Zildjian vs. Sabian vs. Paiste vs. Meinl - Big 4 Comparison?

w3r1_drums

Senior Member
So, I'm just wondering if anyone can provide an UNBIASED overall review of these 4 cymbal brands.....

To be specific, I'd love to see reviews/comparisons of these cymbal series:

Zildjian ZBT/Sabian B8/Paiste PST3/Meinl MCS

Zildjian S/Sabian XSR/Paiste Alpha/Meinl Classics

Zildjian A/Sabian AAX/Paiste 2002/Meinl Classics Custom

Zildjian K/Sabian HHX/Paiste Signature/Meinl Byzance


I realize no one's gonna be completely unbiased but it's nice to dream right?? :p Anyways I hope to try all of this out myself so I can get an idea but since I'm not in a position where I can I'd love to know if anyone else has tried enough cymbals to be able to make some of the comparisons! Thanks
 

opentune

Platinum Member
many well recorded and realistic videos of these exact cymbals are online, in many sizes
see mycymbal.com for example.
with a set of good headphones you can compare them all one after another with your own unbiased ears. that's what i would do.
 

pgm554

Platinum Member
So, I'm just wondering if anyone can provide an UNBIASED overall review of these 4 cymbal brands.....

To be specific, I'd love to see reviews/comparisons of these cymbal series:

Zildjian ZBT/Sabian B8/Paiste PST3/Meinl MCS

Zildjian S/Zildjian A/Sabian AA/Paiste Alpha/Meinl Classics

Zildjian A/Sabian AAX/Paiste 2002/Meinl Classics Custom

Zildjian K/Sabian HHX/Paiste Signature/Meinl Byzance


I realize no one's gonna be completely unbiased but it's nice to dream right?? :p Anyways I hope to try all of this out myself so I can get an idea but since I'm not in a position where I can I'd love to know if anyone else has tried enough cymbals to be able to make some of the comparisons! Thanks
Zildjian A/Sabian AA/Sabian XSR are all pretty much alike as a pro cast cymbals.
Variations tend to be on sizes, weights and price points.
All are top quality for the working pro.
B20 bronze.
I could live with cymbals from any one of these choices.
More for rock and louder volume music as they tend to cut through amplifiers.

Zildjian K ,Sabian HH are a bit more varied in terms of a boutique sound.
Dry,dark,shimmery with hand hammering for a wider variety of tones and textures.
More for the pro who is looking for a particular sound.
More for acoustic settings in my opinion.
Paiste Twenty can be in the same category.
Mid high end stuff.
Nothing wrong with these cymbals except $$$.
B20 bronze.
Paiste sigs can be included ,but are brighter in terms of overall character.
$$$

Then you get into the upper upper crust stuff ,Constantinople,602's Sabian Vault.
Ridiculously over priced ,but when you are looking for the rare and obscure models,well ,here you go.
High hats listing for a thousand ,rides in the same rarefied strata.
Lot's of this stuff is marketing hype ,but if you're looking for status cymbals,these are where you go.
 

thebarak

Senior Member
The sheer number of choices for cymbals is very overwhelming. Also the descriptors, such as dry, heavy, dark etc., may not be accurate for the sound, and people have different opinions about what those characteristics mean. And then each cymbal is a different instrument when played quietly or loudly.

I think it may be the same for cymbals as it is for jeans. Despite the best efforts of web sites, you really have to travel to a store and play them before you buy them.

All four of these big 4 brands make good ones, as well as some not so good ones.
 

w3r1_drums

Senior Member
Oh - I'm not sure if I was misinterpreted, but I meant comparisons of the cymbals on each line (as in the differences and similarities between Zildjian K, Sabian HH, Meinl Byzance, and Paiste Signature - I realize they're going to be similar because they're all designed to give the same kind of sound - same with the choices in the other three sets. This is why I chose them, to get a feel of what the differences are for cymbals that are supposed to sound similar)

Hopefully that makes sense.

Also, I wish I could try them all out, but realistically I can't, Meinl and Paiste are hard to come around where I live (I mean I could order them but I don't want to do that without trying them first). I own Zildjian Ks and am pretty happy with them for now but would love to get a feel for what the main differences are between these "big 4" brands with their cymbals. (Right now debating whether to try out Sabians or Meinls next - I don't really like most of the Paistes I hear for some reason)
 
J

JohnoWorld

Guest
For me, on sound at least, K zildjians do not compare with Paiste Signatures. Sigs are much brighter than K's and then if you try Signature precision, they're even brighter again.

K are slightly similar in their shimmering and their spread, but they are much less bright than sigs. My 2 faves though

I have some HH bright hats and they're awful. One of those hi hat sets that I've never sold for some reason. They sound like I'm hitting them with a whip rather than a stick, really weird.

I bought some budget Meinl hats when I had my first kit over 20 years ago, they were brilliant but I can't remember what they were.

All in all, you can't go wrong with any of em. I often play mixes of each but I will always go with Zildjian or Paiste.

I just don't know enough about Meinl
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
I am a bit of a cymbal nut, so I have owned at leas one high end cymbal from all four of those companies. The only real advice I can give you is that its almost impossible to compare two identical cymbals to each other, let alone cymbals across different lines. But I can tell you that I play Sabian AAX and Zildjian A Customs on my gig kit because they cut through even at the ridiculous volume we play at. Playing at the volume we do I don't need subtlety, I need a hammer and those cymbals serve that purpose.

I have tried HHX and K's but they tend to get lost a bit in the band. I will say that the AAX line is often darker than the HHX, but I really like the AAXplosions so I use those. If I could afford it I would put Paiste sig's on my practice and recording kit. They have a shimmer to them that I love, but their beautiful subtlety's get lost in a high volume band, plus I break them when I get to hitting hard. I havn't played a Meinl yet that I really care for. I am sure their high end lines are amazing, but not correct for my application. All of their mid-line cymbals I have played all sounded cheap to me.
 

porter

Platinum Member
Cymbal sounds are immensely and ridiculously subjective, so the only way to get an "unbiased"/not-externally-biased review (which still normally don't exist) is to do the reviewing yourself. Your comparisons beyond each company's brass starter cymbals are kind of rough too. Here's what I think each company does best, and be aware there's a lot of overlap between these areas of expertise:

Sabian: Good cymbals for a hi-fi or modern sound, tend to have clear attack, glassy, separated bells, overall a little 'cold' but neutral between the high-end lines (AA(X), HH(X)). They're not really 'authentic' sounding to me (and I define authenticity as a classic Turkish handmade cymbal) but they're very usable.

Paiste: If you like bright or sweet cymbals I think Paiste does those quite well. Their Signature line is B15 and their 2002s are B8 so they naturally have more higher frequency focus than the other three who use B20 for all of their high-end lines. They also have a decent Turkish-sounding line in their Masters series. Probably the most consistent company too, they put a lot of effort into ensuring that you don't generally need to try the cymbal before you buy.

Meinl: They have pretty great authenticity to their Byzance range which is made traditionally, and they have a lot of unique sounds in there that you just can't get from other companies. However, they are quite inconsistent and you really want to try before you buy. If you want to play loud and be highly articulate, I think Sabian's a better choice; however I think Sabians tend to need mixing whereas I love the sound of my Meinls raw (and in a mix). They're not the end-all be-all of Turkish cymbals, and if you don't like Turks, obviously go for a different company (Meinl jettisoned their good lines outside of the Turkish stuff this year).

Zildjian: Man, I dunno. If you love Zildjians, they have some definite unified characteristics like Sabians that I'm sure some people love but I think every other company does specific things better. They're all entirely machine made and yet they still manage to be super inconsistent. That's my opinion on the matter.

Listen to what you're interested in and decide for yourself. I'm 6 years into cymbal hell and my tastes are still evolving.
 

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
Zildjian A/Sabian AA/Sabian XSR are all pretty much alike as a pro cast cymbals.
Variations tend to be on sizes, weights and price points.
All are top quality for the working pro.
B20 bronze.
I could live with cymbals from any one of these choices.
More for rock and louder volume music as they tend to cut through amplifiers.

Zildjian K ,Sabian HH are a bit more varied in terms of a boutique sound.
Dry,dark,shimmery with hand hammering for a wider variety of tones and textures.
More for the pro who is looking for a particular sound.
More for acoustic settings in my opinion.
Paiste Twenty can be in the same category.
Mid high end stuff.
Nothing wrong with these cymbals except $$$.
B20 bronze.
Paiste sigs can be included ,but are brighter in terms of overall character.
$$$

Then you get into the upper upper crust stuff ,Constantinople,602's Sabian Vault.
Ridiculously over priced ,but when you are looking for the rare and obscure models,well ,here you go.
High hats listing for a thousand ,rides in the same rarefied strata.
Lot's of this stuff is marketing hype ,but if you're looking for status cymbals,these are where you go.
IMHO almost none of the made statements made here are halfway acceptable - although they are subjective.

porter said:
Cymbal sounds are immensely and ridiculously subjective, so the only way to get an "unbiased"/not-externally-biased review (which still normally don't exist) is to do the reviewing yourself.
Yupp.
 

TripleStroke

Senior Member
Oh - I'm not sure if I was misinterpreted, but I meant comparisons of the cymbals on each line (as in the differences and similarities between Zildjian K, Sabian HH, Meinl Byzance, and Paiste Signature - I realize they're going to be similar because they're all designed to give the same kind of sound - same with the choices in the other three sets. This is why I chose them, to get a feel of what the differences are for cymbals that are supposed to sound similar)

Hopefully that makes sense.

Also, I wish I could try them all out, but realistically I can't, Meinl and Paiste are hard to come around where I live (I mean I could order them but I don't want to do that without trying them first). I own Zildjian Ks and am pretty happy with them for now but would love to get a feel for what the main differences are between these "big 4" brands with their cymbals. (Right now debating whether to try out Sabians or Meinls next - I don't really like most of the Paistes I hear for some reason)
The above bolded part is simply an incorrect assumption. As you learn more about this you will realize why that assumption dangerous and wrong and leads to judgemental character based on equipment because i have been down that road when i was younger. This is as result of what "power of marketing and advertisement" does to you. Can't be blamed. Cymbals are shiny and awesome! I just dont want u to become one of those guys that say "omg zildjian A medium crash with A Custom sweet ride? How treacherous!" ...."ooo elegant kit and cymbal combo.. this guy has a K custom session crash and a kerope ride with byzance hi hats!!"

the OP seems to be moreso wanting a comparison of those aforementioned lines of cymbals listed as if they are prestige-based in terms of price and "class" oriented. Fact is that K zildjians are not always a class above A zildjians bro. Same with assuming AA or AAX being considered a class below HH HHX. I sorta know why you think that way and listed them in this particular order and to be honest a lot of them are listed pretty accurately on your part. Sure, mostly K customs are generally a bit more costly than A customs, same with AAX < HHX in price. However personally speaking, i wud take 18" Zildjian A medium thin crash + paiste sig dark energy mk1 ANY day of the week for my church drumming over a 18" zildjian K dark thin crash + HHX evolution crash combo (which seems to be a gold standard must-have crash combo in like 99 percent of combos i see at churches)

In terms of sound though you can see from other posters that these "higher" end cymbals cannot be grouped in any way shape or form. For example... paiste signature line to me, is a type of sound i cannot compare with any other cymbal line in the world. It is a class of its own. Is it THE HIGHEST class available though? No it isnt... just because 22" zildjian kerope ride and paiste sig dark energy ride are both $550 range doesnt mean they're in the "same sound class"

I know a very good drummer whos well versed in all genre and has a degree in traditional jazz drumming from a college and he loves the sound of his original tama brand hi hats that came with the kit... pro drummer i know also rocks a sabian B8 pro crash as his 3rd crash on his kit because he thinks it sounds awesome

hope u understand what I'm trying to convey :)) dont become a gear snob!! Doesnt do u any good when u talk with other drummers. Non drummers wouldnt know the differece so whatever

Btw ive lurked around and seen ur vids of ur playing and ur introduction. Welcome. U seem to remind me of exactly how i used to be at your age, obssessed with equipment lines and brands. I mustve had three mountain pile loads of DRUM! magazine collection from my teens. Keep it up!
 
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Stroker

Platinum Member
Here's my impartial review of Paiste 2002 Cymbals.

I started drumming when I was 8, I am now 51. I played Zildjian for decades, with the introduction of a Paiste to an old kit of mine back in the 80's. Loved that Paiste.

In the years following, I played a few Sabians along the way and was happy with the sound, but last Wednesday I bought a Paiste 2002 Power Ride (22"), and everything I ever knew or experienced in cymbals was history. I all but closed the chapter on all other cymbal brands upon walking out of that store with that Paiste tucked under my arm that day.

For me personally, the 2002 Series line of Paiste, exemplifies the sound and quality I am after. Am I done with Sabian and Zildjian or any other cymbal brands entirely? No, not entirely, but given an opportunity to shop an extensive cymbal vault, I'll be heading straight for the Paiste 2002 display (first).

As for Meinl, I sampled a good number of Meinl at the time I was shopping for my Paiste, and nothing the vault had called out to me.

Currently in the works, a set of Paiste 2002 Sound Edge 15" hats (being prepared for shipping out to me as we speak), along with an 18" and 20" crash, also from the 2002 line.

Back to Sabian for a moment. I played a set of Sabian HHX Stage Hats (14") last summer and was taken with the sound. How taken was I? Did I mention I have a set of Paiste 2002 Sound Edge (15") hats on the way?
 

Tommy_D

Platinum Member
All brands have their good lines and their bad. Some of the good ones actually sound bad and some of the bad ones sound pretty good. You cant make any direct comparisons to the different lines between the manufacturers. People say Sabian's AAX sounds like Zildjian's A Customs. I disagree whole-heatedly. To me A Customs sound like garbage and AAX's sound pretty good, though they aren't my favorite. Trying to compare anything from Meinl to anything from Zildjian and Sabian is a laughable because they sound totally different. Paiste? Fugget-a-'bout it. You can't compare them to anyone. Same with Ufip. Both those companies have totally different manufacturing processes that give them completely unique sound qualities.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
The only true comparison is to play the ones you can afford and pick the one/ones that suit your ears.
 

w3r1_drums

Senior Member
I think the OP wants somebody to write an article for him.
mayyyybe

I kind of more just wanted to know the summary of the differences between the similarly-priced? cymbal lines (I just grouped them the way I did off the top of my head, I really only know zildjian lines very well and some meinl stuff so I guess I just kind of assumed they were supposed to sound the same....I guess not? idk. I don't know a ton about this stuff. Hey, if I got the chance I would love to get all 16 cymbal sets in a room and hack away at them :p)
 

Stroker

Platinum Member
if I got the chance I would love to get all 16 cymbal sets in a room and hack away at them :p)
I encourage you to visit a cymbal vault or room anywhere you can. Nothing delivers true cymbal experience than being able to savour the sound firsthand and capture the experience of stick articulation on true metal. Even if the outlet doesn't stock an extensive selection to choose from, you'll be able to quickly identify a brand that calls out to you, and from there, selecting something that pleases your senses will be but a few stick strokes away. Happy hunting, WD!
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
It's all about whether you want your cymbals US, Canadian, German or Swiss made-other than that is personal preference ;)
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I've tried a few cymbals in my day. I buy mostly Sabian and Zildjian. I know there are a hundred other cymbals from other makers that I would love, but for some reason, Sabian always delivers sound-wise. I have a few Zildjians too, but my Zildjians are an eclectic set spanning several decades. I don't even use my A Custom on gigs because I don't particularly like it that much. I would be using an AAX instead if it weren't for this nice Zildjian El Sonido crash that I recently purchased. So, you never know until you try them, but overall I feel I can trust Sabian to deliver, and they always do. With Zildjians, it is hit and miss for me. Same with Paistes.
A few stores around here stock Meinl and I've heard a few that I really like their sound. But, like Paiste, the prices seem to run higher than Sabians that deliver in sound for less money it seems. I'm a little Leary of buying Paiste because they are a bit more expensive, at least the ones that I like, and I've come across a lot of cracked ones in the past.
 
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