Acoustic Drums

Pearl Export Series Review: A Look At the EXX and EXL Kits

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The Pearl Export Series is one of the most popular kits for beginner to intermediate players. Pearl calls the Export the “kit that spawned a thousand drumming legends.” I couldn’t agree more.  

This series of drums has been available since the mid-90s, but much has changed over the years.

Pearl Export EXL Series Drum Kit

The kit build is stronger than ever before and is a perfect choice for those up and coming drummers.

Before we go any further, be aware, there are two models of the Export: the EXX and EXL.

A Quick Look at the Pearl Export Kits

Each variant of the Export kit is listed in the table above, though the differences are merely cosmetic. Both kits feature 6-Ply (7.5mm) Poplar/Asian Mahogany Blended Shells along with Pearl’s Opti-Loc Suspension System.

My Experience With the Pearl Export

When I was a kid, my parent’s bought me a Pearl Export Select, which was the higher-end model at the time. 

The Export Select is essentially the EXL model, which has a lacquer finish. It looks far more pleasing to the eye, as you can see the wood grains through the color.

Here’s an image I found on Instagram of what my kit initially looked like:

While I do still have my Pearl Export Select Series kit, it doesn’t look like it used to. I’ve refinished the drum set twice now, taking it down to a natural wood finish and then painting it white.

My Export Select Shells drying after getting a coat of paint.

I received the drum set when I was a mere ten years old, one year after beginning formal drum lessons.

Over the years, my Pearl Export still sounds great and even made it in a sample library known as Drumforge. I was lucky enough to be a part of the sampling process!

I could not have been happier with a first drum set.

All dry!

The Current Pearl Export EXX and EXL Series

The differences between the EXX and EXL are only cosmetic. Pearl is offering the new kits in three separate configurations: 

Pearl EXX Configurations – No Lacquer Finish

EXX 725

  • 22×18 bass drum
  • 12×8 tom
  • 13×9 tom
  • 16×16 floor tom 
  • 14×5.5 snare drum
  • TH70I tom holder x2
  • Includes HWP830 Hardware

EXX 725S

  • 22×18 bass drum
  • 10×7 tom
  • 12×8 tom
  • 16×16 floor tom
  • 14×5.5 snare drum
  • TH70I tom holder x2
  • Includes HWP830 Hardware

EXX 705N

  • 20×16 bass drum
  • 10×7 tom
  • 12×8 tom
  • 14×14 floor tom
  • 14×5.5 snare drum
  • TH70I tom holder x2
  • Includes HWP830 Hardware

Pearl EXL Configurations – Lacquer Finish

Pearl Export EXL

EXL 725

  • 20×16 bass drum
  • 10×7 tom
  • 12×8 tom
  • 14×14 floor tom
  • 14×5.5 snare drum
  • TH70I tom holder x2
  • Includes HWP830 Hardware

EXL 725S

  • 22×18 bass drum
  • 10×7 tom
  • 12×8 tom
  • 16×16 floor tom
  • 14×5.5 snare drum
  • TH70I tom holder x2
  • Includes HWP830 Hardware

EXL 705N

  • 20×16 bass drum
  • 10×7 tom
  • 12×8 tom
  • 14×14 floor tom
  • 14×5.5 snare drum
  • TH70I tom holder x2
  • Includes HWP830 Hardware

Despite the varying shell configurations, there isn’t a right or wrong pick for sizes.

I like deeper and bigger-sounding toms, so if you’re like me, go with the 725, which features the 12″, 13″, 16″ configuration. 

EXX Finishes

  • #21 Smokey Chrome
  • #31 Jet Black
  • #33 Pure White
  • #49 Mirror Chrome
  • #708 Grindstone Sparkle
  • #717 High Voltage Blue
  • #760 Burgundy

EXL Finishes

  • #220 Satin Brown
  • #222 Gloss Tobacco Burst
  • #246 Natural Cherry
  • #248 Black Smoke
  • #249 Honey Amber

Despite the differences in finish between the EXX and the EXL, there is no sonic difference in tonal quality between the shells. 

They are both made from the same wood combination through a similar manufacturing process, known as “Superior Shell Technology” (SST for short).

The Snare Drum

The snare drum included is a 14×5.5, model number EXX1455S/C. The drum is very similar to that of the Pearl Reference Series. 

The only difference being the shell is Poplar combined with Asian Mohagany.

The resulting sound produced from the snare shell is loud and punchy — perfect for beginning rock or metal drummers.

The Toms

The tom shells are warm and punchy. Just like the snare drum, these shells borrow from the Reference Series, giving you a full-bodied sound. 

Pearl’s SST construction process ensures roundness and a perfect bearing edge.

The shells made with the SST construction are so durable that Pearl even marketed them holding up a Hummer truck in their ads back in the day. 

The process creates the “ultimate acoustic air chamber,” allowing the drum to resonate longer. 

Combined with dampening products like Moongel or Snareweight, the toms are incredibly versatile depending on the situation.

The Inclusion of a Kick Pedal

Pearl has gone one step further and includes the incredible P930 Demonator Pedal with the Export.

While it’s not a particularly expensive kick pedal, it is an excellent starter pedal that has a great response.

I’m not huge on Pearl kick pedals, but including the Demonator is a great selling feature (my favorite pedal is the DW5000)

The Pearl Export Hardware

I have never been a big fan of Pearl’s hardware in general (my heart lies with DW and Yamaha).

That being said, the hardware included with the Export is exceptionally durable and sturdy.

One of the cymbal stands included features a boom, allowing you to mount the ride cymbal over the bass drum if you so desire.

Pearl’s Opti-Loc Mounting System

My most significant criticism of the Export, and a lot of Pearl drums, in particular, is the Opti-Loc mounting system.

The technology is incredible… on paper. The OptiLoc allows for no large drilled hole in each small tom shell, giving you a better tone.

And the drums do sound great with the technology.

Using the OptiLoc is cumbersome, in my opinion. Using these shell mounts is often a burden when adjusting clip-on microphones or taking the drum off. 

I’ve even had toms fall off the tom arm because they weren’t secured correctly — not something you want to occur during a live show.

It’s a small grievance, but one nonetheless.

The tom arms are also tilter gear, which means you can only set stepped heights. If you need more height customization, you’ll need to upgrade to a tom holder like the Pearl 900 Series Tom Holder.

Cymbals and Throne Not Included

Yes, you read that correctly. Cymbals do not come with the Pearl Export. 

You may think this is a bad thing, but most beginner drum sets that include cymbals are of terrible quality.

The listing on various websites can be confusing, so be aware that you’ll need to either buy cymbals individually or pick out a cymbal pack to go along with the drums.

Also, you’ll need to pick up a drum throne as well. I’ve detailed a solid list of both budget and professional drum thrones, so be sure to give that a read — unless you feel confident playing with a folding chair.

Included Stock Drum Heads

Pearl has teamed up with REMO drum heads (my favorite head company) for the stock heads on the Export kits. 

Stock heads generally aren’t the greatest, but if I were a beginner, I’d beat these until they are unresponsive before upgrading.

Wrapping Up

I can’t sing higher praises for Pearl’s entry-level Export EXL and EXX drum kits.

Despite my negative opinions on some of Pearl’s products, the shells are always of the highest quality.

The hardware isn’t my favorite, as stated prior, but my opinion is subjective and comes down to taste.

For beginning drummers who have a little larger budget, you cannot go wrong picking up either of the Pearl Export lines.

What do you think of Pearls Export Series of drums? I’d love to hear from you down below in the comments. You can see my final rating down below.

If you’re looking for other options, be sure to check out my roundups on the best drum sets for beginners and my favorite drum sets for kids.

Once again, thanks for reading! :)

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Nick Cesarz

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, and blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He toured extensively with Vinyl Theatre, opening up for acts like twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Now no longer touring, his passion lies in gear and playing the kit as much as time allows.

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  1. Hi Nick,
    A great review of the EXX.
    However, I can only wonder how you could even remotely compare the snare from the EXX kit which is, lets face it, the cheaper end of wood shells. 6 ply. Poplar and Asian Mahogany whereas the Pearl Reference snare is 6 inner plies of birch with 14 plies of North American Maple. A snare that is leaps ahead of any Export kit…..
    The snare you reviewed is 14 x 5.5 and 7.5mm thick. My Snare is 13 x 6.5 and 25mm thick.

  2. What a sick website.

    Trying to find the review, lost 20 minutes, now I give up

    thank you so much

    best regards

  3. Interesting review. I don’t understand your complaint regarding the optilock system and the potential for dropping a tom. I just recently purchased an EXL kit and the tom mounting is solid. No chance of falling/dropping drums unless you fail to tighten the connector (which is true of most things.) I don’t see anything inherently wrong with the mounting system. Otherwise, a good review.

  4. I’ve been researching drum sets for a couple of years to find the best bang for my buck, I’ve looked at every make out there, and the set that you get with Export is the one, you can’t find a better set for the money, you put 2 ply heads on, and no one would know that’s it a Export, they would sound as good as sets much much more expensive, also, I was surprised to hear how Zildjian S cymbals sounded.

  5. My gig kick elx natural cherry love these, love the review as far as hardware not so much that plastic ball clamp thingy you refer to is ugh i have multiple kits i drum host open jams and more often than not use the iss clamp in l lew of whatever hardware the kit has (pdp,gretch,tama ….ect )but yes ec2’s and the right tuning exports rock 😍

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