think I figured out what's going on. Take a look at these new photos I just took. Your photos are the two at the top right-hand corner:
In the bright direct sunlight (top-left corner) it seems to look much closer to your photos, except the hue in yours still more yellow. So I took the sunlight photo and threw it into Photoshop ( and gave it the same grey background ) to try to match yours (yours on top, mine on botton):
The edits I did to match yours were to bring up the black a bit in the Level tool, and then in the Color Balance tool I moved the slider towards yellow by -38.
Do you guys do any processing to your images? Maybe that's what's causing it to look so different? I know that often manufacturers want their product photos to look the best possible so they tweak them a little for maximum visual impact. Or maybe it's just the combination of the lighting and camera you use that produces that particular result.
So my guess is that the Honey Rock Maple does not look like your photos under normal circumstances (indoor lighting, in the shade, window light...etc), and the only time it looks more like your photos is under direct extreme bright light (full blast sunlight). (I did try again last night with a flash to see if that makes a difference, since it's the most consistently neutral lighting there is, but the results looked no different--still that sienna/gold ochre color.) Normally finishes on various products usually don't look so different from one lighting situation to another, and I think the Honey Rock Maple is a unique case where the pigment, the sealant...etc has some transparency properties where when a lot of light enters the finish, it cause something similar to subsurface scattering, which is fancy ways of saying the light enters the paint/sealant and bounced around and then lights it from the inside (just enough) so it can alter the appearance of the hue/value.
Anyway, mystery solved--I think. Now that's out of the way, here are some thoughts I have from playing it all day yesterday (my wrists are stiff today from all that playing yesterday!):
1) It is a very solid and well-made instrument. Sturdy, smooth, and unlike so many mainstream products using cheap plastic and flimsy moving parts.
2) I overestimated how sensitive the triggers would be (I tried all noise floor and response curve settings). I thought it would be exactly as sensitive as tapping my fingers on the desk or the dashboard of my steering wheel, but it still has some idiosyncrasies of its own, and you have to adjust your mentality and accept that it's not going to be just like tapping your fingers on a CD jewel case or a plastic box where every tiny scrape and tap will be resonated by the material itself. It's a sensor pad trigger, and some translation still has to happen. EDIT: After more experimentation, I find that once you get comfortable with the idea that you can get full dynamic range without hitting above medium level at all, you can set the noise floor as low as you are comfortable with, and that actually makes the triggers just as sensitive as any other surface you'd drum your fingers on.
3) The navigation of the parameters is a bit too sparse, and could use a few more dedicated buttons for certain parameters that are often used.
4) The MIDI in/out location/angle is awkward since they jut out at 90 degrees angle from the body, and if you aren't careful there could be cable strain problems. It would be awesome if the in/out sockets themselves are angled and maybe rotatable so you can swing them towards the front or the back depending on your playing position (I haven't seen anyone do this yet on the market).
5) Same thing with the foot pedal inputs, but I have right-angle adapters I use for situations like this so it's fine. I wish they made right-angle adapters for MIDI cables too.
6) I'm still trying to get the hi-hat pedal (Roland FD8) to work. I have it calibrated, and now I think I have to go and edit the hi-hat trigger to do velocity crossfade for the different states of open/semi-open/close? Needing to have the notes to the successive states grouped next to each other one after another is a bit of a PITA. It would be nice to allow us to pick and choose the exact notes we want to crossfade. I noticed if I set the hi-hat pedal to 11 as recommended, it also affects all other triggers so that when the pedal is up, I get no sound. Is there a way to have the pedal only affect the hi-hat trigger?
7) I have a bum trigger (right side third one from the front). It's sensitivity is less than half of the other triggers. When I play a moderate speed 16th notes on it and varying the strength of each finger (I'm doing this with one finger on each hand), often the stronger hits do not register. This is problem I can consistently reproduce, so it's not sporadic but constant. I tried to calibrate its minimum/maximum with UL and FL settings and also revert to factory setting and it doesn't help. This is a big problem--I may need to send it back to have it fixed.
The large triggers are extra sensitive and hits max velocity too easily, and when I try to calibrate them, even after saving them they seem to just randomly jump back to their previous settings. EDIT: I think I know why this happens. When I'm setting the max on other triggers, the vibration from my hit probably triggered the other pads, so they ended up registering a very faint hit without me knowing. How can I prevent this from happening? Just try not to hit too hard when calibrating?
9) Even with the problems I'm having, I can say this things capable of things I could never do on the drum set or with keyboard drumming (although with the imap layout it can get quite close). If I could just get all the kinks ironed out, I'd be very happy. It's the kind of instrument you can really spend time with and experiment with and grow with it.
10) My first layout after many hours of tweaking and experimenting is this one. This is the kind of layout that allows me to do things I could never do on the drum set (such as having hihat and rides and double bass and snare rolls all playing off each other in a very spontaneous manner):
I have another layout I'm still trying to perfect which turns the Zendrum 180 degrees so it's upside down. I'll post that one when I have it all figured out.