In this Meinl Classics Custom Dark Series review, we’re going to take a deep dive into some of Meinl’s most interesting cymbals. Ever since they were released, these cymbals have been instantly recognizable by their black and gold finish, making them stand out in any drumming setup.
While the series started with a few rides, crashes, and hi-hats being available, it’s grown to being one of Meinl’s most extensive lines. There are dozens of cymbal types, giving you plenty of options to choose from.
Bottom Line Up Front: The Meinl Classics Custom Dark cymbals are intermediate cymbals made from B12 bronze. They have a dark and aggressive sound, and they’re recognized by their strong black appearance with a touch of gold around each cymbal.
These are excellent cymbals for drummers who play metal, but they work well in any setting where the music is quite heavy. The cymbals are affordable, and there are several pack options available.
Meinl Classics Custom Dark Cymbals
Meinl brought something truly unique to the market when they released these cymbals. Typically, dark cymbal characteristics can only be found in higher-quality cymbals made from B20 bronze. These are more affordable and made from B12, which is an alloy used for many intermediate cymbals.
Whenever I think of aggressive cymbals, these are some of the first cymbals that come to mind. While they fit perfectly in heavier settings, they look the part as well. Having black cymbals surrounding your drum kit just screams metal more than anything else does.
They’re an excellent line of cymbals. However, they also have a few drawbacks. They have very specific sounds, making them only work in certain settings.
They’ll sound incredibly out of place in others, so you need to make sure that you’re getting these cymbals for the right reason. They’re quite affordable, but there are other more universal affordable options that I’ll talk about a bit later.
The main quality of the Classics Custom Dark cymbals is aggressiveness. These are some of the most aggressive cymbals on Meinl’s product line, and they have plenty of volume to back that up.
However, they also have dark tones that make that aggression quite bearable. I’m not a huge fan of bright cymbals that are aggressive, so these are a much better option.
Since these cymbals are made from B12 bronze, it’s important to note that they’re not as responsive as higher-quality B20 cymbals.
In fact, I’d say responsiveness is their weak point. While they sound amazing when bashed hard, you’re not going to get fullness in tone when you lightly tap them. They’re designed to be played aggressively, and that’s how you get the best sounds out of them.
Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend using them in environments where soft drumming is required. Firstly, they’ll be too loud, but they’ll also sound quite sub-par when using a lighter touch.
There are dozens of cymbal types to choose from within this series, so you can get sounds that cover a wide array of needs.
Here’s a clip giving a demo of what the cymbals sound like:
You get every cymbal type imaginable with the Classics Custom Dark cymbals. Here’s a list of options that I picked off Meinl’s website:
- Trash China
- Trash Crash
- Trash Splash
- Trash Stack
There are also multiple sizes available for each cymbal type, catering to whatever specific needs you have.
One of the biggest strengths that this cymbal line has is the sheer number of packs that you can buy. Most cymbal lines have a single pack available, but this series has several with different cymbal types and sizes included. Here’s a rundown of all the available packs with all the specifications of what’s included:
Crash and Splash Set
This set only has crashes and splashes. I love this option as it acts as a booster pack for your cymbal setup instead of giving all the cymbals needed.
- 10” Medium Splash
- 12” Medium Trash Splash
- 16” Medium Crash
- 18” Medium Crash
Standard 4-Piece Set
This is the most popular cymbal set from the line. I’d suggest getting this pack if you’re looking for a relatively affordable full set of cymbals.
- 14” Hi-Hats
- 16” Crash
- 18” Crash
- 20” Ride
4-Piece Set with Larger Sizes
The next pack has a set of cymbals with slightly larger sizes. It also includes a trashier crash option, which adds a unique layer to the overall sound. You’ll be paying about $200 more for this one compared to the last one.
- 15” Medium Hi-Hats
- 18” Medium Trash Crash
- 20” Medium Crash
- 22” Medium Crash/Ride
This set is a personal favorite. The sizes are larger like the previous set, but you also get a trash crash from the standard Meinl Classics Custom line. It’s a bit brighter and less aggressive. On top of that, you get a Meinl Ching Ring, which you can place on any cymbal to add a rivet effect.
- 15” Hi-Hats
- 16” Classics Custom Trash Crash
- 18” Crash
- 20” Crash
- 22” Ride
The next two sets take the price range over $1000, but they’re amazing sets to buy with incredible value. The 8-piece option has the following cymbals:
- 10” Splash
- 12” Trash Splash
- 14” Medium Hi-Hats
- 16” Medium Crash
- 16” Medium Trash Crash
- 18” Medium Crash
- 18” China
- 20” Medium Ride
The 10-Piece set is the ultimate option if you want the most cymbals possible. I don’t know of any other cymbal pack on the market that gives you ten cymbals for less than $2000. You also get a cymbal bag, a Ching Ring, and a pair of sticks.
- 10” Splash
- 12” Trash Stack
- 15” Hi-Hats
- 16” Trash Stack
- 17” Crash
- 18” Trash Crash
- 18” China
- 20” Crash
- 20” Ride
Pros and Cons
- Fantastic cymbals for metal music and other heavy styles
- Quite affordable compared to other cymbals
- Every cymbal type available with multiple sizes
- Several pack options to choose from that fit varying budgets
- These cymbals aren’t versatile, and they’ll sound out-of-place in softer settings
Who Are These For?
You’ll mostly find metal drummers using the Meinl Classics Custom Dark cymbals. That’s the setting where they work the best in. They’re aggressive, and they cut through dense mixes very easily. However, I’d also suggest these to rock drummers who want cymbals that are relatively affordable.
I’d stay clear of them if you play mellower styles of music. For example, these would be a terrible option for jazz drummers. With that being said, it may add a unique sound to your cymbal setup if you just use one of these amongst more musical cymbals.
If I were to use a cymbal from this series, it would be one of the Trash Stacks. Those would work wonderfully, no matter what styles of music I’m playing.
Alternative Cymbals to Consider
Meinl Classics Custom Brilliant
The Meinl Classics Custom Brilliant cymbals are the brighter, more standard versions in the Classics Custom cymbal line. These cymbals cost the same, but they have sounds that are more universal, making them more versatile.
While they still cut through mixes very easily, they’re nowhere near as aggressive. They’re also great options for drummers who play rock and metal. They work decently in mellower styles as well.
The great thing about them is that the line is just as extensive as the Dark line, giving you plenty of choices to look through. There just aren’t as many pack options available.
I’d suggest getting these over the Dark cymbals if you don’t specialize in playing metal music. They’re also a better option if you prefer a more traditional appearance with your cymbals.
- More versatile than the Classics Custom Dark cymbals
- Have the same prices
- Traditional cymbal finish is preferred by many drummers
- Not as many pack options as the Classics Custom Dark cymbals
Sabian XSR Monarch
The XSR Monarch cymbals from Sabian have very similar prices to the Classics Custom Darks, and I’m suggesting them here as a better option for lighter styles. These cymbals are also dark, but they’re a lot washier. They’re my top affordable cymbal option for jazz because of this.
They’re made from B20 bronze, which makes them a lot more responsive and dynamic than the previous cymbals mentioned. However, the downsides are that there aren’t near as many cymbal type options. You also can’t find these being sold in a pack very easily.
All the Monarch cymbals have an earthy finish, which gives them a vintage look. I love it, and it’s a good alternative to the sleek and modern black finish from the Classics Custom Dark cymbals.
- Very affordable cymbals made from B20 bronze
- Great cymbals for jazz and other mellow styles
- Vintage appearance is fantastic
- Responsive and musical
- Limited number of cymbal types and sizes available
- Not great for heavy music
The Zildjian A cymbals are an iconic choice to go with. If you’re looking for a full set of cymbals, a pack of these will cost just over $800. That’s about $200 more than a pack of Meinl Classics Custom Dark cymbals, but the extra cost is highly worth it.
You’ll find these cymbals being used in almost every musical style imaginable. They’re very bright and cutting, and they have a natural sound that most people associate cymbals with. These are professional cymbals, whereas the Meinl cymbals are intermediate ones.
The New Beat hi-hats that fall under this line are some of the most popular hi-hats that have ever existed. You can hear them being used in hundreds of studio records thanks to their versatility and beautiful sounds. While the other cymbals in the line aren’t as popular, they’re just as good.
While there are plenty of cymbal types and sizes here, there aren’t as many as the Meinl Classics Custom Series. There also aren’t too many pack options.
- Professional cymbals with versatile sounds
- Bright and responsive tones
- Incredibly popular, making them easy to find
- More expensive than the Meinl Classics Custom Dark cymbals
Dream Energy Series
Dream is a highly underrated cymbal company. They’re quite small, so it’s understandable. My suggestion here is the Dream Energy line of cymbals. These cymbals have very similar prices to the Meinl Classics Custom Darks, but they’re made from B20 bronze and are hand-hammered.
Hand-hammered cymbals are typically much higher quality than cymbals that have been made on a production line. The benefit of these is their affordable prices with personalized tones. They’re quite bright, but they have a unique touch of washiness. This makes them incredibly versatile.
I’ve found myself suggesting cymbals like these more and more over the big brands, as the value you get for the money you pay is just amazing.
The downside is that hand-hammered cymbals have varying tones across the same lines. You may not get the same sounds from the cymbal that you heard on YouTube. Some drummers love that, while others steer clear of it.
- Very affordable
- Made from B20 bronze
- All the cymbals in the line sound different
Answer: Different cymbals have different sound qualities. Those qualities work appropriately according to what the other instruments in a band sound like. In a metal band, you’ll get distorting guitars and screaming vocals.
A drummer will need bright and loud cymbals to support those sounds and be heard clearly through them.
On the opposite end, you’ll need light cymbals if you play drums in restaurants. The cymbals that you use for metal will sound too loud and aggressive in that setting. General rules to follow are that bright cymbals are great for loud and energetic settings while darker ones are good for softer settings.
Those aren’t strict rules, though. It’s up to you as the drummer to decide which sounds will be best for your band.
Answer: Yes, they’re one of the best cymbal brands. Meinl falls under “the big four” cymbal brands along with Sabian, Paiste, and Zildjian. These four brands sell the most cymbals around the world, and they’re affiliated with all the most famous drummers around.
Meinl is a German cymbal company, and they’re well-known for making top-quality cymbals that are dry, complex, and visually stunning. They make cymbals of all types, but their dry cymbals tend to be the most popular.
Answer: A big defining factor in a cymbal’s quality is the type of metal used to make it. The lowest-quality cymbals are made from sheets of brass.
Higher-quality cymbals are made from bronze alloys. B8 is commonly used for entry-level cymbals. B10 and B12 are used for intermediate cymbals, and B20 is used for professional cymbals. The higher the number of the alloy, the more responsive and musical the cymbals tend to be, as those alloys have better tonal qualities.
Answer: They’re incredibly important. I live by the rule that your cymbals are more important than your drums when it comes to sound quality. The great thing about drum kits is that you can alter them in several ways to sound better. Good tuning and top-quality drumheads are all you need, even on a cheap drum set.
Cymbals, on the other hand, can’t have their tones altered too much. A bad cymbal will always sound bad, so it’s better to spend more money on cymbals than you would on a drum set.
If you’re starting from scratch and looking for what setup to buy, I’d suggest finding an affordable intermediate drum set and then spending the rest of your budget on professional cymbals. It’s okay to buy used drum gear, especially when it comes to drums themselves, as wear-and-tear is never too hectic.
To wrap things up, the Meinl Classics Custom Dark cymbals are one of the top options for metal drummers.
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate player, or professional, these cymbals will serve you well in a band with heavy instrumentation. I wish all lines of cymbals had as many cymbal type options. You really are spoiled for choice with this series.
If these cymbals are a bit too aggressive, you could try out the Classics Custom Brilliant cymbals. They’re very similar but not as loud or cutting. Check out the other options I mentioned in the alternate suggestions section as well. One of those may be what you’ve been looking for this whole time.
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