Zildjian’s 2019 new additions are, for the most part, designed to fill specific needs with specific sounds. Earlier this year, we got a chance to check out the new FX Stack series, an affordable collection of pre-matched, adjustable stack sets that offer a surprising range of accessory sounds.
But the crew at Big Z had more to offer than just those FX Stacks. We were also shipped the company’s new K Cluster Crashes, the new 22” FX Oriental Crash of Doom, and a set of 14” K Sweet Hi-Hats to fit into Zildjian’s successful K Sweet series that debuted last year.
K CLUSTER CRASHES
Zildjian’s new Cluster Crashes offer more focused, trashy voices for the K line. The trio of 16”, 18”, and 20” crashes all share thin weights, unlathed bells, and the company’s traditional K-style hammering throughout the bow. What sets the Cluster contingent apart is, well, clusters. Each cymbal features several small knots of heavy hammering spaced around the bow at seemingly random positions. The dense hammer marks in the clusters look to be created with a small head, and form roughly 1.5” sort of bowls in the surface.
The aim of those clusters is to alter the surface tension in an effort to elicit more complex overtones and trashy character. While I wouldn’t call the K Clusters overly trashy or exotic, they definitely some extra dry-ish spray in the wash. They’re dark and smoky with a slightly quicker than average finish. Even the 20” model, which I expected to maintain the breathiness of a normal thin 20” crash, cinched up earlier than expected. Zildjian says as much in the product description, and I think I agree that they kind of split the difference between a standard thin K crash and an FX-style crash with holes.
I thought the Cluster Crashes recorded beautifully. They have a fairly mellow attack in both edge crash and bell, but there’s a fullness to every note that sits nicely next to other instruments. Played delicately, the 18” and 20” can both used as breathy, wash-first rides if needed, but it’s not a strong suit for either. The 16” is expectedly the fastest of the group, and offers a great punctuation mark for stabs or closing rapid fire fills.
I really enjoyed my time with these cymbals, but I would offer one note of caution to anyone considering the Cluster set: They have a pretty noticeable volume threshold. I brought a couple of them on a loud rock gig, and they just disappeared next to amplified guitars. The Cluster Crashes have really lovely, character-rich sounds that I think would be sort of wasted in high-volume settings anyway though. I think they would be best utilized in funk or modern fusion-type situations where their subtlety has room to shine.
14” K SWEET HI-HATS
Last year, I was lucky enough to review the full line of K Sweet cymbals shortly after their release. The entire set shared a crisp, punchy presence balanced by the K line’s dark richness. There are dozens of cymbal series and models that were created to try and marry traditionally vintage and modern sounds, and I thought the first run of K Sweets came closer to nailing that vibe than most.
Notably absent from that set, however, was a set of 14” hats. The K Sweets originally rolled out with only 15” and 16” models, which matched the series’ full and generous tones. This year, Zildjian responded to player requests with the release of a 14” pair.
Like their larger siblings, the 14” K Sweet Hi-Hats are tight and crisp with a little bit of complexity in the middle. They have some built-in darkness which helps them feel more controlled, even when played open, but there’s enough presence in the mid-range to keep them afloat in loud settings.
I think this is another in a great run of hi-hats from Zildjian that would work in just about any scenario. I found them to be extremely versatile and satisfying no matter where I brought them. This is a great pair of hats.
22” FX ORIENTAL CRASH OF DOOM
The 20” FX Crash of Doom has been in and out of Zildjian’s catalog several times over the past couple of decades, but has always returned due to popular demand. For 2019, Zildjian added a 22” model of the CoD to the FX collection as a standard option rather than a limited special.
Like the 20”, the 22” model sports a low profile, a small bell, and a bow that’s slightly warped in some spots. The result is a thunderous, trashy, warbling crash that feels perfectly at home alongside the dry, sample-heavy sounds of modern music. It’s deep and fiery with a dry wash that doesn’t swallow up too much around it.
Like the Cluster Crashes, it performs best in medium to low-volume settings where its complexity won’t be lost to the surrounding din. I also found it to be a really enjoyable secondary ride that speaks with more tah and tick under each stroke. It doesn’t have enough built in stick definition to work as a main ride at anything above a low volume, but it does great as a pulsing sort of mellow crash ride.
To me, the Crash of Doom is such a uniquely identifiable instrument that’s so expressive. I think it would fit well on any drum set where exploration and character are paramount. It’s just a really, really fun instrument.
- 16” K Cluster Crash $274.95
- 18” K Cluster Crash $324.95
- 20” K Cluster Crash $364.95
- 14” K Sweet Hi-Hats $459.95
- 22” FX Crash of Doom $344.95