The AT tuning system from Arbiter is a drummers dream come true, and on reflection, one that I am amazed hasn't transposed to the mainstream drum industry. The principle with the AT tuning system is that you only tighten the drum from one tension rod, to remove a skin or to tune. Unlike regular drums, that have several tuning points around the heads that all require slackening right off and removing to change a head and all tuning to tune the drum. With AT - Arbiter advanced tuning - all that is required is one tension rod slackening off to remove a head, and the same tension rod to tune up with. This enables precision tuning for different drums, inbetween songs - it really is that quick!
"Arbiter AT tensions the head by adjusting the circumference of the "Vee Clamp", an innovation long proven in high-pressure engineering applications such as jet engines. A steel counterhoop is gripped by one of these clamps and stresses the head as it tightens against a lower ring sprung into a groove cut accurately into the shell. As the drum is tuned the split lower ring contracts within its groove, maintaining its circular form and strengthening the drum.The clamp can be unhinged quickly to enable ultra-fast removal and refitting of drumheads (even between songs)." (see the picture above)
How The Kit Plays / Sounds
As I said before, I was literally stunned when I heard what the kit actually sounds like. Regular drums are BIG, in size and volume and looking at pictures of Arbiter Flats Lite kits didn't encourage me much! Since getting it set up and giving it a run for its money I was astonished. The snare has a variety of sounds available, with my particular favourite high-end snap, with no horrible sustain that should have come from a snare drum from such a cheap kit! The toms surpassed most Rotadrums I have heard, giving a clear, well defined and earthy tone, a very rounded and open sound, but one that is very pleasant on the ear and doesn't ring out, the sounds are rounded and cut out nicely. The kick can thud quite nicely or get a very appealing open boom sound that whilst not likely to travel far except from miking up, sounds fantastic. Since they are one skinned drums there is a totally different range of sounds available, whilst still maintaining a kits vibe. The kit can so very easily be switched and adjusted in no time at all, with very little effort - making fine tuning your arrangement and position a doddle, which is essential for any musician.
Playing Live / Recording
Yes indeed, the Arbiter Flats CAN be used for live gigs. Admittedly they are quite low volume, but in an acoustic set they would hold their own nicely and the sounds produced tend to blend in well. For anything else such as a really large / busy pub gig or anything much louder than that you will require at least the kick miking up. The snare is, after all, a regular snare as it is the only true 2 headed drum in the kit, and carries well. The kick can have regular drum mikes clipped easily to any where on its rim or have a larger Kick drum mike positioned easily just in front of where the kick drum pedal hits the skin. This applies to recording as well. All the drums are perfectly formed for having mikes clipped on. Indeed, one of the selling points of the PRO Arbiter Flats kits is that they are very easily used as triggers for other platforms.
The next step from here is to either:
Upgrade to an Arbiter Flats Pro Kit or;
Buy upgrade Toms / snares / kick drums individually
Already on our site there is the Arbiter Pro Flats kits. These are essentially the same as the Arbiter Flats Lite kits and share all the same principles. The hardware is heavier,slightly more robust and the drums tend to be slightly larger as standard.
The individual drums are set to go up on the site over the next few weeks. This means that you can buy the clamps and as many extra toms as you like. Filled up your cymbal stand? Add another stand, another cymbal, and you can get even more drums on there! They will clamp to any stand - so the limit is your spending and your desire for drums!
Check out this great selection of guitar, drum and general music accessories we have put together for you - free guitar tablature search, online metronome / drum machine to play along to and we even have an online guitar tuner for you.