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Zildjian L80 Low Volume Cymbals

For when volume isn’t necessarily everything…

Volume has always been the drummer’s enemy. From live gigs to practice at home, someone is always likely to want to complain about noise.

However, there are now lots of different alternatives available for keeping the noise down, certainly in terms of drums; mesh heads, practice pads, electronic drum kits etc. and these all work fine to a degree. There have also been cymbal alternatives as well.

But, replicating the feel of a real cymbal has always been a little harder than making a drum feel more real. You can play rubber/plastic electronic cymbals but it’s not the same. Cymbal mutes do a reasonable job of keeping the volume down but affect the way the cymbals moves and feels, which, if you’re working on your ride cymbal feel, isn’t going to help.

Zildjian’s Low Volume cymbals are designed to be up to 80% quieter than a traditional cymbal. They’re still made from metal, but are designed for applications ranging from practice rooms/kits to low volume gigs.

As you’ll see, the Low Volume cymbals are fairly standard in terms of design but whereas a regular cymbal has a solid surface area, these Low Volume cymbals have thousands (I’m assuming, I didn’t want to count them) of holes right across the bow and bell areas.

The Low Volume cymbals I tried were an 18" crash/ride, 16" crash and a pair of 14" hi-hats.

Despite being substantially lighter and lower in physical volume, these cymbals still feel like ‘proper’ cymbals. They react like the real thing too – check out the wobble from the ride cymbal in the video. In this regard, I was a bit surprised at just how well they still felt and played.

You may think these cymbals are a bit gimmicky, but they’re not. They are very viable alternatives to an old issue, although they aren’t going to be any use on the weekend pub gig, unless it’s down the local pizzeria with the patrons sitting within a metre or so.

I was wondering how these cymbals would play when picking them up for the first time but they really do feel like authentic ‘regular’ cymbals. Overall, they are a nice idea and although I was perhaps a little suspicious about just how useful they might be, they convinced me that they really can be used for (very quiet) gigging as well as the more obvious home practice.

The day before writing this, I was showing a friend round my studio and he saw the Low Volumes on the side and told me that he had some himself which he used on a quieter gig with a cajon as a bass drum. He seemed to love them.

You can hit these cymbals really quite hard and you won’t get a corresponding loud response.

I don’t hit all that hard normally and the sticks in the video were the Promark Billy Ward model, so they aren’t that thick. Even playing with my normal levels, the Low Volume cymbals didn’t really have much more to give in terms of sound when I struck them; in other words, the volume and intensity stayed down. The physical response is really good too, so much so that I can now see from playing them how they could easily – and convincingly - be used for quieter gigging situations.

Sound-wise in terms of gigging, clearly, they’re not up there with your normal As or Ks, due to both their volume and their rather undynamic ‘ping’ sound.

I’ve used the terms ‘real’, ‘regular’ and ‘proper’ quite a lot here, though they don’t really do these cymbals justice. They are ‘real’ cymbals, it’s just not the same as the aforementioned models, obviously.

Although I’m not in market for anything like the Low Volume cymbals at the moment, I could definitely see myself checking them out more if I did.

For more, check out -

David Bateman

December 2016

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