Are you looking to add a fantastic cymbal pack to your drum kit?
You’ve come to the right place!
In this YMI guide you’ll learn the following:
- What Are Cymbal Packs For Drums?
- What Should I Look For In Cymbal Packs For Drums?
And much more!
Below is a quick list of all our top cymbal packs for drum sets.
Keep scrolling to learn more about how to choose and use cymbals, as well as my essential buying guide that will help you find the best on the market right now!
My Top Pick
My Top Pick
Zildjian S Series
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Zildjian K Custom
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Sabian HHX Evolution
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Zildjian A Custom
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Meinl Byzance Mike Johnston Pack
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My Overall #1 Rated Pick
If you’re looking for quality cymbals that not only sound great, but won’t break the bank, then you can’t do much better than the S series by Zildjian.
Introduced to replace the Zildjian ZBT series, this pack includes everything you need to get started.
These Bronze cymbals are crisp, bright and cutting without sounding harsh and will suit pretty much any musical environment.
For anyone looking to upgrade their entry-level cymbals or if you’re after an affordable full set, they’re definitely worth checking out.
Top 7 Best Cymbal Packs
In a hurry? Check out my top 7 picks below! Keep reading to learn more about these cymbals!
What Are Cymbal Packs For Drums?
There are many different types of cymbals that you can get for a drum kit. The most common core setup usually comes with a minimum of a crash cymbal, ride cymbal and a pair of hi-hats.
However there are reams of other types of cymbals that can expand your sonic palette on the drums.
They include china cymbals, splash cymbals, crash/rides and other ‘efx’ cymbals such as O-Zone crashes (that have holes cut out for a trashy sound) or even stacks that are a series of cymbals stacked on top of each other.
Most professional drummers will individually pick each cymbal to match their tastes or the musical situation they’re in.
Often this means that their cymbals will come from different lines, or even different manufactures.
However, if you’re just getting into drumming, or don’t necessarily have that much experience with different cymbals or cymbal sounds, then getting a cymbal pack may be a great all in one solution to improving your cymbal set up!
Cymbal packs usually consist of the standard hi hat, crash and ride configuration, but often you’ll find some that include a splash, extra crash or effects cymbals too.
Read More >> How Do You Set Up A Drum Kit Like A Pro?
What Should I Look For In Cymbal Packs For Drums?
There are a multitude of things that will affect the sound of a cymbal. Let’s take a look at some of the variables that can drastically change your cymbal experience, as well as the price.
The size (diameter) of your cymbals will have a big impact on how they sound. Most cymbal packs come in a standard configuration:
- 14” Hi Hats
- 16” Crash Cymbal
- 20” Ride Cymbal
Some packs will often include an 18” crash as well, or even a small 10” splash accent cymbal. These sizes cover the most ground when it comes to playing different styles of music.
Generally when you go smaller in size, the pitch will go up and the volume will go down.
So you might want to get slightly smaller cymbals for quieter musical situations (such as 13” hi hats etc).
But generally this configuration will suit 99% of playing situations.
If you want more volume and sustain then increasing the cymbal size will help.
However, there are other factors such as cymbal thickness and finish that will also have a big influence on the tone and volume of the cymbal.
Thicker cymbals tend to project at a higher volume, so if you’re a metal head then a set of brilliant finish ‘thicker’ cymbals will help cut through that wall of Marshall stacks!
Thicker cymbals are also more durable for heavy hitters.
Thinner cymbals tend to ‘speak’ quicker and are a little more sensitive and dynamic, but lack volume. They are also more prone to cracking if you hit them too hard!
Read More >> How Do You Properly Mic Drums For High Quality Sound?
There are tons of different finishes available when it comes to cymbals. However, there are two main ‘camps’ to look out for:
Cymbals with a brilliant finish are lathed and polished until they are shiny, often to an almost mirror like quality.
This makes the cymbals much brighter and sparkly sounding, they tend to be slightly higher pitched and cut through the music a little more.
Natural finished cymbals have a duller, almost matte like finish. This makes them slightly darker sounding, as well as warmer overall. You wont get as much of the high frequency ‘sizzle’.
Some cymbals even look like they are covered in mud and have been buried for years! Such as the Meinl Byzance extra-dry series. These cymbals tend to be very dry sounding, with very little sustain.
Picking your perfect finish all comes down to personal preference.
I tend to have both types of cymbals in my cymbal back as I prefer bright cutting cymbals for live and warmer, darker cymbals for recording.
Cymbals are made from metal (obviously!), but the type of metal used for their manufacture has a huge impact on their overall sound.
The vast majority of modern cymbals are made from ‘Bronze’, which is an alloy made up of copper and tin. There are two main types of Bronze, which are B20 bronze and B8 bronze.
The number refers to the percentage of tin within the alloy mixture. So B20 bronze will have 80% copper and 20% tin, whereas B8 bronze will only have 8% tin.
B20 bronze has a balanced character to it, making it tonally versatile and warm without losing sustain.
This makes it the most common cymbal material for more expensive cymbals (mid-range and up).
B8 Bronze tends to be much brighter and put out a lot more high frequencies. Often B8 is used for cheaper cymbals, however this is not always the case.
High end Paiste cymbals (such as Paiste 2002) are often made from B8 Bronze and have a distinctly lush and cutting sound (just check out John Bonham and you’ll see what I mean!)
Read More >> What Are The Top Affordable Drum Sets Out There?
There are two main ways in which you can create a cymbal:
- Cutting from a sheet
Cast cymbals are made by pouring molten metal into a mould to create a blank disc. This disc is then rolled out, shaped, hammered and lathed into your final cymbal.
Sheet cymbals on the other hand are made by using a press to cut out a cymbal from a large sheet of metal.
Due to the amount of time and skill needed, cast cymbals tend to be pricier. However, they often have a nicer sound quality to them.
Apprentices have to go through years of training to learn how to hammer and lathe cymbals in the right way to get the sound just right, it’s an ancient art form that’s centuries old.
Sheet cymbals are generally easier and cheaper to make. Meaning that entry level cymbals are usually sheet cymbals.
They don’t tend to sound as lush, or complex as their cast counterparts.
However this rule isn’t set in stone, there are some companies making incredibly high end sheet cut cymbals...and others also making some pretty awful cast ones too!
I would personally go for cast cymbals every time.
Our Reviews Of The Best Cymbal Packs For Drums
The S series has been brought in to replace Zildjian’s ZBT line of cymbals, and Zildjian has spent a good few years making improvements to their design.
These are primarily intermediate cymbals that are made out of B12 Bronze.
They have a brilliant finish with extensive hammering and lathing and overall the sound of these cymbals is impressive for the price.
The mastersound hi-hats have a satisfyingly chunky stopped sound and they cut through well in louder environments.
The same can be said about the ride and crashes, there’s a pleasing warmth to their sound which is often not the case in lower-end cymbals.
The ride still has a little of that high pitched unwanted overtone you get with cheaper cymbals, but at this price point, it’s to be expected.
This cymbal pack is ideal for someone looking to upgrade from their budget cymbals or for someone that wants an affordable set for gigs or recordings.
- Good sound
- Some unwanted overtones on the ride
Meinl is another company that really knows what they are doing when it comes to cymbal making.
They have a huge roster of top drummer endorsees, so they must be doing something right!
Their knowledge of the top of the line cymbal manufacture has trickled down into their more budget options, leading to the excellent HCS line of cymbals.
These are sheet cut from a Brass Alloy that helps to retain warmth and tone, without the hefty price tag.
A lot of entry-level cymbals tend to be quite harsh or brittle sounding, with very minimal sustain.
With the HCS cymbals, this is not the case. The crashes are lively and cutting, the hi-hats feel crisp and the ride has a rounded pleasing tone, meaning this is a great versatile pack for a beginner.
Ok, you’re not getting the same complexity and depth as Meinl’s Byzance line, but for the price, these are great cymbals!
Ideal for a beginner buying their first cymbals or for someone on a very tight budget that needs a cheap usable set.
- Very affordable
- Clear cutting sound
- Not much sustain
At the other end of the spectrum from the S series, we have these gorgeous K Custom cymbals from Zildjian.
The ‘K’ line of cymbals has been around since the early 1900s and has been a part of drumming history, with all the great Jazz drummers (and a host of rock ones!) swearing by their dark complex tones.
The K ‘custom’ line aimed to take those awesome ‘K’ blueprints and extend their tonal palette and sonic character.
These B20 cast cymbals have a beautifully dark yet cutting sound that will work for pretty much any genre of music.
I find myself often overplaying the cymbals when I use any of my K customs as they have this rich pleasing quality that I can’t get enough of.
This pack comes with 14” hi-hats, 16” and 18” crashes, as well as a 20” ride.
These cymbals do come at a cost, however invest in them and you’ll never need another set of cymbals again!
- Incredible sound
- Well made
Along with Sabian AAX, the HHX line by Sabian has been a staple for many top drummers for years. Sabian cymbals teamed up with Dave Weckl to produce the ‘Evolution’ series, which further extends the HHX sound palette.
The evolution line is designed to be dark, yet extremely cutting and explosive...to marry with Dave Weckl’s playing!
This pack comes with a pair of hi-hats, crash, ride, and interestingly includes an ‘O-zone’ crash that has holes cut into it.
This produces a trashy, short, and very punchy sound that’s fantastic for expressive accents.
Overall these cymbals have a great sound, they have a real dark slightly trashy character that’s also bright and cutting due to their brilliant finish.
These cymbals will work really well in any amplified musical situation (I’ve even seen top death metal guys use them!).
Due to their cutting nature they may not be the best for lower volume or more subtle jazz gigs, but where you need some bite and punch in your cymbals...they certainly deliver!
- Explosive and cutting
- Rich sound
- Broad range of sounds
- Higher price point
- Not great for quieter/subtle gigs
Their super polished finish and precise hammering pattern give them a bright, rich..almost sweet sound that is incredibly pleasing, as well as being incredibly versatile.
This set includes 14” hi-hats, 16” and 18” crashes and a 20” medium ride.
I’ve used A customs on many recording sessions and live gigs and they always seem to blend really well with the music.
Their inherent brightness can be a little much for some lower volume gigs or for musical environments that require a darker/trashier tonality, but in general, they cover a lot of ground.
If you’re looking for a high-quality set of high-end cymbals that don’t have a prohibitively expensive price tag, but will allow you to play pretty much ANYTHING, then the A customs are what you’re after.
- Sweet and lush sounding
- Very versatile
- Look great
- Consistent cymbal to cymbal
- Maybe a touch bright for some
For the price, these cymbals really don’t sound too bad. They suffer a little from lack of resonance and tend to decay quite quickly (common to budget cymbals), but their tone is bright and overall quite pleasing.
Compared to the Sabian Solar line which these replace, they are a HUGE improvement. (those things were like dustbin lids!)
These cymbals aren’t going to win any awards sonically, but if you’re looking to upgrade from the cymbals that come with your first drum kit, these will be a massive step up and will ultimately improve your drumming experience.
- Highly affordable
- Free splash
- Great beginner cymbals
- Sound a little muted
The Meinl Byzance range of cymbals is some of the most beautifully crafted, unique, and interesting cymbals around on the market today. They represent the pinnacle of what Meinl cymbals have to offer.
This pack is a series of specially curated B20 Bronze cymbals by Mike Johnston, prolific educator, and all-round badass on the drum kit.
He’s put together a set of cymbals that are designed to complement each other in their tone and expression.
They include 14” hi-hats and an 18” crash from the ‘extra-dry’ range, which as you can imagine are dark, trashy and you’ve guessed it….dry.
Coupled with the 20” extra thin hammered crash and 21” (MJ signature) transition ride, help to add some brightness and clarity to the set.
This makes for a beautiful set of dark sounding cymbals that complement each other incredibly well, whilst still retaining their individual character.
This level of craftsmanship does come at a price however.
Each of these cymbals requires a lot of man-hours to create so expect to shell out some serious dough...but for such a unique gorgeous set of cymbals, it’s to be expected!
- Beautiful dark sound
- Works very well as a set
- Incredibly well made
- High price-point
- May be too dark/trashy for some
My Top Pick: Zildjian S Series
Plus, it's such a great value for the money, check out the lowest price on Amazon right now!
Final Thoughts On Cymbal Packs For Drums
There are so many excellent cymbal manufacturers out there it was hard to fit everything on my list. Other notable sets that are definitely worth checking out are Istanbul Agop Xist or Wuhan cymbal packs.
Buying a full pack of cymbals is a simple and effective way of getting a set of cymbals that you’ll know will work great together.
Whether you choose an entry-level set or splash out on some bespoke artisan cymbals, I've got you covered.