Low volume cymbals are fast becoming a favourite amongst drummers looking for that natural cymbal feel whilst practising at lower volumes. It is easy to see why as cymbals have a unique and distinct feel that is hard to replicate with rubber pads.
As low volume cymbals are still a fairly new concept, we are going to help guide you through what is currently available on the market and what you should be looking out for.
What are low volume cymbals?
Low volume cymbals give you the feel of full volume acoustic cymbals but at a reduced volume. These are ideal for drummers who are wanting to practice but aren’t able to make much noise.
For example, if you live in a flat and you still want to get your practice in. Put on your mesh heads and low volume cymbals and away you go. I’m pretty sure the neighbours wouldn’t be happy if you were playing your full acoustic drum kit!
The only downside is that although low volume cymbals have the natural feel and response of cymbals, they don’t sound as nice as there full volume counterparts.
How do low volume cymbals work?
Low volume cymbals achieve their reduced volume through two different methods.
The material they’re made from
Traditionally cymbals are made from an alloy combining copper, tin and other trace metals. For example, B20 bronze is 80% copper, 20% tin.
Low volume cymbals often use a different selection of materials to achieve reduced volumes. The materials used vary by brand.
The unique holes in the cymbals
A distinctive feature of these cymbals is the unique holes that are in them. The holes are added to the cymbals to remove harsh frequencies and reduce the sustain of the cymbals.
The amount and size of holes in these cymbals differ by manufacturer. On average though you can expect to see that many holes have been made as it is proven to be effective in reducing the volume of the cymbals.
What are the best low volume cymbals?
This is a challenging question as this will come down to your budget, personal taste and brand loyalty.
There is also another factor to consider. Some brands focus purely on getting the lowest sound and sacrificing some sound quality, but other brands focus on getting a higher quality sound and sacrificing noise reduction.
That being said here are our top picks from each scenario.
Zildjian L80 Cymbals
If you are looking for the best low volume cymbals that focus on noise reduction, the Zildjian L80 Cymbals are the choice for you.
Promising to reduce the volume by 80% with the natural cymbal feel Zildjian has done a great job. They are so quiet that the sound of the stick hitting the cymbal is louder than the sound of the cymbal Very impressive.
There is also a good selection of cymbal types available covering hi-hats, crashes, rides, splash and china cymbals.
Agean R Low Volume Cymbals
If having that great cymbal sound with some noise reduction benefits is what you are after the Agean R Series cymbals are a great choice.
They are made from B20 bronze giving them the cymbal sound you expect but with the holes in the cymbals to reduce the volume.
There is also a great range of cymbals available with multiple styles of hi-hats, crashes, rides, splash and china cymbals.
There are two things two keep in mind if you decide to purchase Agean R Series Cymbals.
- They are expensive. You will be pretty much paying full cymbal prices for these. If you are just using these for practising, it might not too realistic for you to spend this kind of money.
- They aren’t as easy to find and purchase. Because the Agean brand is smaller it does mean they can be more difficult to find online.
How do these cymbals compare?
If you are interested in a comparison of how these two cymbals sound when compared, here is a great video from drum-tec.
What are the best budget low volume cymbals?
If you are wanting to use low volume cymbals for practising you are likely going to want to spend less money so you can spend it on your main kit. Luckily many great cheaper alternatives are coming to market.
Millenium Still Series
Available from Thomann the Millenium Still Series is a great alternative on a lower budget. They offer up to 80% volume reduction without breaking the bank. You can buy a basic set including a hi-hat, two crashes and a ride and then expand down the line with splashes and crashes if you want to.
WHD Low Volume
Available from Gear4music the WHD cymbals are very similar to the Millenium offering but with a different finish. They have a nice contemporary nickel finish and still offer the up to 80% volume reduction.
Low volume cymbals vs electronic cymbals?
Apart from practising, the other reason you may want low volume cymbals is to use on your electric drum kit rather than pads. In the right situations this can be a real benefit.
Here are some of the pros and cons of using low volume cymbal rather than electronic cymbal pads.
- They feel like a real cymbal
- They look better than rubber pads
- More realistic sizes and styles when compared to rubber pads
- Can’t change the sound at the touch of a button
- You lose the ability of any pad making any sound
- More complicated to get a good headphone mix between the electric drums and cymbals
Low volume cymbals and electronic cymbal pads are very hard to compare as they are both very different in what they are trying to achieve. If you mainly play at home and your main kit is your electronic one, adding low volume cymbals into the mix is probably worth a go.
Are you looking for cymbals perfect for smaller gigs? Check out the Sabian FRX cymbals.
Low volume cymbals are a great way to get more out of your practice sessions. Cymbals have a unique feel and there is no way to properly replicate that without having one. These cymbals truly open the doors to more effective practice session no matter where you are.
Hopefully in the next few years we will see more brands starting to compete and introducing their lines.
The future of these types of cymbals is very exciting and we can’t wait to see what happens next.