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If you need a full new set of cymbals, one of your best options is to get a cymbal pack. These are prepacked sets of cymbals that give you all the essential instruments you need for your setup.
They typically include cymbals from the same line, but some offer a variety to match various sounds. Buying a cymbal set is usually more affordable than buying those same cymbals individually, so here’s a list of some of the best ones to check out.
Zildjian K Sweet Cymbal Set – Best Overall
The Zildjian K Sweet Cymbal Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is, by far, one of the best cymbal packs available on the market. The best thing about all these cymbals is how versatile they are.
Whether you play jazz, rock, country, or punk music, a set of Zildjian K Sweets is going to sound epic within your band’s sound.
This cymbal set costs well over $1000, but it’s a set that will keep you going for many years, as you won’t need to buy other cymbals if you don’t want to. So, it’s an investment that I highly recommend to all drummers looking for a full set.
One of the more interesting aspects of these cymbals is their size. The pack breaks the conventional mold and offers cymbals that are an inch larger than you’d expect. This makes them sound slightly lower, leading them to blend more than cut.
The 15” hi-hats sound incredibly warm and washy when played open, yet they have a surprising amount of stick definition when played on the surface. They also have a loud chick sound when played with your foot, thanks to the extra-heavy bottom hat.
The two crash cymbals sound beautiful. The 17” one is a bit higher in pitch, but it still blends very nicely in with the rest of the cymbals. The 19” crash has a bit more presence, and you can play notes on the surface like a ride if you want to.
The 21” ride is one of Zildjian’s most popular cymbals. It sounds amazing as a ride and a crash, and the bell sound is bright and powerful.
If you’re a drummer that plays multiple styles of music, this set is my top suggestion if you can afford it.
Material: B20 bronze
Cymbal Sizes: 15” hi-hats, 17” & 19” crash, 21” ride
Paiste Signature Classic Cymbal Set – Premium Option
The Paiste Signature Classic Cymbal Set is a great option to consider if you want a pack of high-end cymbals that comes with three crashes.
If I were to put these cymbals into a specific style, I’d say that they work best for rock and pop settings. However, they have enough depth and musical responsiveness to work well in most scenarios.
Their overall sound is bright, but they’re more complex than other popular bright cymbals, which is why I’d happily use these in jazz and worship settings.
The Paiste Signature line is quite broad, and the brand has hand-picked specific cymbals to include here.
For hi-hats, you get the 14” Dark Crisp hats. These are the darkest cymbals in the pack. They sound quite forceful and beefy, but their pitch is a bit lower than all the other cymbals.
The 16” crash also comes from the Signature Dark line. It sounds explosive, but it’s not as aggressive as the other two crash cymbals in the set.
The 18” and 20” crashes are called Signature Full crashes. They sound incredibly powerful, and they tend to fill a stage very quickly when you strike them. The larger crash can also be used as a ride cymbal, but you’ll get a brighter ping sound when playing the surface.
Finally, the 22” ride is the biggest and beefiest cymbal of the set. It has a very loud bell sound, and I love the bright tone of the surface. You can crash on the edge, but just be ready for far more aggressive tones than what you get from darker cymbals.
Material: B20 bronze
Cymbal Sizes: 14” hi-hats, 16” & 18” & 20” crashes, 22” ride
Meinl HCS Basic Cymbal Set – Best Budget Option
The Meinl HCS Basic Cymbal Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the many cymbal set options from Meinl’s HCS line. This is one of the most extensive beginner lines of cymbals available, and I’ve put this set here due to the number of cymbals you get compared to how much it costs.
All the cymbals are made from MS63 brass. They don’t sound incredible, but they sound noticeably better than the cheap brass no-name cymbals that come with beginner drum sets. If you have those and want an affordable upgrade, here’s a decent option.
My favorite thing about this set is that it comes with a 10” splash cymbal. There aren’t too many cymbal packs that include splashes, so it’s a great introduction to this cymbal type. It sounds quite explosive with its shimmering tones.
The 14” hi-hats have the same shimmering sounds, but they’re a bit washier when you play them slightly open.
The 16” crash is my least favorite cymbal of the pack, as it doesn’t resonate as much as you’d want a crash cymbal to. However, that isn’t something a beginner drummer will notice.
The 20” ride has the glassiest sound out of all the cymbals. It has very clear stick definition on the surface, and the bell is lower in pitch than you’d expect.
Overall, it’s a great upgrade for newer drummers. I strongly suggest staying away from brass cymbals if you’re an experienced drummer, though. None of the cymbals in this pack respond musically to varied dynamics, and that can be frustrating. They also sound cheap compared to higher-end cymbals.
Material: MS63 brass
Cymbal Sizes: 14” hi-hats, 16” crash, 20” ride, 10” splash
Zildjian A Cymbal Set
The Zildjian A Cymbal Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the most loved cymbal sets on the market. It includes a full set of Zildjian A cymbals, which are on the brighter side, but they’re almost as versatile as the K Sweet cymbals we looked at earlier.
The biggest benefit of this pack is that you get high-end professional cymbals for a relatively affordable price. The pack costs a bit more than most intermediate pack options, but it’s far more affordable than all the top-tier packs that brands have on offer.
The hi-hats in this set are Zildjian’s 14” New Beats. It’s no exaggeration that these are some of the most recorded hi-hats ever, as they work wonders in studio settings. Most studio producers recommend them for various recordings.
The 16” and 18” crashes are bright, but they’re thin enough to offer a decent amount of musical expression. They’re explosive when you first strike them, but the tones resonate very warmly.
The 21” A Sweet ride is another popular pick from Zildjian. It’s the A version of the K Sweet ride that we looked at earlier. It’s a lot brighter than that one, cutting through mixes easier and sounding more aggressive when played on the edge.
If you play rock or pop, this is one of the best cymbal sets that you can get.
An extra bonus of getting this set is that the resale value on Zildjian A cymbals is seriously high. There are always drummers looking to buy them, so you’ll have no problem selling them in the future if you ever want to change your cymbal setup.
Material: B20 bronze
Cymbal Sizes: 14” hi-hats, 16” & 18” crashes, 21” ride
Meinl Classics Custom Dark Cymbal Set
The Meinl Classics Custom Dark Cymbal Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a highly unique set that Meinl introduced a few years ago. The first thing you’ll notice about these cymbals is their black and gold finish, and that already makes them look perfectly suited for a big metal setup.
These are probably the most aggressive-sounding cymbals on this list, so they’re mostly a good option for drummers that play heavy music.
Each cymbal in this set sounds low-pitched but very heavy and trashy. It’s typically bright cymbals that cut through mixes, but these cut a lot quicker than you’d expect them to.
The 14” hi-hats are seriously aggressive, especially when you open them up. They’re perfect for playing blast beats where you want to hear forceful tones coming from your right hand.
The 16” and 18” crash cymbals sound somewhat complex, but they’re just as aggressive as the hi-hats and ride cymbal. When you crash-ride on them, they sound punchy and forceful, and their sustain is quick enough to get out the way quickly so that you can hear distinct notes with every stroke.
The 20” ride is a force to be reckoned with. It’s so loud and explosive, and the bell sound is incredibly bright and cutting. The ride has a dark timbre, but it’s seriously powerful.
You’ll mostly just see metal drummers using these cymbals. They’re a good affordable option if you play metal. I wouldn’t recommend getting them for other styles of music, though. They’re not versatile.
Material: B12 bronze
Cymbal Sizes: 14” hi-hats, 16” & 18” crashes, 20” ride
Sabian AAX Praise and Worship Cymbal Set
The Sabian AAX Praise and Worship Cymbal Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of my favorite cymbal pack options from Sabian. The AAX cymbals are bright and powerful, and the cymbals have been carefully selected so that you have a set of cymbals that perform well in gospel settings.
Just note that these cymbals may be too bright and loud for softer Christian Contemporary Worship settings. In that environment, you need larger and darker cymbals that blend instead of cut through.
While this set is made for gospel drummers, the cymbals also work fantastically in pop, funk, and R&B environments.
The 14” AAX Medium hi-hats are very musical in how they respond to different strokes. They have good projection, but I especially love how quickly they speak.
The 16” and 18” AAX X-Plosion crashes also speak very quickly. They’re forceful in their tones, and they tend to get out of the way fast.
The 21” AAX Raw Bell Dry ride has a surprisingly good amount of wash when you strike it on the edge. It has an unlathed bell that offers woody tones, and the surface is bright and articulate when struck.
This set also comes with a 10” AAX Aero splash. This little cymbal is seriously feisty. It sounds trashy, but it’s just as bright as all the other cymbals in the set. The holes are what give it a white noise effect.
Material: B20 bronze
Cymbal Sizes: 14” hi-hats, 16” & 18” crashes, 21” ride, 10” splash
Meinl Mike Johnston Byzance Set
The Meinl Mike Johnston Byzance Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a curated set of cymbals by Mike Johnston, who is one of the leading drum educators in the industry. The set is centered around his signature ride cymbal.
The overall theme of this cymbal set is dry and trashy. These are complex cymbals that sit a bit lower on the volume side of things, and they have tones that some drummers love while others don’t.
Starting with Mike’s signature cymbal, it’s called the Transition Ride. It was named that due to how flawless it sounds when you go from playing the surface to playing the edge. The transition is seamless, and you get a fantastic amount of stick definition while also getting a decent amount of washiness.
The 14” Extra Dry hi-hats are a staple option from Meinl. These raw cymbals sound incredibly dry and trashy, and they have an amazing open hi-hat sound. They don’t have the best amount of stick definition compared to traditional hi-hats, though.
The 18” Extra Dry crash performs similarly to the hi-hats. This is one of those crash cymbals that many drummers love and many don’t. It sits quietly in a mix, but the explosive crash sound adds a lot to your overall cymbal sound.
The 20” Extra Thin Hammered crash is one of my favorite crash cymbals. It has a low and rumbling sound when you crash it, making it perfect for ending big drum fills with. You can also play it as a ride cymbal, and you’ll get some good tones.
Material: B20 bronze
Cymbal Sizes: 14” hi-hats, 18” & 20” crashes, 21” ride
Zildjian S Dark Cymbal Pack
The Zildjian S Dark Cymbal Pack (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of Zildjian’s newer intermediate options. These cymbals fall under the same line as Zildjian’s long-standing S Series, but they’ve been made a bit differently to produce darker tones.
They have random hammering to give them more complex sounds, and they have dark lathing that gives them a bit more complexity than the standard S Series cymbals.
While these are intermediate cymbals, I could see a professional drummer using them and getting a great sound on a live stage.
The 16” and 18” crash cymbals border on sounding trashy, but their low-pitched crashing sounds stand out and sound quite musical. I’m surprised by how responsive they are to varying levels of dynamics, considering that they’re made from B12 bronze.
The 14” hi-hats are strong and powerful. While they’re low in pitch, they’re explosive enough to cut through mixes a bit easier than high-end dark hi-hats. They just don’t share the same high-quality washiness.
The 20” ride cymbal has very clear stick definition, and the bell sounds loud and powerful. You can play it on the edge to get a low-pitched crashing sound, but it isn’t as washy as many drummers would like it to be.
Overall, this cymbal pack is a fantastic mid-priced option to get. The cymbals don’t fall into the high-end category, but they certainly perform very expressively.
Material: B12 bronze
Cymbal Sizes: 14” hi-hats, 16” & 18” crashes, 20” ride
What To Look For In a Cymbal Set
Number of Cymbals
The first thing to look at when getting a cymbal pack is how many cymbals it comes with. A standard cymbal setup has four different cymbals, including a pair of hi-hats, two crashes, and a ride cymbal.
However, this isn’t the kind of setup that everyone likes to use. If you’re comfortable with just one crash cymbal in your setup, you could save a bit of money by getting a pack that only comes with one.
On the other hand, you could spend the same amount that you would on a 4-piece pack, but you could get a higher-quality set that only comes with three cymbals.
Some cymbal packs come with even more cymbals. You could get a pack that comes with three crash cymbals, or you could get one that comes with splashes and stacks.
Just bank on getting a pack with a standard setup, though, as that’s what most brands offer with their cymbal pack options.
I mentioned previously how every cymbal pack should come with hi-hats, crash cymbals, and a ride cymbal, but I’ll explain briefly what those cymbal types are. If you already know, feel free to skim over this part.
Hi-hats always come in pairs, and there will be a cymbal labeled the top hat and one labeled the bottom. These get mounted to a hi-hat stand, with the top hi-hat being connected to a clutch that attaches it to a rod.
Crash cymbals are slightly larger than hi-hats, and they get played to create sharp crashing sounds that are effective in ending drum fills and making accented drum parts.
A ride cymbal is typically the largest cymbal in a setup. You play it on the surface to get a resonating light sound. You can also play the edge of many ride cymbals to get a crash sound. Finally, you can play the bell of a ride to get a high-pitched pinging sound.
While that covers the bulk of what you’ll see with cymbal packs, some also include splash cymbals, china cymbals, and stacks.
Splash cymbals are miniature crash cymbals. They produce higher-pitched sounds that are shorter and punchier.
China’s are large and thick cymbals that look like they’ve been turned inside-out. They typically have very trashy and aggressive tones.
Stacks are cymbals that you pile on top of each other to create short, distinct, and trashy sounds. They have a bit more resonance than hi-hats but far less than standard crash cymbals.
One of the features to look at when buying cymbals is the type of alloy used to create them. This will give you an idea of the overall quality, as most cymbal brands use similar alloys to create their cymbals.
The cheapest cymbals available are made from pure brass and not an alloy. These are the least responsive and most unmusical-sounding cymbals you can get. The benefit is that they’re very affordable.
So, brass cymbals are good options for beginner drummers that won’t be able to recognize quality of sound just yet.
When cymbals are made from alloys, they have a mixture of copper and tin. The more tin a cymbal has in its mixture, the better it tends to sound.
The names of cymbal alloys are B8, B10, B12, and B20. B8 cymbals are comprised of 92% copper and 8% tin. B10 cymbals are comprised of 90% copper and 10% tin. That will give you an idea of how the naming conventions for alloys work.
With B20 cymbals having 20% tin, they tend to sound the best and most musically responsive.
Some brands, like Paiste, use slightly different alloy combinations. Their cymbals have CuSn20, which is essentially the same as B20. The name just sounds a bit different.
Here’s a short guide on those cymbal materials:
Brass cymbals – The cheapest types of cymbals. Only made for beginner drummers. They don’t sound great.
B8 cymbals – Also affordable and made for beginners, but they have better sound quality than brass cymbals.
B10 cymbals – Slightly superior to B8 cymbals, offering more musical responsiveness.
B12 cymbals – Great intermediate cymbals that perform relatively well in professional environments.
B20 cymbals – The best cymbals are made from this alloy. You get the most musical responsiveness and high-quality tones.
Cymbal Sound Qualities
Cymbals come with a wide range of sound qualities. Some cymbal packs come with cymbals from the same line that share similar sound qualities, while others create a mixture to give you a bit of variety.
It’s good to know what these sound qualities are so that you can recognize them and decide which ones you like and don’t like.
Certain sound qualities also cater better to specific styles of music.
Here’s a brief cymbal sound quality guide:
Bright – Bright cymbals are loud and high-pitched. They have harsher frequencies that cut through mixes very easily, meaning they can be clearly heard over a mixture of different instruments. They’re great for heavy styles of music.
Dark – Dark cymbals are the opposite of bright. These cymbals are low-pitched, making them blend more within mixes instead of cutting through them. These are great for mellower musical styles, as well as studio recording.
Trashy – Trashy cymbals have dirty sounds. They’re often unpleasant when heard on their own, but they sound very interesting when mixed with a set of cymbal sounds. They decay very quickly after striking them, and they blend within mixes too.
Dry – Dry cymbals have the quickest decay. They get out of the way seriously quickly after hitting them, and they tend to be on the softer side.
Warm – Warm cymbals have low-pitched tones and are very quiet. Typically, dark cymbals will also be referred to as warm in their sound, but some are warmer than others.
Articulate – When a cymbal is articulate, it means you can clearly hear stick definition when you play it on the surface. You’ll mostly hear ride cymbals and hi-hats being referred to like this.
Glassy – Glassy cymbals have shimmering sounds. When they’re struck, they ring with bright and aggressive tones. Glassy cymbals are typically a lot thicker than other types.
Once you’ve looked at cymbal types, alloys, and how many you’re getting, it’s good to look at what the sizes are of every cymbal in a pack.
The most common setup for cymbal packs is a pair of 14” hi-hats, 16” and 18” crashes, and a 20” ride. However, there are plenty of cymbal packs out there that don’t follow that mold.
If you’ve been playing drums for a bit, you may have preferences on how large you want your cymbals to be. If you’re a new drummer, a standard cymbal pack size is arguably your best option.
Personally, I’m not a fan of 16” crash cymbals, but that’s because I mostly play jazz. With my preferences in mind, I’d look for a cymbal pack that had 18” and 20” crash cymbals.
16” crashes are excellent for rock, punk, and funk, though, so that’s what you need to look for if you play those styles.
It’s all about personal preference when it comes to sizes, so you just need to find a pack that has what you’re looking for.
The size of a cymbal affects how loud it is and what its tone sounds like. The smaller a cymbal is, the higher its pitch will be.
Now that you know what you need to look for, your final step is to establish a budget before looking. Cymbal packs can get very pricey, but it’s important to remember that you’ll be saving a bit of money compared to if you were to buy each cymbal on its own.
The cheapest cymbal sets cost between $100 and $300. All the cymbals in those sets are made of brass, and they’d only work well for beginner drummers. If you’re more experienced, you’re not going to enjoy any set that comes at that price.
More intermediate sets cost between $300 and $700. You’ll find some good B10 and B12 cymbals in this price range, and you may even find a few B20 cymbal sets that have fewer cymbals in the pack.
If you want to get the best cymbals, aim to spend around $800 to $2000. There aren’t many cymbal sets on the market that cost more than $2000.
While that price range may seem very expensive, remember that it’s your cymbals that make or break your overall drum kit setup. If you have a top-tier drum kit with a pack of $200 cymbals, the whole thing is going to sound dreadful.
If you have a $300 drum kit with $1000 cymbals, your whole kit is going to sound a lot better. It’s better to spend more money on your cymbals than on your drums. That’s an important lesson that most drummers learn at some point in their drumming journeys.
Best Cymbal Brands
While there are dozens of cymbal brands out there, there are four main ones that dominate the world market. It’s these brands that have multiple packs available at a variety of different prices. They can also be easily found, no matter where you live around the world.
The Zildjian brand has been around for 400 years, making them one of the oldest companies in the world. This brand was making cymbals before drum kits even existed. So, they have a long history of creating top-tier products.
In Zildjian’s product range, you have the A and K lines, which are professional cymbals. They offer various packs of cymbals with options from those lines.
Their more affordable cymbals are the S Series and Planet Zs. However, I’d only recommend getting S Series cymbals and never Planet Zs.
Sabian is another world-famous cymbal brand. Interestingly enough, the brand was actually started by one of the Zildjian brothers when they left the Zildjian brand. The brands have been major rivals ever since, with one innovating some sort of design and then the other following shortly after.
The AAX and HHX are Sabian’s top cymbal lines. There are a few other lines in their product range that professional drummers also use.
For intermediate and beginner drummers, they have the XSR, B8X, and SBr lines. Like Zildjian, the brand offers various cymbal packs with cymbals from all those lines.
Meinl is a cymbal brand from Germany that is known to create very artsy cymbals. The brand offers traditional options, but it’s their raw and unlathed cymbals that get the most attention.
The Meinl company tends to have the strongest social media campaigns going, which is why you see a lot of Meinl cymbals being used by drummers on social media.
The brand’s top line is called the Byzance Series. You then get the Classics Custom cymbals for intermediate drummers and the HCS Series for beginners. Again, there are a few other cymbal lines scattered among those that cater to various levels of experience with drummers.
One of the standout aspects of Paiste as a brand is that they create high-end cymbals from alloys that you would assume can only be used to make cheaper options.
The Signature Series and 2002 line are the brand’s top options, but there are so many more where those come from, and most Paiste cymbals sound fantastic in various settings.
The brand also offers far more beginner lines than most others do.
Top Cymbal Packs, Final Thoughts
Every major cymbal brand offers a few good cymbal packs that cover a wide range of styles and sounds. Just establish what your budget is, and then look at all your options from each cymbal company.
It’s a bit safer to get new cymbals from one of the big four brands, but the smaller brands are great for drummers on tighter budgets.
Check out all the options I mentioned above, and you should find something that suits your tastes.