This year, they’ve given me another incredible opportunity to check out their PDP Concept Direct Drive Pedals and again pass them along to you. That’s right. I’m giving away the single and double editions of the pedals featured in this review. Please take a few minutes to watch the video below and read the full write-up to learn more about these machines, then scroll to the bottom of this page for instructions on how to enter.
And if you don’t mind, please send a big thanks to the team at DW for allowing me to do this.
On to the review!
- Cobalt Blue low-mass drive train
- Brushed-aluminum XF extended footboard
- DW spring rocker adjustment
- Retractable spurs
- Needle bearing hinge
- Dual-sided (felt/plastic) DW Air Beater
- Mating memory locks on beater shafts
- Offset toe clamp
- Dual base plate
Aesthetically, the Concept pedals are real lookers. The narrow, brushed aluminum footboards have a future-forward appeal that blends very well with the textured black steel frame, chrome components, and Cobalt Blue blue direct drive cam. They’re handsome units, and I don’t think there’s much else on the market with this kind of look.
I’m really blown away by the construction quality here. The frames are strong and bordering on the heavy side, offering a much sturdier feel than some other pedals in this price range. Wide aluminum baseplates are equipped with angled stopping screws to keep each pedal in place. Each of those screws is spring loaded for a secure hold, and topped by a large, knurled knob that’s very easy to grip and adjust quickly.
While the top of the spring rocker is a simply designed extension of the spring coil, I found the tension adjustment and locking mechanism at its base to be exceptionally well-engineered. The bottom is used to change tension, and has a kind of conical top that fits into a receiving well in the frame to help lock it in place without making it impossible to adjust quickly. The top nut secures the assembly to keep it from backing out.
That coil attaches to the only real point of articulation for changing the pedal’s feel. Unfortunately, the beater and footboard angles cannot be adjusted independently, so you’re locked into the relationship between the two. However, the pair can be altered together quickly by changing the cam angle above the spring rocker. It’s a very simple process that only uses one drum key bolt, and allows the player to rotate the main hex axel forward or backward.
The toe clamp is padded with large rubber grips that hold well without much risk of damage to the hoop’s finish. Its offset toggle uses a broad wingnut that’s unobstructed and easy to access even while seated on the throne. That was a big plus.
One really excellent touch is the mating memory lock on each beater shaft. The fitted design helps keep the beaters at the player’s preferred height while also ensuring a flush strike by lining the unit up squarely every time once installed correctly.
Speaking of, I really enjoyed PDP’s Air Beater. It’s a dual-sided piece with a rounded, firm felt face and a much larger flat plastic face. The sort of cube-shaped head features scooped sides to reduce weight. It’s powerful without feeling sluggish.
The Cobalt Blue direct drive cam is a super-light aluminum unit with zero play. It feels slim in hand, but gave me no problems during the review period, and I’ve not seen any issues with breakage reported while researching this pedal. The linkage pieces at the top and bottom of the Cobalt Blue drive look to be chromed steel. The top piece has a tower-like shape with four corner pylons and a hollow middle to reduce weight. These pieces look stable, but I did find some reviews from consumers that encountered issues. More on that in a minute.
And finally, the 10.6″ brushed aluminum XF footboard is cut to feel like a true longboard, but is anchored by a heel plate unlike some alternatives. I really appreciate that. I have a pretty large (size 12) foot, so I love the extra space of a longboard pedal, but I find the lack of a heel plate uncomfortable, especially for heel-down play. This is a great compromise, and the soft rubber XF insert in the heel-plate made bringing my heel down even easier.
All of the above is true for the double pedal edition of the Concept Direct Drives, and the same consideration for durable design is visible in the linking bar. Strong steel components include extending arms on both sides with two key-top screws at each end of the central piece for an extra secure hold. These are all standard features on modern double pedals, but it’s nice to see there were no concessions made in the name of cost.
The slave (Is there a different word I can use here? I hate this.) unit was not evenly aligned with the main pedal at its default setting, but it only took a moment to get them both playing at the same angle. This is one place where the lack of independent adjustments for the beater and footboard angles really benefited the feel of the Concept pedals. I’ve played much more expensive pedals where finding an even balance between both sides is significantly more difficult because there so many points of articulation to tinker with. Not the case here. One quick turn on the slave-side spring rocker cam, and the whole thing was dialed in.
I feel like I need to share that I found a couple of consumer reviews of the pedal that mentioned breaks in the anchor that connects the footboard to the Cobalt Blue drive. Based on some photographs, it looks like the connector piece just snapped. It does appear that the folks at DW were handling this issue pretty quickly by sending heavier replacement pieces. I didn’t experience anything like this while reviewing the pedal, so I can’t attest to any of it. I’m only relaying what I found while researching the pedals further.
I was surprised to find that the Concept pedal’s action had kind of a heavy feel to it even at its loosest setting. It’s not sluggish, but it’s just a little heavier up front than I’m used to. It took a few minutes to adjust my stroke accordingly, but once I got the hang of it, we were off to the races.
Man, is this thing responsive! As expected, it snaps right back to the bottom of your foot after each downstroke. When I played either of the Concept pedals heel-up, the immediacy of the direct drive’s rebound made it very easy to play fast triplet figures by kind of flicking my ankle. I wouldn’t say it was any easier than playing those same figures on a chain drive pedal, but it certainly wasn’t any harder. The pedal kind of dictated my stroke in a way that I wasn’t expecting, and had me playing a little differently than I normally do.
I imagine part of that is also due to the lengthy, brushed aluminum footboard. The Concept boards are extremely smooth, and don’t have much in the way of texture other than the large etched logos that sit just above the fulcrum. That, along with the 10.6″ surface and small extended lips at the hinge joint, made it incredibly easy to play rapid sliding strokes.
Surprisingly, the action on the double pedal’s slave unit was almost exactly the same as on the main unit. Most of the mid-level doubles I’ve played had a noticably more sluggish response from the left side than the Concepts. Very cool stuff.
Really, the only thing I didn’t love about the feel of Concept Direct Drives was that the return action brought the beater back so quickly that it sometimes struck the top of my foot. That was partly my fault for not adjusting my technique enough, but I think it was also due to the fixed relationship between the beater and footboard angles. Had I been able to drop the footboard angle just a hair, I don’t think it would have been an issue.
Aside from that, I really enjoyed the action and feel of these pedals. They were super smooth and very comfortable.
- Excellent action and balanced feel
- Roomy footboard
- Smooth footboard surface makes sliding techniques very easy
- Tension locking mechanism at spring base is very well designed and easy to use
- Single cam adjustment is simple and effective
- Rubber padded hoop clamp with nearly an inch of lift off the ground
- Offset hoop clamp adjustor makes install and removal easy
- Dual-sided beater is simply designed but very effective and versatile
- Mating memory locks on beater shafts
- Heavy, sturdy base
- Rubber heel plate insert makes a soft landing spot for heel-down play
- Great looking design
- Potential issue with the durability of the linkage piece between the footboard and drive unit
- Beater angle and footboard angle cannot be adjusted independently
- Beater can snap back on the rebound and strike the player’s foot
I could not have been more impressed by these pedals. Considering the feel, build quality, and price point, I think PDP’s Concept Direct Drive single and double pedals represent a remarkable value. I’m a little wary of the linkage piece issue, but I only found a couple of those reports from users on retail sites, and it sounds like DW has been very proactive in replacing the part.
With that in mind, I think the Concepts would make an excellent entryway for players interested in direct drive pedals. They’re excellent machines that could easily serve as long-term primary options, or as very affordable introductions to this type of pedal for drummers who want to spend some real time with a direct drive before dropping huge money on a top-flight alternative.
Bottom line: these Concept Direct Drive pedals feel great, look great, and while there are a couple of clear concessions to the build made in the name of keeping cost down, they still offer an excellent balance of performance versus price.
Complete the form below to enter your name for this giveaway.
Only valid for residents of the continental United States. One entry per individual. Entry valid through July 31, 2017 at 11:59 PM EDT. Entries collected after August 1, 2017 at 12:00 AM EDT will not be eligible for consideration. Entry names will be collected in a single document and assigned a number. A random number generator will be used to select one (1) first-place winner and one (1) second-place winner. The first-place winner will have their choice of the two available pedals. The second-place winner will receive the second.
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