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Our editorial team selected the cymbals on this list based on extensive research and real customer reviews. For each category, we carefully selected parameters based on our research and identified the cymbals with the highest review score within those parameters.
Zildjian is legendary among cymbal makers as a 400-year-old company with a reputation for quality, and the K Custom series lives up to that reputation. Sporting an average customer rating of 5 stars on the Amazon and Sweetwater Sound online storefronts, this cymbal set is popular with musicians, and is often called out for being perfect for studio recording.
The K Custom series combines the traditional hammering of the main line with modern hammering techniques, leaving the cymbals with both unique sound and aesthetics. Customers praise the K Custom series for its dark, rich sound across the range of finishes, which includes Dark, Hybrid, Special Dry and more. While the K Customs are designed for more subdued genres, customers say the range is surprisingly versatile across many genres.
The Sabian SBR cymbals are far and away the most popular choice of cymbals for beginners, with an average rating of 4.4 on Amazon out of 136 customer reviews, and a 5-star rating on Sweetwater Sound. Reviews say the Sabian SBR cymbals offer great sound quality for its price point, and are perfect for beginners looking to fit out their first drum kit.
While brass cymbals are generally known to have worse sound and durability than their bronze cousins, the Sabian SBR sound fantastic for a brass set, and reviewers have said that the set's durability is also much better than expected compared to similar products. While cheaper brass cymbals are never going to live up to the more expensive sets, the Sabian SBR set is perfect for a beginner looking to get acquainted with the instrument, or even for experienced drummers looking for a cheaper spare set for practice.
Zildjian's entry-level Planet Z cymbals are far and away the most popular cymbal range on Amazon, comprising of a number of the top-selling products in the category. On their individual product pages, the Planet Z cymbals are all rated at least 4 stars, with some boasting unanimous 5-star reviews. As a chance to get the Zildjian sound at a fraction of the price of the brand's professional sets, it's not surprising.
With individual cymbals going for as low as $29.95, the Planet Z is great for drummers on a budget, without compromising on quality thanks to a proprietary Zildjian special alloy. While you can't expect mind-blowing performance at this price range, the Planet Z cymbals more than hold their weight against products at much higher prices, and are well-suited for beginners or those looking for a cheap kit for practice or as a hobbyist. Most reviewers complemented the sound, while some said it could be a bit tinny.
The Meinl Classics Custom Dark set from German company Meinl come highly recommended as a set for beginners looking to upgrade, boasting an average customer rating of 4.7 from almost 300 reviews on Amazon, as well as a unanimous 5-star rating on Sweetwater Sound. Reviewers praised both the unique look and the sound of the Meinl Classics Custom Dark set. While most customers recommend this cymbal set especially for rock players, with a sound that cuts through electric guitars, others have praised their versatility when played soft or heavy. The Custom Dark set boasts extra deep hammering for tonal complexity, and has a large number of both standard and effect cymbals available.
Meinl's Byzance symbol range pops up again and again in Amazon's highest-rated cymbals, with most of the single products in this range seeing average review scores of over 4.5 stars out of numerous reviews. They're also highly rated on Sweetwater Sound, with most products scoring 5 stars.
Though Meinl is a German company, the Byzance range is made in the traditional home of cymbals, Turkey, and then flown back to be finished in Germany akin to Meinl's other sets. The Byzance set comes in a variety of sizes, types and finishes, though for some this set may just include too much range for the uncertain buyer. For this reason, the Byzance set is mostly recommended for professionals who already have an ear for what sounds they prefer. The Byzance range is not just versatile, but aesthetically unique, and has seen collaborations with well-known drummers such as Mike Johnston and Benny Greb. Reviewers praise the Byzance's performance both in live sets and for recording in studio.
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