Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In the EARS of the Beholder

I've been visiting the popular drum forums lately and doing my best to answer questions and give some insight behind the design and function of Evans products. It's always interesting to read about the various experiences people have with products and the perceptions that develop as a result...both the good and bad.

One example that I found really intriguing had to do with our frosted (see through) coating that we use on the coated EC1, EC2, G Plus products, and our EQ1, EQ3, and EQ4 bass heads. Some players find that this coating allows the head to resonate more...that it's thinner than out white coating and therefor damps the head less. Conversely, other reports (specifically those on the drum forums) said that the frosted coating makes the heads sound more focused...that it damps the head more than the white coating does. How could people have such opposite experiences?

The truth of it is that the two coatings are nearly identical. The only difference is that the white version contains Titanium Dioxide...which gives it the "white" appearance. This difference has almost no effect on the sound of the head...you'd need a dog's ears to hear it. The reason we have the two different coatings is for a visual difference. The frost coating on the EC1 and EC2 allow the ring to show through. We received SO MANY positive comments on the look of this coating (nobody else has anything similar) that we decided to apply it to the new G Plus heads.

The irony of this phenomenon is that while many players swear by one coating vs the other...we don't actually offer two identically built products (one with the frosted and one with the white) to make that apples to apples comparison possible. Players are making the comparisons between G1 and G Plus, and G2 and EC2. It's more likely the film thickness difference of the G Plus (12mil vs 10mil) or the addition of an 'Edge Control' ring on the EC2 that causes the difference in sound. Additionally, there are numerous other variables that can affect the sound and feel...not just head selection and coatings. Subtle differences in tuning (i.e. bottom higher or lower than the top) can drastically affect a players perception of sound and feel. See Bob Gatzen's video "Sound and Feel" (below) for more on this.

In the end...how we perceive a product (see, hear, and feel it) is as crucial as how it's designed...if not more important. They can make or break the success of products in the market. Sometimes those perceptions are predictable...and sometimes not. It's understanding these perceptions that makes designing product for musicians so interesting. You can apply as much science to the process as possible (and we do try), but in the end it always comes down to a very personal experience.

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