Soultone Cymbals (Vintage and Custom Brilliant ranges)
Soultone has been manufacturing cymbals since 2003 after being founded by the Israeli-born drummer and entrepreneur Iki Levy. Though the company is based in America, all Soultone cymbals are produced in Turkey.
The past few years has seen Soultone gathering a growing reputation in the US and its cymbals have now crossed the Atlantic to be distributed in the UK.
Despite having been in existence for a mere seven years, Soultone has every appearance of being an established brand. The company's website features prominent endorsee quotes along with Iki Levy's description of his manufacturing philosophy, including the '120 percent perfection policy' that each Soultone cymbal must meet.
Currently Soultone produces seven cymbal ranges which are made in two Soultone facilities in Istanbul. Increased demand means that a third factory will be up and running soon.
For review, we were sent examples from the Vintage and Custom Brilliant Series. In keeping with the polished presentation of the website, the cymbals themselves are finished to a high standard.
Soultone doesn't produce any budget models so every cymbal across all seven ranges is made from the same tin-rich B20 bronze alloy. Similarly, each cymbal is individually cast and then hand worked through all stages of production.
While the two supplied ranges of cymbals differ considerably, they provide an illustration of the variety of Soultone cymbals available. The Vintage Series models feature tight and shallow lathing bands that are interspersed with a single spiralled deeper band that winds its way to the outer edge.
Weights are medium thin and the bells are modestly sized. The finish is natural, but a subtle darkening process called SuperStroke has been applied. Its function is to increase dryness and with it definition.
The Custom Brilliant cymbals are heavier, stiffer, have deeper lathing and larger bells. As the name suggests, they have a highly-polished finish.
Both ranges wear large reproductions of the jaunty Soultone logo on both sides. An italicised rendering of 'Vintage' also features in a large way on the Vintage models, looking if anything a little too dominant.
Altogether more understated is the Custom Brilliant logo that makes for a more balanced juxtaposition.
Each series was represented by two crashes, a pair of hi-hats and a ride. The Vintage 14" hi-hats are pleasingly warm and dry but still retain a degree of crispness. A fair amount of darkness is present in the note and the overall tone is mellow. Their responsiveness and dynamic range suggests a versatile pair of hats that would record beautifully.
The pair of crashes - 16" and 18" - offer a similar blend of warmth and tonality, opening cleanly to a full note then subsiding harmoniously. The larger crash is naturally the deeper and more resonant of the two but both sit together well.
The 21" ride is a little thicker than the hats and crashes and so is altogether brighter. This works mainly in its favour as it delivers a strong stick sound. Some woodiness is audible but overall the ping is silvery and fairly lively, enabling it to carry well.
Playing the cymbal induces a gentle wash that simmers away in the background while the bell is particularly impressive. Crashing is not so straightforward, as it lifts the cymbal into a higher dynamic range which takes some time to come back under control.
With their mirror-like finish the Custom Brilliant models promise more power and the hi-hats certainly cut through. Beneath the fizzy top end is a fat note that lends the hats authority.
The pair of crashes - 17" and 19" - are similarly aggressive and open eagerly with a flash of high frequencies. There is plenty of warmth to be found as well and they both shimmer with an underlying trashiness that continues into the decay.
The 22" ride gives a solid, glassy ping that sits on a bed of sizzling wash. There are hints of trashiness present which adds a little spice to the sound. The bell rounds things off well with a deep, metallic and penetrating response.
If these two small selections of the vast range of Soultone cymbals available are anything to go by then the choice of quality cymbals just got even wider. While elements of Soultone's marketing and presentation are recognisably American (ie: cloyingly enthusiastic and therefore alien to our cynical British psyche) the company's products are worthy of high praise. The prices are excellent as well, especially as Soultone has a near universal pricing system that operates across six of its seven ranges.
High build quality. Good balance of warmth and tonality. Versatility.
Overbearing logo on the Vintage range.
These are fine instruments that possess musicality and character while being versatile enough to perform in many situations.
Country of Origin
Hi-hats, rides, splashes, crashes, chinas & effects models. Prices: Vintage series - 14" hi-hats £255; 16" crash £190; 18" crash £215; 21" ride £270. Custom Brilliant series - 14" hi-hats; 17" crash £200; 19" crash £225; 22" ride £280
B20 bronze alloy
Vintage Series: Natural/SuperStroke. Custom Brilliant Series: polished