Buyers' guide: mid-range cymbals

5 cymbals from £52, 3 essential buying tips

Sabian XS20
Sabian XS20: good all-rounders

For some, buying new music making gear is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. For the inexperienced, though, it can be a stressful experience. There's so much choice, and, depending on your skill level, buying the wrong gear could seriously stunt your progression.

To make it easier, we've put together a buyers' guide, which includes our top product picks and essential buying tips. Here's how to buy mid-range cymbals…

3 buying tips

1. The mid-level cymbal market is, as with all such sectors, a neverending hotbed of activity. It's here that advances in technology bring rewards in terms of increasingly good kit for not much cash, and the trickle-down effect of high-level instruments is to be found. So while you can spend vast amounts more on a set of metals, there's much good stuff to be had from the selection highlighted here. If you're a semi-regular gigger and an occasional studio user, you can equip yourself very nicely without having to take out a second mortgage.

"The mid-level cymbal market is, as with all such sectors, a neverending hotbed of activity. It's here that advances in technology bring rewards"

2. While tin has little metallic allure elsewhere, as far as cymbals go it's important stuff and higher levels of it in the base material mean extra sweetness (all else being equal). In this bracket it's interesting to note the difference between materials on offer. Sabian has done well to offer the XS20 line (made from 'high tin' B20 bronze) at the prices it does. Although your ears should always be the judge, it's an impressively 'semi-pro' foundation to be working from.

3. There's more choice of individual cymbals in the various ranges here than at the entry level. So if you specifi cally need heavier rides, or lighter, fancier hi-hats, you'll have to look to spend money on gear in this price bracket. Metal-friendly rides with big bells and cool hats like Meinl's Soundwave Amuns become available at midlevel, and they're well worth the dough.

5 mid-range cymbals from £52 each

1. Sabian XS20

The XS20s introduced B20 cast bronze cymbals to the mid-level market, and have been improved with a new hand-lathing approach that sees wide grooves etched into the surface. The high tin content aligns the XS20 with higher-priced cymbals, but without the price tag. Good all-rounders for reasonable money, then.
Read the full review

2. Paiste Alpha

Paiste has always done well to imbue its output with a strong sense of personality and, thankfully, even the affordable Alphas represent in this respect. There's a real sense that each instrument in the range has been created with care, and (of crucial importance) they sound fab.

3. Meinl MB8

Large range of contemporary-sounding cymbals that are within touching distance of Meinl's pro ranges. B8 is the ideal alloy for creating European-sounding instruments, and these are cut from sheets of the stuff, boasting consistent hammering, attractive lathing patterns and a blinding shine.
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4. Meinl Amun Series

Versatile and pretty diverse in its offering, the Amun series takes another approach to the B8 blueprint and throws some fancy computer hammering into the equation. The result is such good stuff as the really tasty Soundwave hi-hats and awesome big bell ride. Well-balanced and clean-but-characterful is the order of the day.

5. Zildjian ZHT

The company reckons these to be "the most advanced and musical sheet bronze cymbals that Zildjian has ever created". The increase in tin (from 8 percent to 12 percent over the ZBTs) does add sweetness, although these are perhaps not the massive leap to pro level that punters might like at the price.
Read the full review

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