Hands-On Review:Pearl Session Custom SMX-924P Shell Pack

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Pro performance within your reach

By Freddie Sathers



Pro performance within your reach

You've put a lot of time in on your drums. During practice (countless hours of practice), rehearsals, and gigs, you've gotten to know your drum set pretty well. How it sounds, how it projects, how to tune it for different sounds, etc. But lately, it just hasn't seemed quite up to snuff. You know it's been a good kit but you're ready for the next level and it doesn't have the mojo to get you there. For the drummer who knows he wants a professional-class kit but is short on the greenbacks to get it, an SMX-924P Shell Pack from the Pearl Session Series might be the right answer.


The right stuff


The Pearl Session Custom SMX-924P Shell Pack delivers a combination of Masters Series-level features. It's constructed of 100% pure maple with six plies per shell. Each shell is finished with Pearl's exclusive Super High Gloss Lacquer which is carefully polished and buffed for a lustrous glow. After finishing, the shells are fitted with premium Pearl mounting hardware. With the exception of the lugs, this is the same equipment that comes with the Masters Series. In fact, the construction, fit, and finish are all Masters quality which is what makes the 924P such an extreme value. The hidden beauty of the shell pack is that it comes without hardware, giving you the choice of either using your existing hardware or compiling a collection of your favorite hardware choices to complement the stellar Session shells.





What makes the Pearl Session shells so great? To get a comprehensive and more subjective answer, you might want to start with the long list of Pearl endorsers and players who use the Session Series. On a more technical level, it has to do with Pearl's exclusive shell construction technique, the Heat Compression Shell Molding System. Pearl uses a variety of advanced woodworking techniques from the formation of their own cross-laminated plywood to their exclusive use of scarf joints, staggered seams, and specially formulated adhesive.


After the adhesive is applied, the molds and shells are heated to 212°F while simultaneously being compressed from within at a force equal to 1,000 pounds per square inch. It's enough to break bones and make you extra crispy at the same time. This process is great for drums, though, and the result is two-fold: all gaps and air pockets are completely eliminated while the adhesive sinks into the pores of the wood for superior bonding. This gives you a shell with the ultimate in strength, humidity resistance, resonance, and sustain. For a more in-depth look at the shell construction process, see the Pearl Drums Hands-On Product Review on the Musician's Friend website.




The superior-quality lacquer finish Pearl gives the SMX shells includes UV protection, which helps ensure the spectacular color you select will last a lifetime. And so will the mounting hardware Pearl equips these shells with. The NCL200 and NCL100 lugs—for the kick and toms, respectively—are low-mass, bridge suspension units that allow the shell to resonate more freely than standard lugs. The bass drum and floor tom come with the same hardware as the Masters series, including Pearl SP30 bass drum spurs and the nifty Air Suspension R40 feet for the tom legs which allow the tom to resonate with more power and projection. And you get the OptiMount suspension system and TH-1000 UniLock tom holder arms for the rack toms, which also keep interference with the natural shell vibration to a minimum. Both floor toms and rack toms have the SuperHoop II rims for stable, precise tuning and superior tone. Even the two-ply ProTone heads used on the toms and Perimeter EQ heads on the kick are designed to deliver great sounds, plus they last a long time.


The SMX-924P has all the classic sonic attributes of all-maple construction: warm sound, balanced tone, resonance, and lots of projection. It also has all the stability, responsiveness, beautiful feel, and gorgeous looks thanks to Pearl's flawless craftsmanship. Setting yourself up with a new SMX Shell Pack is like getting shells at the Masters-series level for half price—a good value no matter how you look at it. If you're looking for an upgrade from your existing kit or would like to have a maple kit as a second drum set alongside your birch or mahogany kit, the SMX-924P is it.


Features & Specs:



SMX Session Custom Shell Pack Features:

  • 100% maple shells and bass hoops
  • 22" x 18" bass
  • Redesigned, lightweight lugs
  • OptiMount tom mounting system for enhanced sustain
  • UniLock tom arms
  • 2.3mm SuperHoop II on toms
  • 2-ply ProTone heads on toms
  • Perimeter EQ bass drumheads
  • SP30 bass drum spurs


  • 12" x 9" and 13" x 10" toms
  • 16" x 16" floor tom
  • LG-40 Air Suspension floor tom legs



  • 10" x 8", 12" x 9",and
  • 14" x 11" toms
  • AX-20 multiclamp