a 10-mil coated film, Remo has designed this for a brighter tone and softer genres like jazz that don’t require hard-hitting. Single-ply heads also account for a bright attack and controlled longer sustain. Since this drum head is coated, it causes a dampening effect which means the tone will be warm and open.

If you’re looking for variable sizes of this drum head, then you can choose anything between the size range of 6 to 40 inches. What’s great is that this drum head is highly versatile and caters to bass drums, snare, and toms, if you’re a player who does not stick to a specific kind of drum. Also, since it is cheap, the drum head is a great option for beginners and amateurs.

Along with Remo being a highly trusted brand in the drumming community, its Ambassador-coated model is one of the best drum heads we strongly recommend to you.  

What’s not to like?

Being made of just a single ply, this drum head is not highly durable and is not made for drummers who play heavy metal or any music genre that requires hard-hitting. So, this becomes a limiting factor in terms of its versatility. Also, there have been few complaints about the durability of coating on the drum head.

Pros

  • Highly versatile
  • Coating gives a warmer tone

Cons

  • Durability of coating is not great

7. Remo Silentstroke

What’s to like?

Have you ever been obstructed from drumming with full intensity because your neighborhood was not too fond of loud noise? If yes, then the Remo Silentstroke is made for you. Being the best drum head for ultimate low volume drumming, this drum headstands true to its name. Made with a durable 1 ply mesh, this drum head is ideal for practicing on a real drum kit without the extra sound. So, whether it’s an apartment, a condo, or a dormitory, Silentstroke is designed for quiet practice.

What’s more, are external electronic triggers that work well with the drum heads. Drum heads can be combined with triggers and modules to turn acoustic instruments to electric. This particular feature makes Silentstroke stand out from the rest of the drum heads on this list.

The single-ply with mesh is also a distinguishing feature as the tough mesh absorbs the sound and keeps it to a minimum. Additionally, the drum heads can be tuned tight or loose which means the rebound stays in your control to create a realistic playing surface.

What’s not to like?

We struggled to find flaws for this incredible drum head. Certain reviews do mention that this head is not as versatile as Remo claims it to be. One particular feedback talked about how great it is for toms but the heads sounded terrible on snare drums.

Pros

  • Great for low volume practice
  • Works well with external electronic triggers

Cons

  • Not so great for snare drums when compared to toms

8. Evans Power Center Reverse Dot

What’s to like?

Evans Power Center Reverse Dot is a drum head that has special notches in the 5-inch 5-mil diameter center dot which allows it to flex and keeps the head open at the edges. The 5-mil patch enhances focus and increases durability right in the center.  Also, the reverse Dot head moves the dot to the underside and away from the brushes.

With Evans Level 360 technology incorporated in this drum head, the collar design extends the level playing surface of this head 360 degrees around the drum. Thanks to the collar design, a balanced contact is maintained with the critical bearing edge of the drum shell. This leads to ease of fit, ease of tuning range, and quality of sound. Another unique feature is Evan’s Edge Control technology that eliminates mid-range frequencies and ultimately prevents crisp highs and deep lows. The resulting sound is controlled, with good resonance, focus, and attack.

Overall, Evans Power Center Reverse Dot has special features like the reverse dot and Level 360 technology, which ensure you always get a focused tone with no strange, unwanted overtones.

What’s not to like?

This drum head is packed with multiple features that ensure quality sound each time you sit down to play. However, certain drummers have complained of instances where the reverse dot fell off while drumming.

Pros

  • 5-mil patch in the center enhances focus and increases durability
  • Level 360 technology enhances to ease of fit, ease of tuning range and quality of sound

Cons

  • Instances of reverse dot falling off

9. Evans G2 Coated Tompack

What’s to like?

Another pack of drum heads on our list is Evans G2 Coated which is a standard Tompack in sizes 12, 13, and 16 inches. With the heads being made of 2 plies of 7-mil film, G2 Coated is consistent and durable for a longer playing time. Along with this, it is also highly versatile and can be used to play music of all genres. Having a dual-ply layer means that the drum heads can resist heavy-hitting especially during heavy metal music performances.

Since this drum head is coated, you are assured that the sound emitted will have additional warmth, focus, and depth. If deep, low sounds are what the drummer in you likes, then Evans G2 will not fail to please you. What’s more is a unique, translucent appearance which is great if you’re not a fan of opaque drum heads. A clear drum head will make your tone brighter and your performance lively.

What’s not to like?

Many reviews mention that Evans G2 Coated Tompack is not durable enough for musicians who engage in frequent gigging sessions.

Pros

  • Highly versatile
  • Dual ply layer good for heavy hitters

Cons

  • Not durable enough

10. Remo PP-1470-PS Pinstripe

What’s to like?

The final drum head pack which we couldn’t afford to miss in our list is the Remo PP-1470-PS Pinstripe Tompack with 10, 12, and 16-inch heads. Featuring clear pinstripe heads with 2 plies of 7-mil film, this instrument emits a low-pitched sound. Also, they ensure quick decay of sound which makes them ideal for Pop, Rock, and R&B genres of music.

Having a moderate attack and accurate response, this drum head ensures mid to low-range tones. What’s unique is that these drum heads have overtone reducing agents applied between the 2 plies which enhance attack and control overtones that might hamper the authentic sound of the drums. The attack is further emphasized with the control rings that Remo offers. Also, Remo Pinstripe boasts of having less ringing and more emphasis on the fundamental notes. With a shorter sustain, these heads are suited to medium and higher volume playing. Along with this, a clean pitch is guaranteed every time you play.  

What’s not to like?

Drummers gave reviews that when they played with brushes, the clear surface of the drum head will not be responsive enough. There have also been a few complaints about quality control.

Pros

  • Overtone reducing agent applied between the 2 plies
  • Short sustain and clean pitch

Cons

  • Surface of the drum head not responsive enough

Batter Heads vs Resonant Heads      

        Batter Heads

                     Resonant Heads

  • The Batter Drum Head is the top surface of the drum
  • The Resonant drum head is the component at the bottom of the drum
  • The batter head primarily produces the energy that is later transformed into sound
  • The resonant head amplifies certain frequencies that were produced in the first place by the batter head and drum shell. It works a bit like an equalizer

Coated vs. Clear Drum Heads

                  Coated Drum Heads

                  Clear Drum Heads

  • Coated heads have a warmer tone when compared side by side with non-coated heads, even when tuned to the exact same pitch
  • Clear drum heads produce a brighter, less controlled sound, and offer more attack

FAQ’s

1. How often should I tune my drums?              

Drums tend to go out of tune if they’re not played for a long time. So, if you practice thrice a week, it’s wise to tune your drums once every seven days. Professional musicians tune their instruments at least twice a week to get the best sound out of them each time they perform. It’s wise to tune your drums twice a day if your routine involves playing the instrument for 10 hours. Jazz drummers who want a bright sound need to tweak their instruments a lot more as compared to those looking for a lower, less-resonant output.

2. What are drumheads made of?              

During the 1950s, animal skins were used as the primary material for making drum heads. But they were susceptible to even the slightest of weather changes which proved to be an obstruction for drumming. Currently, drum heads are being made of a type of plastic called Mylar, widely considered a better substitute for animal skins.

3. What’s The Problem With Overtone?      

       Any harmonics heard above and beyond the fundamental note is called an overtone. A fundamental note is heard every time you strike a drum.  The overtones are the resulting harmonics heard after that. Sometimes overtones are truly unpleasant to the ear and hinder the authentic sound of drums. At other times, a well-tuned drum can also produce overtones. In this case, they add to the overall tone and projection of the drum harmoniously by working in support of the fundamental note.

4. What’s The Best Drumhead For Heavy Hitters?              

We recommend Aquarian SKII22 Super-Kick II and Emperor X Coated for heavy hitters who are inclined towards genres like rock and heavy metal. Both these drum heads are made of a dual-layer of ply and can resist a solid hit without being damaged.

5. How Often Would I Need To Change My Drumheads?              

With regular practice over a while, the tension on the drum heads reduces. The lesser the tension, the higher the chances of the drum head breaking while playing. Even before this, you’ll start getting a poor sound quality from your drums as the rebound from your sticks will be almost zero. This is when you know that it’s time to change the drum heads.

Remember to always change your heads before you start recording. If you’re just practicing on your drums, changing the head every six months is optimum. Also, different types of drum heads have different rates of wearing out. Snare drum heads wear out faster compared to toms so you’ll need to replace the former frequently.

6. What Snare Drum heads are suitable for rock?              

Remo Emperor X Coated is extremely popular among rock drummers and is the best drum head for rock music. It has a dual-ply layer that can take a good hit and does not give strange overtones. The drum head is highly responsive and has a powerful attack.

7. What Drum head for Metal?              

Evans EMAD2, the 22-inch drum head, has an outer ply of 7-mil and an inner ply of 10-mil film for increased durability. This means that even for genres like metal which require hard-hitting, this drum head does not fail to perform exceptionally well. It also has additional foam rings that account for great resonance, increased attack, and a tighter bass effect.

8. How long do drum heads last?              

If you’re a drummer who practices regularly, then the most durable drum head will last you for 6 months. After this period, you’ll have to get it replaced.

9. How tight should drum heads be?              

There’s no specific measurement of how tight drum heads should be. This varies from one drummer to another and across different genres. So, we’d like to give you a short guide on tightening your drums exactly as much as you need.

Start with a new head or take the existing one off your drum. With your thumbs, squash the rounded part of the head into itself all the way around. Do this with batter heads only, not snare heads. Put the head on your drum and finger tighten the tension rods. Using a criss-cross pattern, turn each tension rod 1/2 turn until the wrinkles are taken out of the head. Tighten the rods until a tone is produced. Put the drum on a clean surface, like a rug or bath towel, with the head to be tuned facing upwards.

Tap the head at each tension rod and listen to the sounds produced. Make a mental note of where the pitches sounded high and identify spots they seemed low. Loosen every rod which was "high" and tighten the “low” ones (turn clockwise 1/8 turn).

10. Is there a difference between snare and tom heads?       

Most brands like Remo and Evans sell drum heads which are categorized according to model and not by the type of drums they would fit on. This is because there’s no difference, especially between snare and tom heads since they can, on most instances be used interchangeably. Even if drumheads came with "snare batter" or "tom batter" written on them, you would still have to decide what head sounds best for your drum.

11. What is the bottom drum head called?            

The bottom drum heads are called resonant heads. This component reacts to the moving air column when the top drum head or batter drum head is struck.

12. What is a snare side drum head?              

This component, also known as the resonant snare drum head, is present at the bottom of a snare drum.

13. What are the best drum heads?

We strongly recommend Aquarian SKII22 Super-Kick II and Remo Powerstroke P3 since they are some of the best drum heads available currently. 

If you like low, full-bodied sounds from your drums, then the Aquarian SKII22 Super-Kick II drum head is an ideal choice for you. This is a pre-muffled drum head with no awkward overtones and high focus.

Remo Powerstroke P3 packs a powerful punch with an ample low end and an excellent resonance.  A combination of thin single ply and increased dampening strikes a good balance between sensitivity and control. If you want a good drum head that is customizable, then this one’s for you.

14. What to Look for When Buying Drum heads?              

You should keep in mind the following factors when shopping for drum heads-

Brands- Remo and Evans have garnered a great reputation in the drumming community. So even though local drum heads might be cheap, investing in a drum head that has been manufactured by reliable brands always pays in the long run.

Thickness- While thick drum heads are louder and more durable; they are also less sensitive and give a deep tone. On the other hand, thin ones are more sensitive but less durable and give a brighter tone.

Finish- Clear heads are smooth, bright, and transparent with longer sustain. Coated heads, due to their white, thick texturing, offer warmer tones, dry sounds and shorter sustain.

Dampening- Dampening is responsible for controlling the drum’s overtones. Bass drums, for example, require dampening to reduce the high-end overtones and enhance the low-end frequencies produced by the drum.

Resonant Heads- Giving more importance to resonant heads while buying a drum head ensures that you get either a wet or dry sound which is high or low in resonance, as desired by you.

15. How Can I Stop My Drums From Ringing Out?              

  If you have drums that are ringing too much in your recording you can use the Parametric EQ to tame it.

Conclusion

Drum heads are a really important component of your kit. So be cautious and indulge in a research of sorts before buying this instrument and make sure they suit the genre of music you play. Buying a 2-ply drumhead is pointless if you want a bright tone, but it can work wonders with the bass tones rock and metal genres are known for.  

We hope our comprehensive list offered you an insight into that factors that make a good drum head as well as the plethora of options available for varying genres. Now it’s up to you to decide which one suits your needs and your budget.  

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