Now here is an instrument that goes back a long way. The earliest formal records show about the 7th Century BC. They have been used in religious rituals and various celebrations and festivals. They were introduced to China and Asia in the 4th Century, where they performed similar functions.
Fast forward to the days of the 16th and 17th centuries, and they appear in military bands and then a short step into orchestras. The bang crash wallop disappeared for a while as Buddy Rich played tunes on them but returned with Keith Moon and John Bonham.
It was once said to a band that I was in at the time, “Forget worrying about your drums, get the cymbals right.” In the modern world, there are some great manufacturers – Zildjian, Paiste, Sabian, Meinl. They don’t come cheap at all. And just how many do you need? Hi-hats, of course, that’s two, a crash and a ride at least.
It can be an expensive journey to the shop. Some companies, though, manufacture cymbal packs. So, let’s take a look and not only find the Best Cymbal Packs but also the best cymbal pack for the money.
Top 8 Best Cymbal Packs of 2023
1 Meinl Cymbal Set Box Pack
Meinl instruments were established in Germany by Roland Meinl in the early 1950s. At first, they produced wind instruments but later diversified to include a varied range. They commenced cymbal manufacture in 1952.
In the 1960s, they moved part of the manufacturing to the US. It was then that Roland Meinl started to import cheaper Japanese instruments. Pearl drums were one brand and then later Ibanez. They originally worked at the lower end of the market but began to work at the higher end in the 80s and 90s, working alongside Billy Cobham for development.
This box set from Meinl is designed to get a new drummer started. Or perhaps to upgrade a little on what an existing drummer already might use. It includes a 16” Crash cymbal and 20” Ride. Also, of course, 14” hi-hats. As an extra, they also include a free 18” Crash. A very competitive five cymbal setup.
They have a special design about them that gives them a very dark appearance. This is created by a process used to finish the cymbal production. It was originally used to give the cymbals a rich tone. In doing so, it gave them their unique look. Some like it; some do not, but it certainly stands out.
They cut through and are easy to ensure they rise above all those nasty screaming guitars. Offering a full range of cymbals by a single manufacturer is a good idea. In that way, there is a certain similarity in sound around the kit. Quite often, if a drummer has mixed and matched his cymbals, there is a strange difference in texture – with a box set that is eliminated.
The sound is good and powerful, and the look is certainly different. This easily makes them one of the best cymbal packs for the money.
- Good range of quality made cymbals.
- A free added extra 18” inch crash
- Very competitive price.
- Some may not like the coloring.
2 Zildjian K Custom Hybrid Cymbal Set
You just have to say the name. A bit like Fender. Just the name, and you know what they are talking about. Founded in what is now Istanbul in Turkey in 1623, Zildjian has been making noise ever since. Arriving in 1928 in the US, Avedis Zildjian set up the business in Massachusetts, and it has since become one of the largest cymbal and drumstick manufacturers in the world.
This set of Zildjian includes a 21” custom ride cymbal and a 17” crash. Hi-hats are 14 and a 1/4”. They are created with the ‘K’ sound. The K stands for Kerope Zildjian. He made the original cast cymbals in the 19th Century.
They have a hybrid design that blends traditional Zildjian brightness with just a little darkness. It makes a very good combination, and the cymbals are pre-matches for sound. The hybrid designs come from a design relationship they have with Japanese drummer Akira Jimbo.
He is renowned for his fusion of electronic and acoustic drums. Combining drum sounds is his specialty. He was an ideal partner for Zildjian in this project.
The superior design of these cymbals makes them automatically stand out. The slightly larger hi-hat gives an extra volume. And the ‘master sound’ hammering technique employed gives a quick sharp response. The crash and ride bear the traditional Zildjian brightness.
Extra varying tones are created with unlathed workmanship on the bell area of both cymbals. This unlathed center is buffed instead and delivers a strong sounding bell.
The outer edges are lathed to increase what drummers like to call ‘crashability.’ We all know what noisy little monsters drummers are. This tends to make them noisier.
There isn’t much to say other than they are Zildjian. They are one of the best cymbal brands, but they are going to set you back a bit. That’s quality for you.
- Zildjian sound and design quality.
- A hybrid using the best of dark and bright sounds.
- Improved ‘crashability’!
- The price will put some people off.
3 Meinl Cymbals Super Set Box Pack
Meinl has come up with a great starter package for any drummer needing cymbals. They have included just about everything you will need. By having so many cymbal options, you get many tonal variations.
They have included the standard basic requirements. A pair of 14” hi-hats and a 16” Crash and 20” Ride make up the basic format. But then they have added an extra 18” Crash ad 10” Splash and a 16” China cymbal.
The hi-hats have a design with the bottom cymbal a little heavier than the top like the professionals. Having it set up like this creates a crisp sound with that ‘chick’ sound. The 20” Crash has a raised bell. This allows the player to get some nice tap sounds that are defined and very loud. They will cut through most mixes.
The two crash cymbals are well placed in this setup and provide a few options. The 16” will be the cymbal with an instant loud reaction. It has a medium weight and thickness and can produce volume at the intensity at which it is used. The 18” crash also delivers a big sound. The larger bell giving distinct rhythm patterns when played there. This cymbal can be used as a second Ride if you choose.
The inclusion on the set of China and Splash cymbals are a good idea and worthy of comment. The China sound is quite dark and quite intense and gives drummers a different sound and effect. The Splash is ‘the’ instant sounding cymbal. It gives you an impact at high intensity but doesn’t sustain to drown out the rest of the kit.
All things considered, this is an excellent box set. Made in Germany, it is well constructed and at a very cost-effective price for the drummer creating his first kit. There are, however, no felts or sleeves, and so you will need to arrange something for carrying around. They could be one of the best budget cymbals.
- A great variety of cymbal options and sounds.
- Very cost-effective price.
- No felts or sleeves for transportation.
4 Zildjian ZBT Starter Cymbal Set
Quite a tempting offer to have the chance of building your first drum kit and have Zildjian stamped all over the cymbals. Nevertheless, Zildjian has recognized that not everyone starts at the very top prices. This five cymbal starter set is a good choice for the young and developing student drummer.
It features a 13” hi-hat set and a 14” crash with an 18” ride cymbal. The sizes are all a bit smaller than the average — the hi-hat by an inch and the 14” crash by a couple of inches. You do, therefore, lose just a little bit of that sound.
They are made from a quality bronze and lathed and buffed to the usual Zildjian quality. The bronze alloy has a 92% copper and an 8% tin formulation. They have got a decent sound, even though they are a little smaller. And there is that brightness and cutting edge, that you always get from this brand.
It goes without saying that the sound projects. That is one of the things Zildjian is well-known for.
So if you are expecting the highest-quality Zildjian sounds, you won’t find it with these cymbals. They are designed and priced for an entry-level purchase. Don’t think you are getting the real deal. For what they are, they are very good and great value at a budget price. They probably won’t do for live big stage sessions or studio work.
They don’t come with any covers or felts. However, they must be considered as one of the best budget cymbals currently available.
- Zildjian quality build and materials.
- Good starter level pack at a cost-effective price.
- No covers or felts.
5 Sabian 25005XXP AA X-plosion Performance Set
Sabian is considered one of the big four. Zildjian, Sabian, Paiste, and Meinl. Based and founded in Canada by… Robert Zildjian (they get everywhere, don’t they). Robert was overlooked as the new CEO of Zildjian to succeed Avedis. He took off and set up Sabian cymbals using all his considerable expertise.
The name Sabian an acronym taken from the first letters of his three children, Sally. Bill and Andy. We might safely say they know what they are doing and produce quality cymbals. Since their inception, they have had well-known drummers use their cymbals. Bill Ward of Black Sabbath being one. Have a listen to Paranoid again.
This set of cymbals includes 14-inch Hi-Hats, a 16-inch Crash, and a 20 inch Ride. Also included is a free 18* Crash. The Hi-Hat and Ride cymbals are what Sabian calls ‘Stage’ cymbals. The Crash is labeled ‘X-plosion.’ They are all part of the AAX range, which has proven to be extremely popular.
We think it would be unfair to call these cymbals starter or for the beginner. They are of a high standard of manufacture and have a great sound. These are probably more for the drummer who has some experience and wants to upgrade. They have the natural finish as against the sometimes used Sabian brilliant finish.
Like that company that cannot be named here, they produce a clear, bright, and penetrating sound. The Crash cymbals certainly let you know they are around. The Hi-Hats produce that sought after ‘chick’ sound, and the bell on the ride is crisp and clear and cuts right through.
They are real quality as you would expect, but quality comes at a price. Don’t expect this Sabian pack to be a budget product. It isn’t; it’s the real deal cymbal-wise from one of the best cymbal brands.
- Real Sabian quality of manufacture.
- Great sounding cymbals.
- Price is going to put some people off.
6 Sabian SBR Performance Pack
The Sabian Vault. It sounds a bit sinister, but it is not a place where they send naughty drummers. Though, that would be a good idea with some. It’s a place where much of the design of the cymbal ranges goes on. It’s also where custom-made cymbals are created for specific musicians.
One of the procedures that go on in this veritable room of wonder is the sonic matching of cymbals. What do we mean? Have you ever heard a drummer who has hit one cymbal and then hit the one next to it? But then the sound is so different you look to see if someone else has joined in?
That’s because they are not matched. It often happens when drummers are using different manufacturer’s cymbals, but can also happen with the same brand.
These might be a budget range set of cymbals. They might be designed as entry-level for a starter or a drummer building his kit. But they are sonically matched somewhere in Area 52. Sabian are like that. They like all of their products to have real quality.
This pack comes 14-inch hi-hat, a 20-inch ride, and a 16-inch crash cymbal. All matched to ensure the sounds mix well together.. They have surfaces that have been carefully lathed and then hammered and produce a great sound. Tight and bright should be the motto of the SBR because they are both.
The SBR Performance pack is the Sabian answer for new and aspiring drummers. It will let them have some quality in their kit at a cost-effective price. Obviously not as good as their top of the range cymbals but Sabian quality all the same. For a starter, this could be the best cymbal pack for the money. They do not include any felts or covers.
- Sabian quality at a great price.
- Very good sounds that are well-matched.
- No felts or covers.
7 Wuhan WUTBSU Western Style Cymbal Set
Maybe a new name to some. Wuhan, as the name implies, are built in China. They make absolutely no pretenses at all about challenging the ‘fab four’ for quality of sound. They obviously cannot compete with them for reputation. What they do give you is a decent sound cymbal at a great price.
They are just about the fastest-growing cymbal brand around and are receiving glowing testimonials. It is not surprising. They are producing some real quality at what can only be called a very affordable price.
This cymbal set is what a starter drummer or a player still building his kit needs. That is the idea behind this set, but it is hard to justify calling them that. They are much better than just another set of starter cymbals.
Some starter cymbals are made of less expensive metals. This keeps the cost down but has the effect of creating a rather ‘tinny’ sound. Wuhan does not cut corners in that area. These cymbals are made from a quality B20 alloy.
That is significantly better quality than some of the starter packages produced by some name manufacturers. They are hand-hammered and lathed and highly polished. And then use a buffing technique to complete the production, a process that goes back a thousand years in China.
They include 14-inch hi-hats and a 20-inch ride and 16-inch crash. The sounds are all very good and way above what you might expect from the price point. When hearing these cymbals for the first time, you will have a look again at the price.
For their quality, they are very inexpensive indeed. They include a free carry bag. Considering the quality and the price, they could well be the best budget cymbals on the market?
- Well made and great sounding set.
- Very good price point with a cymbal bag.
- At this price, nothing at all.
8 Meinl Cymbals Ultimate Cymbal Set Box Pack
If you are one of these drummers or indeed want to be a drummer who surrounds themselves with cymbals, then this is the perfect best cymbal pack for you. Only ten some people are asking? That’s more than enough. This pack includes the full array and all made to quality Meinl standards.
Hi-hats, of course, 14 inches and made with real quality giving just enough cut through.
Then there are the three crash cymbals. At 18, 16, and 14 inches, all delivering their unique sounds and varieties of brightness. There is a 20-inch ride with a bell that produces a crisp and clear tone. Also, you’ll get a China at 14 inches and a ten-inch Splash cymbal for those instant impact moments. And finally, an 8 inch Bell cymbal.
We say finally, but it’s not really. Meinl has decided that’s not enough and so they have given you a free 16-inch Trash Crash.
All made in Germany using a Brass alloy, these are well made. They will keep their tone but are built for heavy weather use. To some non-percussionists and even some drummers having this many cymbals is a bit of a visual thing. We would agree there is a visual aspect to it, but there is something else. The sound options are enormous. Just about whatever sound you will need is available. Creativity on the drum kit starts here.
You will, of course, need to set them up as you choose and to your personal preferences. There are no rules where they go, except for the hi-hat.
Meinl has produced a staggering package that is going to offer a lot of options to the starter and developing drummers. And the price? Unbelievably competitive for what is being offered. Is this the best cymbal pack for the money? Quite possibly? Read on to find out…
- An amazing set of everything you will ever need.
- The great price point to go with great quality.
- Going to cost you a but for drum stands.
Best Cymbal Packs Buyers Guide
Finding the Best Cymbal Packs…
Drummers, bless ‘em. They do a reasonable job assisting a bass player, playing the best bass guitar to lay down the rhythm correctly. Sometimes. They do like their cymbals and quite rightly so. Cymbals are there for a reason. They give highlights, they give accents, and they lay down rhythms. And for some drummers like Keith Moon, it gave them something else to hit ( or in some cases to break).
Drum kits are not cheap to buy. With the drums, stands, cymbals, and pedals, it all adds up very quickly, and cymbals are often left until last to complete the kit. What you buy, though, is vital to the sound you will create.
When you hit that cymbal when you knock out a rhythm on a hi-hat or a Ride cymbal, it will be heard. If it sounds a bit like the lid of a saucepan, it rather ruins the effect.
For a long time, the ‘big four’ have ruled the cymbal world. Even the likes of Ludwig haven’t challenged them. And of the big four, two of them are from the Zildjian family. So you could refer to them as the big two plus an almighty family squabble. Then there are some others to consider like Wuhan, who is fast making a name for themselves with quality affordable cymbals.
So What Should You Look For In A Cymbal?
They have been designed with either a dark or bright sound. The bright being probably more common. They are bright and have a higher pitch — common in pop and rock songs. Dark is more broody and has a lower pitch.
So Wat Will You Need?
Quite a simple answer, a pair of hi-hats, preferably 14 inches, a Ride cymbal, and a Crash. Those four will start you off. You can add another Crash later, and then there are China, Splash, and Bell cymbals. But to start, those four will suffice.
Very important, you need to get the best you can afford. Brass based is the standard to go for. Some will be manufactured in different ways. Some are made on a lathe, some partly on a lathe. While others are hammered by hand, and some buffed, others polished. The construction will affect the sound somewhat.
It is important to set a budget with maybe a bit of option either side. The bigger brands will cost more, of course. But that doesn’t mean they are that much better. The bigger brands also have budget packs, but are they better than the more affordable brands? Only you can decide that. There won’t be that much between them with regard to quality.
Whatever you choose, the only important thing is the sound. And to a certain extent, this will be a case of personal preference. Some prefer the dark more moody sound. Others lean towards the sharp, crisp, bright sound.
But you are fortunate that all the big players produce good quality starter kits. They also give you the choice to go a little higher in quality. All carry the basic requirements, and some give you an extra free cymbal, one manufacturer provides a carry bag.
While another gives you as many cymbals as you can possibly handle. It’s a big choice and one that will have a serious effect on how you sound as a drummer. It will also decide what sound options you can provide.
You’re going to need some other items to go with your shiny new, great-sounding cymbals. So it’s well worth checking out our in-depth reviews of the best snare drums, the best dynamic microphones, and the best studio headphones for home recording currently available.
So, What Are The Best Cymbal Packs?
All jesting aside the drummer is vital. Get a good one; they can make the band. Get a bad one and goodnight. The cymbals are an integral part of the kit and provide a lot of the ups and downs. Whether used with brushes or sticks, they have a major impact.
It’s important to buy quality. Every set we have looked at here has a real quality about it. We have to say, though, we are coming into this a little biased. We played with a drummer who used Sabian. They were just stunning, and he tried them all. We have therefore chosen as our Best Cymbal Packs…
Amazing cymbals and in a great boxed set. In our opinion, the best sounding cymbals for the price.