Evans RealFeel RF6D Review: 6" 2-Sided Drum Practice Pad
RealFeel Practice pads were a common sight in the percussion room back in music school. Does this new double-sided 6" practice pad deserve the legendary RealFeel name?
I would hit that.
Build, Fit & Finish
Fresh out of the packaging I was immediately struck by the quality.
The playing surfaces seem to be done to a very high level and give off a mild, intoxicating yet weirdly pleasing odor - much like a new book.
I'm not sure how squarely the octagonal rubber parts are glued to the octagon-shaped base but it seems close enough to not bother me too much unless I was looking for something to worry about.
This cloth textured gum surface is where you'll be spending most of your time.
The fabric coated gum rubber part has a very nice texture - you know this is the main surface. It's a little more firm than I remembered. But that's comparing it to a vintage Realfeel I encountered in school that everyone in the perc room beat up on when the teacher was away. This might soften up over time.
This is the harder, louder side that feels a lot like a marching snare.
The hard recycled rubber side seems durable and refined - much like a corkboard in texture but with a lot more rigidity. It doesn't feel like an afterthought - some so-called double sided practice pads have one good surface and one that's just an excuse to market the pad as double-sided with anti-slip purposes as the main function of the second side. But no, not the RF6D.
Having no side dedicated to preventing slippage poses its own challenges though. This works better mounted on a snare stand. Or modulate your playing to a maximum of F (forte) and leave your FFF practicing to full-sized 12" pads that have less tendency to jump around while you're smacking the life out of it.
The base seems solid enough but woolly to the touch and seems uncoated. This might warp or pulverize over time.
The wood base however, is a different story. It seems to be made of a soft, light-colored MDF of some kind. And it gives me the impression that this would suck up moisture like its nobody's business. I'm not going to test that by dropping any liquid on it and risk damaging the pad but I would have like to have seen some sort of varnish or coating to protect it from accidental spills during those late night practice sessions with some hot cocoa.
Size and Weight
This specific RF6D is 16.3 oz.
The 6" size is great for practicing accuracy, hitting close to the center of the drum gives you a very consistent and full sound. The problem is, most people (including me) end up hitting stick to stick. Also, being on the small side lets you chuck this in your backpack with no hesitation. The best pad is always the one you have with you and I think the beaten-up tables, chairs and mousepads around me are grateful that I got this little dedicated practice buddy.
Weight-wise, it feels substantial. Not light as a feather but it won't break your back either. This has just the right amount of weight to remind you that this is a quality pad that should last you for quite some time - just as a pad carrying the RealFeel name should!
Sound and Play Feel
The play feel is very familiar and reassuring - much like a medium tuned concert snare. The gray gum part has less bounce, more of a "thuddy" feel to them with a little more body in the sound. It's not completely quiet but surely is a far cry from any kind of drum designed to make a sound. Inconsistencies in my playing were instantly unmasked and the unbalanced pitch of the sticks I was using quickly made its way into the forefront.
The recycled rubber part is where it gets interesting. Fully expecting less bounce (possibly due to my lack of knowledge in material sciences) I was pleasantly surprised in the contrast this black side gave to me in both feel and sound.
In terms of feel, it's very bouncy… almost like a Mylar snare head, not extremely close but enough to simulate it without the extreme projection those heads are known for. The rubber is hard, it almost feels (and sounds) like playing on wood with just a bit of the edge taken off, damaging your drum tips a lot less than if you went wood to wood and with a less peaky sound.
I really like the concept of 2 different surfaces for practice. It might even mitigate that dreaded "pad hand" to an extent by accustoming your hands to different surface feels never letting you get comfortable with 1 feel that wouldn't be entirely translatable to a snare drum. But of course, pad practice is never a full substitute for practice on your actual instrument - just a convenient way to keep you warmed up or maybe a way to practice rudiments without having your neighbors call the cops on you.
For those purposes, this pad is excellent. The Evans/RealFeel pedigree is fully present in this practice pad… and for a pretty good price too!
And for that I give this practice pad a 95 out of 100.
- Uncoated MDF base seems prone to moisture damage
- No side dedicated to preventing slippage - moves around when playing very loud not secured to anything
- 2 well built and good feeling playing surfaces
- Compact and light enough to conveniently take anywhere in most bags
- Quite affordable for a hallowed name in practice pads
- Size: 6"
- Weight: 16 oz
- Material: Gum Rubber Speed Side and Recycled Rubber Workout Side
- Extras: Double Sided