The Evans RealFeel and Vater Chop Builder practice pads are pretty similar but they do have some differences between the two that might sway drummers one way or the other. Let’s take a closer look.
Feel and Playability
I find both of these pads to be highly playable and it’s really hard to go wrong by choosing either. Both pads are double-sided and offer a softer rubber surface on one side and a harder rubber surface on the other side.
The soft rubber surfaces of both of these pads feels extremely similar to me. When I play them side by side, there isn’t much of a difference at all. The sound is a little different, but volume is about the same. The rebound of both pads feels about the same to me as well. Depending on what I’m playing, sometimes I want to think that the red surface on the Vater pad feels like it has just a little more rebound than the gray surface on the Evans pad, but they’re so close it’s hard to make that call for sure.
The hard black rubber surfaces on each pad have more noticeable differences. The hard surface on the Evans pad feels harder during play, and it almost feels like playing on a wooden plank when compared to the hard surface on the Vater pad. The hard surface on the Vater pad feels just a little softer and it is also quieter during play. Both of the hard surfaces on each pad reduce the amount of rebound and are a good alternative to the softer rubber sides.
Sound Characteristics and Volume Levels
The soft rubber sides of both pads are about the same in terms of volume levels and they’re not wildly different in terms of how they sound either. The harder rubber sides are a little more different. The Evans RealFeel hard rubber has a sharper crack to it when played, and the Vater Chop Builder hard rubber is a little softer and has less noise to it. If volume levels are a concern when you practice, the Vater pad will be the better choice if you intend to use both sides.
Design and Build Quality
For this comparison we are looking at the 12 inch version of each pad. While both are designated as 12 inch pads, the Vater Chop Builder is noticeably larger in size and weight.
The Evans RealFeel pad is exactly 12 inches (30.5 cm) in width from edge to edge and just a little over 1 inch (2.54 cm) thick. The Vater Chop Builder pad is larger at 13 inches (33 cm) in width from edge to edge and is about 1-1/4 inch (3.18 cm) thick.
In terms of weight, the Evans RealFeel pad is 3 lbs 10 oz (1.53 kg) while the Vater Chop Builder pad is 4 lbs 6 oz (1.98 kg). The Vater pad is almost a full pound heavier than the Evans pad.
The rubber surfaces are thicker on the Vater pad, but just by a little bit. The Evans gray rubber surface is textured and the Vater red rubber surface is smooth. The Evans black rubber is a porous pressed rubber, and the Vater black rubber is smooth.
The wooden base is made from pressed wood on both of the pads. The Evans RealFeel base looks smoother but feels rough to the touch, and is raw and unpainted. The Vater Chop Builder base is painted black and looks visibly like a pressed board on the edges, but even though it looks pretty rough it’s smoother to the touch. The wooden bases on both pads are just rough enough to potentially snag on certain types of cloth or clothing.
The shape of these pads are noticeably different. The Vater pad is round and the Evans pad is an octagon. The Vater pad has more surface area overall due to it’s larger size.
The Vater Chop Builder is going to feel less portable due to it’s larger size and heavier weight. It’s one of the larger and heavier 12 inch pads I’ve used. You can feel it for sure when it’s in your backpack.
If size is a concern, both of these pads can be found at smaller sizes. Vater offers a 6 inch version of their single sided pad with the red rubber surface. Evans offers a single or double sided 6 inch version of their practice pad.
Which One Would I Pick?
I like both of these pads and it’s really hard to go wrong with either one. They both offer good playability and a couple different playing surfaces to work with. The Vater pad is more expensive, so that’s something else to consider. But what if I had to choose just one?
I’d pick the Vater Chop Builder pad if I wanted more bulk and weight, a larger playing surface, and liked the black/red color scheme or simply was just a fan of Vater.
I’d pick the Evans RealFeel pad if I wanted to save a little money, if I wanted a little less bulk and weight or if I simply was just a fan of Evans.