Zildjian vs. Sabian


"Uncle Larry"
When I was 12 and had my first drum set (gold sparkle Stewarts), I dreamed of the day I could do a fill and crash 2 Zildjain cymbals simultaneously.

I started out loving Zildjians, still do, but I like Sally Billy Anns rides better. I crash on 10, 16 and 17" Zildjains and a 20" Xplosion crash, but ride on a HHRBDR.

Give me a tightly lathed Zildjain or Sabian anyday. Sadly I never even touched a Meinl, Bosphorus or Istanbul cymbal, not sure where to find them. I'm satisfied with my cymbals anyway. Can you believe I just said that?


This ones simple;

Zildjian are expensive and good
Sabian are cheap and good


This equation is not rational in my experience. When I purchased my Sabian Hand Hammered series, I was also looking at Zildjian K's. It ended up that every HH cost a bit more size to size of the Zildjian K's. The same thing applies to when I bought my HHX series, they were a bit more expensive than the Zildjian K Customs. It could be different where you live, but it's definitely not across the board. One thing is for certain, both companies have Great sounding cymbals.

Now maybe if you were comparing Sabian B8's to Zildjian K's, then price wise you would have a point.



Silver Member
It also depends on the genre you're playing. If you're looking for rock-specific cymbals from different cymbal manufacturers then you could get suggestion like Zildjian's Z Custom or Z3's, Paiste's Alpha, Rude or 2oo2, Sabian's APX or AAX, Meinl's MB8, 10 and 20 and others.

They all do the job very nicely and of course there are other series from those and other manufacturers. But although they are all 'rock' cymbals they will sound very, veri different. The Z3/Custom and MB20 sound worlds apart from each other. Although they are/can all be loud and cutting, the overall sound is very different.

Mikey Dangerous

Senior Member
Cymbal Whore here!

I like both brands a lot. I played only Zildjians since the early-mid 90's when I started playing drums until a couple years ago when I got a huge set of Sabians (primarily HHX Evolution and a few HH) with a kit I bought. Historically, I still have that default loyalty to Zildjian, but I can't even put into words how much I love my Sabians.

The truth of the matter is that both Zildjian and Sabian make high quality cymbals that sound great and offer a variety of sounds to fit any musical style and sound preference.

For brighter sounding cymbals, I've always preferred Zildjian over Sabian. To me, Zildjian A's and A Custom's sound amazing (except for the "Rock" titled cymbals - don't like those at all), yet I've never heard a Sabian AA or AAX that I liked (the RBDR's are an exception to this). This would be considered strange since those lines compete directly with each other and are designed to be the other brand's equivalent. I don't have any personal experience with Zildjian Armands, but I hear they are quite good.

For darker sounding cymbals, I tend to prefer Sabian over Zildjian (weird since the Zildjian K is like "the quintessential cymbal"). I really love my HHX Evos and a few of the HH cymbals in general (especially my 16" HH Sound Control crash), but I remember trying out Zildjian K's/K Customs when I was younger and never liking their sound (I always ended up getting A's). I think my tastes have evolved since then and I imagine I would like them now considering they've sounded great to my ears in recordings I've heard over the past few years, but I haven't really tried them out myself in a long time. Still, this is strange because just like the A's/A Custom's directly compete with the AA's/AAX's, the K's/K Custom's directly compete with HH's/HHX's.


Senior Member
I like Sabian. Very cool to work with, they have broad lines, and they ship at a consistent quality level. I've never tested a cymbal of theirs and thought "how the hell did that get out of the factory?" Still, my goto hats are AAX Fusions.

That said, I will admit to having a hard time getting their crashes to mix well with my other cymbals. They always sound great in the store but when I got them next to my A's they just didn't fit in, sounding a little flatter and duller. That really shocked me. It was even worse getting them to mix with my new Paiste based set up, but that really wasn't as much of shock, since I have a lot of Reflector Fulls which have a massively punched up high end.

Zildjian, on the other hand, is capable of making great product and I have had luck mixing A Customs with my Paistes to a degree. But there are two areas where Zildjian blows, IMO. Their QA standards are too loose and there isn't enough support in their lines for heavy ride options. Even at stores that turn back bad stock, it might take a stack of 10 Zils to find one good one. Exact opposite with Sabian. I still manage to find good Zils but the high number of bad ones I encounter eats away at my confidence. Still, my goto ride is a ~40 year old 22 Heavy Constantinople and I love my 18 Trash Crash.


Senior Member
I think ive been fairly lucky with regards to Zildjians.

Ive always wanted Zils and it goes back to an early age when i started playing drumming and my folks bought me a zildjian Tshirt and sticks. Kinda always dreamed of having some nice stuff.

SO when i got back into drumming as an adult, I went for the best I could afford.

Ended up with a bunch of A's and Armands. Generally I love them. The 13" mastersound hi hats sound excellent. The 16" Thin crash is rich, smooth and shimmering all at the same time, and explodes with the lightest touch of a stick.

The 10" A splash is superb and responsive, only need to tickle it to get a wash of great tones, and the 21" Armand Ride is amazingly versatile.

The only one im not 100% on is my 16" Medium Thin. I dont think anything is wrong with the cymbal. I just find it a little one dimensional sounding. Its very much about the noise it makes when you hit it, and not a lot else after it. Its not complex enough sounding for my tastes, and it'll probably get traded in for either a 18" A custom standard crash, or an 18" Armand Medium Thin.


Senior Member
I could never decide between Zildjian and Sabian, so I just use a mixture of both. The Zils are 13" K mastersound hats, 21" K heavy ride, 17" Cie crash, 22" Cie ride, 19" A custom medium crash, 20" K custom hybrid ride, and the Sabians are 14" HHXcelerator Rock hats (custom), 18" HH medium crash, 19" paragon china, and 10" duo splash. The all blend together fabulously, and most of them I got for steal prices on ebay.


Silver Member
I love zildjian but i also love paiste, i tend to use zildjian a customs and k's if i am playing a large variety, also recording. but i love paiste especially the 2002's for live rock gigs, and using big sizes.... As for sabian i like them, really like the HHX series but they will never replace my zildjian and paiste's...


Senior Member
I really wanted to stay with one company so the logos would look nice, but I followed my ears and ended up split right down the middle - my rides are either 22" HHX Legacy Heavy or 22" K Custom depending on the music. My crashes are 19" K Custom Hybrid crash paired with 18" Vault Artisan. 12" HHX Evo splash inverted above the Hybrid crash, my top hi-hat is a 14" Vault Artisan top, with a K top as the bottom cymbal (I use the K bottom when I'm using the K Custom ride for a bit more cut).


Senior Member
Sabian makes better crashes and hats i personally would say, and Zildjian makes better rides. I have a real nice AAX crash and a nicke K custom ride.


Senior Member
Just as an aside: I know there's been much discussion about Zildjian As getting heavier and clangyer over the years, but the Armands and A Customs don't follow that trend, and are probably my favorites. My only gripe here is that I like traditional finish cymbals (unlike A Customs), but I don't necessarily want them to patina so drastically (like Armands). Arrgh!

That's the reason why I'm changing to sabian. There is no dark zildjian serie that doesn't feel stiff or clangy.

My preferred set is this:

Armand hats & ride
A custom crashes

Hhx groove hats & ride
Hhx evolution crashes
Last edited: