Last year we checked out an impressive array of FX cymbals from Turkey.
The Xist Series IONs (featuring a series of symmetrical holes cut into the cymbal surface) were welcome additions to an ever-expanding catalogue of contemporary cymbals from Istanbul Agop - not to be confused with fellow Turkish artisans Istanbul Mehmet.
Today we have a boxed set of the Xist Series Power models to put through their paces, including a 20" ride, a pair of 14" hi-hats, 16" and 18" crashes.
This selection of tasty Turkish delights also comes with a rigid ABS carry case thrown in for free. This robust case sports an integral handle, central fixing bolt and accompanying large plastic nut. It’s roomy enough that, even with all five review examples in situ, there’s still space for a few extras should you add to your collection.
All members of the Xist Series (including Brilliant, Power and ION) are created from a ‘bell bronze’ B20 alloy. While this optimum metal blend is found on many top-of-the-range cymbals, this often means a substantial price tag. In order to maintain a competitive edge, the time it takes to produce each cymbal is drastically reduced. With considerably less hand-working involved, the company describes this as a “modern take on traditional Turkish cymbal-making”.
While the shaping of each Istanbul Agop cymbal is usually done under an artisan’s hammer, the Xist Series begins its journey as molten bronze poured into pre-shaped moulds, creating the profile. While they are still subject to various hammering processes, the majority of this is done on a specially designed machine. This is operated by one of Istanbul Agop’s artisans who chooses the positioning and the intensity of each impact.
Heading outwards (away from an unworked, unlathed plain bell), is an array of seemingly random hammer blows. Due to their depth and positioning, you could be forgiven for thinking they have been hand hammered. Each strike compresses the alloy to a variety of depths which not only helps focus the sound but also gives each model its own unique character.
Throughout the Xist Series there is a distinct lathing pattern. Again, moving away from the bell the pattern is wide at first then, halfway across the bow, is finer and deeper pin-lathing, reducing the cymbals’ thickness as we head towards the outer edge.
These review cymbals are indeed heavy, especially the bottom hi-hat which feels disproportionately chunky. Each Power model is designed to create a loud and bright sound - the thicker the cymbal, the higher the pitch. Buffed up to a highly-polished lustre, they not only look stunning but this should also help provide extra cut too.
In keeping with the contemporary ambience, the typeface of the ‘Xist’ graphic is now far more subtle compared to the cartoon look of some older Xist models. Partnered with a tasteful triangular logo, this gives the whole series an appealing, professional appearance.
Striking the ride with stick tips yields a loud, high-pitched ping, rapidly reinforced by a pleasing, robust underlying hum which steadily builds but retains its composure, never blooming to a peak - always a good attribute to find in a ride.
To check out the longevity, one final strike provides us with a lasting overtone which pulses and whirrs its multifaceted waves before eventually dissolving away. A 5B shoulder laid across the bell shows its decisive side, making it ideal for lifting a chorus, solo or the bridge of a song perhaps.
Even with a hard clout on the bow or a sideways shoulder slice, it’s impossible to make this ride ‘crash’ - the upshot of this is that we are in complete control of every stroke. The 20" is a lush ride where the overall sound is bright and surprisingly complex given the less hands-on manufacturing methods.
What’s more, this cymbal is not genre dependant. It would be suitable for almost any type of music; rock, pop and jazz included. This is an impressive cymbal that has whet our appetite for more, and we wouldn’t mind trying the 22" model too.
As with all of the cymbals here, the main bulk of the bronze is around the centre of the cymbal and, especially on the hi-hats, should prove to be quite cutting. It takes no more than a few strokes for this theory to be rubber-stamped.
Playing around a slightly thinner top with some brisk double strokes, the tips can be heard crisp and clear with fine articulation and control. However, still ‘rolling’ atop and pedalling hard, there’s little noticeable pitch bend - it seems the cymbal has little ‘flexing’ that we would normally experience from thinner models.
A quick slice and rapidly opening up the hats reveals more than just a hint of that Turkish darkness. Pedal chicks, half-open sizzles and any number of pleasing onomatopoeic hi-hat tricks are all readily achievable too.
Both of the crashes are loud and powerful - the smaller of the two, as expected, has a higher pitch, but neither are overly sharp, piercing or ear-splitting. They peak instantly, blooming with a sound that is full and rich and the larger of the two fills the air with ease - an extremely powerful cymbal.
When compared to some of the more ‘traditional’ or darker sounding models in the range, the initial ‘crash’ of both may be just a tad sharper, but the tail off/sustain is not too dissimilar to a traditional model.