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Review: DNA Pro H vs. Rasanter R53

03 April 2020  | Posted in: Table Tennis Equipment

General Intro

The introduction of the 40+ plastic ball has resulted in an increased demand for fast, hard rubbers that can compensate for the decreased speed and spin of the 40+ plastic ball. To meet this demand, Stiga and Andro recently introduced the DNA Pro H and Rasanter R53 rubbers, respectively. 

Testing procedure: I tested the rubbers (DNA Pro H: red, 2.1 mm, R53: red, ultramax) without any boosting on my main blade, i.e., the OFF rated, 7-ply, all-wood Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition with Spinlord Waran 2 (2.0 mm, red) short pips on the BH side. As always, I attached the test rubbers using 3 layers of the Revolution 3 medium viscosity glue. I tested the rubbers over several sessions, playing a mix of simple drills and practice matches against my regular practice partners, using the Nittaku J-Top training balls. Unlike my prior reviews, in which I evaluated test articles sequentially (i.e., equipment X in week 1, equipment Y in week 2, and so on), I now can evaluate test articles, side-by-side, relative to a reference set-up, which facilitates comparison. My reference set-up is the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition blade with DHS Hurricane 3 (black, 2.15 mm, 40-degree orange sponge, provincial version) and Spinlord Waran 2 (red, 2.0 mm) in FH and BH, respectively.     

Stiga DNA Pro H – A fun, firm, and modern rubber for a direct offensive game style. 

According to Stiga, the German-made DNA Pro H is optimized for the ABS ball and features enlarged sponge cells, which result in an increased catapult effect and a higher arc. The higher proportion of natural rubber is postulated to increase the rubber’s lifetime. Stiga has specifically designed the rubber for professional players at the peak of their abilities and accordingly characterizes the sponge as hard for an offensive style with high hitting power. Stiga rates the DNA Pro H at 76/160/134 in the control/speed/spin categories. In comparison, Stiga rates its Mantra H at 77/156/132.  

The Stiga DNA Pro H comes in black cardboard packaging with white and golden text. Detailed rubber-specific information is provided on the back of the packaging. The topsheet is quite translucent and feels grippy but is completely non-tacky. The orange 50-degree sponge has a medium-high density of medium-large to large pores. The sheet gives off a strong, sweet, booster smell, but does not dome. The uncut sheet (169 mm x 169 mm) weighs 72 g. When cut to test blade (158x151 mm), the DNA Pro H weighs 52 g. This puts it in a similar range as the Andro Hexer Powergrip and Tibhar’s Evolution MX-S and MX-P (50-degree sponge). The DNA Pro H feels minimally harder to the touch than Andro’s Hexer Powergrip and Tibhar’s Evolution MX-P, and slightly softer than the Andro Rasanter R53 and Tibhar’s Evolution MX-P (50-degree sponge).


Playing impressions: The Stiga DNA Pro H offers a very crisp feeling on FH drives along with a noticeable clicking sound, which gives flashbacks to the good old speed-glue days. FH drives are fast (low OFF level), somewhat springy, yet quite controllable and very fun to play. 

FH loops against blocks are virtually effortless to play but also easy to return, suggesting that the generated spin levels are average at best. This suspicion was confirmed on FH loops against backspin. The medium-high throw angle provides plenty of safety over the net on these shots, but it was noticeable that my practice partners had an easier time than usual to block the loops and put me under significant pressure. One of my standard warm-up drills is the 2-4 diagonal FH loops + 1 down-the-line FH loop combination. My consistency, especially on the down-the-line FH loop was lower than usual, in significant part due to the rubber’s springiness, which initially caused many of my loops to veer off the end of the table. Once I adjusted for this by using less power, my down-the-line loops landed with greater consistency, but still lacked power relative to equivalent shots executed with my reference setup. Somewhat surprisingly, the rubber does not have sufficient power to be truly effective in FH-to-FH rallies unless the shots are timed and executed perfectly. Don’t get me wrong – the DNA Pro H yields a great feeling on these shots, but often I forced the shot too much because the set-up felt too slow (OFF- from afar) and as a result, my consistency was below average. The DNA Pro H was a beast on BH loops close to the table or mid-distance, as the catapult and high arc provide the necessary safety and length to make dangerous, kicking shots. 

Blocking with the DNA Pro H is fun. The rubber provides a nice direct feeling and isn’t spin sensitive at all. The catapult ensures that blocks are quite fast, yet don’t overshoot the table. However, a lot of pace can be generated in counter-drives by tightening the grip. For similar reasons, flat hits and smashes are fun to play with the rubber, although the top-end speed isn’t monstrously high. 

Pushes and drop shots are surprisingly easy to play, which I attribute to the rubber’s low OFF level speed, lack of spin sensitivity, and – most importantly – lack of catapult on these low impact shots. Long pushes are also quite easy to play, again due to low spin sensitivity. However, the spin levels are below average and some care must be exerted not to overshoot the table. The DNA Pro H’s direct feeling, coupled with its catapult effect, works great on flicks. I was able to attack every short serve that sat up even just a little bit, with long penetrating flicks that often were outright winners. 

The crisp, direct feeling that the DNA Pro H offers, renders it easy to play short and low serves, but once again, the spin is significantly lower than what I am used to with my reference setup. Given its characteristics, it is not surprising that the DNA Pro H works very well on long topspin/sidespin serves, which can be served up fast and deadly, with kicking bounces and excellent control. 

Conclusion: The Stiga DNA Pro H offers excellent, almost speed-glue like feeling, which renders it a very fun rubber to drive, block, and loop with. Its medium-high throw gives it plenty of safety over the net and the main concern, instead, is not to overshoot the table, since it is relatively fast with a prominent catapult. Top-end spin levels are only moderate compared to rubbers like DHS Hurricane 3, but comparable to other recent rubber offerings of this type, like the Andro Hexer Powergrip. As a FH rubber, I think the Stiga DNA Pro H lends itself towards players of intermediate to advanced skill level, who prefer a direct, fast aggressive game with a greater emphasis on speed over spin. I think the DNA Pro H is better suited as a BH rubber since the high arc, catapult, and lack of spin sensitivity facilitate an aggressive looping game with minimal physical effort. In that capacity, I can see the rubber be used by players at an intermediate to a professional level. 

Andro Rasanter R53 – A mushy-feeling 53-degree rubber.

According to Andro, the German-made Rasanter R53 is constructed using a highly elastic Energy Cell sponge that promises to deliver an extremely dynamic energy transfer for more power on hard topspins and longer ball contact. Moreover, Andro asserts that the R53 offers the best spin performance of the Rasanter series, specifically catering to professional level players. The Andro Rasanter R53 comes in blue and green cardboard packaging with red, green and black text. Tech specs and information about the Energy Cell Sponge are provided on the back of the packaging. The inside of the packaging sports an attractive white-on-green design. The thin topsheet is non-translucent, very grippy and completely non-tacky. The pips seem shorter and wider with less space between them. The signature green-colored 53-degree sponge has a high density of small to medium-sized pores. The rubber has a strong, sweet booster smell, but does not dome. The uncut sheet (169.5 mm x 169.5 mm) weighs 74 g. When cut to test blade (158x151 mm), the R53 weighs 52 g, which is exactly the same as the Stiga DNA Pro H and similar to the Andro Hexer Powergrip and Tibhar’s Evolution MX-S and MX-P (50-degree sponge). The R53 feels slightly harder to the touch than the Stiga DNA Pro H and Donic’s Bluefire M1 Turbo, and similar to Tibhar’s Evolution MX-P (50-degree), whereas the DHS Hurricane 3 (40-degree, provincial, orange sponge) is noticeably harder.


Playing impressions: The Andro Rasanter R53 generates a reasonably crisp feeling upon ball impact, but feels far mushier than the 53-degree sponge hardness designation would make you believe. Surprisingly, the R53 is only moderately fast (mid OFF- level), but does have a prominent, easily activatable catapult effect that can give the impression that the rubber is faster than it is. Thus, FH drives are quite fast, yet controllable. 

The R53 exhibits non-linear behavior on FH loops. Shots played with moderately fast arm swing are comparatively fast due to the prominent catapult effect. Obviously, greater arm swing speeds result in faster FH loops, but a plateau is quickly reached beyond which it becomes very difficult to generate more power, irrespective of the physical effort. Because of these non-linear characteristics, the consistency and penetrating power of my FH loops were noticeably lower than with my standard setup. Moreover, the throw angle is only average, rendering my loops more likely to clip the net. When I used a more open bat angle and a lot of wrist movement, I was able to generate high amounts of spin on slow FH loops against backspin. However, on a couple of occasions the topsheet failed to properly grip the ball, resulting in spectacular misses, leading me to speculate that the topsheet is moisture- and dirt-sensitive. The R53’s catapult is sufficiently strong to enable FH loop-to-loop rallies, but the shots were not fast enough to truly overpower my opponents. My shots were most effective when I used a more upward motion and a lot of wrist movement, which resulted in loops with kicking bounces. However, the rubber’s mushy feeling and non-linear behavior adversely affected my consistency and control of ball placement. In contrast, I found the R53 to work quite well for mid-distance BH loops, which resulted in fast and kicking shots that gave my practice partners all sorts of trouble. 

FH blocks feel reasonably crisp and solid with the R53, as it allows for efficient absorption and redirection of the incoming energy. The R53 works especially well for aggressive blocking and modern counter drives off the bounce, which probably is the rubber’s strongest shot. Smashes and flat hits played close to the table are sufficiently fast to ensure in outright winners. 

Long pushes require some adjustment due to the rubber’s massive catapult. Thus, I had to take care not to overshoot the table and in so doing had to use softer hands resulting in lower amounts of spin, which rendered it easy for my opponent to attack the push. For similar reasons, I found it challenging to play short pushes and drop shots, as they had a tendency of drifting long and popping up, giving my opponent unnecessary opportunities for attacking the ball. The R53 works reasonably well on aggressive service returns and flicks due to the direct feeling that it provides. However, it is important to time the shots well in order not for the ball to careen off the table. 

The rubber’s bounciness rendered it challenging for me to develop a good feeling on serves. Irrespective of my efforts, I struggled to impart high levels of backspin and instead resorted to low, relatively short, no-spin serves. I also struggled to get the length of long topspin/sidespin serves right, which either were too short or too long. 

Conclusion: The Andro Rasanter R53 is a non-tacky, bouncy and moderately fast rubber that caters to similar player types as the Stiga DNA Pro H, i.e., players who prefer a direct game style with less emphasis on spin. The R53’s greatest strength lies in counter driving. The R53 is probably best suited to intermediate players as a FH rubber (unless combined with a lightning-fast blade). Advanced players will likely find it to be too soft and with insufficient penetrating power on high impact shots. In my opinion, the R53 caters to a broader range of players as a BH rubber, since its catapult can make up for the weaker stroke mechanics of BH shots.        

Comparison of Stiga DNA Pro H, Andro Rasanter R53 and DHS Hurricane 3: Unquestionably, both the Stiga DNA Pro H and Andro Rasanter R53 are crisper, bouncier and faster on medium impact shots, but generate far less spin on opening loops, short pushes, and serves than my DHS Hurricane 3 reference rubber. There are virtually no limitations to the amount of power than can be imparted on the ball with the Hurricane 3. These differences are not surprising given the completely different design philosophies that underlie these rubbers. The DNA Pro H feels noticeably firmer, faster, and crisper than the R53, which feels more subdued and mushier. The DNA Pro H generates more spin on serves, is easier to control on higher impact shots, and generally more fun to play with than the R53, whereas the latter can generate a little bit more spin on opening loops against backspin than the former.     



Serves: 8.8/10  

Serve receives and short game: 9.0/10

Looping: 9.1/10

Flat hitting: 9.0/10 

Blocking: 9.1/10


Andro Rasanter R53

Serves: 8.5/10  

Serve receives and short game: 8.5/10

Looping: 8.5/10

Flat hitting: 8.5/10 

Blocking: 9.0/10


DHS Hurricane 3 provincial version (40-degree, orange sponge) – revised scores

Serves: 9.8/10  

Serve receives and short game: 9.8/10

Looping: 9.5/10

Flat hitting: 8.3/10 

Blocking: 9.3/10


About the Reviewer

     Patrick Hrdlicka is a table tennis enthusiast with a Ph.D. in chemistry who combines his analytical and experimental skills with his love of table tennis in order to test and review a wide range of table tennis equipment.