BY DAVID E. LIBMAN
Formed in 2008, Diril is a newer Turkish cymbal company entering an already-saturated U.S. market. Although the company known as Diril Cymbals may be new, its president and founder, Ibrahim Diril, is no newbie to cymbal making. In fact, the company’s namesake brings an impressive history of cymbal manufacturing experience to his latest venture.
To put some perspective on Mr. Diril’s qualifications, step back a few decades to the early 1980s. At that time, a renowned Turkish cymbal smith named Agop Tomurcuk partnered with Mehmet Tamdeger to form the Istanbul cymbal company. In 1993, at age 17, Ibrahim Diril began honing his cymbal-making skills under the tutelage of Agop and Mehmet. When Agop died in 1996, his sons and Mehmet parted ways, and two cymbal companies resulted from the breakup: Istanbul Agop and Istanbul Mehmet. In the meantime, Ibrahim Diril left Istanbul to form a cymbal company with his brother Murat.
The brothers Diril were by no means small time. Early on, they collaborated with Meinl on its stellar Byzance line. The Diril brothers later partnered with Paiste in the design and production of its B20 bronze “Twenty” series. Still, Diril had always wanted to strike out on his own, so he formed Diril Cymbals with a goal of producing top-notch cymbals bearing his moniker.
QUALITY BY HAND
Diril sent me cymbals and hi-hats in two finishes: shiny and natural. The shiny cymbals included 22″ and 20″ Samsun rides (both with raw bells), a 22″ Ice crash/ride, and 14″ Raw Bell hi-hats. The natural finish models included a 20″ Jazz ride, a 20″ Raw ride, a 19″ Jazz crash, an 18″ Medium crash, a 16″ Medium Thin crash, and 14″ “D” Heavy Traditional hi-hats.
Diril cuts no corners in its manufacturing process, crafting its cymbals from ingots of B20 bronze cast in its own foundry in a process that includes heating the bronze in wood-burning ovens and rolling it out on a mill. The cymbals are then hand hammered to form their shape. With handmade cymbals, I expect some cosmetic idiosyncrasies that disclose the human touch. With the Dirils, however, the first thing I noticed out of the box is their lack of any discernable imperfections. The quality control on these cymbals is quite impressive.
The Dirils all have perfectly even and smooth edges, incredibly consistent lathing, obvious hand hammering (but without any noticeably large dents), and expertly applied (and pretty wicked-looking) black logos. As far as I could tell, all these cymbals are evenly weighted without any heavy spots. I couldn’t get them to spin to any particular position when angled on a stand.
I happen to own a few Paiste Twenty series cymbals. Given the Diril brothers’ previous collaboration on that line, I wasn’t surprised to see that the shiny Diril models I received have an identical color and similar shine. However, the similarities end there. For example, the Diril shiny models have what looks to be a denser lathing pattern than Paiste’s Twenty series, and the Dirils sound much different. Moreover, the Diril natural finish models share no similarities with Paiste’s Twenty series.
DIRIL’S SONIC PERSONALITY
In some ways, the Dirils’ sound surprising more for what they’re not than for what they are. When I found out I’d be receiving Turkish, hand-hammered cymbals, I expected cymbals evoking the traditional, dark, trashy, breathy, and jazzy sounds one might find in smoky bar with a neon sign. My preconceptions quickly evaporated as I started playing these plates. Although quite distinct from one another, as a series, the Dirils have a consistent and unique brand sound from one to the next that’s modern and refreshing.
Each Diril projects a lively range of mids and highs with very few lows. These plates sing with more overtones than I’d expect from machine-hammered cymbals — but not as many overtones as I’d expect from hand-hammered cymbals. Each cymbal seems to restrict its overtones to a defined, somewhat narrow range that might be appropriately described as dense and controlled. Still, none of the Dirils linger with any extraneous or annoying overtones. Rather, each cymbal sings with a very pure, clean sound.
The Dirils’ bells ring clearly and distinctly with open and piercing tones. And did I mention these cymbals are loud? These are certainly not the warm jazzy (and sometimes softer) offerings I’ve come to expect from other Turkish cymbal makers, but they’d work perfectly for louder and more modern styles, such as pop, rock, country, Latin, techno, and probably heavier styles as well.
When I receive a set of cymbals for review, I typically rotate between all the cymbals for a few days, then whittle them down to what would be my dream set. In this case, I did that, and didn’t realize until after the fact that every cymbal I gravitated toward had a natural finish. It’s not that the shiny cymbals don’t sound good, but they have noticeably more clang and pitch to their tone than the natural finish models. The natural finish models produce more white noise (or wash as some call it), a woody stick definition, and a less crystal-like sound.
In terms of individual differences, I’ll describe the shiny models first, and then their natural finish siblings.
ON THE SHINY SIDE
The 22″ and 20″ Samsun rides each combine piercing raw bells with lathed shiny bow areas. The bow areas play extremely aggressively with tremendous volume and cut, glassy stick definition, and a good deal of pitch. The 22″ model in particular projects huge volume. It had a tendency to overpower the rest of my kit (a standard 5-piece kit that includes the snare of the day, a 20″ maple kick, and 12″, 13″, and 16″ birch toms). Hence, I’d say it’s a ride for extroverts who want to be heard. The 20″ model is more controllable, but certainly not shy by any means.
The 22″ Ice crash ride needs to be hit hard to fully crash, but when hit with sufficient force, its name aptly describes its sound. If you took a stack of ice shards and threw them through a window, you’d have the sound of this cymbal.
The 14″ Raw Bell hi-hats play with a clean, glassy sound that projects lots of stick definition but little spizz. The bell on these hats sings with a clarity and openness that’s exceptional.
DIRIL AU NATUREL
It’s odd to say, but in terms of sound, the Dirils that really shine aren’t shiny. Of course, that is my personal taste. If I played heavy metal, I’d probably prefer the shiny models.
The sound of the 20″ Jazz ride reminds me of the ride cymbals that Buddy Rich used through the years — although with more wash and slightly less ping. This cymbal bathes clear-cut, woody stick definition in a lovely puff of bright wash that never overwhelms that stick definition. Although called a “jazz” ride, this ride has enough versatility to use it for virtually any style, including jazz of course. If you were sent to a desert island and could only take one ride cymbal, this may be the one you’d take.
The 20″ Raw ride has almost the same pitch as the 20″ Jazz ride, but otherwise sounds totally different. It lacks shimmer, overtones, or much of anything other than dry, articulate stick definition. As Raw rides go, this does its job quite well. Years ago, I would have loved this cymbal for use with early ’90s fusion music. However, my tastes have changed. I now prefer more wash and found myself more enthralled with the 20″ Jazz ride.
The 19″ Jazz crash, 18″ Medium crash, and 16″ Medium Thin crash have slight differences in their construction. For example, the Jazz model is slightly thinner. Nevertheless, despite these subtle distinctions, each of these crashes performs similarly but with different pitches. These are true crashes in the sense that they crash even at a low volume with a quick burst of white noise and sizzle. These are not, however, crash/rides, so I wouldn’t recommend using them for any lengthy ride patterns.
Each of these crashes — even the 19″ model — sustains just long enough, but not longer than that. I received no clunkers or deadbeats in the group, and each crash has a sturdy feel. As a result, I felt I could crash these cymbals hard without fear that they would dent or crack. I’d highly recommend any or all of these crashes.
The 14″ “D” Heavy Traditional hi-hats distinguish themselves with excellent stick definition and much more spizz than the 14″ Raw Bell hi-hats. Sometimes heavy hats can be too low-pitched or chunky for my taste, but these hats project nicely in the mid-range with plenty of crispness. Furthermore, and this is probably a testament to their excellent construction, I couldn’t manage to get any air pocket from these hats. Overall, these hats speak with a well-rounded sound and volume that would make them a great go-to set of hats for all occasions.
Turkish cymbal manufacturers are known for handmade craftsmanship, and in many cases, they have become a favorite of jazzers looking for warmer, trashier, and quirkier cymbals. In the last few years, drummers have an ever-increasing plethora of Turkish-style cymbals to choose from. Maybe that’s why the Dirils surprised me most in that they sounded so much different than what I normally would expect from a Turkish cymbal.
The Dirils proved to be a totally modern cymbal in terms of sound, strength, and volume. For handmade cymbals, the consistency from one to the next is truly amazing. They disclose no mistakes in their manufacture, either visually or sonically. If you’re looking for something trashy or jazzy, these may not be your choice. If you’re looking for high-quality cymbals that can project aggressive sound and volume while maintaining their musicality, the Dirils are for you. As a plus, the Dirils are priced very reasonably (retailing about 40 percent less than the list prices) considering the quality of the bronze and the handwork that goes into making one.
22″ Samsun Ride $550
20″ Samsun Ride $475
22″ Ice Crash Ride $550
20″ Jazz Ride $475
20″ Raw Ride $475
19″ Jazz Crash $450
18″ Medium Crash $415
16″ Medium Thin Crash $325
14″ “D” Heavy Traditional
Hi Hats $600
Features Handmade cymbals crafted from ingots of B20 bronze cast in Ibrahim Diril’s own foundry; organic, hand-hammered appearance with remarkable consistency of form; affordable price.