Cymbal Reviews with Spectral Analysis

Secrets

Senior Member
ZILDJIAN 16" K CONSTANTINOPLE CRASH CYMBAL

The K Zildjian series, of which the Constantinople is a member, goes back to the roots of K. Zildjian in the 1800's, with a dry tone and even decay.

The spectrum shows that the main frequency range goes out to about 6 kHz, which gives it the dark sound, as other crashes, whose main spectrum extends to 10 kHz or so, would be classified as bright. The initial crash spectrum slopes downward from 6 kHz to 50 kHz.

The decay over 2 seconds is about the same across the entire spectrum, just as the K Series is supposed to do. The frequency response of the decayed sound then appears to flatten out at about 15 kHz, but this is due to the 10 dB SPL background noise floor. The peak of the crash is at 0.15 seconds (the green graph).

Click here to go to the cymbal sounds page.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 

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Secrets

Senior Member
ZILDJIAN 18" K CUSTOM DARK CRASH CYMBAL

The Zildjian K Custom Dark Crash is a favorite among many drummers. This particular one is 18". The spectrum shows that it has high energy in the 3 kHz - 4 kHz range, then slowly drops off. In particular, it attenuates above 10 kHz, and this preponderance of the energy in the 3-4 kHz range rather than higher frequencies gives it the "Dark" classification. The initial crash frequencies extend to 50 kHz, and most of the spectrum decays evenly after 2 seconds.

Level vs. Time indicates that the maximum level is reached between 0.2 and 0.25 seconds, which is a little slower than some other crashes we have tested. In other words, we would not classify this as a "Fast" crash.

It has a great sound, and I think it would be terrific in a jazz kit.

Click here to go to the cymbal sounds page.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 

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Secrets

Senior Member
PAISTE 22' SIGNATURE MELLOW RIDE CYMBAL

Although this particular model is not in Paiste's catalog right now, there are some of them floating around, and it is one of the best jazz ride cymbals I have ever used. It sounds much like their 20" Signature Full Ride, so you could get pretty close to what the 22" Mellow Ride sounds like by purchasing the 20" Full Ride.

It has a crystal clear ping that is flat out to about 10 kHz, then drops off 30 dB and slowly rolls off to 50 kHz.

Even after 2 seconds, the sound up to 10 kHz remains almost at the same loudness, so the wash is intense. You will find that riding it hard will give you a ping that is heard just above the wash, which I feel is ideal for classic jazz.

The Level vs. Time graph shows the slower decay than some other ride cymbals, such as the Paiste 24" RUDE cymbal also reviewed in this thread.

If you are lucky, you might find one on the used market. It's one of my favorites.

Click here to go to the cymbal sounds page.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 

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Secrets

Senior Member
Yes, I plan to test some entry level cymbals. Right now, I am just establishing a baseline of tests from various types and brands. Then I will test a complete set in a single line, with several sizes for comparison, say, a 16", 18", and 20" medium crash, or 18" thin, medium thin, medium, and heavy crash, or a 20", 21", and 22" ride, etc. Should be quite interesting. I am going to put in some links for the 2 second sound files so that you can download them and listen for yourself. You will need a soundcard that is capable of playing 24 bit 176.4 kHz samples though.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 
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Secrets

Senior Member
Cymbal Samples for Download

I have a page set up now where you can download cymbal samples from the cymbals I review. These are 24 bit 176.4 kHz samples, so you should make certain your sound card is capable of playing samples at such a high bit depth and sampling frequency. Otherwise, you can damage your sound card.

These are the highest quality cymbal samples you will find anywhere. They were recorded in stereo using calibrated (10 Hz - 30 kHz + or - 0.5 dB) laboratory microphones, and the recorded sound extends out to 60 kHz (although the signal is not calibrated beyond 30 kHz).

Here is the link to the page with the samples. I will update this page as I add cymbal reviews.

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/images/stories/audio/cymbal-samples/cymbal-reviews-index.html

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 
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Coldhardsteel

Gold Member
I love this thread.

I've always been a fan of scientifically breaking down the aspects of everything, especially music and other arts.

Seeing the character of cymbals like this is interesting. You should archive these samples, maybe make an engine for comparing the graphs, like transparents.
 

Secrets

Senior Member
PAISTE 22' RUDE RIDE/CRASH CYMBAL

This is another cymbal that is not in the catalog (the photo shows the 20" version that is in the catalog), but I have seen them around, and it is a beautiful ride cymbal. I think it is not in the catalog because it is really heavy for a crash. So, the graphs represent the ping as a ride cymbal.

The frequency response shows a rise between 2 kHz and 12 kHz, then a 30 dB drop, and a steady response out to 30 kHz, followed by attenuation out to 60 kHz. Its 12 kHz initial response is somewhat higher than the 24" RUDE Mega Power Ride reviewed here, so the ping is brighter. However, the Mega Power Ride has a ping that is very loud.

Level vs. Time indicates a modest decay speed.

My opinion on this cymbal is that it could be used for jazz in a larger venue and also metal rock in larger venues. You could crash it, but you will have to give it a very hard whack with your stick because it is so heavy.

Click here to go to the cymbal sounds page.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 

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Secrets

Senior Member
You might also be interested in this thread on my website, which discusses what may be lost in the audible spectrum when recording at 44.1 kHz vs. higher sampling rates. In other words, there may be more to the story than simply not getting the frequencies above 22 kHz with a CD. Here is the link: http://cave.hometheaterhifi.com/profiles/blogs/musings-of-a-drummer-spectral?xg_source=activity Lots of controversy about this subject, and more experimentation needs to be done.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 
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Secrets

Senior Member
ZILDJIAN 19" A CUSTOM REZO CRASH CYMBAL

In this review, we look at the Zildjian 19" A Custom ReZo crash spectra to accompany the 20" ReZo crash review published earlier in this thread.

Compared to the 20" ReZo crash, the 19" starts rolling off sooner (at 6 kHz instead of 9 kHz for the 20") and reaches 45 kHz instead of 60 kHz response that the 20" has. The 19" has the same lathing pattern as the 20".

The attack is very sharp and reaches a maximum at about 0.2 seconds.

The ReZo series is superb, and the 19" and 20" crashes work very well together. The noticeably thicker region near the bell is more pronounced than other cymbals, with the edged being rather thin. This gives the ReZo a very distinct sound; I would call it bright and trashy, i.e., tons of wash. That's why the cymbal line is not offered in thin, medium thin, heavy, etc. They are simply offered in different diameters, with the 10" and 12" versions being called a splash rather than a crash.

Click here to go to the cymbal sounds page.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 

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Secrets

Senior Member
ZILDJIAN 21" A CUSTOM REZO RIDE CYMBAL

Besides several sizes of ReZo crash cymbals, Zildjian also offers a 21" ride cymbal, reviewed here. The spectrum represents a single ping as in riding the cymbal. Notice that the frequency response goes to 14 kHz before dropping sharply 30 dB to 16 kHz and then slowly declining from there. The ReZo crashes, on the other hand, have a main frequency response out to 6 kHz (19") or 9 kHz (20") before dropping off. The 21" ride having a main response to 14 kHz gives it a very bright ping that will cut through other instruments in the band. It is not a heavy ping, so would be perfect as a jazz ride. However, its excellent brightness would also make it a good choice for rock music in a medium venue.

The Level vs. Time graph indicates that the decay is a bit slower than other ride cymbals reviewed here so far, except for the Sabian 22" APX ride.

A combo of the Rezo 19" Crash, 20" Crash, and 21" Ride cymbals would be a killer kit.

Click here to go to the cymbal sounds page.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 

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Secrets

Senior Member
PAISTE 18" GIANT BEAT CRASH CYMBAL

Paiste's Giant Beat line is quite different than their other cymbals. The Giant Beat's color for one thing. I thought at first they look like they have quite a bit of silver in them, at least the 18" version that I tested, but over a few months, the silvery finish began to turn into a patina, with the more expected coppery color showing through. So, I suspect there may be a thin nickel coating. This possibly gives the cymbal a bright sound, almost bell-like, but without making you want to cover your ears. They are in the medium-thin category and vary by diameter.

The frequency response is reasonably flat out to 14 kHz, which is more like the ride cymbal pings I have reported. Then the response begins a gentle slope down to 50 kHz.

Level vs. Time shows that it peaks at 0.13 seconds with a slow decay. Notice that in the spectrum, the decay (the magenta line is the initial crash, and the yellow line is the sound after 2 seconds) is pretty much even across the spectrum from 300 Hz to 20 kHz. If you compare this spectrum to some of the others reviewed here, you can see why cymbals all sound so different. If they didn't there wouldn't be so many brands and so many different lines in those brands.

The Giant Beat is a very nice line of cymbals. They are musical and powerful, but won't overpower. The 18" reviewed model would be good in a medium sized venue for jazz or rock.

Click here to go to the cymbal sounds page.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 

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Secrets

Senior Member
PAISTE 16" SIGNATURE FAST CRASH CYMBAL

I reviewed the 17" crash version of this Paiste line a few weeks ago, and this review covers the 16".

The frequency response at the initial crash rolls off a bit lower in frequency than the 17" crash (compare the region between 10 kHz and 20 kHz, and between 90 dB and 100 dB), but decays more slowly (see the Level vs. Time spectrum). The peak of the crash occurs at 0.12 seconds.

The sound of the 16" vs. the 17" is very different, but the overall tone is similar because they are of the same alloy, lathing, and hammering process. However, they are also somewhat darker than other crashes of the same size, but different model. They don't have a trashy wash, but, rather, the wash is very clean and bright. In my opinion, the Signature line is one of Paiste's best.

Click here to go to the cymbal sounds page.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 

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Secrets

Senior Member
BOSPHORUS 18" TRADITIONAL JAZZ CRASH RIDE CYMBAL

Bosphorus cymbals are a little hard to find, mostly because they make up part of the 10% of cymbal sales that are not Zildjian and Sabian. But, they are out there, you just have to look. I got this one from MyCymbal.com.

It is classified as a jazz crash ride in the Bosphorus Traditional series, meaning that you can use it as a crash cymbal as well as a ride cymbal. So, I measured the response both ways.

When crashed, it produces a spectrum out to 10 kHz, peaking at 4 kHz, and then slowly declines to about 45 kHz. The crash peaks at 0.23 seconds.

When used as a ride, the ping has a slightly flatter response, and all the way out to 15 kHz before it declines sharply. So, the ping of the ride has higher frequencies initially than the crash. I suspect this is because I used the wooden side of the stick to crash it, but the nylon tip to ride it. The ride has a shimmering wash that is quite musical and nearly as loud as the ping. That is why it is classified as a jazz cymbal, rather than a cymbal where you have to ride it hard and the ping has to cut through loud guitar amplifiers.

This is one of the most beautiful sounding cymbals I have yet heard. I am sure that Bosphorus will say this is because it is totally hand hammered, and the person who does the hammering listens to the sound of the crash as he progresses with each set of hammer strokes, and stops when he is satisfied.

Click here to go to the cymbal sounds page.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 

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Secrets

Senior Member
PAISTE 18" 2002 MEDIUM CRASH CYMBAL

On Paiste's website, they describe the 2002 medium crash cymbals as all-purpose. The 18" 2002 medium crash cymbal that I tested here has been in my cymbal arsenal for a number of years, and I agree with Paiste's assessment of its use. I will try to get a new one direct from Paiste to compare with my old one to see if it has mellowed with time.

The spectrum shows the crash to have peaks at 400 Hz and 5 kHz, with a general response out to 10 kHz, and then rolling off to 50 kHz. Its sound is not piercingly bright, again, supporting its use as a general crash cymbal. It has a great, overall tone quallty, is thin enough that you could crash it easily in a small venue, but is powerful enough for large venues as well.

The crash level peaks at about 0.25 seconds, so it is not a "fast" crash by any means.

Click here to go to the cymbal sounds page.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 

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Secrets

Senior Member
PAISTE 18" SIGNATURE REFLECTOR HEAVY FULL CRASH CYMBAL

Paiste sent five cymbals to me for review, and this is the first one, an 18" heavy full crash in their Signature line. I imagine it is called "Reflector" rather than "Brilliant" in terms of the finish because the lathing lines are very fine and very evenly spaced (see the second photo), indicating that the lathing was done by CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machining which results in more of a mirror (reflection) surface than simply being shiny (brilliant). However, the cymbal was also polished (this involves an abrasive) that gives it the "Brilliant" name. You can see this fine lathing on the bell as well. The hammering is also very evenly spaced, suggesting that it is done by machine. I want to make it clear that whether the lathing and hammering are performed by hand or CNC machining, this does not imply that one is better than the other. It is simply the style that a particular cymbal is produced. Machine hammering usually produces a brighter sound, while hand hammering results in more of a dark tonality. Hand hammering also results in more variation in sound between cymbals of the exact same model and size. The purpose of hammering is to make the tension between the hammered locations and un-hammered locations uneven, which gives the cymbal its distinct sound. Lathing is used to remove oxidation and other impurities from the surface, but also to create a desired thickness from bell to edge, usually tapered. Obviously, lathing will affect the sound because the thickness is altered.

Using the words "heavy" and "full" are a bit confusing, especially since they also have a "power" crash. There needs to be more explanation of the differences on their website. Of course, they have sound clips of each type, so perhaps that is sufficient.

But, the bottom line is not in the wording, it is in the sound, and this cymbal has a beautiful sustained crash that has peaks at 500 Hz and 4 kHz, and extends to 12 kHz before declining to 50 kHz. The sound level peaks at 0.2 seconds and does not decay as quickly as some other crashes.

It is not as physically heavy as the name would imply, but it has a bright sound that is typical of heavy cymbals. It's a smooth sounding crash too without loud overtones that mask the wash. This smooth sound rather than a piercingly bright sound would make the cymbal suitable for general use in rock bands. It is a bit too heavy for jazz, and I would say, a bit too light for metal. I would use it for playing conventional rock in any size venue. It crashes very easily, compared to "Rock" or "Metal" cymbals that require a hard strike with the drumstick to get them to deliver their full crash sound. It would pair nicely with the Paiste 18" 2002 crash.

Click here to go to the cymbal sounds page.

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 

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Secrets

Senior Member
PAISTE 18" ALPHA BRILLIANT METAL CRASH CYMBAL

For you metal drummers out there, Paiste makes this one in the Alpha line, which includes 17", 18", 19", and 20" sizes, all in a Brilliant finish (shined with an abrasive). There is also a 20" Alpha Metal Ride available. Alphas are made from a B8 alloy (92% copper, 8% tin), and this can be seen in its very coppery color. It's thick, heavy, and delivers a bright punch that will cut through any stack of guitar amplifiers. It will take a beating, for sure. In fact, when I ran the test, it overloaded my microphones, so I had to back them off a few more inches. My microphones will handle up to 130 dB!

The frequency spectrum starts rising at about 200 Hz, peaks at 6 kHz, then declines slowly to about 55 kHz. The intensity peaks at 0.28 seconds, which is what one would expect from a heavy cymbal like this.

The closeup photo shows the evenly spaced lathing that includes the bell, and the deep hammering. There is a circle of hammer spots around the edge of the bell, but the rest are irregularly placed, indicating hand hammering (it was probably done on a machine, but the machinist chose the locations rather than having a CNC type of hammering that is preset).

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/images/stories/audio/cymbal-samples/cymbal-reviews-index.html

John E. Johnson, Jr.
 

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toddy

Platinum Member
dude this thread is seriously amazing. if you could do some of the lesser known brands too then that would be awesome.
 

Secrets

Senior Member
PAISTE 18" 2002 CRASH CYMBAL

I obtained this particular cymbal because I wanted to see how it compared to my own 18" 2002 crash cymbal that I purchased more than 20 years ago, and which has been reviewed in this thread.

I was amazed at how similar they sounded in tonality (compare the sound samples in the link shown below), which indicates that (1) Paiste's manufacturing processes are extremely precise, and (2) the cymbal didn't "mellow with age". Of course, the test cymbal is labeled "Crash" while my own version is the "Medium Crash", but the test cymbal appeared to be close to a medium. By tonality, I am referring to the balance in high frequencies vs. low frequencies. My own cymbal has a slightly higher pitch than the one reviewed here. But "Pitch" is different than "Tonality". In any case, they both sound marvelous, which is why I bought mine in the first place.

The spectrum shows peak levels between 3 kHz and 8 kHz, then a decline to about 55 kHz. The peak volume is at 0.2 seconds, with a moderate rate of decay. Overall, it is a very balanced sound, not dark or bright, and I often see this cymbal described as being one for "general purposes".

From the closeup photo, it appears to have been hand hammered and hand lathed. In my opinion, a full set of 2002's would make most drummers very satisfied with their kit sound.

Click here to go to the cymbal sounds page.
 

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