11 Best Zildjian Cymbals 2024

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Zildjian is often regarded as the best cymbal brand in the world. The company was started in the 1600s, making it one of the longest-running instrument brands. So, you get years of history behind the creation of every cymbal.

If you’re looking for a new cymbal or two, you’ll undoubtedly find something good in Zildjian’s product range.

I’ve put together a list of some of the brand’s best cymbal packs and single cymbals for you to check out.

Zildjian K Cymbal Set – Best Overall

Zildjian K Cymbal Set

The Zildjian K Cymbal Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is arguably the most versatile cymbal set that Zildjian offers. Each cymbal in this pack holds legendary status, and they all work together well to create a setup that thrives in both recording studios and on live stages.

The 14” K hi-hats and the 20” K ride are two of the most recorded cymbals in history. These are so often used by pro drummers and studio engineers that they’re cymbals I highly recommend everyone own.

The hi-hats produce tight and articulate sounds, but they open up beautifully when you really lay into them. The ride falls on the lighter side, and it has a fantastic crashing sound when you strike the edge.

The set is then completed by 16” and 18” crashes that come from the Zildjian K Dark line. These crashes have lower pitches than the ride and hi-hats, leading them to blend within the mix of sounds you get from the whole setup.

The smaller crash is thinner, so it has more wash. The larger crash is thicker, so it sounds slightly more aggressive.

If you’re looking for a set of cymbals from Zildjian that can do everything, the Zildjian K Cymbal Set is one of your best options.

Material: B20 cast bronze

Size: 14” hi-hats, 16” & 18” crashes, 20” ride

Sound: Warm, dark, and complex

Zildjian K Sweet Cymbal Set – Premium Option

Zildjian K Sweet Cymbal Set

The Zildjian K Sweet Cymbal Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is undoubtedly my favorite set of cymbals from Zildjian. These K Sweet cymbals are very unique, and I love that all of them have odd sizes.

Instead of getting the traditional pack setup, you get cymbals that are slightly larger to create broader ranges of sound.

Overall, each K Sweet cymbal has a smooth surface with an unlathed and earthy bell. You get sweet tones that are complex, varying in sound as you strike the cymbals in different places. However, each cymbal produces its own unique tones that are worth highlighting.

The 15” hi-hats have excellent sizzle, but they’re mellow enough to sound musical in any song. They’re powerful, but they’re never overbearing.

The 17” and 19” crash cymbals produce darker tones that come to life as they resonate. These cymbals are also large enough to get tight sounds when playing them near to the center, giving you alternative riding options.

The 21” ride cymbal is the best cymbal in the pack. It offers so many different tones and textures, and it has one of the best bell sounds that I’ve heard from a Zildjian cymbal.

This set is just as versatile as the standard K set, but the sounds are slightly brighter.

Material: B20 cast bronze

Size: 15” hi-hats, 17” & 19” crashes, 21” ride

Sound: Sweet and buttery

Zildjian S Series Performer Cymbal Set – Best Budget Option

Zildjian S Series Performer Cymbal Set

The Zildjian S Series Performer Cymbal Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a group of cymbals that are aimed at beginner drummers. These cymbals are a huge step up from entry-level brass cymbals, but they’re still very affordable and attainable.

They can easily be used in gigging settings, as long as you’re playing styles of music that are on the heavier side. I just wouldn’t recommend them for jazz, as they sound a bit too aggressive.

The main tones you get from the cymbals are glossy and shimmering. The cymbals speak very quickly when you strike them hard.

However, they lack dynamic versatility. You only get full musical tones when you hit them at full force. When you play them lightly, they don’t respond as well as B20 cymbals do. This is why I’d mainly recommend them for musical styles where you’re hitting hard the whole time.

The standout cymbals of the set are the 14” Mastersound hi-hats. They have very strong sounds and a surprisingly powerful tone when you close them with the hi-hat pedal.

Zildjian isn’t a brand that I’d quickly recommend to drummers looking for affordable cymbals, but these S Series cymbals are surprisingly decent.

Material: B12 bronze

Size: 14” hi-hats, 16” & 18” crashes, 20” ride

Sound: Loud and shimmering

Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Cymbal Set

Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Cymbal Set

The Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Cymbal Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a very specialized option. While most Zildjian cymbal packs are quite versatile, these are only for drummers that enjoy the sounds of dry cymbals.

The 14” hi-hats have seriously earthy and throaty tones. You get quite a dirty sound from them, and they sound amazing when played while the hi-hats are loose.

The 16” and 18” crash cymbals have a very fast attack. This means that they get out of the way quickly after striking them. You get the impression that they’re softer than normal cymbals, but it’s only because they don’t resonate as much.

The 21” ride cymbal has incredibly clean stick articulation. You can hear every note you play on it distinctly, making it fantastic for a style like jazz where you need to play a lot on the ride. The bell is also very loud and defined.

Again, these cymbals aren’t for everyone. If you’re more of a traditional person, you won’t enjoy them. However, they provide all the dry tones that most modern drummers tend to love.

If you want to compare them to other cymbals, they come closest to all the options from Meinl’s Byzance line.

Material: B20 cast bronze

Size: 14” hi-hats, 16” & 18” crashes, 21” ride

Sound: Dry

Zildjian A Cymbal Set

Zildjian A Cymbal Set

The Zildjian A Cymbal Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is yet another set of highly versatile cymbals. These ones are much brighter and more explosive than the ones from the K and K Sweet packs, though.

I’d recommend getting this set for styles like rock, pop, and punk. Most of the cymbals in the set also sound like what people perceive cymbal sounds to be in their heads.

By that, I mean that when a drummer thinks of a crash cymbal being played, they’re probably thinking of the sound that a Zildjian A crash makes.

The prize cymbals of the set are the 14” New Beat hi-hats. These are arguably the most popular hi-hats in history, as they’ve been used to record thousands of professional albums. They provide strong tones that are both musical and versatile.

The 16” and 18” crashes are high-pitched, giving you punchy sounds when struck. They’re not overbearing, though.

The 21” Sweet ride has glossy character with shimmering wash. It sounds quite similar to the K Sweet ride, but it’s higher-pitched.

The big benefit of this set is that it’s a bit more affordable than all the other ones on this list except for the S Series Performer Set.

Material: B20 cast bronze

Size: 14” hi-hats, 16” & 18” crashes, 21” ride

Sound: Bright and musical

Zildjian K Custom Dark Cymbal Set

Zildjian K Custom Dark Cymbal Set

The Zildjian K Custom Dark Cymbal Set (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a popular option for studio drummers.

These cymbals have low-pitched tones, and they’re all highly musical in the way that they respond to different styles of playing.

The 14” hi-hats are surprisingly articulate, letting you hear every small detail when you strike them on the surface. They have excellent washy tones as well. They blend into the mix when played open, which is an attractive quality to have when recording drums.

The 16” and 18” crashes have pleasing intervals between them. The smaller one is a bit brighter and more explosive, while the larger one has a booming sound when struck.

The 20” ride has one of the best crashing sounds that I’ve heard from a Zildjian cymbal. It covers your whole kit as you crash. The cymbal also sounds great when played on the bow.

A lot of drummers would recommend these cymbals for styles like jazz and worship. However, I’ve seen them work incredibly well for rock and pop too, especially when used for recording albums.

If you want to use them for louder styles of music, you’ll just need to add in a few brighter cymbals to get a good balance of tones.

Material: B20 cast bronze

Size: 14” hi-hats, 16” & 18” crashes, 20” ride

Sound: Dark

Zildjian 22” Constantinople Medium Thin Ride

Zildjian 22” Constantinople Medium Thin Ride

The Zildjian 22” Constantinople Medium Thin Ride (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the best single cymbals that Zildjian has available. It’s also regularly referred to as one of the best cymbals on the market, no matter which brand you’re looking at.

This ride has amazing tones that are warm, dark, and extremely buttery. It has just the right amount of articulation and wash, leading it to work amazingly in various styles.

However, you’ll mostly see jazz drummers using it, as it’s the perfect cymbal to use as your main option for playing different grooves.

While the sounds are amazing when played on the surface, I’m also a big fan of how this ride sounds when crashed. You get a low-pitched washing sound that covers your entire set. It’s so smooth that it makes you want to crash it over and over.

This ride is very expensive, as it’s been handmade by the artisans at Zildjian. This also means that every Constantinople ride sounds slightly different, depending on how heavy it is and how much it has been hand hammered.

I highly recommend getting this if you’re looking for a good ride cymbal. It’s a dream option for many drummers.

Material: B20 cast bronze

Size: 22”

Sound: Warm and dark

Zildjian 14” A New Beat Hi-Hats

Zildjian 14” A New Beat Hi-Hats

The Zildjian 14” A New Beat Hi-Hats (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) are a staple option from Zildjian. I briefly mentioned them earlier when we looked at the Zildjian A Cymbal Set. However, these hats are so good that they’re well worth purchasing on their own.

The bottom cymbal is heavy while the top one has a medium weight. This leads the hi-hats to sound quite strong when used together, especially when you close them with your foot on the pedal.

The sound you get from the surface is very tight and controlled. As you open the hats up, you get an aggressive sound that will cut through a mix. However, it’s not so aggressive that it sounds overbearing, which is what you get with most other bright hi-hats.

These hats have a reputation for working well in any setting you place them in. Whether you’re a punk or jazz drummer, the New Beat hi-hats will sound amazing. That’s why they’ve been used in so many professional studio recordings over the years.

You can get them in a few different sizes, but none are as versatile as the standard 14” hi-hats. So, those will always be my top recommendation.

Material: B20 cast bronze

Size: 14”

Sound: Tight and articulate

Zildjian 18” A Custom Crash

Zildjian 18” A Custom Crash

The Zildjian 18” A Custom Crash (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is the ideal crash cymbal for drummers that want something bright and powerful. It’s a perfect addition to any drummer’s set that plays loud styles like rock and metal.

It’s known to be highly reliable, giving you strong tones that work incredibly well. However, one of my favorite things about this crash is that it’s very musically responsive.

Bright cymbals often only speak boldly when you hit them hard. You can play this crash with varying dynamics, and you’ll get varied tones that are bold and full. It works best when you really lay into it, but I love the versatility it offers.

The bell sound is also bright and punchy. It’s not typical for drummers to play the bell of an 18” cymbal, but you can do it with this one to get quite a strong tone. This is great for playing unique drum parts that incorporate bell sounds.

I just wouldn’t recommend this crash to drummers playing softer styles like jazz. It will sound a bit too aggressive in that kind of setting.

Material: B20 cast bronze

Size: 18”

Sound: Bright and aggressive

Zildjian 10” FX Stack

Zildjian 10” FX Stack

The Zildjian 10” FX Stack (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of Zildjian’s most popular stack cymbal combinations. Drummers often create their own stacks using cymbals they own, but you wouldn’t be able to create something as unique as this by doing that.

You get two cymbals here that work together like a set of hi-hats. The top cymbal is a propriety alloy one with holes to make it sound trashy. The bottom cymbal is a thick steel one to add tightness to the stack sound.

Both cymbals are then stacked using the Cymbolt Mount that comes with the purchase. You then attach the mount to a cymbal stand, and it gives you an auxiliary hi-hat option to play.

The sound will depend on how tightly you set the mount. When it’s really tight, you get a short and snappy sound. When it’s loose, you get a bit more resonance from the stack. I love how it sounds when there’s a bit more resonance, as that gives you more of a shift from your standard hi-hat sounds.

The best thing about this stack is that it’s really affordable. The cymbals are made from cheaper materials, but they sound incredible when used together. That’s why you’ll see pro drummers like Larnell Lewis regularly use this stack.

Material: Propriety alloy and cold-rolled steel

Size: 10”

Sound: Bright with short sustain

Zildjian 10” FX Spiral Stacker

Zildjian 10” FX Stack

The Zildjian 10” FX Spiral Stacker (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is the final cymbal that I’m suggesting for this list, and it’s one of the most unique cymbals on the market. Zildjian is the only big brand that offers something like this, and it’s mostly a cymbal that jazz and hip-hop drummers use.

It has two functions, with the first one being that you can place it on top of a regular cymbal to get a sizzling effect. When you strike the cymbal, the stack will jump up and lengthen the resonance of that cymbal.

The other function is to place the spiral cymbal on its own cymbal stand. It will hang down in a spiral shape, and you can hit any part of it to get a trashy and resonating tone. Chris Dave is the drummer that made this cymbal very popular when used like this, and many drummers have followed his setup.

This is definitely a wildcard option, as I know many drummers won’t like how this cymbal works and sounds. However, if you play jazz, neo-jazz, or hip-hop, you’ll most likely love the Zildjian FX Spiral Stacker.

Material: B20 cast bronze

Size: 10”

Sound: Bright and trashy

What To Look For In Zildjian Cymbals

Materials

One of the first things to look for in a cymbal is the materials used to make it. When it comes to Zildjian, all of the brand’s best cymbals are made from a B20 cast bronze alloy. This is often regarded as the best material for cymbals, giving you responsive instruments that are musical and pleasant to listen to.

Brands like Paiste use “lower-quality” alloys to make professional cymbals, so it’s not a rule set in stone that B20 cymbals are the best. However, it’s very true with Zildjian cymbals. The brand’s cheaper lines that are aimed at beginners are made from brass, B8, and B12 alloys.

The only cymbals made from cheaper materials that professional drummers regularly use are FX cymbals and stacks.

Sounds

When checking out cymbals, you’re going to hear different terms and terminology being thrown around. Words like dark and dry are regularly used, so it’s good to understand what those mean.

Here are a few quick descriptions of cymbal qualities:

Dark – Low-pitched.

Bright – High-pitched.

Dry – Not much resonance.

Glossy – Shimmering tones.

Articulate – Clean tones that are short and very clear when the cymbals are played on the bow.

Washy – Lots of resonance without articulation.

Cymbal Lines

Zildjian has several cymbal lines that categorize the cymbals on offer. Luckily, the cymbal lines are quite easy to understand, and knowing about them gives you a general idea of the quality of the cymbals that you’re looking at.

Here are all the lines that the brand offers, along with short descriptions of what sounds they have:

Zildjian S – Mid-tier cymbals with glossy tones.

Zildjian S Dark – Mid-tier cymbals with darker tones.

Zildjian A – Bright cymbals that are highly versatile.

Zildjian A Custom – Very bright cymbals that are strong and explosive.

Zildjian K – Dark cymbals that are musical and warm.

Zildjian K Custom – Dark cymbals that are dry and complex.

Zildjian K Kerope – Rich cymbals with vintage tones.

Zildjian K Constantinople – Dark and rich cymbals with individual characters.

Zildjian FX – Stacks and cymbals with unique designs to provide trashy and explosive tones.

Cymbal Packs vs Single Cymbals

Cymbal packs are pre-packed full sets of cymbals. They’re great for drummers that don’t yet own cymbals, or drummers that want to completely upgrade their current set.

When you get a Zildjian cymbal pack, you typically get four cymbals for the price of three, so packs are also great for saving a bit of money.

However, you don’t get a sense of individuality when buying a cymbal pack. Many drummers prefer buying cymbals individually to create their own sound with their setup.

Both options are fantastic. You just need to assess what your needs are and take it from there.

Zildjian Artists

If you’re wondering what different Zildjian cymbal lines sound like, I highly suggest watching videos of your favorite drummers playing them.

Zildjian has an artist roster of drummers that use the brand’s products, and there are often high-quality recordings of drummers playing the cymbals on Zildjian’s YouTube channel.

With Zildjian being the top cymbal brand in the world, the artist roster includes many of the best drummers out there.

Here are a few names to mention:

  • Dennis Chambers
  • Eddy Thrower
  • Travis Barker
  • Steve Smith
  • Aaron Spears
  • Larnell Lewis
  • Matt Greiner

Price

Costs are the final thing to consider when you’re finally ready to buy some new cymbals. Unfortunately, Zildjian isn’t an affordable brand.

The only affordable cymbals that the brand offers are the Planet Zs and the S Series. The S Series cymbals are great for beginners and intermediate players, but I don’t recommend that anyone gets the Planet Zs, as those cymbals all sound terrible.

The Zildjian A cymbals are slightly more affordable than the Zildjian K cymbals, so those may be a good option to save a bit of cash. However, it’s worth saving up if you love the sound of the Ks.

Top Zildjian Cymbals, Final Thoughts

One last thing to mention about Zildjian cymbals is that they have excellent resale value. This means that you can probably sell whatever Zildjian cymbals you own in the future quite easily, and that can make the new cymbals you want to buy more affordable. Zildjian is a truly impressive cymbal company. The brand has innovated dozens of designs that other cymbal brands have adopted, and many of the best drummers in history have sworn by Zildjian cymbals.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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