Searching for cymbals and deciding which ones work well together can often be quite tiresome. Luckily, you can buy a premade set of cymbals that are tried and tested. While cymbal packs offer the benefit of complementary sounds, they’re also a cheaper alternative to buying cymbals individually.
With Zildjian being one of the top cymbal brands in the world, they’re guaranteed to have some excellent choices in the cymbal set world. I’m going to show you a few of my favorites.
Bottom Line Up Front
Zildjian has varying sets of cymbals that range from entry-level to professional options. The entry-level cymbal set from Zildjian has the Planet Z cymbals, but I wouldn’t recommend them as I’m not a big fan of how they sound.
When it comes to Zildjian, I’d only recommend the sets starting at their intermediate cymbals and higher. Here are my top options.
My Top Picks at a Glance
- Zildjian S Series Performer Set – Best intermediate cymbals. They’re also the most affordable Zildjian cymbals that I would happily recommend.
- Zildjian A City Cymbal Set – Best Zildjian set for small drum kit setups.
- Zildjian A Custom Cymbal Set – Best Zildjian set for rock and metal drummers.
- Zildjian K Custom Dark Cymbal Set – One of Zildjian’s top overall cymbal sets. Great for most applications.
- Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Cymbal Set – Excellent set for jazz and worship settings.
- Zildjian K Sweet Cymbal Set – Zildjian’s most versatile cymbal set.
Advice for Buying Cymbals
There are some things to consider when buying cymbals. Keeping these in mind will help you make good decisions that will benefit you in the long run. They may also save you a bit of cash!
Individual Cymbals vs Cymbal Packs
Before buying a Zildjian cymbal set, think of what the benefits are of getting a set compared to buying cymbals individually. Some Zildjian cymbals, such as the K Constantinoples and K Keropes, can’t be bought in sets. If you want a set of them, you’ll be spending a bit more to buy them one by one.
If you want to add a few K Custom cymbals to your rig, then you should consider buying a set. It’s often more economical to do this as you end up getting cymbals for free most of the time compared to buying them individually. This is the main incentive for buying full cymbal sets.
I’m a big fan of individuality when it comes to overall cymbal sound, so I always suggest mixing cymbals up from varying lines to get a unique sound. You could start with a set and then add on from there.
If you want to learn about the full benefits of buying cymbals in sets or individually, you should check this article out.
You must set a budget when looking to buy a cymbal set. With Zildjian being one of the most prominent brands, don’t expect their cymbals to be incredibly affordable. The best way to categorize cymbal prices is by putting them under entry-level, intermediate, and professional options.
Entry-level cymbal packs will cost between $200 and $500. Intermediate packs will cost between $500 and $1000. Professional packs will cost anywhere between $1000 and $2000. You won’t find a cymbal set more expensive than that from Zildjian.
As I said earlier, I’m not going to cover any entry-level packs from Zildjian as I don’t think they’re very strong in that area.
Their strength lies in your intermediate and professional options. If you want to buy a good set of Zildjian cymbals, be prepared to pay $500 or more for them.
Not all cymbals are ideal for every setting. Cymbals have varying sound qualities, and certain qualities are better suited than others for the style of music you play. This is something you need to take into consideration when looking for a Zildjian pack to buy.
If you’re a rock drummer, a set of mellow, dark cymbals isn’t going to be effective when you’re jamming with your band. You need loud cymbals that make their presence known. Those same loud cymbals will be an awful choice for a jazz setting, though.
You can also get cymbals that do it all and thrive in most musical settings. You just have to relate the cymbals you’re thinking of to the environment you play in, and you’ll know whether they will work or not. I’ll give a bit of help when we get to the cymbal set suggestions!
Most cymbal sets only come with hi-hats, crash cymbals, and ride cymbals. This is especially true with sets that are offered by Zildjian. If you want to buy a cymbal set that comes with splashes and china cymbals, you may need to look at a different brand.
Otherwise, you could buy one of the standard sets from Zildjian and then add the extra cymbals to it at a later stage. That comes back to the concept of developing an overall personal sound, which I highly encourage.
The Zildjian cymbal sets that I have selected for this list have been ones that I know are hugely popular amongst drummers. I’ve been lucky enough to play all of them, so my opinions are backed by personal experience.
I think all of them have something special to offer, and they’re fit for a wide variety of drummers. Each of them is ideal for specific settings, which I will mention when I break them down.
Lastly, I’d say that they all have excellent value compared to the price they have. Although most of the options I mention may seem a bit expensive, you’ll come to realize that all of them are well worth their cost, and you’ll be saving money from buying these as packs instead of individually.
Best Zildjian Cymbal Packs
Zildjian S Series Cymbal Set
If I were to describe the sound of these, I’d say that they’re thick and loud. You can hear the thickness in their tone, and this makes them excellent options for drummers who play heavier styles of music.
When you hit them, you get a bright sound that is followed by shimmering tones. These shimmering tones are typical of cymbals in this price range.
They aren’t too dynamically responsive, meaning their musicality isn’t great. That’s why I’d only suggest these to drummers wanting to upgrade from entry-level cymbals that are made of brass.
Here’s what you get in the set:
- 14” Zildjian S Mastersound Hi-Hats
- 16” Zildjian S Medium Thin Crash
- 18” Zildjian S Medium Thin Crash
- 20” Zildjian S Medium Ride
- Good option for drummers wanting to upgrade from beginner cymbals
- Bright sounds are great for loud music
- Not a good option for experienced drummers
Zildjian A City Cymbal Set
All the cymbals are made from B20 bronze, so they have much higher-quality sounds than the previous S cymbals. With the New Beats hi-hats, you get a crisp tone that sits on the higher end of the frequency range.
The crash is 14”, which is quite unusual for a cymbal of this type. However, it works well in this particular setup. It has a fast tone that gets out of the way quite quickly.
The 18” Uptown ride is the star of the show. It’s the main selling point of the entire pack, and it sounds amazing. Since it’s so small, you get an incredibly clear and articulate ride cymbal sound when playing the surface. The crashing sound isn’t bad either.
Here are the specifics of the included cymbals:
- 12” Zildjian A New Beat Hi-Hats
- 14” Zildjian A Fast Crash
- 18” Zildjian A Uptown Ride
- Excellent cymbal pack to use with smaller drum sets
- High-quality cymbals made from B20 bronze
- The 18” Uptown ride is incredible
- Only suited for one purpose and won’t sound or look great on a standard acoustic kit
Zildjian A Custom Cymbal Set
The Zildjian A Custom Cymbal Set is one of the most popular cymbal sets around, largely thanks to the popularity of the A Custom cymbals themselves.
These cymbals are the gold standard when it comes to bright and punchy sounds. When you think of what a crash cymbal sounds like, the 18” A Custom is typically what pops into most people’s heads.
This is the pack that you need to get if you’re a rock, punk, or metal drummer. These cymbals will cut through mixes easily while making themselves known on a stage. They’re incredibly shiny as well, which makes them easy on the eye.
Since they do the loud and proud thing so well, they’re not the most versatile option. Therefore, I wouldn’t suggest them to drummers who play softer styles in mellower settings.
Here are the specifications of the cymbals in the set:
- 14” Zildjian A Custom Hi-Hats
- 16” Zildjian A Custom Crash
- 18” Zildjian A Custom Crash
- 20” Zildjian A Custom Medium Ride
- One of the best cymbal packs for heavy music
- Incredibly popular cymbal sound
- Excellent choice for live gigging
- Sounds are too aggressive for softer drumming styles
Zildjian K Custom Dark Cymbal Set
They feel buttery to play, and they’re extremely sensitive to varying dynamics. You tend to hear their full range of tone, even when you’re playing them gently. You can then increase your intensity to hear a beautiful washiness.
I’ve seen the K Custom Dark cymbals mostly being used in recording studios and churches. Their warmness lends well to church environments, and they’re very easy to work with when mixing studio recordings.
My favorite cymbal from this pack is the ride. It sounds so beautiful and rich that it makes me want to play it all the time instead of playing the hi-hat.
Here are all the cymbals included in the set:
- 14” Zildjian K Custom Hi-Hats
- 16” Zildjian K Custom Crash
- 18” Zildjian K Custom Crash
- 20” Zildjian K Custom Crash
- Beautiful dark, mellow, and rich tones
- Excellent option for church drumming and studio recording
- All the cymbals are incredibly responsive to dynamic playing
- The sounds are too mellow for heavy music, so they’re not good cymbals for metal, punk, and most rock settings
Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Cymbal Set
I’m a massive fan of dry cymbals, so I’d love these no matter what. However, I have a drummer friend who always questioned my love for them.
He preferred the traditional sound of the cymbals, such as the A Customs. His mindset changed a bit when he heard these, and he discovered the value in them.
When you use dry cymbals, you get to hit a bit harder as they don’t have as much resonance as other cymbal types. The sounds get out of the way very quickly, making the cymbals great fun to play.
This is the Zildjian pack I’d recommend if you want something for jazz drumming. The cymbals lend incredibly well to that style.
Here are the specifications:
- 14” Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Hi-Hats
- 16” Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Crash
- 18” Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Crash
- 21” Zildjian K Custom Special Dry Ride
- Highly unique cymbal pack from Zildjian
- Great option for jazz drumming
- Great option for low-volume gig settings
- Not every drummer will like the sound of dry cymbals
Zildjian K Sweet Cymbal Set
All the cymbals have a rich and dark tone. However, they’re impactful enough to work in rock settings. They don’t overpower, but they make their presence felt.
The interesting thing about this pack is that all the cymbals come in unconventional sizes. My favorite part of this is that the hi-hats are 15”. I haven’t used anything smaller than that in years when it comes to hi-hats, so this is the Zildjian set I would buy if I needed a new cymbal setup.
Most of the cymbals have unlathed bells, giving them an earthy tone when you play the center. It’s an extra dynamic that I highly appreciate!
The downside of these is that it’s the most expensive cymbal set that you can get from Zildjian. It’s only a few hundred dollars more than the others, though, so the difference isn’t too drastic.
Here are the exact cymbal sizes offered:
- 15” Zildjian K Sweet Hi-Hats
- 17” Zildjian K Sweet Extra Thin Crash
- 19” Zildjian K Sweet Extra Thin Crash
- 21” Zildjian K Sweet Medium Ride
- One of Zildjian’s most versatile cymbal packs
- I love the unconventional cymbal sizes
- Beautiful rich tones
- Most expensive cymbal pack out of all my suggestions
Answer: Zildjian A cymbals are thick and bright, and Zildjian K cymbals are thinner with mellower tones. With the Zildjian A and A Custom lines, you have cymbals that fit perfectly into rock and metal settings. They’re loud, punchy, and very impactful within busy sound environments.
With the K and K Custom lines, you get cymbals with more musicality in their tones. They feel smoother to play, and they typically suit a wider range of musical styles.
You’ll also find that any Zildjian K cymbal will always be more expensive than a Zildjian A cymbal. The K Customs are Zildjian’s top-quality line, whereas the A Customs are slightly more affordable.
Answer: If you were to look for the single best Zildjian cymbal you could find, it would be a Zildjian K Constantinople cymbal. These are luxury cymbals from Zildjian that sound beautiful when they’re played.
They’re very expensive, and you only have the option of getting hi-hats, crashes, and ride cymbals. However, nothing matches their tone in the Zildjian cymbal lineup. You’ll typically see jazz drummers using K Constantinople ride cymbals thanks to their warm tones and articulate response.
The other fantastic Zildjian cymbals that you can only buy in single options are the K Kerope cymbals. These are dark and complex cymbals that have vintage designs and tones.
Answer: Yes, the Planet Z Zildjian set costs less than $300. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. The cymbals are made from brass, and they really don’t sound good.
If you’re a beginner drummer, you most probably won’t mind the sounds too much. There are much better options for the same price, though. My favorite affordable cymbal pack is the Meinl HCS Set. These cymbals are also made from brass, but they sound a lot better than the Planet Zs.
I’ve always found it a bit disappointing that Zildjian doesn’t offer a top-quality set of beginner cymbals. The Sabian SBr cymbals are also a strong competitor in this realm.
Answer: It depends on where you buy them from. Whenever you buy used drum gear, you should go test it out yourself before buying. When it comes to cymbals, you should check for cracks and keyholes near the bells. If all is clear, go for it!
Buying cymbals secondhand is one of the best ways to save money while attaining an amazing cymbal setup. Cymbals start sounding better with age, so you could argue that it’s even ideal to buy cymbals that have already been used by someone else.
When choosing a cymbal pack, Zildjian has you covered with everything except for a really good beginner pack. I’d suggest checking Sabian or Meinl out if you’re looking for a decent entry-level set.
Other than that, you’ll be incredibly happy with any of the packs that I mentioned above. All of them are packed with the Zildjian quality that has been developed over the 400 years of cymbal-making.
If you want some fresh cymbals that are better than your current brass ones, the S Performer pack is a great option. After that, the A City pack is excellent for small drum kits. It’s one of the only packs I know of that is intended for this purpose.
The A Custom pack is the top option for heavy settings. If you play live gigs, you can’t go wrong with the A Customs unless the gigs you play are in quieter venues.
The remaining three packs are amazing options for professional drummers. I highly recommend all of them. Listen to the demo videos to decide which sounds you like the most. Once you’ve made that decision, you’ll know which set to get.
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