The World's Best Balls? (“Tournament” Billiard/Pool Set "Dethrones" Brunswick Centennial and Super Aramith Pro)
Apr 8, 2010 (Updated Feb 12, 2012)
Review by henry_thoreau
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Quite evidently the world's best billiard balls (i.e., even better than Brunswick “Centennial” and “Super_Aramith_Pro").
Cons:None. (Well, some veteran pool aficionados might still prefer the “look” of Brunswick Centennial balls.)
The Bottom Line:
Move over, Brunswick Centennial and Super Aramith Pro! The new generation of billiard balls is here, affording superior performance, longevity, table-cloth protection, and, arguably, sophistication.
Prefatory note: To behold Saluc's photo of these handsome balls, use the following URL:
Recommend this product?
Using my brand-new set of Aramith "Stone" pocket-billiard balls, a short while ago I'd been practicing pool for about an hour. Specifically, I'd been repeatedly racking then breaking that strikingly beautiful ("Flintstone-age"), high-quality set of balls (and then doing my level best to "run the table," which, since I'm still a relative newbie to pool, is always an iffy proposition).
Then I replaced those Aramith "Stone" balls with my equally new set of Aramith "Tournament" balls (that I'd recently purchased via Ozone Billiards for--factoring a coupon--slightly over $200), and I proceeded to "break" (doing my best to replicate every nuance of the stroke I'd been repeatedly using). Wow! Suddenly all the balls were nicely separated (i.e., there no longer were any of those irritatingly tight "clusters"); moreover, to my delight, one ball even rolled into a pocket. I then proceeded to relish a (mostly) rewarding practice session. Not only were these balls nicely responsive to various short to medium-length shots requiring finesse, draw, etc., but also I successfully pocketed several nearly table-length "stop" shots (contacting the cue ball at its center). Especially with the latter shots, I felt that the delightful responsiveness of these "Tournament" balls was noticeably superior to that of the "Stone" balls (not that the latter set--which, factoring a coupon, had cost me slightly over $100 via Ozone Billiards--wasn't very good in its own right).
Now, I'm not saying that such happy results never occur with other kinds of balls (including the aforementioned "Stone" set); but these "Tournament" balls generally behave still more satisfyingly.
No less significant is the fact that these authentic Aramith-brand (Belgian-made) balls--according to their manufacturer--will surely maximize the longevity and beauty of your table's precious cloth. In my case, this means that my recently purchased Olhausen Montrachet table's khaki-colored, "accugard" cloth hasn't recently acquired any more of those unsightly little "burn" (lightish) marks, which, alas, had started to appear when I'd (initially) been using non-Aramith balls, e.g., two different sets of cheap, Chinese balls. Although the latter, lower-grade balls were still made of "phenolic resin" (i.e., the esteemed category of material that all Aramith balls are composed of), evidently not all "phenolic" resin balls are created equal.
Indeed, even genuine Aramith balls range in quality from shades of "very good" to "the best." And the latter designation appears now to apply only to these relatively recently introduced Tournament balls.
For many years Brunswick (the venerable maker of billiard tables) has marketed "their" widely esteemed Centennial balls (which, like the many competing Aramith-brand balls, are actually manufactured by Saluc, the Belgian company that makes nearly 80% of the world's billiard balls). If you peruse this or that popular book about pocket billiards, you'll surely notice that Centennial balls are shown, by far, more than any other type of balls. (You can easily identify Centennial balls because, graphically, there are two little signature "dart" indentations flanking each numbered ball's numeral within a black circle. By contrast, most other conventional balls bear smoothly continuous black circles--or no black circles--around each numeral.)
Along with Brunswick Centennial balls, Aramith "Super Pro" balls (which are evidently exactly equivalent in their quality and functional characteristics) had long reigned as "the best" balls for pocket billiards. But the fairly recent advent of these Aramith Tournament balls has--according to Saluc's own marketing hype--clearly supplanted those other (still undeniably estimable) balls.
Indeed, Saluc currently hails these as their newest, "4th-generation" (i.e., most-advanced-technology, top-of-the-line) balls. On the pertinent page of their website (saluc.com), they display these balls at the top of their list of "regular-range" balls (i.e., above their "older-generation" Super Aramith Pro, Premium, and Premier sets). Their foremost blurb follows:
"With its trademarked semi-circle logo, the new Aramith Tournament set combines top quality and top design. Its sophisticated look is highlighted in its name, and symbolizes the very best of Aramith. Realized in Super Aramith PRO resin incorporating the DuramithTM Technology."
"With the DuramithTM Technology, the Aramith resins entered their 4th generation. With a totally overhauled resin formulation with new hi-tech reticulation, crosslinking and curing technologies, the Aramith products now set a new benchmark in quality, durability & longevity, increasing their service life up to 50%...."
Saluc summarizes the four advantages that these balls offer (though I think the final two "advantages" largely amount to the same thing):
"Their through-hardened vitrified surface and core holds their glossy look;
"Their specifications, rebound and playing consistency throughout the set is maintained all along;
"The cloth wear and white marks that so easily ruin the look of the table are minimized;
"Their friction resistance minimizes burn spots as well."
Because these Tournament balls are so relatively new, it seems relatively few folks in the broader "pool" industry know much about them yet. In fact, I recently failed to glean any definitive information about these balls from local pool-hall semi-pros, billiard-supply proprietors, or even Ozone Billiards, who, incidentally, only recently stopped stocking Brunswick Centennial balls and now displays these Tournament balls as their top-of-the-line "complete set."
Regarding the merits of these balls' graphical design (incorporating black "semi-circles" surrounding numerals that are well-protected beneath a glossily transparent exterior layer) vis-a-vis that of the long esteemed Brunswick Centennial balls, I'm still not entirely sure which "look" I favor. On the one hand, I'm confessedly still smitten with the "traditional" aura of the ubiquitous Centennial balls' tiny "dart" indentations. On the other hand, it could be argued that these new Tournament balls' semi-circle graphic imparts an altogether more delicate and sophisticated aspect. Personally, from a strictly visual standpoint, I like either set about equally; and perhaps someday I'll even add a Centennial set (if I discover one at a bargain price) to my modest collection.
In any case, once you're actually playing any set, what counts isn't the balls' "art" but their performance. And I must say that my own gratifying experiences with this Tournament set don't make me doubt Saluc's claim that it represents the "new generation." In other words, these are the world's best pool balls. And if you truly treasure your table and cue, why stint on your balls?
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